Plovdiv is an amazing ancient city and it is also the second largest city in Bulgaria. When visiting Bulgaria, Plovdiv is a must see for any foreigner who likes history and archaeology. We would like to bring to your attention the Roman Stadium of Philippopolis when visiting Plovdiv city which was also recently appointed as European Capital of Culture 2019.
The Stadium of Philippopolis was built in the beginning of 2nd century AD during the reign Emperor Hadrian. It is situated in the Northern part of the fortified city surrounded by defense walls, in the natural terrain between Taksim Tepe and Sahat Tepe. The facility is approximately 240 meters long and 50 meters wide. Its capacity is up to 30 000 spectators. To honor the visit of the Roman emperor Caracalla in 214 the games held on the stadium were called Alexandrian while the games for the visit of emperor Elagabalus in 218 were called Kedrisian Games.
The games were organised by the General Assembly of the province of Thrace.
Athletes competed in two age categories – men and boys. Agonothetes (organisers of the sport events) presided over the games. Like the other imperial buildings for spectacular events, the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis had its seats of honor preserved by inscriptions in the marble blocks. Seats with Greek inscriptions were found, proving the existence of special seats for members of higher public position.
The main entrance to the Stadium is formed by masonry pillars decorated with marble pilasters and reliefs. On the pilasters there are busts of Hermes (hermai) with placed above them prize vases with palm sprays, accompanied by Hercules’ attributes – lion skin, a mace and a quiver. There you can dive underground at the original level of the Ancient town. The space open for visitors includes a part of the track, the semi-circular part of the spectator seats (sfendona) and a panoramic wall with hypothetical reconstruction of the missing space of the facility. Some of the discovered elements of the Stadium are identified along the main street of Plovdiv. The Roman Stadium was pronounced a national cultural value in 1995.
Are you visiting Bulgaria and you are not sure what to do? Our suggestions might help you to get the most out of your experience in Bulgaria.