Plovdiv and Environs


Plovdiv is the second-largest city inBulgaria, and one of the oldest cities inEurope. Moreover it is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe, with a history of inhabitation going back over 8000 years almost contemporary to Troy.

Here you’ll see remains of the Thracian fortress (5th century BC) and well preserved remains from Roman times to our days. The Old Town is a marvelous site, with picturesque churches, the mosque and many houses with architecture, specific atmosphere and the spirit of the Bulgarian Revival period. You’ll see the fabulous remains from the Ancient Roman Empire – Roman Stadium, Roman Forum and Amphitheater.

Bachkovo monastery is about 30 km away from Plovdiv and is an important monument of Christian architecture and one of the largest as well as oldestEastern Orthodoxmonasteries inEurope.It was founded by Grigoriy Bukuriani – Georgian military commander who was at the service of the Byzantine Emperor.During the time of theSecond Bulgarian Empire, Bachkovo Monastery was patronized by TsarIvan Alexander, which is evidenced by an image of him on the arches of the ossuary'snarthex. It is believed that the founder ofTarnovo Literary Schooland last patriarch of the mediaeval Bulgarian Orthodox Church,Patriarch Euthymius, was exiled here by the Turks.

Today the Bachovo monastery is among the most remarkable monuments of culture and art of Bulgarian past. In addition to the old architecture and mural paintings, the monastery has created a museum collection with valuable exhibits. Particularly interesting is the temple icon “The Holy Virgin” of 1310 with silver casting.

Asen’s Fortressis a medieval fortress in theBulgarianRhodope Mountains about 2-3 km south of the town ofAsenovgrad. The earliest archaeological findings date from the time of theThracians, the area of the fortress being also inhabited during theAncient RomanandEarly Byzantineperiod. The fortress gained importance in theMiddle Ages, first mentioned in the statute of theBachkovo Monasteryin the 11th century. The fortress was conquered by the armies of theThird Crusade.

The town ofAsenovgradtakes its modern name from the fortress, formerly being namedStanimaka.

Hissar- a nice little town a bit north of Plovdiv, known ever since Roman times because of its mineral springs. The central parts of the town are surrounded by an impressive city wall from Roman times, which is still in good shape. During the 5th and 6th centuries the town reached its zenith, being part of the Byzantine Empire though after the 6th century it slowly started to decline. Almost all the time between the 9th and the 14th century it’s within the borders of Bulgaria and is known by the name of Toplitsa.

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