European Capital for Culture 2019: Plovdiv, Bulgaria

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

There are so many reasons to visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city, nestled in the hills next to the Maritsa River. One of the most important reasons to visit would perhaps be to explore one of Europe’s oldest cities that was originally inhabited by Thracians in the 6th millennium BCE. History buffs should jump at the chance to see some of the antiquities located here. Plovdiv is home to more than 200 archaeological sights, two ancient theaters, medieval walls and towers, Ottoman baths and so much more. Is your interest peaked yet? As if those aren’t enough reasons to visit, Plovdiv is a European Capital for Culture in 2019.

 European Capitals for Culture is an initiative (developed in 1985) designed to highlight and celebrate the diversity of cultures in Europe, increase European citizens’ sense of belonging to a common cultural area and foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities. Cities that are given the title can look forward to raising their international profile, enhancing the image of their city within the eyes of their own inhabitants and a boost in tourism.

With over 300 events in the making, Plovdiv has a lot of planning to do to prepare for the upcoming year. Though not all events are new for 2019, many of them are. Returning events include the Opera Open, Hills of Rock, One Dance Week and Plovdiv Jazz Fest. New programs include Mood for Food (culinary festival), a Swing Dance Festival and a project by the Drama Theatre Plovdiv- European Odyssey.

Interested tourists can let the title for 2019 lure them to The City of Seven Hills, a nickname the area has inherited due to it being surrounded by syenite hills. Despite the plethora of new activities that are promoted as part of the year-long stint as a cultural hub, Plovdiv has some fascinating and permanent things to see and do.  For a tour of the city and a taste of its finest cuisine, check out Bulgaria Wine Tours.

The Plovdiv Insider Experience is just one of the many options for tours around the area. This four-hour walking food and culture tour is designed to take visitors off the beaten path to experience everyday life. You’ll visit places like the Old Town, Kapana Art District, Roman Stadium, Tsar Simeon’s Garden and the Alyosha Memorial, among others. Traditional Bulgarian dishes will be available to sample, as well as local spirits like rakia (fruit brandy) and heavy red wines. Don’t miss out on trying pastries, cured meats, local chutneys, Bulgarian cheeses and yogurts. Locals lead the tours and are sure to dazzle you with their knowledge of the immense history surrounding Plovdiv. A tour is the perfect way to pack in information about the city while enjoying some seriously good Bulgarian food.

When planning your next European adventure, don’t forget about Bulgaria. The 2019 title bestowed upon Plovdiv is surely an indication that you should check out all the area has to offer. With history dating back to before you can even imagine, there are certainly going to be some truly spectacular sights. 

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