Plovdiv – Europe’s Culture Capital for 2019

Plovdiv is indeed one of the cities in Bulgaria that you would want to see. Similar to Veliko Tarnovo, it’s an interestingly hilly city with its lush greenery and urbanity sprawling far and wide. It’s one of the important cities in the country and one of the few that is developing rapidly.

In 2019, Plovdiv has been elected for an important role as European Capital of Culture. The place is buzzing with excitement and things to see and do. From Craft Beer to the Roman Theatre of Philippopolis, there’s quite a bit to see in this vast city.

It’s fairly safe and the things you can see there are truly outstanding as well. Interested in spending a great day in Plovdiv? Let’s get you started.

#1 Plovdiv’s Old Town – Quite the Gem

Plovdiv has managed to safeguard its historical heritage which is of such great importance to the city and its inhabitants. Not to mention that it drives tourism. Once in the hands of Macedonian rulers, Plovdiv remains one of the most developed cities in Bulgaria.

Old Town in Plovdiv.
Old Town in Plovdiv.

The Old Town is a curious pocket of history where brightly-lit facades and landmarks from Roman times make the entire experience truly memorable. You will see that the Old Town mixes elements of antiquity and Bulgarian Renaissance.

It’s quite easy to find your way around town and with this, we will leave you to the many wonders that Plovdiv has to offer. The places you can crash for food and drink are no run-of-the-mill places either.

Each restaurant seems to be owned by a hipster entrepreneur, but don’t think that this is off-putting. Quite to the contrary, there are myriad youngsters who have worked hard to establish themselves in the very heart of the city, and they will treat you to various sweet treats, such as greenies for the vegetarians and juicy stakes for the carnivorous among you.

The drinks, cocktails, and lemonade are superb. You can taste lots of brew and since it’s quite cheap, you can taste it cheap, too! Even at restaurants in Old Town, you will be guzzling down great beer at $2-3 a pop – quite the achievement, we’re sure.

#2 The Roman Theatre

The Roman Theatre is Plovdiv’s heritage from – you guessed it correct – the Romans themselves. The Empire sprawled well into the East and that’s not a surprise given that the Black Sea cities were of particular value to the Roman Empire.

The Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Garrisoned all across the Balkan Peninsula, Plovdiv has always been a natural city of glory and significance for Bulgaria and beyond. The Roman Dramatic Theatre is still used, very much so.

Many great musicians have held a concert there, including the late Chris Cornell who had a gig a few years back. Plovdiv’s Roman Theatre is definitely one of the places you will want to visit.

#3 The Main Square

Now, the Main Square in Plovdiv is another great place to be. It’s a long place with multiple walking areas converging in the very heart of the town. You will be able to explore multiple venues if you head out of the Main Square, including Museums, Park Tsar Simeon, Chiesa SS. Constantin e Elena, Djumaya Mosque and more.

You will notice that the city is filled with Ottoman symbols. You can rightfully call Plovdiv the Jerusalem of the Balkans, combining and mixing various cultures. It’s curious to behold how Plovdiv successfully creates a small Orient right in the center of the Eastern country.

#4 Check Out the Food

Just as you can expect from such a micro-cosmos as Plovdiv, there are quite a few treats you can try to cater your taste buds. Bulgarians will treat you to “Shopska Salad”, which is basically tomatoes, cucumbers with shredded cheese that you won’t find anywhere else. The taste of the cheese is salty and it’s nothing like goat cheese, though.

Tarator,a traditional Bulgarian soup made with special yoghurt, cucumbers, and more.
Tarator,a traditional Bulgarian soup made with special yoghurt, cucumbers, and more.

It’s less smelly for starters and through some strange culinary miracle it tastes divine sprinkled on top of vegetables. Other delicacies include “Tarator“, “Shekmbe Chorba“, “Banitsa” and “Kiselo Mlyako“.

Tarator is a soup made with cucumbers and yoghurt (kiselo mlyako). This yoghurt is sour and it’s a big hit in places like Japan. No other country produces it and it’s really one of the most memorable tastes you will ever experience. It’s the key ingredient to Tarator, too.

Shekmbe Chorba is made of the belly of pigs, which sounds sort of offputting, but it’s quite tasty and spicy. I am a self-chosen vegetarian and avoid meat as a rule, but I never pass an opportunity to try something new as long as I leave it at this.

Plovdiv is really quite the place for yourself to enjoy good food and kitchen.

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