Love & Plovdiv: A Legend Untold
(Almost) A Legend About Beauty
There was once a great Thracian king, who ruled over Plovdiv in ancient times. His name was Kendros. He was a wise man and during his reign, the city was blossoming. Tradesmen from all over the Thracian valley were flocking to the city’s markets. Skilled craftsmen were making their finest gold jewellery in their small shops around its hills. Talented gardeners were planting roses in every corner. Poets were engraving the beauty of Plovdiv into people’s hearts with their verses…
But one day a scoundrel walked through the city gates. Initially, almost nobody noticed him, as he was just rambling around the Southern Market some nonsense about the city’s demise. What a mad man really, to think that Plovdiv can ever be sacked? Alas, his words were not just a fantasy of a deranged mind.
The third week after the scoundrel’s arrival, Kendros, the king of Plovdiv, was walking with his guards around the Southern Market. He overheard the man’s tales of doom and ordered his guards to escort the disturber of peace to his palace at the Nebet Hill. There, the wise ruler questioned the stranger for hours, but the only words he could get of him were “Beauty is going to bring this beautiful city down”.
Kendros spend the next two days in the shrine of Dionysius in contemplation and on the third day he ordered for every rose in the city to be cut, for all the gold jewellery to be melted into simple coins and for all the decorative elements on the buildings to be taken down.
And little by little, the craftsmen started to go. The markets had fewer and fewer things to sell. The gardeners all went to Serdika. But it was all for the great city’s survival, wise Kendros thought. All for the greater good.
That decision of his turned out to be not all bad. Three years later, news arrived that Kendros’ beloved cousin – King Priam of Troy, has had his city under siege by the Greeks and he was calling for help. Luckily, the wise ruler of Plovdiv has kept all the golden coins he got from melting the jewellery, so he paid with it to build chariots for his whole army and went to help his cousin.
Little did Kendros know that he was going to be able to keep the city safe, but not to win a decisive victory and so he had to stand his chariot army in front of Troy’s walls for many years to come.
As time went by, word of the standoff down in Troy spread and the mighty warlord Teros decided it was time for him to make his move. And so he gathered his forces, rushed to the gates of Plovdiv and sacked the city, while its army was way down South, defending the Beauty that Priam’s son took, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the scoundrel – “Beauty is going to bring this beautiful city down”.
A beautiful legend indeed – but really, it’s just a made-up one. If you end up drinking one-too-many glasses of wine, you might end up believing some even more fantastic stories!
Have in mind that if you happen to be in Plovdiv for Valentine’s day – it is a day when you might slip into some excessive wine consumption not only for the usual reason of celebrating love on that day but also because all throughout Bulgaria this day – 14 February, is also widely celebrated as the day of wine (or, Trifon Zarezan).
And in a country that has one of the two oldest winemaking traditions in the world, dating back to the times of the Thracians whose absolute favourite god of all was Dionysius (the god of wine, there were shrines dedicated to him all over the place) – amazing local wine sorts such as Mavrud can get under your skin pretty fast.
Of course, a little moderation even with the most tempting things in life is a value not to be underestimated. Therefore, you can very well get you and your loved one not entirely drunk with the great Bulgarian wine varieties and enjoy the many things Plovdiv has to offer you for Valentine’s day. Or just a romantic weekend you might end up spending here together.
Get a freshly roasted coffee somewhere in the Centre, walk around the romantic hills, take a stroll with a bike along the Rowing Canal, watch the moon from the top of the Old Town, enjoy a dinner at one of the nice and cosy restaurants in Kapana and have a glass of wine in one of the elegant and artsy bars…
Just have your loved one with you and let Plovdiv envelop you in its legend!