Plovdiv #2: Around the Hills

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March 12th 2020
Published: April 23rd 2020
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After a good night's sleep in the lovely warm room, I headed down to the breakfast room to get breakfast. I love that this guesthouse/hostel is in a traditional old building and is full of character. The breakfast room is no exception as it has the original foundations of the building on display. The breakfast was great, there was a selection of cereal and breads. You were also given a plate with ham, cheese, egg, cucumber and tomato. There were plenty of different drinks on offer and the homemade lemonade was particularly delicious. Feeling full, I headed out for the day to explore more of Plovdiv. Yesterday, on the walking tour, we had visited the Regional Ethnographic Museum. Since we'd only had a look around the grounds and the exterior of the building, I headed inside this time. The entrance fee was 6 lev and the place was empty when I arrived. The museum isn't too big and some of the exhibits were closed, so it only took me about 40 minutes to take a look around. The museum was quite interesting as there were lots of regional costumes on display and also farming tools, so that you could see what the agricultural society in the past had been like.

Since I was close to Nebet Tepe, one of the hills on which Plovdiv was founded, I walked up there. The earliest settlements dated back to 4000 BC and the areas was settled by the Thracians first and later expanded upon by Philip II of Macedon and the Roman Empire. I walked around the remains of the old fortress. I didn't really know what anything was as there were no signs or explanations. There was one part of the site that was roped off, it wasn't roped off too well and while I was there, some people arrived to make it more secure. The best thing about Nebet Tepe was the views. I could see allover Plovdiv from up here. I really liked the contrast between the Old Town in the foreground and the more modern city in the background. Also the mountains surrounding the city were stunning to look at. From here, I could see the Clock Tower and the Alyosha Monument, both of which I intended to visit. Since it was a nice day I spent some time relaxing on Nebet Tepe. It is a great place to chill in. I was going to head straight over to the next hill, but since the streets in the surrounding area looked quaint and interesting I decided to explore them for a bit. I loved wandering around the streets admiring the beautiful buildings such as the Georgiadi House, which is an excellent example of Bulgarian Revival architecture. It was built on the orders of a rich merchant who came from an old Plovdiv family. It wasn't just the grand houses like these that I liked, I also liked the ones that had fallen in to a state of disrepair and looked rather dilapidated. My walk lead me to the Saint Nedelya Orthodox Church. The original church had been destroyed by the Muslim conquerors and then rebuilt in the 19th century. The church and its grounds were also empty and I had a walk around them. The churchyard was bigger than I imagined it to be. One of the trees was in a beautiful bloom, which I enjoyed photographing. I was a little surprised to see the graves of the former priests in the churchyard close to the church. I also had a walk around the inside of the church which was highly decorated and beautiful. My walk also took me to the ruins of an early Byzantine fortress.

I continued my walk through the Old Town until I came to the end of it. The newer streets were a lot busier with people going about their daily business. My wanderings took me to the main street. I was happy to see a piece of street art by the artist Stern. I was in need of a coffee and some shade by this point, so I headed into a Costa to cool down for a bit with an iced coffee and make use of the wifi for a bit. Feeling refreshed, I headed over to Danov Hill. The hill wasn't too high and the walk wasn't too strenuous or too long. I made my way across the hill to the Clock Tower, which had been constructed in the late 16th to early 17th centuries. The clock tower that stands there now was built in the 19th century. I had a walk around the base of the tower. I wish it was open and that you could climb up the inside. I enjoyed the views from the top, but they weren't as good as the ones from Nebet Tepe.

When my bus was arriving into Plovdiv the day before, I had seen a giant statue on a hill and I thought that it would be a good place to visit. I headed over there. down the back of Danov Hill. The streets were really quiet and a lot more residential. I came to a main road and could see the park that the statue is in across the way. There was one problem though the traffic lights didn't seem to be working on the street, so i had to wait for a break in the traffic before making a run for it. There were quite a few people enjoying the park and the sunshine. There seemed to be a few different trails up the hill and I opted to stay on the tarmac as it was a more gradual increase. There were some great views of the city on the walk up and it wasn't too strenuous. I was quite surprised when I got to the top as there were quite a lot of people enjoying the views and the sunny day. The monument on the top of the hill is called Alyosha Monument and is an 11 metre high statue of a Russian soldier. The statue was built to commemorate Soviet casualties that were incurred during the Soviet occupation of Bulgaria. It was built in 1954-57. The statue is quite controversial and the Plovdiv authorities have twice tried to have the statue removed. Near the statue, there is a big memorial, which had lots of flowers on the base. I then headed over to the statue, it was hard to see because of the sunlight and due to its size hard to get a decent photo of. After chilling at the top for a bit, I made my way down a different trail. Here I passed an abandoned cafe/shop, which I had a wander around. Back at the bottom of the hill, I took a different route back to the centre. On my way back through town, I stoppedoff at the ice cream shop and sat out in the shade for a while.

My guesthouse owner had recommended a place, Rahat Tepe, that was close by and fairly cheap to eat at. I had passed it earlier in the day as I made my way up to Nebet Tepe, so I headed back in that direction. Rahat Tepe wasn't too busy when I arrived. Since it was a beautiful day, no one was inside the restaurant, everyone was out in the beer garden. I grabbed a table on the upper level as it was quieter and eventually the waiter brought me a menu. The waiter was a bit lacklustre in his service. Thankfully, the other staff that served me later were much better. I ordered a beer, shopska salad, and a platter of sausages and potato wedges. Since I'd skipped lunch I felt that I could manage it all. My beer arrived fairly quickly and I enjoyed taking in the views while sipping it. The views weren't over the centre of the city, but the outskirts, which were still nice to see. My salad came and I got stuck into it. It was really yummy, the only thing I dislike is that there is only one olive for garnish, I wish shopska salads included olives. I had an inkling that my sausage platter might be quite large, but I was surprised at how big it was. At least the sausages were the skinny variety, so I would stand a better chance of finishing them, which I did. They were quite tasty and not all the same, but not the most amazing dish I have ever had.

Feeling rather full from my dinner, I decided to head back to Nebet Tepe to watch the sunset. It was great as the restaurant was only a short walk away from it. I was quite surprised by how many people were up there. I found a spot and settled in to watch the sun go down. The sunrise was quite pretty, but not amazing. The colours were nice, but I prefer it when the sky is more of a pink colour and the whole sky is lit up, this one was a bit more unassuming, although it was nice to see the sun slide down below the mountain in the distance. After the sunset, I made my way back to where I was staying, as once it gets dark, there is quite a large temperature drop.

Additional photos below
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27th May 2020
Georgiadi House

Taking me right back!
I've loved looking through all your Plovdiv photos, and it's taken me right back to walking through the charming streets with those unique Revival era houses. Ah... great travel memories :)
29th May 2020
Georgiadi House

Revival Houses
Thank you. It's nice to have a trip down memory lane. The houses were stunning, so beautifully detailed.

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