In Bulgaria, where we chose to spend our weekend, we went to Sofia on the first day and the next day we aimed to visit Plovdiv. Plovdiv is further east than Sofia, two hours closer to Turkey. Plovdiv (Plovdiv) is a place that can be visited in one day as there are not many places on the list of places to visit in Plovdiv.
How to get to Plovdiv?
Plovdiv is 155km from Kapıkule Border Gate, which means that you can go with your personal car. If you don’t have a car or you don’t prefer it, you can also go by bus. Many bus companies take you to Plovdiv with a bus ticket around 70TL. It is possible to reach Plovdiv in 6 hours from Istanbul by bus.
How many days to stay in Plovdiv?
Plovdiv is a very small place. One full day is enough to visit Plovdiv. It is possible to visit all the places that can be visited in this time and enjoy Plovdiv.
How is transportation in Plovdiv?
Plovdiv is a very small city and you don’t need to use public transportation. Everywhere is close to each other and can be visited on foot.
How many kilometers from Sofia to Plovdiv?
The distance between Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, and Plovdiv is 145km. This corresponds to approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes with your personal car. You can visit Sofia first and then go to Plovdiv.
Plovdiv, the second largest city of Bulgaria, was called Plovdiv when it was under the Ottoman rule. When the Ottomans withdrew after the Ottoman-Russian War, the city became known as Plovdiv. However, its first name, Philippopolis, originated when the King of Mekadon, the father of Alexander the Great, captured this region and named it after himself.
Plovdiv is a place that can be visited in a day if you follow the right route. Since we stayed at a point close to Nebet Tepe in Plovdiv, which we arrived in the evening of our Sofia trip, Nebet Tepe is the first stop on our list of places to visit in Plovdiv.
Nebet Tepe, also known as Nöbet Tepe, is a hill where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Plovdiv. Plovdiv, which is beautiful enough to be chosen as the European Capital of Culture, has 7 hills like Istanbul. Saat Tepe, Taksim Tepe, Bunarcık Tepe, Makro Tepe, Cehennem Tepe, Cambaz Tepe and the hill we are climbing now is Nöbet Tepe. There is not much on Nebet Tepe. But when you climb the hill, you can have a panoramic view of Plovdiv. From this hill you can see many of the places we will visit in Plovdiv and many hills, especially the hill with the clock tower and the Alyosha Monument. Nöbet Tepe was used as an observation area against the surrounding plains. Especially the Evros River was kept under control thanks to this hill.
As you move towards Nöbettepe, the houses with bay windows attract our attention. Walking among these houses, you can feel like you are in Safranbolu. It is difficult to walk around the cobblestone streets between the colorful buildings. If you are going to Plovdiv, make sure you have sneakers with you. Otherwise, walking on those stones can make your feet hurt.
You may also be interested in a medieval water tank that you will see on the left just before climbing Nöbet Tepe. Built in the 14th century, the water tank has a capacity of 300 thousand liters.
Visiting Plovdiv means visiting the old town of Plovdiv. We wander among the cobblestone sidewalks paved with large stones and colorful houses that have come out of the pages of history. Almost all the houses here have been restored and used for different purposes. Some have been turned into art galleries, some into restaurants, some into hotels, some into bars. Some of these houses have also been turned into museums in Plovdiv. One of them is a 12-room house built in 1847.
The house belonging to Argos Kuyumdjioğlu has been used as the Plovdiv Ethnographic Museum since 1917 and has a large courtyard. When you enter, symmetrically arranged rooms, decorative wooden furniture and ornate ceilings are among the items that attract our attention. Among the artifacts exhibited in the museum are old kitchen utensils such as copper pots, agricultural tools used in the past, clothing and various costumes, furniture. The museum, which is worthy of an ethnography museum, must be visited.
When you leave the Ethnography Museum, there is a Tourist Information Office on the opposite corner. If you need a map, you can get one here. There is a gate on the side of the museum building. The Hisar Gate (Hisar Stone Gate) was used as a castle gate for a long time. The high walls next to it are the fortification walls of the castle. Today, we see that houses have been built on the walls. You can even see the remains of a defense tower built in the 3rd century on the street in between.
The museum next to the Fortress Gate exhibits objects related to the history of Plovdiv. The museum, which mainly exhibits weapons, clothes and photographs, is closed on Sundays. However, it has a very beautiful color tone, so you can take beautiful photos that you will love. Just like in many houses in Plovdiv.
Balabanov House Museum
When you go down the street across the Ethnographic Museum, the house where 3 streets meet is the Balabanov House Museum. Among the many houses that have been turned into museums, it has become a symbol of Plovdiv. Built in the early 19th century by a rich merchant born in Plovdiv, it was bought by the Balabanov family in the early 20th century. Today it serves as an art gallery where Bulgarian paintings and pictures are exhibited.
Stepan Hindillian House Museum
A few streets down from the Balabanov House, the Stepan Hindillian House Museum was built by a wealthy merchant who gave the house its name. The museum gives visitors a good idea of what the houses of the period were like. The house has a bath in the style of today’s Turkish baths, which even has hot and cold plumbing. It is a museum to visit for its flooring, ceiling decorations and furniture.
Ancient Roman Theater
One of Plovdiv’s most popular spots for history lovers is the ancient Roman theater. Built in 117 by Trajan, the theater has a capacity of 7 thousand spectators. Although some parts of the theater have been destroyed, it has survived well until today. The theater is surrounded by wire cages and entrance is paid. Everything you can see in the theater can be seen without going inside. Especially if you do not say “I want to be inside”, you can examine the theater from the outside without paying 5 Leva. Various theater and dance events are organized in the theater today.
Şahabettin Imaret Mosque
Another Ottoman mosque is the Şahabettin Imaret Mosque, located very close to the Evros River. It was built in 1445 during the reign of Sultan Murad II by Şahabettin Pasha, the son of Lala Şahin Pasha, the Beylerbeyi of Rumelia. The word İmaret means a charitable institution established during the Ottoman Empire to help people who were too poor to meet their needs. While food, health and clothing aid was provided in these institutions at first, later it turned into institutions where only food aid was provided. A courtyard was built around the Şahabettin Imaret Mosque and it was transformed into an imarethane with the addition of a soup kitchen.
When you continue to the right on Rayko Daskalov Street next to the mosque, you will come across the Evros River, which also extends to Edirne. The Evros River, which you saw in Edirne, does not leave us alone in Plovdiv. There is nothing to see on the other side of the river. Therefore, we turn to the left, not to the right.
Plovdiv Archaeology Museum
The Plovdiv Archaeological Museum, where the finds unearthed as a result of excavations in and around Plovdiv are exhibited, was moved to its current building in 1928. However, the museum is closed on Sundays, so we could not visit it.
The Friday Mosque is one of the few Ottoman buildings in Plovdiv. The building was built by Murad I in the 14th century. Since Sultan Murad I was also called Murad Hüdavendigâr, which means noble, noble, master, one who does good to others, another name for the Friday Mosque is Hüdavendigâr Mosque. However, among Bulgarians it is known as Dzhumaya Mosque, which means Friday Mosque.
There is a Turkish coffee shop under the single minaret Cuma Mosque. If you pay attention to the tables and chairs set up around the mosque, you can see many Turks chatting and feel like you are visiting a mosque in Bursa. The mosque is located in the city square, which still exists today.
There is a Roman structure that can be seen from the square overlooked by the Cuma Mosque located between Sahat Tepe and Taksim Tepe. Hadrian had the same structures built wherever he went, and in 138 this 240-meter-long structure emerged. If this Roman ruin, which is descended by stairs near the mosque, had not been ruined, we would have seen a stadium with a capacity of 30 thousand spectators. But for those who want to see the stadium in its full form, you can examine the model made for it.
As we narrow down the places to visit one by one, after Nebet Tepe, we come to Sahat Tepe. Sahat Tepe has a 17.5 meter tall clock tower. The view from the clock tower, which was built in the Middle Ages, is just like Nebet Tepe, it has a view of Plovdiv under its feet. Although the climb up is a bit tiring, I think it is a must-see. The hill is also called Danov Hill. It was named after the Bulgarian renaissance man Hristo Danov.
You can sit on one of the benches on Danov Hill and enjoy the view of Plovdiv and see the Soviet Monument on the opposite hill. The 6-meter high monument is a memorial to those who lost their lives during Bulgaria’s liberation from Nazi Germany.
When you descend from Danov Hill, at the end of the stairs leading down to the busy street, you come across a statue. He listens as if the person in front of him said something in a low voice, but he didn’t hear it. It is one of the beautiful statues in Plovdiv. From time to time you come across beautiful statues in the city.
A few minutes’ walk from Plovdiv, the ruins were discovered by chance during the construction of an apartment building. After further investigations, it was realized that this structure was a church built in the 6th century and it was taken under protection. The church has mainly Roman mosaics and geometric shaped mosaics. When you go to the museum, you will see that a red building was built to protect the mosaics. These mosaics were made on the floor of an area of 20 x 13 meters.
After visiting all the places to visit in Plovdiv, we have dinner at a suitable point and arrive at the bus station (Bus Station South) in the south of the city. We depart from Plovdiv, the starting point of our return journey in Istanbul, at 22:30. While entering Turkey through the border crossing, we encounter routine situations such as passport control and bag check and arrive at the bus station in Istanbul in the early morning.