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Centralsouth Bulgaria > Plovdiv > History

History of Plovdiv

Being a crosspoint of major roads from Western and Central Europe to the Middle East, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean region and from the Black Sea to the Adriatic, Plovdiv has ancient millennial history. The most ancient inhabitants of these areas date back to the New Stone, Stone-copper and Bronze Ages. Later, during the 1st millennium BC, nearby the three eastern hills (Dzhambaz Tepe, Taxim Tepe and Nebet Tepe) which were practically a natural defence fortress, the Thracians founded the ancient settlement of Еumolpias. In 342 BC the town was conquered by Philip II, the Macedonian, renamed Philipopole and turned into a fortress. Later on (3rd 1st century BC, the town already being known as Poulpoudeva, was subject to on-going invasions of the Celts. Since 1th century it was under Roman rule and was quickly grew into a key economic, cultural and political centre of Thracia Province. The town rapidly developed and occupied the entire area around the Three-hills, as a result of which the Romans named the town Тrimontsium.

After the year 395, when the Roman Empire had fallen apart, the town remained in its eastern part - Byzantine. During the next two centuries the town was many times ruined and set on fire by the Huns and the Gothic tribes. The Emperor Justinian (527-565) turned it into a strategic fortress along the northern Byzantine border. At the end of 6th century the Slavs populated the area and named the town Puldin (originating from the ancient name of Poulpoudeva).

In 815 Khan Krum included the town within the borderlines of Bulgaria. From this moment on until it fell under Turkish rule, Plovdiv (already named so) was subject to numerous takeovers, frequently being under the rules of either the Bulgarians or the Byzantines. In 1364 the Ottomans conquered the town and called it Phillibe. Being left far in the back area of the Ottoman Empire, the town lost its strategic location and gradually declined. It was only during the Revival Period that Plovdiv regained its glorious name of a large economic and cultural centre. A new class of craftsmen and merchants was established, having a newly formed national spirit and material wellbeing. A large number of residential housings and public facilities preserved as cultural monuments, date back to that Revival Period.

Prominent Revival enlighteners, cultural and political figures - Naiden Gerov (a writer, enlightener and Consul of Russia in Plovdiv), the icon-painters Zakhari Zograf, Dimitur Zograf, Stanislav Dospevski, the wood-carver Ivan Pashkula and many others worked in the town at that time. The residence and the inn of the Turpevi Brothers gave shelter to our national Apostle Levski several times, and in 1870 a local revolutionary committee was founded.

The troops of General Gurko liberated the town on January 17, 1878.

At that time this was the biggest Bulgarian town. After the Berlin Congress (1878) Plovdiv was proclaimed capital of Eastern Roumelia. It promoted an intensively diversified public and cultural life. Ivan Vazov, Konstantin Velichkov, Zakhari Stoyanov and some other reputable Bulgarians lived and worked in the town for some time. A great number of refugees came to the town from the areas of White Sea Thrace, Aegian, Pirin and Vardar Macedonia. The town hosted the proclamation of the Reunification of the Kingdom of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia on September 6, 1885 - an extraordinary in its significance revolutionary act, proving the strong and irreconcilable Bulgarian spirit in pursue of its national ideal. It is by no chance that this date - September the 6th - is currently an official holiday of the Republic of Bulgaria.

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