Date of visit: July 15 and 16, 2018
Our second night in Bulgaria was spent in Plovdiv, a city right in the middle of Bulgaria. We started the day with plenty of sightseeing in Koprivshtitsa and then headed straight into town without a break.
The historic old city of Plovdiv
The city dates back to the Neolithic period, and by the 4th century BC, when Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, was the main city of Macedonia. Philip II was especially fond of this city, and that is why it was called Philippopolis at that time. The present name of the city, « Plovdiv », comes from the Thracian (ancient Bulgarian) name of Philippopolis, « Prudin ».
Stay in the middle of the old town, hard to get to by car.
Despite this history, Plovdiv is now the second largest city in Bulgaria and a major metropolis. The city is divided into the Old Town and the New Town (the commercial district), as is common in Europe. The Old Town is located on a very high hill, and the New Town is located below the hill, to the west. We took a hotel in the middle of the old town because we wanted to be there. However, it was very difficult to enter the old town because it was hard to find a way to go up the hill to the old town by car.
The old town is quite a hard area for driving with narrow cobbled streets as usual. Moreover, because there are many hills, a manual car is a hardship even if it is accustomed to enter. What was more difficult was parking. Because the hotel is really in the middle of the old town, I thought I’d park nearby and walk, but I do not know how to park on the street again here and gave up. It is because I did not know how to park at this time yet…
But as always, I’m going to attack anyway! I decided to go through the middle of the road. Then I could go to the front of the hotel with a good feeling. It was a very rough cobblestone road with a huge slope and unmaintained grain. Of course it was narrow. We drove on such a road. (The building right next to the hotel).
But fortunately, the hotel staff noticed our arrival, and the hotel had a garage for parking, so we were able to park our car there.
World Cup Final with a meal in the Old Town
After checking in, we went into town to look for a place to have dinner. We had a good lunch this day, so we wandered around the town to find a light bar-like place, but we were greeted by loud cheers from everywhere.
Yes, this was the exact day that the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was being played.
I had completely forgotten about it, hadn’t I? But since we were there, we looked for a bar where we could watch TV, and we found a place that looked just right.
Plovdiv is a city on a hill. Just at dusk, the view from the top of the hill was fantastic.
The beer I had that day was a local pilsner, which is rather powerful and robust.
And wine, because after all Bulgarian wine is powerful and delicious. On this day, I was going to have a glass, but it was so cheap, so I had a bottle. The variety is Merlot. It was so full-bodied that I couldn’t believe it was Merlot.
I ordered some kind of snacks for my meal, so I’m sure it wasn’t much, I didn’t seem to take any pictures lol. No, I found one thing. I don’t remember what it tasted like at all lol.
By the way, France won the match.
Walking around the new town
After a comfortable stay at the hotel, I had allocated the next day’s morning for sightseeing in this city. Because the car was parked in the garage of the hotel, after check-in and check-out, once, I went to the side of the new town to take out the car, and decided to park there to find a parking lot. Because the search for a parking lot aimed at the middle of the new town, a little trouble to find. But I was able to find it with a good feeling.
However, there is a large parking lot on the south side of town, around where the town hall and post office are, so if you don’t want to struggle, this is the place to go.
Because it was Monday, the mobile phone shop was open, so I bought a Bulgarian prepaid SIM here. It’s only 500 yen for a month of 3GB! I had bought a prepaid SIM from Amazon.com beforehand, and it worked fine, but I think it’s much easier to use 4G or LTE locally.
There was a big and splendid post office in the southernmost part of the new town block. I rarely do this, but it’s convenient for sending postcards.
Culture-rich Old Town
Well, Plovdiv is a city with a very rich culture. There are many museums and art galleries in the old part of the city, and there are also Greek and Roman ruins. Music is also very popular and there is an orchestra based in this city. There is also an opera house. And in this season, concerts are often held at the Roman Theatre in the old town side. You can enter the Roman Theatre even in the daytime.
I wonder if an outdoor piano is a good idea.
In any case, if we had known in advance that the concert would be held, we would have chosen to visit Plovdiv in conjunction with it.
Tickets were also sold at the new town side. They can be bought at this booth.
Then we went to the old town. It is a very hilly section. Here, too, there are many beautiful houses built in the 19th century like Koprivshtitsa.
The city itself has a vaguely artistic atmosphere.
This is the house where then French President Francois Mitterrand stayed when he visited Bulgaria after the country was democratized.
The area where the tourist information center is located is the center of the old town.
Get a map of the city here.
Along the main street there are some beautiful Orthodox churches, such as the Church of St. Konstantin Elena (no photos allowed), the house of Boyadjiev, a highly acclaimed painter of contemporary Bulgarian art (inside is a museum), and the Regional Folk Museum, whose building is particularly beautiful, although we were unable to enter on Monday.
It was prohibited to take photos inside, so here is the brochure.
This is the Bulgarian Folk Revival Museum (Georgiadi’s House), which had a great exhibition inside. I wonder why there are no photos…. Is it because it was prohibited?
Close to this mansion is a gate called Hisar Kabiya. It was built by Philip II in the 4th century BC, but since then it has been repeatedly destroyed and restored with each change of ruler.
There was a relief related to Philippus II.
I visited here last year in 2018, but it has been selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2019. It makes sense since it has such rich contents.
Even though it was a Monday and many tourist facilities were closed, it was a bit of a mistake to think that we could do all the sightseeing in one morning. The city was very interesting and if I ever come back to Bulgaria, I must stay there. Looking forward to our next visit!
We return to the parking lot where we parked first thing in the morning at 1:00 p.m. and head for our next destination. Our next stop is the beautiful monastery of Bacikovo, located in the mountains.