The country’s second largest city, Plovdiv is one of its most attractive and vibrant centres, and arguably has more to recommend it than Sofia.

The old town embodies Plovdiv’s long history – Thracian fortifications subsumed by Macedonian masonry, overlaid with Byzantine walls and by great timber-framed mansions erected during the Bulgarian renaissance, symbolically looking down upon the derelict Ottoman mosques and artisans’ dwellings of the lower town. But Plovdiv isn’t merely a parade of antiquities: the city’s arts festivals and trade fairs rival Sofia’s, and its restaurants and promenade are equal to those of the capital.

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