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Plovdiv, exploring the ancient city of the seven hills: A Cuban’s Perspective

CLU member Simonne García shows her views of the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv

At the very heart of Bulgaria you can find a city called Plovdiv, it is a captivating blend of history, culture, and architectural marvels in Eastern Europe. Known for its amazing rich heritage, the city of Plovdiv is also known to be by far the oldest city in Europe, having been founded about 6000 BCE. Nebet tepe, one of Plovdiv’s hills, is the most crucial settlement from that time, having been inhabited since. The whole city was expanded around Nebet Tepe and fortified by the Thracians during the Iron Age. It was later renamed Evmolpia after King Evmolp who ruled around 1200 BCE. Then Around 342 BCE, Evmolpia was conquered by Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great, and renamed Philippopolis [Φιλιππούπολις] after the ruler Philip II of Macedon, it was a jewl of the ancient history. The whole city offers a journey through time, with numerous historic sites that stand as a testament to its enduring legacy though time and conquers.

Original Restored Roman Mosaic of Philippopolis.(Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)

Old Town Plovdiv: A Living Museum

One of the most remarkable areas of Plovdiv is its Old Town, often referred to as the “City of the Seven Hills.” This well-preserved historic district boasts a labyrinth of cobbled streets, colorful well preserved 19th-century houses, and charming courtyards. It is home to various museums, churches, art galleries, and cultural events, making it a vibrant center of the city’s cultural life. As I wander through its streets, I felt as though I’ve stepped back in time a couple of centuries.

Old Town Plovdiv.(Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)

St. Dimitar of Thessaloniki Church: A Sacred Treasure

St. Dimitar of Thessaloniki Church, an architectural masterpiece, its also a symbol of faith and tradition. This stunning Bulgarian Orthodox church, located in the heart of Plovdiv, was constructed in the 19th century. With its intricate frescoes and ornate interior, the church is not only a place of worship but also an artistic marvel, showcasing the deep spiritual and religious heritage of Plovdiv showing pictures of golden saints and passages from the scriptures.

Inside look of St. Dimitar of Thessaloniki Church.(Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)

Roman Theatre and Aqueducts: Timeless Wonder

Plovdiv proudly houses one of the world’s best-preserved Roman theaters, built during the 2nd century AD. This ancient amphitheater once accommodated over 6,000 spectators and continues to host various performances and events today.

Restored Ancient Roman Theatre, still in use today.(Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)

The well-preserved Roman aqueducts, often referred to as the “Plovdiv Water Supply,” offer a glimpse into the impressive engineering skills of the Roman era. This amazing historical marvel is a landmark of testament to the enduring ingeneering legacy of Roman civilization in the city.

Original Section from the Roman Aqueducts. (Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)

Byzantine Mosque: Standing Still in time

The Byzantine Mosque, also known as the Imaret Mosque, is another gem of Plovdiv’s historic landscape. Constructed in the 15th century during the Ottoman period, this mosque is a fine example of Ottoman architecture. Its elegant minaret and intricate interior design reflect the city’s diverse and multicultural history. The mosque has a sun clock that still stands on the outside to show time, the whole building is a testament to the coexistence of different cultures and religions in Plovdiv over the centuries.

The Imaret Mosque/ Byzantine Mosque.(Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)

Clock Tower: A Symbol of Modernity

In the heart of one of Plovdiv’s hills, the Clock Tower, locally known as Sahat Tepe, stands tall as a symbol of modernity amidst the city’s ancient landmarks. This Ottoman-era clock tower was built in the 16th century and has undergone several renovations. Climbing to its top rewards visitors with a panoramic view of Plovdiv, allowing you to appreciate the city’s unique blend of old and new.

The Clock Tower.(Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)

This is a city that seamlessly weaves its rich history and modern vibrancy into a tapestry of cultural experiences. From the sacred tranquility of St. Dimitar of Thessaloniki Church to the lively ambiance of Old Town Plovdiv, and from the timelessness of the Roman Theatre and Aqueducts to the multicultural heritage of the Byzantine Mosque and the modernity of the Clock Tower, Plovdiv offers a journey through centuries of history and culture that leaves an indelible impression on every visitor.

It’s a city where the past and present coexist harmoniously, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique and enriching experience.

Sunset view of Plovdiv from one of the hills. (Photo by Mone Photography/ CLU)


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