South East Europe / Diagonal Road
Plovdiv, historic city
About the site
Country: Bulgaria, Plovdiv
Type: Historic Town
Epoch: 20th Century, Modern Times, Middle Ages
Theme: Islamic Culture, Fortresses
Plovdiv – the second largest town in Bulgaria is situated in the center of the Upper Thracian valley, on one of the main roads, which since ancient times have connected the West with the East. The town is built picturesquely around six hills, spreading on both banks of the Maritsa river – the biggest river in Bulgaria.
The earliest discovered traces of man’s presence – the mounds and necropolises date back to the 6th millennium BC. On one of the hills (Nebet Tepe) was discovered a Thracian village dating back to the 2nd millennium BC, directly related to the genesis of the town.
After Philip II of Macedonia conquered ancient Thrace (342 BC), the settlement was converted into a fortified town, called Philipopolis. During the Roman rule (1st-4th c. AD), the town called Trimontsium (Three-hills) became main town of the Roman province Thrace and the numerous preserved traces from that period prove it was a flourishing center.
After the disintegration of the Roman empire, the town remained within the boundaries of Byzantine, while at the beginning of the 9th c. it was included in the boundaries of the First Bulgarian State. The Medieval Philipolpolis was piled around the built on the Three hills inner fortress.
After the conquest of the Bulgarian lands by the Ottomans in the 14th c. Plovdiv developed as an “open” (unfortified) town. The town grounds overbuilt during Antiquity and the Middle Ages were deserted, while vast territories around the road connecting Istanbul with Europe, as well as by the river were occupied. Gradually the town acquires a typical Oriental outlook.
During the national Revival period (18th – 19th c.), as a result of the great economic and cultural uplift, were built a number of houses, churches and public buildings. In the last decades before and especially after the Liberation from the Ottoman domination (1878), Plovdiv develops rapidly, occupying new territories. The character of the historical nucleus (excluding the Three-hills) was completely changed under the influence of the modern European architectural schools and trends.