NEW YORK -- It is as old as Troy, but its democracy is a mere babe.
The pride of Bulgarian tourism, the city of Plovdiv is on the
visitor map in eastern Europe because of its charming old city
center. This year Plovdiv will add another attraction when it hosts
European Cultural Month May 28 to July 24.
The event was launched in 1991 by the European Union as a way to
showcase cities in nonunion countries, encouraging them to aspire
to the organization's cultural and eventually political goals.
A spokesman for the
culture festival said one of its themes will be the 10th
anniversary of the Berlin Wall's collapse and the demise of the
communist eastern bloc, of which Bulgaria was a member. "But we
will also showcase Plovdiv's 7,000-year history and its role as a
crossroads between different ethnic groups and religions," he
More than a dozen indoor and outdoor venues have been reserved
for the event, including several museums in the Old Town and an
ancient 2,500-seat theater. Key performances include an
international opera and ballet festival during the first nine days
of June; an international chamber music festival June 10 to 20, and
an international classical guitar festival June 22 to 28. Hundreds
of concerts, exhibitions, puppet shows and theatrical presentations
are slated, including performances by at least 12 groups from the
U.S., the spokesman said.
Two years ago Ljubljana, Slovenia, received 25,000 visitors when
it hosted European Cultural Month, a number Plovdiv can easily
match, he said. Plovdiv's tourist draw is its well-preserved
monuments to several eras -- its Old Town was awarded a medal by
Unesco for having been restored with great attention to detail.
Fortifications, mosaics and monuments date to Roman times, but
there are also colorful examples of Bulgarian Revival architecture
and evidence of the Turkish presence over the centuries.
Currently, the city is the site of a Novotel, but there are also
many small pensions that have been recently refurbished.
Friendship Ambassador Foundation in White Plains, N.Y., is
custom-designing tours and will pay from 10% to 15% commission,
depending on the group's size. Friendship Ambassadors. Phone: (800)
526-2908. E-mail: [email protected]. Web: www.faf.org