PLOVEDIV is a cultural hub that has been bringing communities together for over a decade. You can come there for souvenirs, exhibitions, and workshops. It has very high Tripadvisor rankings and is defined as one of the interesting must-visit places in Plovdiv. People come there to buy t-shirts by local designers, visit lectures of creative practitioners and learn about local crafts. Wine workshops are among the most popular events! For current updates in 2023, follow PLOVEDIV Facebook. In this post I share the history of the projects told me by his owner, famous Bulgarian social entrepreneur, artist, and photographer Simeon Todorov.

Plovediv as a new business idea

plovediv must-visit places in Plovdiv
One of the emblematic designs by Plovediv is devoted to Plovdiv 2019. © Tatyana Garkavaya

Over a decade ago, the project by Todorov made part of an ambitious project launched to promote the quarter Kapana as an area with various museums and galleries. But the location has failed to live up to this status and has become only an art quarter famous for its commissioned mural paintings, but not for a wide variety of creative places to visit, as planned initially.

‘PLOVEDIV was the only project that survived; we made it because all our projects focus on the needs of the local community’, – points out Simeon Todorov, the owner of the center. The idea of the unique for Bulgaria business is based on Todorov’s experience gained abroad and his collaborations with local organizations.

By putting his multidisciplinary creative project on the map of Bulgaria, its owner Simeon Todorov emphasizes that his native town is also capable of competing for the attention of tourists with the two most famous Bulgarian cities, Sofia and Varna known for a large number of creative products.

The unusual name of PLOVEDIV highlights its creative nature. The word Love emphasizes the inhabitants’ admiration and respect for the arts. The main reason for such an original wordplay is to demonstrate that Plovdiv can offer more than traditionally featured in travel brochures tourist locations: the 7 Hills, the Ancient Theatre, and the Old Town.

Witty t-shirt designs and smart workshops

Must-Visit Places in Plovdiv
Simeon Todorov: Preparation for a wine workshop. © Tatyana Garkavaya

On the first floor, Simeon sells funny t-shirts decorated by local designers. Each collection is a limited edition of colorful garments with original designs. For instance, the slogan ‘Make Plovediv NOT Warna’ reflects the long-lasting competition between the two major Bulgarian cities, Plovdiv and Varna. The amusing pun urges people to favor Plovdiv, the historical-cultural center, but not Varna, the major summer resort.

plovediv must-visit places in Plovdiv
The t-shirt slogan ‘Make Plovediv NOT Warna’ or Plovdiv vs Varna. © Tatyana Garkavaya

The second floor consists of spacious rooms used for workshops and seminars. Except for the regular weekly meetings for art lovers, there have been a lot of occasional lectures on men’s health, women’s rights, comic books for children, etc. And a recent novelty – wine workshops.

plovediv must-visit places in Plovdiv
Exciting Must-Visit Places in Plovdiv: Original souvenirs at PLOVEDIV. © Tatyana Garkavaya

Simeon applies a flexible approach to each project. New artists who organize their first exhibitions can rent the area for free. As a professional artist himself, Todorov has decided to single out this category of collaborators because he realizes the importance of initial support for creative projects.  He welcomes different art styles, ideas, and ages of the artists.

Interestingly, Simeon doesn’t regard the creative people he backs as competitors but rather as fellow artists who contribute to the development of Plovdiv as a creative city.

Todorov considers creative collaborations as the key aspect of his business success and the prosperity of his hometown. He believes that various partnerships in the best way possible help to find mutually beneficial, viable, and innovative ways of doing business with like-minded people.

This, in turn, provides a solid basis for sustaining the image of Plovdiv as a European Capital of Culture not only during the Year it held the status but in the years to come as well.

Add PLOVEDIV to your list of must-visit places in Plovdiv along with another interesting project – Free Plovdiv Graffiti Tour! More details about the latter are in my other post.

Images: Tatyana Garkavaya

Find more Cultural Insights in the section Places of this blog.