Bulgaria’s oldest city Plovdiv has been officially inaugurated as the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Plovdiv claims to be the oldest continually inhabited European city, with more than 6,000 years of history. Plovdiv’s architectural landmarks dating back to Thracian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times help prove the ancient age of this Balkan city. Some 50,000 people gathered at the central square Saturday to watch the opening show. Squeezed between the Balkan and the Rodopi Mountains, Bulgaria’s second-largest city – behind the capital of Sofia – has survived for thousands of years on the crossroads between Western Europe and the Middle East. The city on both sides of the Maritsa River is also known for its ethnic diversity. Many of its 340,000 inhabitants belong to the country’s Turkish, Roma, Armenian, Greek and Jewish minorities, all of which have quite a strong influence on the city’s vibrant cultural life. Some 350 cultural events are scheduled in Plovdiv this year, including an exhibition featuring fragments of the Berlin Wall to mark 30 years since its fall.
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