is one of the oldest cities in Europe, the city is contemporary
Homer, Herodotes and other ancient authors describe the life,
traditions and the rich culture of the Tracians, who are the
oldest population in the Balkan Peninsula. Many ancient authors
speak highly of the Thrace's wine and honey. The gold and
silverware and jewelry found show an exceptional skill and
high artistic taste. The Thracians have been brave and freedom-loving
people. Spartacus, the leader of the biggest slave uprising
in the Roman Empire's history is from Thrace.
to build a fortified settlement on the three hills were the
Thracians and they called it Evmolpia. In 342 BC Philip 2'
conquered the settlement, built new walls arround it and called
Philipoppolis (City of Philip). The next two centuries the
Romans try to take control over Thrace. There were many bloody
battles followed by diplomatic issues until at last, by 72
BC, the Roman army leader Terentius Varro Luculus managed
to take control over the Maritza River Valley, Philipoppolis
included, and the Romans began calling it Trimontium ( The
Three Hills City ). Later Trimontium became center ef the
vast Trakia Romana Province. In The 2' and 3' centuries the
city was declared metropolis of the province with a Senate
of its own and All Thracians Assembly ( koinon trakon), was
authorized to collect taxes and cut own coins. It was then
that Trimontium reached its cultural and economical zenith.
The Romans were quick in realizing the strategic location
of Trimontium and began building strong, stone paved roads.
They built administrative buildings, temples, public baths,
stadiums and theatres as well. The city expanded and gradually
left the three hills area, inhabiting the valley zone. Trimontium
had modern water supply and sewage systems. The city was famous
in the province with its large stadium, amphitheatre, public
baths, but the most important building was the Roman Preatorium
- the Residence of the Imperial Governor of the Thrace Province,
where the Emperor when visiting.
the distruction of the Roman Empire, Plovdiv became part
of the Byzantium.
Emperor Justinian the Great (527-565) renovates the city
Trimontium. That century was very important in Plovdiv's
history for about in the middle of the 6' century the Slavs
came here. They gradually changed the whole ethnic image
of the city. If the city, beside being called Trimontium,
it was called Ulpia, Flavia and Julia in the Roman times,
the Slavs renamed it with its Thracian name of Pulpudeva,
but modify it into Puldin or Ploudin from where the present
forming of the First Bulgarian Kingdom, Plovdiv found itself
a border city with an exceptional importance in the incessant
fights between the Byzantium Empire and the young Bulgarian
State. Plovdiv repeatedly changed hands during the Middle
Ages. Khan Krum was the first
to conquer the city in 812 but it was officialy included
in the territory of the Bulgarian State by Khan Malamir
in 834. Located on the main military route in the Balkan
Via Militaris - during the Middle Ages Plovdiv became part
of the stations of the crusaders of the first four crusades.
century the Turks invade the Balkans and made Constantinopol
capital of the Ottoman Empire. In 1364 they took Plovdiv
and gave the city a new name - Philibe. Placed in the middle
of the Empire, Philibe lost its importance of a border fortress.
Gradually and irreversibly all signs and vestiges of the
past grandeur disappeared. The Turks began building mosques,
inns, guesthouses and public baths. Step by step, Plovdiv
turned into a typical oriental city with a particular charm
The National Revival
awok the Bulgarian spirit. The Bulgarian middle-class grew
in number and gradually began playing a key role in society.
Doing business with Europe and Russia that part of society
was open modern political and cultural influence - it can
explane the great importance of education. During the first
half of 19' century, along with Istanbul, Thessaloniki and
Edirne, Plovdiv became an important econimic centre in the
European part of the Ottoman Empire.
land or by barges in Maritza river, goods from the city reached
Thessaloniki and Istanbul, and from there - to the whole world.
At the same time Plovdiv was a center of a big handicraft region,
which included all most the whole Southeastern Bulgaria. In
1853 the population of the city was 50 000.
Plovdiv entered the Modern Bulgarian history with its historic
contribution in two directions - development of the Bulgarian
culture and firht for religious independence, which was equal
to a peaceful bourgeois revolution. The spread of education
was in fact the centrepiece of the Bulgarian national revival
and Plovdiv played again a pioneering role in it. The first
school was opened here in 1839 and in 1850 the modern, non-religious
way of teaching began by opening of the class school "St.St.
Cyril and Methodius". The first celebration of the two
saint brothers was celebrated here on May 11'1858 thus making
it a national holiday of the Slavs lettres and literature. The
school soon grew into the first Bulgarian High school in 1868.
The greatest Bulgarian intellectuals, political and religious
leaders were its graduates.
the Russo-Turkish War began. The Russians freed Plovdiv
on January 16, 1878. The Treaty of San Stefano, signed on
March 3, 1878, founded the Principality of Bulgaria, which
included all the lands with predominantly Bulgarian population.
The cosmopolitan Plovdiv was the biggest, richest and busiest
Bulgarian city, naturaly, was declared capital of the new
state and centre of the new Russian Temporary government.
by the war, Russia was forced to acquiesce. The treaty was modified
by the terms the Treaty of Berlin signed four months later.
According to these terms Bulgaria was divided in three parts
- Principality of Bulgaria with Sofia as a capital; vassal to
the sultan Eastern Rumelia Province with Plovdiv as a capital;
and Macedonia, wich was returned outright to Turkey. Sofia became
state and political centre, and Plovdiv preserved itself as
a culture and industrial centre. Of an exceptional importance
for Bulgaria were the institutions founded by that time - library,
museum, theatre. At the end of 19th century the Plovdiv Archaeological
Museum had the richest Hellenistic collection in the country.
Ivan Mrkvichka and Anton Mitov organize that first artistic
exhibition in the reading hall of the Plovdiv library. The first
choir conducted by Anguel Boucoureshtliev was founded in Plovdiv.
Even the First Stenography Congress was held here. The first
public park was foundedalso here. The gardener of Napoleon Trois'
court and Sultan
Abdul Azis' favorite made small miracles with the urban environment.
The Unification of Bulgaria
with Eastern Roumelia was declared in Plovdiv on Septembre
6,1885. The world has been shoked by the Bulgarian's political
will, by the mean the Unification was achieved and by the
readiness of the young army to take responsability and risks
of such an act. After the Unification Plovdiv remains to this
day the second most important and biggest city in Bulragia
after the capital Sofia.
first railway was build between the two cities in 1888. In 1892
Plovdiv was a host of the First Bulgarian Exhibition with foreign
particion, whose director was the writer Mikhalaki Georgiev.
Its inheritor today is the Plovdiv International fair. The first
brewery was founded in Plovdiv after the Unification in 1881
- today's Kamenitza. At the beginning of the century Plovdiv
grew as a big commercial and industrial center. German, French
and Belgian capitals were invested in the city that helped developing
a modern commerce and banking systems.There were 16 000 artisants
and more than 17 000 workers in the tobacco and food processing
factories in Plovdiv by 1939.
In the years of the
Second World War Plovdiv continued its growing and in 1943
its population was 119 000. The wartime conditions led expanding
of the tobacco processing industry and somewhat onesided orientation
of the commerce to the export predomintly of fruits and vegetables.
After declaring of a "symbolic" war to England and
United States the main problem in the city was feeding the
population. The year 1943 is memorable in the period when
1300 Jews were saved from the deportation after then the Plovdiv
Mytropolit (bishop) Ciril - later he became patriarch of Bulgarian
- pleaded the Government and the King to not connit such a
dreadful act. In the chaos after September 1944, when the
power was usurped by the Communists with the active assistance
of the Soviet Army, a secret political purge began. Hundreds
were shot to death without trial while others disappeared
without trace. The so-called "People's Court" -
a phenomenon out of any constitutional and law norms - tried
1362 people. 328 of them were found guilty of crimes "Against
the nation" and sentenced to death. Their families were
relocated. From economic point of view characteristic of that
period is the co-operation under Soviet model, nationalization
of the private sector, national five-year plans, and orientation
to the newly created socialist foreign market. That tendency
led to grouping of large masses of workers around big production
complexes such as the Non-ferous Metal Production Complex,
the Textile Factory, the Tobacco Processing Factory, the Forklift
The city's fast industrialization
changed drastically the social and demographic conditions
of life. The city was divided into for regions and south
and north industrial zones were formed.
The trolleys network, the emblematic Trimontium Hotel, the
Plovdiv Stadium and the Soviet Army Monument "Aliosha"
were built in the middle of 50's. In the 60's and the 70's
the mass building was adobded the rezult was the precast
concrete elements blocks of flats.
The 70's and the 80's
were a period of commercial building, of health care facilities
and archaeological site adaptation.
The political changes
after 1989 and the market economy orientation present new
challenges and conditions of life in the city of Plovdiv.