Plovdiv, Bulgaria: not a tip-up truck but a treasure

Plovdiv, Bulgaria: not a tip-up truck but a treasure

Part of my daily route to work took me along a Roman pavement, its original stones intact. To one side were perfectly preserved mosaics. And every morning a flower-seller propped her sprays on top of a broken ionic column of a long-forgotten pagan temple. With such historical backdrops, locals are justly proud of their heritage.

The main draw is the Old Town, which nestles on top of, and cascades down, three hills. There are Thracian and Greek remains alongside the Roman ones and they in turn lie next to, and beneath, 400 recently restored Revival-style houses, 19th-century wooden-frame constructions built by the emerging class of Bulgarian merchants who eventually saw off the Turks.

I remember remarking to my guide that they resembled Istanbul town houses. She flared: "These are Bulgarian houses. They are symbolic of our late Renaissance. There is nothing Turkish about them." I never slipped up over my history again.

The question of the 500-year Turkish...
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