Bulgaria’s second largest city, Plovdiv (Пловдив) has more obvious charms than Sofia, which locals tend to look down on. The old town embodies Plovdiv’s long history – Thracian fortifications subsumed by Macedonian masonry, overlaid with Roman and Byzantine walls. Great timber-framed mansions, erected during the Bulgarian renaissance, symbolically look down upon the derelict Ottoman mosques and artisans’ dwellings of the lower town. But this isn’t just another museum town: the city’s arts festivals and trade fairs are the biggest in the country, and its restaurants and bars are equal to those of the capital.
Plovdiv centres on the large ploshtad Tsentralen, dominated by the monolithic Hotel Trimontium Princess.