PLOVDIV, Bulgaria – Bulgaria’s second-largest city is starting off the year as one of the epicenters of culture in Europe.
Known for centuries by the Greek name “Philippopolis” after King Philipp II of Macedon conquered it in the 4th century BC, the city of Plovdiv – located 150 kilometers (93 miles) to the southeast of the capital, Sofia – is one of two European Capitals of Culture 2019, a title shared with the southern Italian city of Matera.
“European Capital of Culture is a unique project for Bulgaria which provides new opportunities for the development of the potential of the city and new international visibility and a perspective on Bulgarian culture as a whole,” the city’s authorities said on its official website.
The project’s program is structured in four thematic platforms that are conceptually linked to the city’s typical features: fuse, transform, revive and relax.
The first axis aims to integrate ethnic and minority groups while bringing together different generations and social groups in order to overcome the borders of the more isolated territories.
The second initiative is to re-think and revive forgotten and abandoned urban spaces, as well as change the perception about them.
The idea of revival represents the preservation of culture and cultural heritage in a contemporary context that avoids the stereotypes of touristic attractions.
The fourth plank revolves around the promotion of sustainable living, including the concepts of “Slow Life,” “Slow Food” and degrowth.
“The basic meaning and key for understanding the whole program, the ideas of the different platforms and their inner logic is the motto ‘Together,’” the organizers explained. “Clear and universal, this motto summarizes in one word both the pride and the greatest challenges of our project.”