Plovdiv – The Oldest Living City in Europe

The motto of this charming city is “Ancient and Eternal”. The first word is related to its history which goes back over 8,000 years. Picturesquely located on the banks of the Maritsa river, just 15 kilometers away from the verdant Rhodopes mountain and 50 kilometers away from the Balkan range, Plovdiv has a lot of sights which testify to its ancient history.

In prehistoric times the first neolithic settlements were established in the area, within the boundaries of the present city area. That was in the 6 millennium BC. Then through the ages life in the region continued to bustle. In the Roman period, a host of historic buildings and sites were built. These include the ancient theatre, the Roman odeon, the Roman forum called agora, the Roman stadium, some basilicas and some other sites. These ancient monuments have been preserved and can now be visited to show the quality of Roman construction.

Hardly any European city can rival Plovdiv’s millennia of history. Let us start from the first Thracian settlements which occurred in the 6th millennium BC. Remains of them have been discovered on the hills which rise in the vicinity of Plovdiv.

Bellow you can find some of the most markable event in the history of Plovdiv.

  • In the year 342 BC the settlement was conquered by the Macedonian king Philip II, and the name Philipopolis was given to it. Strong fortress walls surrounded it. Philipopolis became one of Thrace’s important centers.
  • In 183 BC, the Macedonian king Philip V became its ruler, then the Roman Marcus Luculus conquered it, and afterwards the Thracian restored their power.
  • In the year 46 Philipopolis became part of the Roman Empire. It became an important stop on the Via Militaris route. Medallions and official signs of those times have been discovered.
  • The Roman period was a thriving time, with a lot of public buildings built: a theatre, a forum, temples, baths, a large stadium, the odeon. The area spread into the plain around. A second fortress wall was constructed to protect the enlarged city.
  • Philipopolis had a large water supply system and two aqueducts: these are the only facilities of that kind to be found in Bulgaria
  • In 250, the Gotha tribes besieged and ravaged Philipopolis, its territory shrunk within the fortress walls, but by the 4 century the size was restored and life thrived again.
    After the first Bulgarian state was established in the 7th century, Philipopolis became even more important. Then in 970 it became part of the Roman empire again.
  • The first and second crusades, in 1096 and 1149 passed through the city, and a Latin area was formed, where merchants and artisans lived. During the third crusade, in 1089, the city was plundered.
  • The Ottoman rule started in 1371. A new bridge was built over the Maritsa, as well as a mosque.
  • In 1850, a school was founded which became the second secondary school in Bulgaria.
  • In 1874 a railway was built linking Plovdiv to Istanbul.
  • Plovdiv prided itself also on the establishment of the first Bulgarian military school and the printing house of Hristo Danov.
  • In 1878, according to the Berlin contract, Plovdiv became the capital of the Eastern Rumelia province. The first Bulgarian professional theatre was established. Leading Bulgarian writers worked there. In 1885 Eastern Rumelia was added to Bulgaria. The date, 6 September, is now a public holiday in Bulgaria.
  • In 1932 the airport was built, and the Plovdiv University was established in 1945. Then in the 70s and 80s of the 20 century most of the archeological sites were excavated, and the Old City area was completely renovated./li>
  • In 199 the European Month of Culture was held, and 2019 is the year of Plovdiv as a European Capital of Culture.
  • Another event characteristic of Plovdiv is the International Industrial Fair, which has been held since 1892

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