Why Bulgaria's ancient city of Plovdiv should be your next European destination

Why Bulgaria's ancient city of Plovdiv should be your next European destination

The old city, which dates back to the 12th century, was named a European capital for culture for 2019.

Bulgaria Plovdiv Town AFP
A view of the old town of Bulgarian southern central city of Plovdiv. Plovdiv and Italian southern city of Matera were selected as the 2019 European capitals of culture. (Photo: AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

The Bulgarian city of Plovdiv was on Saturday (Jan 12) inaugurated as one of two ancient cities to share the honour of being a European capital of culture for 2019.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second city, whose origins date back to the 12th century BC, is known for its Thracian, Roman, Medieval, Ottoman and communist heritage.

Bulgaria Plovdiv ampitheatre AFP
The 2nd century AD amphitheatre, built during the reign of Emperor Trajan in the Bulgarian southern central town of Plovdiv. (Photo: AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

In a nod to this latest period of history, an exhibition featuring fragments of the Berlin Wall painted by international artists opened on Saturday, kicking off a year of cultural events.

Thirty years after the fall of the wall "presenting this new collection in Plovdiv makes a lot of sense", in particular against the backdrop of fresh divisions in Europe, curator Sylvestre Verger said.

Bulgaria Plovdiv David Bowie AFP
Man poses next to the artwork 'David Bowie and Iggy Pop's Portraits' (2016) by French artist Jef Aerosol painted on a section of the Berlin Wall in the south-central Bulgarian town of Plovdiv. (Photo: AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

Hundreds of visitors were able to see around 30 fragments of the wall covered in "street art" or portraits of singers such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.

Bulgaria Plovdiv Trabant AFP
People look at a Trabant, a former East German car, painted by French artist Thierry Noir, as part of the exhibition 'Art Liberty - From the Berlin Wall to the Street Art', in the south-central Bulgarian town of Plovdiv on January 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

Others featured images of the Trabant car, considered a symbol of former East Germany, painted by artists Thierry Noir, Christophe-Emmanuel Bouchet and Kiddy Citny.

A city of 350,000, the southern Bulgarian city will host dozens of other exhibitions and shows during the year, including a concert in June in which local Roma artists will take part.

The city will also invite artists from other Balkan countries to showcase the cultures of southeastern Europe.

Bulgaria Plovdiv fresco AFP
A fresco in the Saint Constantine and Elena Church in the old town of the Bulgarian southern central city of Plovdiv. (Photo: AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

Plovdiv shares this year's title of European Capital of Culture with another ancient city in southern Italy, Matera, which is known for its cave dwellings.

While the Bulgarian Black Sea coast attracts most of the tourists to the country, Plovdiv hopes to double the number of visitors this year.

Bulgaria Plovdiv old town AFP
People walk in the streets of the old town of Bulgarian southern central city of Plovdiv, on January 7, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

In the old town, renovated in recent years, visitors will find cobbled streets featuring many traditional 18th and 19th century houses, elaborately decorated by traders who prospered in the city.

And the city also boasts a number of fine mosaics.

(Source: AFP)

Source: AFP

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