Illustrious town of Phillip of Macedon
The history of the city of Plovdiv dates back to 6,000 years BCAdelina Lozanova
Plovdiv, 2019 European capital of culture, is one of the oldest cities in Europe, having appeared around 6000 BC. In roughly 1200 BC, the Thracians established one of the first urban centres in Southeastern Europe, calling it Eumolpias after the mythical Thracian hero Eumolpus, on what today is known as Nebet Tepe. In the 4th century BC, the city was conquered by Phillip II, the father of Alexander The Great, and was renamed Philippopolis. But local Thracians never came to accept the new name and called the settlement Pulpudeva. Later on, the Slavs changed it to nowadays Plovdiv.
The city was given yet another name - Trimontium (City of Three Hills) – by the Romans in 46 AD when Thrace was declared a Roman province. It became the main city of the province with a senate of its own and a local assembly authorized to collect taxes and customs duties as well as to mint coins. And the city's hills became an analogue to the Acropolis of Athens. Dozens of foundations of Roman-era buildings have been found on them or at the foot of them.
The city then featured advanced sewerage and water supply systems. The two main streets, cardo maximus and decumanus maximus, intersected in its geometrical centre, fixing the site of a forum. To the north of the forum, a central city core was built in the 2nd century where monumental public buildings and facilities – a theatre, thermae, a stadium, etc. – were built.
The stadium of Philippopolis was built in the early 2nd century during the rule of Emperor Hadrian and was approximately 240 m long by 50 m wide, seating some 30,000 spectators. Inscriptions evidence that the stadium regularly hosted the Pythian Games, similar to the Olympic Games in Greece. Under the amphitheatrical stand, there is an overarching entrance which led from the track to an underground passage street dug in the terrain. A lodge was located above the arch. Seats were discovered with inscriptions evidencing the existence of special seats reserved for high-status visitors. The central gate of the stadium is lined with pylons with the images of Hermes and Heracles.
The ancient theatre of Philippopolis is one of the best preserved in the world. It was erected at the site where a temple of the Thracian goddess Bendida previously stood. There are several stellae and inscriptions in Greek preserved in the theatre. There is also evidence that the building was used as a site for Thracian provincial meetings. Besides city officials, there are designations for magistrates and the emperor's friends among others. Owing to the excellent acoustics, which is due to the specific architecture of the theatre, today it is used for concerts and seats an audience of some 5,000 or 6,000.