Covering one of Plovdiv’s three hills with its cobbled streets and colourful mansions, the Old Quarter is a painter’s dream and a cartographer’s nightmare. As good a route as any is to start from pl. Dzhumaya and head east up ul. Saborna. Blackened fortress walls dating from Byzantine times can be seen around Saborna and other streets, sometimes incorporated into the dozens of timber-framed National Revival houses that are Plovdiv’s speciality. Outside and within, the walls are frequently decorated with niches, floral motifs or false columns, painted in a style known as alafranga. Turn right, up the steps beside the Church of Sveta Bogoroditsa, and continue, along twisting cobbled lanes, to the Roman Theatre, the best preserved in the country, and still an impressive venue for regular concerts and plays (advertised around the town and in the local press).

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