THE VIEW OF A BIRD FROM NEBET TEPE
The city of Plovdiv blossoms from the top of one of the seven hills on which the city stands, the Nebet Tepe Hill. The first settlements on Nebet Tepe date back to 4000 BC. The site was populated by Thracians, Macedonians and Romans, whose archaeological traces were found on the top of the hill.
Thracians are considered the ancestors of the Bulgarian people. Thracian tribes occupied the South-eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula, which is currently occupied by Bulgaria. Since there were not many traces of them left, it was not possible to find out much about their culture. Whatever traces were found are mere genetic coincidences linked to Bulgarians of today.
Thracian tribes inhabited this part of Europe around 4000 B.C. Let us remember that the Egyptian civilization began around 3000 A.D., the Greek civilization around 2100 B.C. and the Roman civilization around 750 B.C. The Thracians left an important mark on the European civilization and influenced Greek and Roman cultures. For example, many of the gods in the Greek and Roman mythology trace back to Thracian origins. More than 80 different tribes were known to share language and culture, but they had numerous fights among them.
The archaeological remains of Nebet Tepe are located on a 188m high hill of the same name, where remains of the Thracian fortress and Roman wall are preserved. Entry to the site is free and it is always open. The best feature of this hilltop historic site is the beautiful view of Plovdiv and the mountains surrounding it.
Nebet Tepe, 4000 Tsentar, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
KEBAPCHETA AND KAMENITZA
Kebapcheta is one of the most popular dishes in Bulgarian. From children to adults, everyone loves this delicacy, which is always there when they gather to eat. It is also extremely popular among tourists.
With a shape like a large sausage, it is made with minced pork and beef with lots of spices (black pepper, cumin, salt and others according to the cook’s taste). Once the meat has been seasoned, it is left to rest for a few hours to allow the aroma of the spices to impregnate it. After that, the meat is shaped in an elongated and rectangular form with about 15cm long and no more than 3cm thick. Once prepared, the kebapchetas are grilled and served with fries and grated cheese. The name kebapche derives from kebab, the famous Turkish dish, and could be translated as “small kebab.”
The best drink to accompany this delicious dish is cold Kamenitza beer, the most popular brand in Bulgaria. Kamenitza has been brewed in Plovdiv since 1881. The name of this low-fermentation beer, with 4.4 degrees of alcohol, comes from the Kamenitza hill that surrounds the city of Plovdiv. From the moment you set foot in the country, you will start to become familiar with the green colour of its bottle and its label, since Kamenitza is more than just another brand of beer, it is the true BULGARIAN BEER with capital letters.
Without a doubt, the most typical and cheapest Bulgarian souvenir is Martenitsa. During your walks through different Bulgarian cities, you will certainly see red bracelets hanging from trees. These are the so-called Martenitsas, small ornaments made of red and white wool.
The name derives from what Bulgarians called the first month of the year "mart" (March), and the tree-hanging tradition is likely to have originated from Baba Marta. According to this legend, if Grandma Marta were happy and smiling, the sun would shine, the fields would blossom, and the crops would be good. Yet if Grandma Marta were in a bad mood, it would be very cold and it would be a bad year for the crops. Bulgarians then started making these decorations to please Baba Marta and make her happy, thus ensuring mild weather and good harvests.
According to other stories, the tradition of the Martenitsas is much older, dating back specifically to year when Bulgaria was founded, in 681. The story is connected to its founder, Khan Asparuh, who sent an eagle with a white thread tied to it to celebrate the victory over the Byzantine Empire. Yet as it took off, the eagle was wounded by an enemy arrow. The bird´s blood dyed the white thread red and despite its wounds, the eagle reached its destination. Since then, Asparuh had established that the red and white thread would become a symbol of Bulgarian hope, unity and strength.
The tradition dictates that the necklaces must be given as a gift, so make sure to never buy them for yourself, and when giving them as a gift, you must say "Chesita Baba Marta" (Happy Grandma Marta). They come in different shapes, bracelets, brooches, dolls, and you can buy them for a single euro each. The tradition in Bulgaria is to hang them in March and keep them tied until the first flowers blossom and the first storks arrive. An economical gift with deep roots in the Bulgarian tradition.
THE HISAR KAPIA GATE
The Hisar Kapia gate is undoubtedly one of the most characteristic sites in Plovdiv. With a Turkish name meaning "fortress gate," it was built in the 11th century upon the foundations of another gate of Roman origin and is one of the three entrances to the Plovdiv fortress.
Its origins date back to the 2nd century A.D., when the first gate was built on this site. Later, during the reign of Emperor Justinian, the wall was enlarged and reinforced. According to experts, what remains today are only the foundations of what the Roman gate once was. The current construction dates to the medieval period, between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century. This is because one can see in the arch a construction technique that is typical of the Second Bulgarian Empire: stone masonry and brick pieces in the arch, all of which are filled with white mortar. And although of Roman origin and medieval appearance, it was the Turks who gave its current name.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the city´s wealthy merchants began building their homes on the ruins of the wall and surrounded the Hirar Kapia gate with colourful Renaissance-style mansions. Remains of the wall can still be seen at the bottom of these houses. It is amazing how these brightly coloured blue and red houses rose above the city´s past, completely transforming that ancient Roman wall.
Today, the gate has become one of the symbols of the city. This is because, if it could speak, it would be able to tell the whole story of Plovdiv, as it saw Romans, Goths, Ottomans, wealthy merchants pass by while hundreds of thousands of soldiers defending the city fought and fell at its feet.
Mirar Kapia Gate, 4000, Tsentar, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
SAHAT TEPE AND THE CLOCK TOWER
Sahat tepe was one of the hills that closed the geography of the city in the times of the Thracians, Hellenes and Romans. One of the hills that saw the birth of what he considered to be one of the oldest cities in Europe, built on the banks of the river Maritsa. City that the Macedonians called Philippopolis in honor of their conqueror Filippo II, father of Alexander the Great, the Thracians Pulpudeva and the Romans Trimontim, and it was the Ottomans who gave it the current name of Plovdiv.
The Ottomans occupied present-day Bulgaria from the 15th century to 1878 and during all this time they left their mark on the city, building and naming some of the most beautiful corners of the place, such as Sahat tepe, which in Turkish means "the Hill of the Clock", because over it stands the clock tower, which from afar could resemble the Galata Tower in Istanbul and which is one of the many buildings that still remain from the passage of the Turks through the place.
The first tower was built at the end of the 16th century and not only served to mark time, but also served as a watchtower for the fire department. It is one of the oldest clock towers in Eastern Europe.
The clock mechanism was made by Italian designer Antonio Barbagella. Time is not measured with a dial, but with that of Piqué in a campaign that sounded every day at noon.
The fashion for building clock towers comes from Europe and its need to measure time with increasingly modern technical means. This Plovdiv tower served as a model for many others inside and outside Bulgaria.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the wooden structure of the tower was destroyed by fire, this time being rebuilt in stone with a height of 17.5 meters. The tower was equipped with a clockwork made in Vienna.
During the 1940s, the clock mechanism stopped working and was dismantled and taken to the fire department store, since then several mechanisms have passed through this clock.
Citizens of Plovdiv know this hill as TV hill because the radio and TV station transmitters are located on top of Sahat tepe. But perhaps there is someone who names this hill in a third different way, Danov hill, after the famous Bulgarian professor Hristo G. Danov, book editor and mayor of the city between 1896 and 1899.
Clock Tower, Sahat Tepe, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
More difficult than speaking Bulgarian is writing or reading the language, as it does not use our alphabet. The Bulgarian alphabet is the so-called Cyrillic alphabet, which means that to learn it, you must first know its letters.
Bulgarians learn languages very quickly for several reasons. One of such reasons is the need to learn other European languages since in recent years, unfortunately, many Bulgarians have had to look for work outside their own country. With such a different alphabet, they tried to learn even before leaving the country. In addition, televisions broadcast movies in their original version with subtitles, which allows for them to familiarise with other languages.
Now let us see some Bulgarian words:
PORTUGUESE - BULGARIAN - PRONUNCIATION
Good morning…………………????? ???……………………….…..dobar den
How much does it cost?..............????? ???????...................................kolko struva?
Where is it?....... .. ......................???? ?.?.............................................kade and..?
These are just a few examples of the words and phrases we will be using the most. If you are really interested in learning, as it is a city that welcomes many Erasmus students, Plovdiv offers many courses where you can learn the native language,.
And remember, the best way to learn a few more words is to chat with the townspeople while enjoying a good Bulgarian dish.
THE ROMAN THEATER OF TRIMONTIUM
Between 98 and 117 A.D., during the reign of the Spanish Emperor Trajan, it was decided to build a Roman theatre in the city of Trimontium in the province of Roman Thrace, present-day Plovdiv. The theatre had a seating capacity of around 6,000 spectators and today is still a venue for performances in the city.
The Roman theatre is one of those places that you must see during your visit to Plovdiv. Like many other sites, the theatre is very well preserved because the Roman construction was completely buried and only after a landslide in 1970 was it brought to surface.
When you arrive at the theatre, try sitting on its steps and imagining what it was like at the time of its greatest splendour. It may be difficult to imagine actors in ancient Roman costumes in Bulgaria, but one needs to know that Thrace was a particularly important Roman province.
After the death of the Thracian king Rhoemetalces III in 46 A.D., the kingdom was taken over by Rome and became the Roman province of Thrace, which occupied the ancient Kingdom of Odrysius, a part of the province of Macedonia, the islands of Thassos, Samothrace and Imbros in the Aegean Sea.
Emperors Trajan and Hadrian founded the cities of Serdica, Trajanople and Adrianople. When Emperor Constantine founded Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), the importance of the Thrace province increased due to its proximity to the city that had just become the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Since it was an inland province, it became a peaceful place within the empire. Cities prospered and grew, until the first invasions of Central and Northern Europe tribe s, the Goths, arrived. For some time, these invasions could be contained, and Roman Thrace continued to belong to Rome. Because of its proximity to ancient Greece, it always had more influence from the Hellenes than from Rome. But it should be noted that although the ancient Thracians were neighbours to the Greeks, they always remained on the fringes of Greek civilization. They were a very warlike people, so the Greeks sought slaves and mercenaries from them. A curious fact is that, despite it all, the Thracians tattooed their bodies.
Ancient Thrace today lies between the borders of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.
Roman Theatre Trimontium, Rua Rei Ivaylo, 4. 4000 Centre, Plovdiv. Bulgaria.
KAPANA, THE TRAP NEIGHBOURHOOD
An ideal place to stroll, enjoy designer handicrafts and find small antique shops, Kapana is the most elegant neighbourhood in the city.
This neighbourhood is called a "trap" because of its winding streets. A former artisans´ quarter, its streets today still remind us of the businesses that opened shops in the past: the gold street, the leather street...
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Viennese style became fashionable in the city and the neighbourhood was filled with beautiful houses in this style, giving it a majestic air. It should be noted that KAPANA was the heart of the city during Ottoman domination. This is why Dzhumaya Mosque, whose name means "Friday’s main mosque," is located in this neighbourhood. This is one of the oldest mosques in the Balkans and the largest of the 50 mosques the city once had. It was built in the 14th century under the reign of the Turkish sultan Murad I. In addition to a fountain with four pillars, it has a 23m high minaret and nine domes covered with lead sheets and decorated with frescoes with floral themes mixed with phrases from the Qur´an. We can start our walks precisely from this place, the starting point of the neighbourhood.
In Dzhumaya Square is located the Philippopolis or Trimontium Stadium, which is almost buried under ground. This Roman-era building was over 200 meters long and had a capacity of 30,000 spectators. Currently, the site houses an interpretation centre.
Dzhumaya Mosque, ul "Zhelezarska", 4000 Staria grand y, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Roman Stadium, ul, “Hristo G. Danov”, 4000 Estaria grad, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
TZARS SIMEON GARDENS
One of the best places you´ve found in Plovdiv to take a break and rest are the beautiful and central Tsar Simeon Gardens, considered by the townspeople as Plovdiv´s summer.
These gardens were last displayed by landscape architect Ly Shevalas at the site where they were first located. A park formed by century-old trees, sculptures and fountains famous as well as famous can be 12 meters of water of different heights and scales up to 12 meters of water that different fountains assorted selected. After the sun goes down, the fountain is not lit up with many painted lights that hype and keep the show going for hours. An ideal place to take a break during our visit to Plovdiv, both during the day and at night.
But who was Tsar Simeon? Why is this city dedicating a park to him?
Simeon I, known as Simeon the Great, was tsar during the First Bulgarian Empire in the 10th century. Tsar Simeon gave the Bulgarian Empire its cultural heyday, making it the literary and spiritual center of Slavic Europe. Tsar Simeon is considered one of Bulgaria´s most important historical figures and for many as "the greatest Bulgarian of all time". His dream was to conquer Constantinople, something he never achieved.
Tsar Simeon Park, ul “Veliko Tarnovo" 11a, 4000 Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
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