Plovdiv, Bulgaria: Art, Culture, and Food Trip
The following is an article “Plovdiv, Bulgaria: Art, Culture, and Food Trip” by Marc Pulisci.
Plovdiv, the second largest city and cultural capital of Bulgaria, has been chosen as one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2019. It has become popular for travelers over the years as the world starts to recognize its flourishing arts, music, and dining scenes. Being the first ever Bulgarian city to be appointed as European Capital of Culture, the city has organized various year-long projects to bring new tourism opportunities to the city which include festivals, exhibitions, and theater productions, to name a few.
Here are some of the things you’d want to know before planning a trip to this not-so-hidden gem of a city.
Being one of the oldest cities in Europe, Plovdiv has been considered a crossroads of ancient cultures as the city reflects heritage from Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences. Aside from its rich culture and history, the whole city is instagrammable, to say the least. Take advantage of learning a thing or two about the beautifully preserved Ottoman-era house-museums or centuries-old architectural monuments and attractions, while taking photos for posterity.
One of the most popular historical sites in the city is the 2nd century AD Roman Amphitheatre. Currently, it is being used as a venue for annual music festivals and other large-scale events.
You may also opt to take a walking tour around the Old-Plovdiv and soak up the ancient atmosphere of the romantic cobbled-city. Just go to the Tourist Information Centre and you are good to go. Don’t miss the Odeon of Philippopolis, the Cultural Centre Thrakart which is visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the Tsar Obednitel underpass, and the 14th century Dzhumaya Mosque… the list goes on.
Arts and Music Scenes
While Plovdiv is widely known as a cultural hub, tourism is backed by the local’s hospitality and the city’s thriving arts, music, crafts, nightlife. Aside from the rich culture, charming streets, and impressive architecture, the city has much to offer its visitors all-year round.
You may want to check out scheduled events that are held in the Roman Amphitheatre annually such as the International Folklore Festival and Opera Open, an opera festival, among others.
Local crafts have also become popular for tourists. Kapana, the creative heart of the city, is home to arts and crafts. There are souvenir shops that sell handmade products and ornaments, leather bags, and sandals along Magura Street in Kapana.
There are also tour groups that offer Plovdiv Arts & Crafts District tour around Kapana. By joining these tours, you will get a chance to know more about locals and their arts, visit contemporary galleries, and see a few workshops.
Bulgarian food is another attraction of Plovdiv. While you are in the city, make sure to sample the hearty and surprisingly healthy traditional Bulgarian cuisine. One of the must-tries is Pavaj, a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Kapana, which offers authentic pork ribs, veal, and delicious homemade ice cream.
Another recommended restaurant in Plovdiv is Smokini in the Old Town. They offer gluten-free traditional meatballs and take pride in their fusion of traditional Bulgarian and modern European cuisines.
While you are at it, you should absolutely try some of the Bulgarian classic dishes from traditional pastries such as Banitsa, Easter cake Kozunak, and uber-sweet Baklava, to Bulgarian childhood favorite Lyutenits to one of the international favorite salads—Shopska Salata to Shkembe Chorba—and Bulgarian Musaka, among others. Your trip would not be complete without having a drink or two of the classic rakia, their famous fruity spirit. (Tip: For the quintessential Bulgarian appetizer, get a glass of rakia when you order your Shopska Salata)
You may visit the Bulgaria’s official tourism portal, www.bulgariatravel.org, to learn more about the beautiful Plovdiv city.
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