Plovdiv, Bulgaria: The Oldest City In Europe

The oldest inhabited city in Europe, and the sixth oldest in the world. The second largest city in Bulgaria, and an upcoming European Capital of Culture. Pretty impressive for a place the majority of people have probably never heard of - Plovdiv.

With all it's claims to fame, we decided that Plovdiv would be the perfect place to get to know Bulgaria a little better, so spent three days exploring the city after our stay in Sofia. Here are a few of the city's highlights.

City View of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The Old Town: The name kind of gives it away, but this is the historical centre of the city. Winding cobbled streets weave between grand, ornate buildings; this area was once popular with wealthy spice traders, who it seems poured all their money into luxurious houses. The Old Town is set along a hillside, and my favourite part of this area was the views; the hilltop would most definitely be a magical place to find yourself at sunset.

The Trap in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The Trap: Home to the shops of independent artists, jewellers and craftsmen, The Trap is the perfect place to buy any souvenirs. Rumour has it the name comes from the fact that people people can end up trapped in the area for a long time, lost in the maze of tiny streets. Unfortunately no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get lost and kept finding out way out! When we want to get lost we can't, yet when we don't want to we do; typical!

Roman Stadium in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The Roman Stadium: When I saw photos of the Roman Stadium online before we arrived in Plovdiv I assumed this would be somewhere out of town, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The stadium is not quite on the high street; more like underneath it! Seating 30,000 people and stretching 240 metres in length, the stadium somehow got lost in time. By the time it was rediscovered they had already built a row of shops on top! There are plans to excavate the entire stadium, but for the time being there are just a couple of sections accessible, one at the end of the street and another in the basement of a shopping centre!

Street Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The Street Art: Hidden on one of the back roads running parallel to the main street is quite a sight; every single building you can see there is covered in bright, colourful images. The story goes that a few years back an artist began painting images of famous Bulgarian politicians and writers on the rocks of a nearby hill. This led to a public debate, with all the locals getting involved in the discussion; is it art or graffiti? Apparently the majority decided it was art, with many of the works nearby being commissioned by the property owners since.

Plovdiv Municipality Building, Bulgaria

The Free Plovdiv Tour: I absolutely loved the free walking tour we did in Sofia, so as soon as I saw that the same organisation was running a guided walk in Plovdiv I knew we had to give it a try. Despite my high expectations, I was not disappointed! The tour covers all of the highlights listed above, and I could not recommend it highly enough!

Have any readers been to Plovdiv? What were your highlights?

PS. If you liked this post, you'll love these 10 Things You Probably Did Not Know About Bulgaria.