Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Bulgaria and Romania has to say about Plovdiv’s religious buildings:
Church of Sveti Konstantin & Elena
This is Plovdiv’s oldest church and one of its most beloved. Dedicated to Emperor Constantine the Great and his mother, Helena, it was built on the spot where two Christian martyrs were be- headed in the year 304. Admire marvellous frescoes and a colourful carved ceiling in the exterior colonnade, and a baroque-style Viennese iconostasis and religious art spanning the 15th to 18th centuries inside. The separate bell tower, bright white with a coppery cap, stands 13m tall.
Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa
Painted a fetching shade of butter-cream yellow, this three-nave church looks out proudly from a stone staircase at the base of the old town. Built in 1844 on the site of a 9th-century shrine, its 12th-century incarnations long ago sacked by the Ottomans, the church now contains icons and colourful murals, and bears an inscription of thanks to Bulgaria’s liberators.
Sveta Marina Church
A little-visited 16th-century gem, Sveta Marina Church has superb Old Testament murals on its outer walls, depicting scenes from Adam, Eve and a mischievous snake to a very cross Moses dashing stone tablets. The 17m-high wooden bell tower, dating to 1870, is unique in Plovdiv. The shadowy interior harbours an intricate 170-year-old iconostasis.
Bulgaria’s first working mosque, this unmissable Ottoman building in the middle of Plovdiv’s pedestrianized shopping zone was originally built in 1364. It was demolished and rebuilt in the mid-15th century. It is possible to enter (dress modestly), though the interior doesn’t match up to the mosque’s grand history and imposing 23m minaret.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
After two very busy days exploring Plovdiv, we took a bit of a break so that I could go and get my nails done and then I could spend some time editing my photos, uploading them to my travel journals and working on the writing so that I wouldn’t get so far behind that I’d get discouraged about keeping up. We’d allowed for five full days in the city, so it was important to pace ourselves and not get too tired.
Later that afternoon, we left around 4:00pm so that we could explore the Tsar Simeon Park and its environs. We’re more in the habit of setting off to explore in late morning and returning in the late afternoon, as we find we can only manage a maximum of six hours on our feet. That means unless we change our modus operandi now and then, we don’t go out in the evenings much at all.
So, to start the month of November off differently, we had a light lunch and planned to eat dinner out after exploring the park and then walking into the more modern pedestrian streets of the lower city. Unfortunately, this meant that we couldn’t meet up with Anne, Hazel and John but if they were truly there most days, we’d try and see then another day.
It was a warm evening and we really enjoyed the change of pace. It was especially nice seeing the families out together in the evening. As the sun set, the lights along the streets were lit and it gave the whole area a different look from the atmosphere in the daylight hours.
We were now quite familiar with the various streets of Plovdiv and had no hesitation walking through the residential neighbourhoods in order to avoid the busy traffic on the main thoroughfares. At no time did we ever feel unsafe in any way. It had been the same in the capital, Sofia. It’s so good to not have to worry about watching for pickpockets or sketchy characters who might be threatening.