The Ancient Plovdiv

Photo by Els Slots.

The Ancient Plovdiv is part of the Tentative list of Bulgaria in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Ancient Plovdiv covers the city’s monuments from prehistory to the 20th century. Especially notable are the Roman remains and the vernacular architecture from the Ottoman period. Plovdiv has always been in a strategic position to connect East and West.

Map of The Ancient Plovdiv

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Malta - 27-Feb-24 -

The Ancient Plovdiv (T) by Clyde

As mentioned in my previous review of the tWHS of Plovdiv's Roman mosaics, that tWHS combined to this tWHS in my opinion would make more sense and would stand a better chance at getting inscribed as a positive cultural representation of a city with 8,000 years of history. I covered the Roman mosaics quite extensively in the review of Plovdiv's other tWHS. Instead, in this review I'll focus on the various Ottoman houses worth visiting and on the Church of St. Constantine and Helena and the Metropolitan Church of St. Marina.

The area around the remains of Nebet Tepe is very similar to Safranbolu, Turkey or Berat/Gyirokaster, Albania. I wasn't impressed so much by the restored exterior of the Ottoman houses but the interior of the Houses of Klianti, Hindlian, Balabanov, Nedkovich, Kuyumdhiev and Georgiadi in my opinion are worth their entrance tickets. The Nedokovich House is a Renaissance palazzo. The Georgiadi House houses the Museum of the Bulgarian National Revival. On each of its three floors, there are typical wood carved ceilings and closets, a-la-franca recesses and different colour designs in each room. Its exterior and its location were among my favourites in Plovdiv and warranted repeat visits at different times of the day.

In fact, the area surrounding the ancient gate to the fortress of Hisar Kapia is one of the most picturesque sites in Historic Plovdiv. Apart from the Georgiadi House, the other highlight of this ensemble is the Kuyumdzhiev House which houses the Etnographic Museum. It is a typical representative of the revival style of the symmetrical house, and is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture in Bulgaria. The building is four-storeyed, with two large halls, twelve rooms and 130 windows, the latter being a clear indication of the owner's wealth. The east facade of the house rests on the ancient fortress wall. The house is closed on Mondays.

The Hindlian House is one of the few Plovdiv symmetrical houses preserved in their original integrity and is unsurpassed in terms of ornamentation and decoration. The walls on the second floor of the house impress with original paintings of landscapes from Constantinople, Venice, Alexandria and Stockholm. It reminded me a lot of the Ottoman houses interiors of Gyirokaster, Albania. The house is also home to a preserved historic bath. It follows the Oriental pattern with domes, vaults, recesses, marble floors, basin and floor heated by a continuous flow of hot air. The Balabanov House is a remarkable symbol of the old town of Plovdiv, although I very much preferred the Hindlian House for its exquisite interior. My personal favourite is the Klianti House, with one of the decorated walls with unique landscapes from Vienna and Constantinople.

Of all the churches of Plovdiv, two noteworthy ones (apart from the Armenian one) are the Church of St. Constantine and Helena and the Metropolitan Church of St. Marina. The former is one of the oldest Christian temples in Plovdiv, built above the wall of the citadel. The Baroque iconostasis is truly remarkable and some of the most precious icons are now on display in the adjacent Icon Gallery. The latter church, with the 17 metre wooden bell tower, is a three nave pseudo-basilica with a narthex in the west part and with splendid blue murals presenting 29 scenes from the Bible. These highlights together with the Roman remains, mosaics and monuments, as well as the Islamic monuments and architectural masterpieces and facades of the main street of Plovdiv, with make a worthy WHS combined.  

Philipp Peterer

Switzerland - 23-Aug-19 -

The Ancient Plovdiv (T) by Philipp Peterer

Plovdiv is one of several cities that claim to be the world’s oldest. I visited Bulgaria’s second largest city before the community meeting 2018, covering a bunch of TWHS on the way. The Bachkovo Monastery, the Alexandrovo tomb, the Neolithic Dwellings in Stara Sagora and Kazanlak WHS are all close.

It’s certainly not the worst place in Bulgaria. The old town is small but very nice, with some traditional houses. The Roman theatre is still occasionally used for shows and theatre performances. The new town has a rather communist flair, but offers a good variety of restaurants and shops. Further, there is a second TWHS within the city, the Bishop's Basilica and Late-Antique Mosaics of Philippopolis. None of the sites is a real highlight, but the ensemble of sites at least justifies a visit to Plovdiv.

The town is best reached by car. It’s on the A1 between Sofia and Burgas.

Full Name
The Ancient Plovdiv
Urban landscape - Urban continuity
2006 Requested by State Party to not be examined

Withdrawn at request of Bulgaria before WHC meeting, after the ICOMOS report advised on Rejection. Reason: interesting, but not exceptional enough and doesn't meet the test of authenticity.

2004 Added to Tentative List

1983 Rejected

Not yet able to include vernacular architecture

Unesco Website: The Ancient Plovdiv
Forum discussion on this site's nomination history

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The Ancient Plovdiv (T)
WHS 1997-2024