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The Old Plovdiv

The Eternal City, as Rome is conventionally called, is much younger than Plovdiv. So are Athens, Carthage and Constantinople. A contemporary of Troy, Plovdiv is a city upon ayers of cities and an epoch upon layers of epoch. Plovdiv is all is one: a Thracian and a classical Greek polis, the pride of Philip II of Macedonia ( that is The Roman amphitheatre where the old name of the town Philipopolis comes from ), the capital of Thrace under the Roman Empire, a center of Byzantinism a stronghold of the Bulgarians, a dream of the crusaders, one of the prettiest cities of the Otoman Empi- re, Bulgaria?s first capital after the Liberation. Situated on three hills in the Thracian Plain, encircled by the slow running waters of the Maritza river, Bulgaria's second largest city today, Plovdiv has a 24 centuries long history and is one of the ancient crossroads between East and West. Landmarks remaining from Roman times include the Philip- popolis Amphitheatre and the restored 2nd century Antique Theatre. The marble-tiled Forum, the Ethnogrphic museum, the art galleries, churches and the street of folk arts and crafts are major landmarks of Old Plovdid. The Old Plovdiv on Trimontzium hill is famous fot its National Revival architecture (from 18th-19th c.). Many of the houses are now museums: the Ethnographic Museum, the Museum of the National Revival and the National Liberation struggles, the Alphonse de Lamartine museum house.


One of the most charming small Bulgarian towns, still preserving the atmosphere of the National Re- vival period, is huddled in the mountain folds 111 km east of Sofia. The town is a unique combina- tion of a legendary history and fascinating present. No other Bulga- rian museum town boasts such a large number of houses and mo- numents - 383 in all, most of which have been restored to their original appearance. A unique col- lection of ethnographical treasu- res, old weapons, National Revival works of art, fine fretwork, house- hold weaves and embroidery, na- tional costumes and typical Bul- garian jewelry has also been pre- served. It was here that the first bullet of the April Uprising against the Ottoman oppressors was fired in 1876. And it is here that you will find the native places, now museums, of Todor Kableshkov and Georgi Benkovski, two of the organizers and leaders of the uprising; as well as of the poet Dimcho Debelyanov and writer Lyuben Karavelov. Koprivshtitza is the place where one can best trace the stages of evolution in Bulgarian National Revival architecture. The houses dated to the second half of the 19th century have exqusite painted facades and sunny ve- randahs, with carved ceilings and stylish European furnishings.

Veliko Turnovo

A National Revival city Turnovo is not only a mediaeval capital, it is also a National Revival city. For 800 years now it has towered over the Yantra river which meanders at its feet. The houses are perched one above the other on the steep slopes of the almost sheer banks. Situated 241 km northeast of Sofia, the city is known for its distinct and pictures- que architecture which creates a feeling of warmth and coziness. The typical architecture is enhanced by the surrounding landscape. An enviable harmony with nature has been achieved with great skill and an innate sense of beauty. The works of the self- taught master Kolyo Ficheto are genuine masterpieces: Hadji Nikoli Inn, the Town Hall and the St.St. Constantine and Helena Church. The city?s museums and art galleries house many valu- able exhibits. Gurko Street is one of the city's architectural ensembles. The Samovodene Markets, too have been revived to life with their small workshops where master goldsmiths, potters, carvers, weavers and pastry cooks are busy with their craft. The old photo studio is also well worth a visit. Sights include the churches St. Demetrius (12th c.), Holy Forty Martyrs, built in 1230 by Tsar Ivan Assen II, and St. Peter and Paul (14th c.). Only 4 km from Veliko Turnovo is Arbanassi, a charming village with an eventful history and fascinating architecture. Thirty six of its 80 houses and the five local churches have been dada red national monuments of culture. The historic reserves Etara and Bozhentsi are located nearby.


Melnik (pop. 800) is the smallest Bulgarian town, picturesquely situated amidst a fantastic scenery - strangely shaped pyramids of sand and limestone. During the 17th - 18th c. it become a flourishing tobacco and wineproducing center, whose fame spread to many European countries. The beautiful fortress-like houses with broad wine-cellars cut in the limestone rocks date from this period. Worth visiting is the Rozhen Monastery (14th c.) located 6 km east of Melnik. The monastery church (built in 1600) is famous for its beatifully carved altar and fine murals and icons.










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