Plovdiv. Unique name.. Unique place!

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Plovdiv, Bulgaria. What more can be said to summarise Plovdiv in one short statement other than ‘it is a testament to the history of civilization’. To say that it is an ‘old city’ is an understatement, with a vast settlement history stretching past 4000BC, making it not only one of the oldest in Europe, but the world. To think about the diverse amounts of cultures that have called this city ‘home’ over the past 6000 years is staggering, with Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Bulgars, Slavs and Turks, all to leave their mark on the cities architecture and culture.

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The old city itself is a mix of ancient Roman theaters and Plovdiv’s own unique architectural style from the 19th Century, the colours used are alike those of Latin American towns, which just adds to the curiosity of the city. The stonework of the roads and walls are alike many original Balkan streets, however the care and devotion of the city towards maintaining its charm is not unnoticed.

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There of course is the old Ottoman style of the city with centuries old mosques with minarets, still looking as impressive as the day they were built! Not to forget the obviously beautifully decorated Bulgarian Orthodox Churches. In the centre of the old town the streets are similar to those of most Western European business districts, with later styled architecture, however to me it just adds further to the appeal of Plovdiv.

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The biggest appeal to me is how authentic this city is despite it still having a relatively large population; it is as though whilst it’s unique flair and spirit seems new it is amazing to know that its style has lasted centuries! Personally I would love exploring the stone streets of the old town and just take in the amazing architecture and flair of the city.

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There are lots to do and see in Plovdiv, whether you are an art buff or love to immerse yourself in history and ruins of the distant past. There are ancient mosaics, an amazingly partially intact roman aqueduct, not to mention the main sights of the Odeon and Amphitheater! An interesting fact is that the Amphitheater was only discovered no more than 40 years ago, buried underneath the city centre! It has been beautifully uncovered and can be toured. This is just amazing as the centuries past so much has been covered up, despite the size (it could sit half the cities 1st century population of 60,000!), just makes you think of what treasures are still yet to be discovered in the most unusual places!

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To get into Plovdiv these days is quite diverse and plentiful, with trains and buses from Sofia and even Istanbul! The nearby airport though small still has flights from Milan, London and Frankfurt, and then there is the trusty car, in which you can travel along the newly upgraded motorway from Sofia or Burgas!

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This amazing town is defiantly high on my trip list as is many places in the Balkans, if any of you have been there please let me know on your experiences! Hope you enjoyed the read!

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Pontus, Anatolia’s Ancient Treasure

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Pontus too many people holds abundant different meanings depending on how savvy you are with history and your ethnicity. However to me, Pontus is yet another one of those places where I had no idea how beautifully unspoiled the scenery was when I first found out about it and just how many hidden treasures there are on offer to the unknowing traveler!

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Located in northern Turkey, lining the Black Sea, Pontus is one of the earliest inhabited parts of Anatolia with a history dating back over 5000 years and being home to long staying ethnicities such as the Greeks, Armenians, Anatolians, Turks and most interestingly, the Amazons (These people were in Ancient Greek mythology an all female tribe of warriors whose queens come descend from the gods!). Besides that the history of the ancient province has left marks across the area with ancient fortresses, monasteries, tombs and Ottoman mansions.

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The natural beauty is just staggering and it’s amazing to think that it is hardly visited by tourists. The option of what to do and see is broad and stretches from the beaches of the Black Sea to the highest peaks of the thick forested mountains.. Personally the thought of hiking or riding through the green mountain forests and the villages shrouded by mist is one of those experiences that I cannot wait to embark upon.

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The regions main centers are scattered along the coast line, these include Sinop, Ordu, Trabzon and Samsun which will cater for the average tourist (not that there’s anything wrong with that); however for the adventure seeker it seems that the more inland of Pontus that you venture, the more fulfilling each province is! Take the town of Amasya, a picturesque wooded ottoman style town that has huge rock carved tombs on the side of a cliff face above the town; many of the tombs date back to about 2000 years ago.

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A big thing for me is the food of the region, and honestly I love Turkish foods and meze’s, so the cuisine is like an added bonus to this fantastic location! And not to forget the locally grown tea of Pontus.

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This part of Black Sea Turkey is mostly unvisited by westerners over the better known and easier to access parts of the country, however though there is few international visitors staying each year, tourism is largely on the rise, and its not hard to see why! I hope you enjoyed these pictures which have bewildered my imagination for a long time and perhaps one day will inspire you to add Pontus to your bucket list! 

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-Daniel Berakov