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Plovdiv – “the most beautiful Thracian city” within the territory of Bulgaria!

Stretching on seven hills in the heart of the Thracian Valley in Central South Bulgaria, Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria and one of the oldest in Europe.
With its art galleries, winding cobbled streets and bohemian cafes, Plovdiv equals Sofia in things cultural and is a determined rival in nightlife as well – it has a lively, exuberant spirit befitting its status as a major university town. Being a smaller and less stressful city than Sofia, Plovdiv is also great for walking. Plovdiv’s lovely old town, largely restored to its mid-19th-century appearance is packed with atmospheric house museums and art galleries and – unlike many other cities with ‘old towns’ – has eminent artists still living and working within its tranquil confines. The neighbourhood boasts Thracian, Roman, Byzantine and Bulgarian antiquities. One of the most remarkable sights here is the magnificent Ancient Amphitheatre, built in the 2nd-century-AD by Emperor Trajan, only uncovered during a freak landslide in 1972. It once held about 6000 spectators and is the grandest building of its type discovered so far on the Balkan Peninsula. After being almost fully restored, it again hosts large-scale special events and concerts. Intriguing here is also the Ethnographic museum housed in one of the most renowned National Revival period house in the Old Town. It features 40,000 exhibits, including folk costumes and musical instruments, jewellery and traditional craftworks like weaving, metalworking, winemaking and beekeeping. Traditional tools displayed range from grape-crushers and wine-measures to apparatuses used for distilling attar of roses. Around the Dzhumaya mosque also known as the “Friday Mosque” built back in the 15th century, you will find plenty of places to try some delicious Bulgarian sweets and sip on a cup of aromatic coffee. Plovdiv’s modern centre, on the south side of the Maritsa River, features a shop-lined pedestrian mall,  Knyaz Aleksandar Street, which passes over the Roman Stadium and up to a splendid square with gushing fountain. The nearby Tsar Simeon Garden is a shady, popular spot for relaxing. Plovdiv’s cafes and bars are widespread, though one concentration of popular places is in the Kapana district, northwest of the old town. Like Rome, Plovdiv boasts seven hills, though one was flattened by communists and only four impress: Nebet Tepe, with Thracian fort ruins above the old town; Sahat Tepe (Clock Hill), crowned with a clock tower; Bunardjika (the ‘Hill of the Liberators’) to the west; and Djendem (‘Hill of the Youth’) in the southwest. Plovdiv’s always been among Bulgaria’s wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities, and it’s also Bulgaria’s second-largest road and railway hub and economic centre. It certainly repays a longer visit and will not fail to draw you in if you let it.
If you wish to fully enjoy the cultural heritage of Plovdiv’s and see all its significant landmarks you may find the following list of suggested sights quite useful:

Plovdiv Highlights Tour :
1. The Archaeological Museum
2. The Roman Amphitheater
3. The Lamartine House
4. The Museum of the Revival
5. The Hissar Kapiya
6. The Hindliyan House
7. The Balabanov House
8. The Kuyumdzhioglu House – the Ethnographical Museum
9. The Dzhumaya Mosque
10. The Roman Stadium
11. The Nedkovich House
12. The Holly Constantin and Helene Church
13. The Holly Sunday Church (Sveta Nedelya)
14. The Museum of the painter Zlatyu Boyadzhiev
15. The City Art Gallery
16. The Holly Marina Church
17. The Museum of the Roman Mosaics

The following suggestions for one-day excursions from Plovdiv can be a perfect way to enrich your stay and explore its beautiful surroundings:

Ideas for One-day trips from Plovdiv

A One-day trip to Kazanlak, the Rose Valley and the Valley of the Thracian Kings
The Rose “Damascene“ has become one of the symbols of Bulgaria! The delicate flower was brought from the Middle East in the 17th  century to find its second home in the fertile fields sheltered by the Balkan Mountain range, an area which soon became known as The Rose valley of Bulgaria. In June when the roses are covered with blossom the scent of heavenly aroma fills the air in the area around the fields as if to revive once again an old legend…A legend about the impossible but everlasting love between a Bulgarian architect and a Sultan’s daughter. They met while he was constructing a mosque in Istanbul but when the job was finished he had to return home. Then she gave him the most beautiful gift she could think of – the seed of the rose”Damascene”, a seed that he planted in his country’s soil like the love that was forever planted in his heart; a seed that produced a gentle and aromatic rose blossom every June and continued to tell the story of their everlasting love over and over again, year after year… Today Bulgaria manufactures about 70% of all the rose oil in the world. The Rose valley is also known as the Valley of the Thracian Kings as it geographically covers the area where many Thracian tombs were discovered. The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes who inhabited a large area in South-eastern Europe between the 2nd millennium B. C. and 6th century A.D. Many impressive Thracian tombs, temples and sanctuaries with lots of golden, silver and bronze craftsman masterpieces inside them have been found on the territory of Bulgaria and especially within the Valley of the Thracian Kings.
In the morning we will set off to the village of Skobelevo situated within 20 km from Kazanluk. Here we will learn more about the traditional Rose picking ritual, unchanged for centuries. Every single rose bud is picked by hand and carefully preserved before the distillation of the essential oil. The process engages more than 2000 people and for the production of a litre of essential oil about 3500 rose buds are used. Next we will visit a rose-distillery where a rose expert will introduce us to the ancient technique of extracting the oil from the roses and we will have the chance to taste some delicious raised liqueur and rose jam. 
Then we will continue to the town of Kazanlak where we will have lunch and explore the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site – the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak which impresses the visitor with its unique frescoes from the 4th century B.C. The tomb consists of a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber with the famous paintings on the cupola. The Thracian tomb of Kazanlak is a unique aesthetic and artistic work, a masterpiece of the Thracian creative spirit. This monument is the only one of its kind in the world. The exceptionally well preserved frescos and the original condition of the structure reveal the remarkable evolution and high level of culture and pictorial art in Hellenistic Thrace.
Our last stop for the day will be the Thracian tomb Golyama Kosmatka, situated nearby the town of Kazanlak. This is one of the biggest mounds ever found on the Balkan Peninsul and dates back to the end of the 5th century B.C. About 20 gold objects were found in that tomb. Among them is a very precisely made golden wreath from oak leaves, a golden wide wine glass, golden heads of a goddess and a deer. Archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of the greatest Thracian king Seuth III. In the late afternoon we will return to Plovdiv.
The tour includes the services of a qualified guide, lunch and transportation with a luxury bus or car.

A half-day trip to the Bachkovo Monastery and the Asenova Fortress
In the morning we will take a short scenic trip south from Plovdiv and through the Rhodope Mountain to reach the magnificent Bachkovo monastery. Founded in 1083 by Georgian brothers Gregory and Abasius Bakuriani, the monastery flourished during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396), but was ransacked by Turks in the 15th and 16th centuries. Major reconstructions began in the mid-17th century. The sanctuary is now Bulgaria’s second-largest monastery, after the Rila Monastery.
In the courtyard, the Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa (1604) contains frescoes by Zahari Zograf from the early 1850s. Other highlights include the 17th-century iconostasis, more 19th-century murals and a much-cherished icon of the Virgin, allegedly painted by St Luke, though actually dating from the 14th century. Pilgrims regularly come here to pray before the silver-encased icon.
The monastery’s southern side houses the former refectory, built in 1601. The walls are filled with stunning frescoes relating the monastery’s history.
The 19th century Church of Sveti Nikolai is also interesting to visit for the superb Last Judgment fresco inside the chapel, painted by the renowned Bulgarian Master Zahari Zograf.
Our next stop today will be the Asenova fortress - one of the best known Bulgarian fortifications, situated on a vertical rock in the Rhodope Mountains, a few kilometers away from the town of Assenovgrad. The fortress appeared 2500 years ago as a Thracian settlement. Its remains were used several centuries later by the Romans and the Byzantines in the construction of their own fortresses. The stronghold came under Bulgarian control in the 9th century. Chronicles and coins minted during that period prove the fact. Protection of the road between Plovdiv and the Aegean Sea became the main function of the fortress. It also protected visitors to the neighboring Bachkovo monastery. This safety led to the appearance of two settlements, Bachkovo and Petrich.
The St. Bogoroditsa of Petrich church, one of the most remarkable places of worship in the country, is situated inside the fortress. It was built in the 13th century.
In the early afternoon we will return to Plovdiv.
The tour includes the services of a qualified guide, lunch and transportation with a luxury bus or car.

If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!

Highlights

  • Drift back in time walking in the streets of the Ancient city of Plovdiv, take in the authentic atmosphere of its aristocratic Revival Homes and indulge in the colourful sight of the works of art displayed directly in the small cobble-stones paved squares by the artists themselves…

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What Is Included

  • 2 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis in a standard room
  • 2 Breakfasts
  • Walking sightseeing tour of Plovdiv with a professional guide in the requested language
  • All local taxes
  • The prices are quoted in €, per person
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