Bulgaria’s southern city of Plovdiv kicked off its year as an European Capital of Culture with a lights and music show on a 30-meter high tower in the city centre and fireworks that attracted hundreds late on Saturday despite chilly weather.
One of the oldest inhabited cities in Europe with pre-historic settlements that archaeologists date back over 8,000 years, ancient Plovdiv is the first Bulgarian city to hold the title.
Since it was selected in 2014 along with Italy’s Matera, the Balkan country’s second largest city has seen a rise in tourist visits and hopes for a further jump in 2019, betting on its rich history.
Plovdiv, also known as the City of the Seven Hills, was held by Thracians, conquered by Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, who gave it the name Philippopolis.
It has been part of Roman, Bulgarian, Byzantine and Ottoman empires over the centuries.