Plovdiv – Steps in the Old Town

Plovdiv

Author – Iordan VELCHEV

There is a house in this town founded on top of other towns and its door is calling you. A door forever closed for you, a leddoor implacably inaccessible for the living, imperceptible for  the dead, a door which is an illusion for a meeting with your irrevocable  “I”  somewhere back in the past.

Plovdiv, Old Town
Plovdiv, Old Town

You sit sometimes on its threshold and the mysterious voices of church bells draw near you once again, and so does the wind moaning in the drains, and the harsh sound of the hooter of somebody’s car led  astray in the fog,and the deserted streets with the houses as if they were the scenary of  a stage without actors,with their roofs following each other like steps, with the pale faces of the street lamps, with the huddled public gardens – like the breast of heroes adorned with innumerable leaves, the sign of their bravery.

At this place where everything looks to the casual glance like a promenade  for tourists rather than reality, time steps on tip-toe. It keeps on wavering its flame among the spiders’ webs in the air,bent under the weight of eight thousand years in which all the stages of human civilisation merge inseparably and thus create that feeling of eternity which is our strenght as human beings.

Plovdiv, Old Town
Plovdiv, Old Town

Every flutter here is a revelation, the unsuspected presence of somebody. Аncient Hebrus is still flowing ever so lonely and quietly in this endless poem of breathtaking spirituel elevation, the very Hebrus that Alkaios, the poet, addressed thus: “You most beautiful among the rivers, you, that plunge in the sea not far from enos and carry your waves along the Tracian land. It seems that under the inaccessible proud rocks of Nebet tepe the old quai is still showing white and so are the numerous rafts, boats and ships, heavily loaded with tar, grain and cattle, ready to set sail for Adrianople. Above it behind the fortress walls, exquisite in their attire, Thracian notables show off their glory under the impressive colonnade of seasons. Whiter than snow, the horses bear on their sweaty backs the exultation of many victories at a time when Sumerian culture is still quite far from its brilliance.

Who can say  where all this has begun and where it.

Ploviv, Old town
Ploviv, Old town

Could you ever have a real glimpse on the old chronicles of Pompeius Trogus on the seisure of the town by the father of Alexander of Macedon, Philip II Amyant, in 342-341 B.C.? It is possible to find in the annals of so many other world-famous historians anithing about the defence of the town against the Celts and the Goths, and Attila’s hordes against avars and petchengs,the whole truth about those time of troubles under the ruins of which Plovdiv has come to life again and again, ever more magnificent in the manliness to defend itself? Is it not for that reason thet Lucian of Samosata in the much quoted dialogue between Hermes and Heracles has called it “the biggest and most beautiful of all towns”? And is it not for that reason that in the indifferent movement of the hour-glasses where it seems that each day brings forward a new age , in the strange blend between legend  and reality, the man of today feels as if stepping into a temple with a dome reaching the sky?

Plovdiv, Old Town
Plovdiv, Old Town

And whichever way you turn it is always the same, the three hills of the independent Thracian leaders, always the same, the town of the Pythic games with the splendid sacrifices, with the sweet sound of the flutes, with the songs and the hymns dedicated to Apollo. This is Plovdiv of the temples to Dionysus, Apollo and Artemis. Plovdiv of the Alexander and Kendrian games, the town which in 46 A.D. was turned by the Roman centurions into the metropolis of the province Tracia with a Senate which could mint its own coins, levy taxes and duties,and  which was raised to the status of an inaccessible citadel of their Empire by the spearmen of Justinian the Great another five hundred years later. This is Plovdiv starting from Eumolpia and Pulpudeva through Philippopolis and Trimontium to Flavia, Ulpia and Phelibe but always the sam e in all its transformation.

There is some inscrutable mystery in your presence in this stream of centuries with their  partiality, where the quiverings of human consciousness run one after another and the joy of overcoming them embraces the walls, peeling under the sunlight and the rain, endowing them with soul.

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