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Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is a city in Bulgaria and the capital of the Plovdiv Oblast (district). With a population of 715,816 (2001), it is the country's second largest city (after the capital, Sofia). The population is predominantly Bulgarian, though there is also a significant Roma (Gypsy) population of over 10 percent.

The history of Plovdiv reaches back 6,000 years, longer than either Athens or Rome, making it one of Europe's longest continually inhabited cities. Originally known as Eumolpia, in 432 BC it was conquered by Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, who made it his capital and renamed it Philippopolis. It was later independent under the Thracians, who called it Pulpudeva, until it was incorporated into the Roman Empire, under which it was called Thrimonzium (City of Three Hills) and served as capital of the province of Thrace. Many Roman ruins can still be seen in the city. The Slavs took the city in the 6th century and named it Pulden, and the Bulgarians finally conquered it in 815 and named it Philbe. The name Plovdiv first appears in the 15th century.

Under Ottoman rule, Plovdiv was a major center of the Bulgarian nationalist movement, and the first Bulgarian language printing house was built in the city. While the city was liberated from the Ottomans in 1878, it was not originally part of the newly established Principality of Bulgaria. Instead it was the capital of the semi-independent Region of Eastern Rumelia, until that area finally joined Bulgaria in 1885. Under communist rule since the end of World War II, Plovdiv was the center of that country's democracy movement, which finally overthrew the pro-Soviet regime in 1989.

Plovdiv is at the center of an important agricultural region, so that food processing is the most important industry. The city also produces machinery, textiles, and chemicals.

See also - List of cities in Bulgaria