Photo. View above Plovdiv in Bulgaria - full of ancient sites. © Travel Explorations.
Plovdiv was for me a fascinating journey through Bulgaria's Cultural Gem. It`s both ancient and timeless. Plovdiv was already populated in the 11th century B.C. and remains so up to this day. It is one of the world's five oldest cities and by someone considered as the first in Europe.
According to someone, the city has a history dating back nearly 8,000 years. That`s not well documented. I assume the debate will go on, but for sure this city is very old, but also very beautiful.
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Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria after the capital, Sofia. For me it was most interesting to experience it’s ancient Old Town, which is packed with winding, cobbled paths and Roman ruins and cafes that spill out onto the streets. Walking around in the city in general , I could observe several layers in history and constrast between old and moderne. Especially by looking at architecure and maintance of the buildings, I notices differences in many ways.
Some of them are:
- Fortress Complex on Nebet Tepe - remnants of the first prehistoric settlement on the Three Hills
- The Ancient Stadium at Djoumaya Square
- Ancient Philippopolis's Forum
- Roman Mosaics
Nebet Tepe is one of the three hills that make up the city of Plovdiv. It is the site of ancient Thracian and Roman settlements. Today it`s closed, so it`s not possible for me to explore the ruins and enjoy panoramic views of the city. As I could see from some openings, the site is actively under construction work. It`s looked quite messy. Anyway a fantastic view can be enjoyed from the restaurant nearby.
The Dzhumaya Mosque is also an important historical and architectural landmark in Plovdiv. It dates back to the 14th century and reflects the city's diverse history.
The Roman Theatre is one of the most iconic and well-preserved ancient sites in Plovdiv. It dates back to the 2nd century AD and could seat up to 6,000 spectators. Today, it is used for various cultural events and performances.
Located near the Roman Theatre, the ancient stadium was once used for athletic events and chariot races. It is one of the best-preserved stadiums from antiquity.
The Odeon was a smaller Roman theatre used for musical performances and meetings. It's an interesting archaeological site located in the heart of the city.
The title of the oldest city in Europe is a subject of debate, as it depends on how one defines a city and what archaeological evidence is available. The most important for me was to enjoy myself in a nice city.
Stein Morten Lund, 21st October 2023
Some of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe are:
- Plovdiv in Bulgaria, is often considered one of the oldest cities in Europe, with a history dating back over 6,000 years. It was founded by the Thracians and later inhabited by the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans.
- Athens in Greece, is another ancient city with a history that goes back over 3,000 years. It is often referred to as the birthplace of democracy and Western civilization.
- Argos in Greece, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, with a history dating back over 3,000 years.
- Cadiz in Spain: Cadiz is believed to be one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC.
- Larnaca in Cyprus, has a history that stretches back over 4,000 years and is one of the oldest cities on the island.
These cities have a long and rich history, and their exact founding dates may not be well-documented, but they are among the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in Europe. The title of the "oldest" city often depends on specific criteria and definitions, and new archaeological discoveries can also impact our understanding of ancient cities. I assume there are other ancient cities in Europa, for example in Turkey, but has not been so long inhabitited, or not existing up til today. The debate goes on, but it`s probably no single answer to this.