Plovdiv: Delightfully old and young

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All we need is Plov(e)div!

What every visitor notices immediately is that this city is young, hip and creative; and a knowledge of English is, at least among young people, taken for granted. They see themselves as Europeans. After all, Bulgaria is an EU member state. And Plovdiv residents are proud that their city is one of the oldest in Europe.

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Regards from Rome!

Like Rome, Plovdiv was built on seven hills, but it's much older. Whereas Rome is a mere 3,000 years old, Plovdiv looks back on 8,000 years of history. Thracians, Celts, Romans and Ottoman Turks have all left their traces here.

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Much ado about theatre

The marble theatre dating from the second century AD is one of the loveliest mementos left by the Romans. Some 6,000 spectators could watch ancient tragedies and comedies here. The theatre will also serve as a magnificent backdrop for concerts and performances during Plovdiv's year as a Capital of Culture.

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Ottoman heritage

The past is another country: the Dzhumaya Mosque, or Friday Mosque, was built in the 15th century, when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. With its walls of natural stone and brick and its delicate minaret, this imposing mosque is located centrally, on Plovdiv's long promenade.

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Sleeping Beauty

That's what the people of Plovdiv call their Old Town, which sits atop three hills overlooking the city. Cobbled lanes lead up to a small paradise of churches, village shops and grand merchants' houses. Its charming houses in Bulgarian style are relatively young, in light of the city's venerable history.

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Keeping up with the neighbors

In the 19th century, with the end of Turkish rule in Bulgaria, a veritable construction boom broke out. The wealthy merchants of Plovdiv spared no expense or effort in trying to outdo each other. Every house had to be more beautiful than the next one.

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Bulgarian atmosphere

One merchant who really went to town was Arghir Kuyumdzhiouglu: his house is one of the biggest and most magnificent in the Old Town. Its interior is impressive with its wood-paneled ceilings. The collections of Plovdiv's ethnographic museum are now exhibited in the elegantly furnished rooms.

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Street art quarter

Colorful graffiti are the trademark of Kapana. The old artisans' district has been transformed into a new trendy quarter. In the past years it has been restored, and its many cafes and shops make it an ideal meeting place during Plovdiv's year as cultural capital.

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Waiting for the tourists

Many people in Plovdiv hope that its year as cultural capital will awaken this sleeping beauty to new life. Thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Bulgaria and Plovdiv are still far off the beaten tourist track. But the organizers of the year as a European Capital of Culture expect about 2 million visitors from all over the world in 2019.

2019 European Capital of Culture - Plovdiv in Bulgaria has just what it takes: a long history and a pulsating present. Until now, it's unjustly been known only to insiders as a travel destination.