A LOVELY DAY IN PLOVDIV, BULGARIA

One our way home from Sofia, my husband suggested to spend some hours in the oldest living city in Europe and among the six oldest cities in the world, Plovdiv. I was wondering how is possible to not hear about this city before.

As we had a great experience with free tour in Sofia, we decided to join the free Plovdiv walking tour . An excellent way for a better introduction to Plovdiv’s best sites and learn about the unique history of the town. The adventure begun at 2:00 pm in front of the Municipality Building.

Adi, our guide took us to the most important tourist attractions from the town, so we will list those ones in this article.

We started our tour with Knyaz Aleksandar I, it is said to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe, spanning 1.7 km. It is a nice street with shops, coffees, restaurants and maybe the most impressive is the Roman Stadium that is buried underground.

Knyaz Aleksandar I, Plovdiv

Knyaz Aleksandar I, Plovdiv

Roman Stadium, Plovdiv

Roman Stadium, Plovdiv

The stadium has only been partly excavated due to its difficult location. It is practically impossible to destroy the lively pedestrian street, so we could enjoy only the northern end of it. It was amazing to know that beneath our feet are the remains of great Roman structures dated sometime between 117-138 AD.

Kapana “The Trap”  is one of the oldest parts of the city and it was known as a home of craftsmen. The project of making Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019 have changed this small corner of the city into an artistic and creative district. Nowadays, it is a place where contemporary businesses are opened, like ateliers, studios, workshops, coffees and friendly bars.

Kapana,“The Trap” Plovdiv

Kapana,“The Trap” Plovdiv

Kapana,“The Trap”, Plovdiv

Kapana,“The Trap”, Plovdiv

Walking through these small and colorful streets of The Trap, recharged us with positive vibe.

Old Town is the perfect place to walk through the narrow cobblestone streets, breath history and enjoy the ancient houses and ruins. There are a lot of landmarks that we loved.

Old Town, Plovdiv

Old Town, Plovdiv

Dzhumaya Mosque is a still-working mosque and we were surprised to found out that is the second-oldest in Europe.

Dzhumaya Mosque, Plovdiv

Dzhumaya Mosque, Plovdiv

Nearby, we enjoyed a traditional Turkish coffee.

Plovdiv

Plovdiv

Hisar Kapia, the fortress gate situated in the heart of the Old Town. This famous stone arch is about 2000 years old.

Hisar Kapia, Plovdiv

Hisar Kapia, Plovdiv

Church of Sveti Konstantin & Elena, it is Plovdiv’s oldest church.

Roman amphitheater is impressively preserved site, which is actually still used for various musical and opera performances. View of the city beyond the stage creates a unique frame. This symbol of the town is simply spectacular.

We promise ourselves to come back and to live the unforgettable experience of a life concert on this glorious theater.

Roman amphitheater, Plovdiv

Roman amphitheater, Plovdiv

Plovdiv Ethnographic Museum is a stunning building outside with a gorgeous baroque architecture. The lovely facade impressed us. We heard that is worth to see the museum inside, we didn’t enter because it was closed due to the Christmas holiday.

Ethnographic Museum,Plovdi

Ethnographic Museum,Plovdiv

The time we spend exploring the Old Town, worth each minute.

 Plovdiv hills

One of Plovdiv’s nicknames is “The city on seven hills”.

The history of Plovdiv hills is really interesting. While Plovdiv once had seven hills, it only has six today. Markovo Hill, the seventh, was destroyed during the early 20th century and used for raw building material.

If you have more time to spend in Plovdiv, you can hike its hills and enjoy the splendid view over the city from the top.

Due to limited time we has in Plovdiv we could wonder on the beauty of the city only from the top of one hill.

Strolling around the city, we felt like we were in a history book –seeing the buildings and evidence from almost every historical period.

After our unforgettable experience in the city it is not a surprise to us that Plovdiv has been listed as the European Capital of Culture in 2019.

The motto “Ancient and eternal” is not random.

The future European Capital of Culture combines history, art, culture and business- things that very barely can be found together in one city.

Have you heard of Plovdiv before? It is Plovdiv on you bucket list?  Tell us in comments, we’d love to hear from you 😊

Plovdiv, European Capital of Culture in 2019

Plovdiv, European Capital of Culture in 2019

 

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10 THINGS TO SEE AND TO DO IN SOFIA, BULGARIA

Sofia, an awesome place to visit!

Many iconic buildings, places and architecture, roman ruins over the city center, numerous green areas, friendly locals and delicious traditional food (at least we loved it). On top of all of this, Sofia it’s also a budget travelers destination.

What more could travelers wish for?

There are a lot of interesting things that you can see and do in Sofia. The main sights are concentrated in the City Center, so we have listed top 10 places that impressed us and maybe will help you to plan your visit in the capital of Bulgaria. Beside the photos, we also highlighted some information that we found interesting.

Read the list below to find out how to experience it for yourself.

 

Church of St. George Sofia

Church of St. George, Sofia

 

Church of St. George which is considered to be the oldest building in Sofia, dates back to the 4th century and together with ruins of the Antic town Serdica now is surrounded by the buildings of  Presidential Palace.

 

 

 

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

 

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral  (my personal favorite) the biggest and most gorgeous Christian temple in Bulgaria. It was nice to find out that the cathedral crypt houses the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe. Getting inside we could pray and admire the splendid examples of the art of iconography.

 

 

Saint Sofia Church

Saint Sofia Church

 

Saint Sofia Church that gave the name of Sofia to the city. It is located in the city center and its underground level is turned into a museum where you can stroll in old-time catacombs. We couldn’t enter because it was closed due to Christmas holiday.

Next to the church there is the monument to the Unknown Soldier commemorating Bulgarian soldiers who died protecting their country.

 

Nedelya Church, Sofia

Nedelya Church, Sofia

 

Nedelya Church, this is a church with a sad history… in 1925 a terrorist attack was carried out, aimed to kill the Bulgarian Tsar Boris III. He was not killed because delayed with a half an hour, anyway this attack brought a tragic end for a lot of people which were inside the church.

P.S. Bulgarian people often use this example when they are late 😊

 

Petka Church, Sofia

Petka Church, Sofia

 

Petka Church was constructed in the 14th century by saddle makers. It is very short because churches built during the Ottoman period couldn’t be higher than a soldier on horseback, so they were partially buried. This is the first time when we enter in such a small church, however it filled our souls with pace.

It worth.

 

Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker , Sofia

Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker , Sofia

 

 

Russian Orthodox Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker  surprised us with its beautiful architecture and ornamentation.

 

 

 

Saint Sofia Monument

Saint Sofia Monument

 

Saint Sofia Monument probably the most famous monument in Sofia, it is a 24-meter-high bronze statue.

It’s a symbol of the city because St. Sofia is city’s patron.

 

 

 

Yellow Cobbles, Sofia

Yellow Cobbles, Sofia

 

Step on the Yellow Cobbles that cover the area around the National Assembly and then down towards the National Gallery of Art & Ethnography Museum. It is something that we found amazing in Sofia and we though that the bricks are colored in yellow. When we asked our guide, he explained that the cobbles were made in Hungary and were a wedding gift to Tsar Ferdinand I from the Austro-Hungarian emperor. The bricks are a symbol of Sofia and are not colored, they are made from a very expensive and special yellow material.

 

 

Ivan Vazov National Theater

Ivan Vazov National Theater, Sofia

 

 

Ivan Vazov National Theater,  we really love this stunning building, considering to be one of the most ornate in Sofia. It was constructed by the Austrian architects Helmer & Felneris in 1907.

 

 

 

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

 

Public Mineral Baths, this building with elegant style and architecture was a public bath with separate facilities for men and women. They come here to relax and interact with each other’s.

It was like Facebook today 😄

Nowadays the building hosts a permanent exhibition of the Sofia  History Museum. The Public Baths is located near the Central Mosque. 

 

 

 

 

Sofia culture and architecture are very special because it reflects the influences from every historical period it has gone through.

Learning about the history of Sofia made us curious to explore more and we decided to spend the last day of our trip in Plovdiv – another city full of history and interesting facts.

OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM SOFIA

Did you ever wake up in the morning and had no idea what to do for the next 2 or 3 days …?                           – we experienced it before Christmas Eve as we decided not to go to home this year.

Solution …? – hmm, we opened google maps and found that Sofia is at just 500 km far away from Bucharest. So, it took just few seconds to make the decision … no words needed, just look at each other … in only 30 minutes we already were on our road trip.

Joining the free tour in Sofia

One of the most affordable and interesting way to discover Sofia is by joining the local guides from Free Sofia Tour . Niki was our amazing guide, that shown and told us the most important places and facts about the capital of Bulgaria. As we joined the tour on Christmas Eve, our small group were of 6 tourists from 4 different continents, which was nice 😊

The most amazed thing that for sure I will not forget about Sofia is the Square of Tolerance where you can find the temples of the 4 major religions: a mosque, a Catholic cathedral, an orthodox church and a synagogue. Sofia is unique in Europe, by having these places of worship for four major religions so close together.

Square of Tolerance, Sofia

Square of Tolerance, Sofia

I am grateful that our guide shared with us the strategic point where we saw all those temples together …it gave me an inner emotion full of peace.

Great experience – In just few hours we get a bunch of information about Sofia and we interact with friendly people.

Strolling through the city

Before visiting Sofia, many time I heard the phrase “Sofia is a city of contrasts”.  So, to get convinced about this, we went for a walk through the city.  Look at these photos and tell us if you feel the same…

Church of St. George, Sofia

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

 

Saint Sofia Church

Ivan Vazov National Theatre, Sofia

 

 

Roman ruins, Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you curious to know more about any of these places, check our article 10 Things to see and to do in Sofia

Enjoying the Vitosha mountain

Sofia is located at the foot of the Vitosha mountain, that makes it’s an uncommon capital. Anytime you can have a break from the city and be in contact with nature.

From almost any location in the city, we could glimpse the beauty of the mountain. It creates a perfect frame for the historical buildings and for all tourist attractions.

Taking our car and driving from Sofia up to the mountain was the best thing we could do on the Christmas day. On the top of Vitosha we breathed clean air, enjoyed the beautiful snowy scenery and the amazing view over the city.

Vitosha Mountain

I will never forget the beautiful sunset. We were so lucky to see it.

Sunset seen on Vitosha Mountain

I could not take my eyes off … it was wonderful.

This was a perfect way to recharge our batteries 😊

After a cold and fresh walk, we get very hungry 😋

Excellent occasion to eat an authentic Bulgarian food. We were at Izbata Tavern, welcoming place with typical Bulgarian interior, tableware with traditional tint and folk music. Here we taste the amazing Bulgarian cousin, that we liked a lot. For appetizers we ate Eggplant chaviar and main dishes Veal satch and Kavarma. 

Izbata Taverna in Sofia      

Appetizers at Izbata Taverna in Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tavern is part of tourist attractions from Sofia.

Trying traditional cousin is another great way to experience a destination.

Accommodation? –  a lot of great options for affordable prices. We chose “BW Premier Collection City Hotel” as it looked to meet our needs: good breakfast, central location, parking and excellent rate on booking submitted by more than 1000 reviews. It come up to our expectations. 😊

Sofia will remain in our hearts as a city full of history…that was conquered by different imperial powers which had left their marks… and in the end created this unique culture.

P.S. Visiting Sofia we managed to add one more capital in our bucket list for 2017 🤗