Plovdiv prides itself on numerous unique sights and views. With thousands of nuances of everyday life, the city offers different experiences for different tastes. In addition to the majestic monuments, cultural events, historical landmarks, unique places, recreating the Plovdiv spirit and rhythm of life, here you can visit some of the largest and most interesting museums in Bulgaria.
Plovdiv Regional Historical Museum
The Regional History Museum was established in 1951 and houses over 60,000 exhibits. In one of the richest collections in Bulgaria we can find weapons, orders, medals, personal belongings, printed publications and objects of urban life. The museum is one of the largest in the country and is divided into four thematic expositions, each in a separate building related to the history of Plovdiv.
The exposition "Bulgarian Unification" is located in the central building of the museum, whose authentic appearance has been preserved since its construction (1885). The main highlights are the establishment of Eastern Rumelia as a second Bulgarian state and its subsequent unification with the Principality of Bulgaria.
The exposition "Bulgarian National Revival" is located in a monument of culture, part of the architectural and historical reserve "Ancient Plovdiv". The exposition traces the history of Plovdiv in the period from the 15th to the 19th century – through the struggles for modern Bulgarian education, economic status and national liberation.
The exhibition "Book Publishing in Bulgaria in the Second Half of the 19th and the Beginning of the 20th Century" is located in the home of the founder of modern Bulgarian book publishing Hristo Gruev Danov. It shows the role of the city as a center of Bulgarian education and culture in the period. Among the exhibits there are unique samples of printed Revival publications, as well as personal belongings and correspondence of Hristo G. Danov.
Finally, the Center for Contemporary History is a spacious and modern space which can be used to hold exhibitions and other events of cultural significance.
Regional Archaeological Museum
The Regional Archaeological Museum in Plovdiv, opened in 1882, is one of the oldest cultural institutions in Bulgaria. With one of the richest collections in the country, containing nearly 100,000 exhibits related to the history of Plovdiv and the region, it shows unique finds dating from prehistory to the Middle Ages. Seven main collections are housed in its seven halls - "Prehistoric Art", "Thracian Art", "Ancient Greek Art", "Roman Art", "Medieval Art", "Bulgarian Revival Art" and “Numismatic Collection”. Among its most interesting exhibits are ceramic vessels from different eras (Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age), medical instruments from different burials, antique sculptures, luxury pottery and jewelry from the Middle Ages, old printed books from the Renaissance, over 60,000 coins dating from VI BC to the 20th century and others.
Regional Ethnographic Museum
The second largest specialized museum in our country is housed in one of the most important and exemplary buildings in Plovdiv, a cultural monument of national importance and a unique building from the Renaissance period - the Kuyumdzhioglu House. Its magnificent facade and its impressive size are defined as the pinnacle of Baroque architecture in our country. And the museum housed in it is certainly a place where you can (literally) touch tradition. The rich exposition presents the traditional culture of Thrace, the Rhodopes and the Srednogorie region from the Renaissance period. Rich collections related to the traditional crafts and livelihoods of the population are shown, typical workshops, jewelry, clothing, belongings, tools and props. The interior of the different rooms complements the feeling and information about life and culture presented in the museum.
Regional Natural History Museum
The largest museum in Plovdiv was opened in 1960 and has eight main halls, a live exhibition and a unique digital planetarium. In the halls of one of the most modern museums on the Balkan Peninsula one can see exhibits about minerals, paleontology, botany, invertebrates, fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, mammals.
Highlights of the museum include:
- Exhibition of some of the most interesting insects in the world, including the largest species of butterfly and the largest beetle.
- A recreated century-old beech tree where visitors can count its annual rings.
- The largest taxidermied snake in Europe - the giant anaconda.
- Over 280 species of birds found in the country, represented in habitats close to their natural ones.
- Bulgarian theriofauna with 105 species and foreign with 28 species, including the largest brown bear on the Balkan Peninsula at 2.45 meters of height.
- A living exposition, shaped like an artificial cave with several galleries, in which the animals are located, and the richest aquarium in the country with over 230 freshwater species from around the world and over 40 types of aquatic plants.
- A two-meter Nile crocodile and two nearly five-meter Burmese pythons.
- A Tropic Hall, which is shaped like a tropical jungle with a bridge, a waterfall with a lake and a great variety of tropical plants. Here you can see live butterflies flying freely in the hall.
Each of Plovdiv's museums is within walking distance of the boutique hotel “Villa Flavia”. Ask us for directions or additional information, we will be happy to help enrich your Plovdiv experience!
Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis
The Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis, known as the Great Basilica, is one of the most important cultural and historical monuments in Europe. As the largest early Christian church in Bulgaria, it was at the heart of Christian life between the IV and VI centuries before it was destroyed and abandoned. Being in ruin and oblivion for centuries, it is now transformed into one of the most important archeological sites in the country open to new layers of history and visitors thanks to the restoration, conservation and exhibition project.
The Basilica and Roman mosaics of Philippopolis are part of the UNESCO indicative list. How to see them?
They are located right next to the boutique hotel “Villa Flavia”. Take a 10-minute walk through the city center and you will find yourself right in front of this beautiful building in the heart of our millennial history. Ask our team for directions and more information. We will be happy to help you!
History of the Bishop’s Basilica
The basilica is located in the city center and is impressive in size - over 38 m wide and over 85 m long, it boasts an equally impressive architecture. The building is built with one central and two side naves, an apse, a vestibule and an open courtyard with colonnades. Its size, decoration and location demonstrate the existence of a large and influential Christian community in ancient Plovdiv – there is reason to believe that this was one of the first buildings built in the Roman Empire after the legalization of Christianity.
One of the most interesting finds are the mosaics covering the floor of the basilica. They are created in the style of the Eastern Roman Empire, but also hide one of a kind features, making the architectural site a unique landmark. With more than 2000 sq. meters of dazzling motifs, they are much more than beautiful images – they are a result of countless hours of work, artistic skill and years of experience. The combination of different geometric shapes, Christian symbols and images of birds is clear evidence of continuity preserved in the basilica.
The mosaics of the Great Basilica are divided into two layers. The first is filled with geometric shapes, which is a clear testament to the artistic challenges facing society during the transition between paganism and Christianity. The new religion had not yet found its artistic language and was looking for inspiration from familiar techniques. However, even in this variety of symbols – monochrome and color – we can find the main Christian symbol – the cross.
The second mosaic layer shows that Christianity has already found its approach and symbolic way of expression. They were created in the V century and combine geometric figures with the distinctive element of the Bishop’s Basilica – the birds. More than 100 birds are depicted on the central panel alone, personification of the Garden of Eden. About one third of all identified species are exotic birds with characteristic plumage and indisputable evidence of the ancient ties of the Romans, extending far beyond the generally accepted borders of the Roman Empire. Different birds have different symbolism - peacocks, for example, represent the immortality of the soul. Maybe that's why the image of a peacock welcomes the visitors of this magnificent architectural and cultural landmark!