Navigate the colourful Plovdiv streets together with local guides of a Plovdiv free tour!
Public Art to Celebrate the European Capital of Culture
You can join a Free walking Plovdiv Tour every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11 am by the Municipality.
Experienced guides cover different topics – the history of the city, its social life, and arts. It was particularly interesting for me to get more insights into street art, the main Plovdiv feature.
With over 1000 pieces of mural decoration, it’s difficult to find a street in Plovdiv without colourful marks. The main area is in Kapana, the only Bulgarian street art quarter. All the images were commissioned to celebrate the status of Plovdiv 2019, the European Capital of Culture.
‘People often confuse street art and public art which cannot be used interchangeably, – says Daniel, the author of Free Plovdiv Tour. – It’s essential to understand their basic types and functions.
The key features of street art are its quasi-anonymity, dissident character, and activist spirit. Street art offers the community to see public space as a place for dialogue, creativity, and exploration.
It always emerges without the consent of the property owner and occasionally it aims to challenge the government. As a result, it’s quickly removed or replaced with a different layer.
In contrast, public art is sponsored and protected by government agencies and serves some business or political interests. For instance, like in the case of Plovdiv, to benefit from the prestigious status and attract more tourists.
Graffiti is another type of mural painting in Plovdiv that often covers other street paintings. Graffiti artists’ audiences are fellow graffiti writers who mark areas as trying to divide them and express more power.
The Last Remnants of Street Art
In the case of Plovdiv, there are more pieces of public art than street art. 5 years ago, when Plovdiv began the preparation for the big year, the government and local businesses commissioned dozens of painting in the art district Kapana. The illegal painting was quickly removed or changed.
The most extraordinary composition is an illegal piece created by artist Stoyko Gaganov in 2012-14 on the hill Sahat, the city centre. He painted portraits of famous Bulgarian people.
The author aimed to teach young generations about prominent Bulgarian figures using modern visual language. Unfortunately, the government requested to remove the images motivating the decision by the prohibition to spoil the natural monuments, the hills. Only one portrait has survived.
Art Festivals as the Main Sources of Street Decoration
The quiet narrow avenues along the main Plovdiv street Gavnata was another interesting art district of the Free Plovdiv Graffiti Tour. Most images here resembled people’s strange dreams or drafts of creepy cartoons. In this way, young Bulgarian artists decorated the quarter during Street Art festivals from 2013 to 2015.
Sfumato is a truly undiscovered piece of Plovdiv outdoor art. Such paintings are very high and some of them are impossible to spot without a knowledgeable guide. The majority of the sfumato pictures were created in 1970 and represented various historical scenes.
The exploration of Plovdiv mural painting may continue endlessly. But Free Plovdiv Tour takes about two hours. For those, who want to learn more about modern Bulgarian art, explore the blogs and blogs of the main artists’ that decorated Plovdiv:
Thanks a lot to Daniel, the author of the Free Plovdiv Tour for the help in the preparation of this post!