I am lucky enough to regularly spend time in the beautiful country of Bulgaria. With a Black Sea coastline for the summer months, impressive mountain ranges for winter skiing (or off-season hiking or horse-riding), and cosmopolitan cities boasting ancient history and wonderfully restored architecture, it’s a country that has something to offer everyone. If you get to go (and you definitely should), I highly recommend a visit to the city of Plovdiv.
Located roughly in the centre of Bulgaria, Plovdiv is one of the European Capitals of Culture 2019 – an award that is well deserved. The city boasts an impressive and modern high street with plenty of shopping, street cafes and lush green parks on the one hand, contrasting with a truly fabulous old town with wonderfully restored buildings, and traditional handicrafts on the other. A visit would not be complete without ambling through the streets of the Old Town, checking out the Ethnographic Museum (the photo at the top of this post), looking out over the whole city from Nebet Tepe (Nebet Hill) – the site of an ancient Thracian settlement, and relaxing overlooking the breathtaking Roman Amphitheatre where you can grab a drink and take in its partially restored majesty.
When people go to Bulgaria, they often overlook much of the country, aiming for the capital, Sofia. But with Plovdiv airport increasing its international flights over the last few years, there is no reason now not to spend a week in this lovely city. For UK readers, did you know that you can now get cheap flights from London Stansted to Plovdiv several times a week with Ryanair? The flight time is around 3 hours which brings Plovdiv into long-weekend territory if you live near to London.
There’s not masses of interiors shopping on offer in Plovdiv. There’s a BoConcept, but not a great deal else in terms of international brands. But that’s ok – who wants international brands when you can pick up some gorgeous traditional handicrafts instead right?
In Plovdiv’s old town, there’s a great variety of traditionally made items for sale. I had to physically restrain myself last time we visited from buying (another) woven wall hanging and a hand-woven kilim rug. But…. I did pick up the ceramic dish in the shot above which we now use to hold keys and other bits and pieces in our hallway. I love the bright colourful pattern in the dish which is typical of traditional Bulgarian ceramics. Here’s a close up.
Isn’t it cool!? There are loads of different designs and colour choices on offer in the stores of the old town – and they are extremely reasonably priced. And in addition to plates, you can get bowls, mugs and cooking pots/casserole dishes, eggcups, salt and pepper shakers and sugar bowls with similar designs – though all based around the reddish-brown clay with painted designs in blues, yellows and oranges. We managed to bring a casserole dish home on a previous visit and it makes a really great statement in our white, minimal kitchen, adding colour and interest.
I think my favourite ever buy from Plovdiv however, is the stunning hand-woven wall hanging in the photo below. It’s going to add some much needed texture and colour to a white wall in our living room once I commit to finding a place for it. I can’t decide whether to hang it alone for full effect or whether it should form part of a gallery wall. Hmmm…..decisions…..
There are also lots of traditional Bulgarian fabrics on offer. They are similar to tartans in design with checked patterns in whites, reds and greens. Next time I visit, I’m going to pick some up and make some cushion covers or placemats (or both!) from them. I’ll be sure to show them to you once I do!
In the meantime, I urge you to consider visiting Plovdiv if you’re planning a trip to Bulgaria. With so much to see and so much history to engage with, you won’t regret it!
Happy travels, and shopping