The National Revival Architecture of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Bulgarian National Revival Plovdiv Bulgaria

Along Plovdiv’s winding, cobblestone lanes you’ll encounter fine, jewel-toned homes epitomizing Bulgaria’s National Revival architectural style. These mansions are decorated with stained-wooden shutters and trim. The buildings are also embellished with flourishes that depict peacocks, flowing ribbons, and flowers.

The National Revival style developed as Bulgaria regained its independence from the Ottoman Empire, which had occupied the country for nearly five centuries. Bulgarians often refer to this period of history as one during which they were “under the Ottoman yoke.”

During the National Revival there was renewed interest in not only architecture, but also in literacy, culture, and education.

Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s second-largest city. In 2019, it was a European Capital of Culture.

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • For more information about the city of Plovdiv and its Stari Grad district, see the Plovdiv Tourism Board site.
  • Do you like collages? From windows of the world, to perfectly-coiffed horse tails and delectable Spanish appetizers, take a peek at my collage series.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

22 thoughts on “The National Revival Architecture of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

  1. My clever Mother always said “windows are the eyes into the soul of a home”. These windows are pure magic. Enchanting and delightful and all things wonderful. It is such a joy to travel with Tricia and see the world through your discerning eyes. XX Virginia

    1. Virginia, “discerning eyes” – that’s high praise coming from a talented lady such as yourself. :) Thank you for that compliment, and for sharing your mother’s quote. It sounds as though you’ve drawn a lot of your creative energy from her.

    1. Jo, each one has its charm, doesn’t it? I find myself drawn to #6, and also think the blue & white combinations are so cheery – rather Greek-island-esque in their color schemes? :)

    1. Lynne, it is fascinating thinking about how art movements begin, and how some borrow from previous ones. With this style, I love the use of vibrant colors, and all the flourishes that frame rooftops, windows and doorways. Must look cheery and inviting even in winter!

    1. Jenna, I bet you’ve amassed quite a collection from our recent moments in Brazil! Indeed, it is fun to see how architecture changes from place to place. With so many different cultural influences in this part of the world, it’s fascinating to see the significant variety southeastern Europe has to offer.

    1. Cornelia, glad you enjoy the series. From sourcing them to assembling the collage, I enjoy the process because it makes me to hone in on each country’s unique architectural details. :)

  2. So beautiful, so many variations, so much delicacy!
    People were so much more creative and there was a lot more diversity in the past. I hope the modern World becomes more artistical again.

    1. Escape Hunter, hello and thank you for your comment. I agree that diverse architecture, and a great attention to detail, seem to have been somewhat lost, at least in the United States. Kudos to those artisans who are keeping artistic traditions alive, as well as to those who are innovating. :)

    1. Agreed that Plovdiv has a lot of character! Aside from just wandering, one of my highlights was taking in a performance in the city’s Roman theater. My husband and I don’t speak Bulgarian so we didn’t understand the actors, but the experience made my husband’s birthday memorable. What sites / experiences were your highlights?

      Since Plovdiv is slated to be a European Capital of Culture in 2019, I’m wondering if the increased attention will cause it to change much?

      1. Hello,

        I have also published my article about Plovdiv.

        But in a nutshell, Old Town is stunning! But to be honest everything we visited, we enjoyed a lot. We discovered a small museum, “Cultural Center Trakart” opened only a couple of years back with beautiful mozaic display. It was built on the place where there used to be the home of some wealthy inhabitant from the Roman rule.

        I also enjoyed that we got here during the Kapana festival, a street show held in Kapana quarter.

      2. Julia, I don’t think the Cultural Center Trakart was open when we were in Bulgaria; if so, we missed it, so thanks for putting it on my radar. The mosaics (which I’m especially drawn to when we travel) look fantastic. We’ve also been wanting to get back to Bulgaria for the rose harvest (May/June) and to see the Thracian ruins.

      3. Ahh, the rose harvest, that’s something that I’m also looking for! I always come back with rose based soap or perfumes from our travels in Bulgaria

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