or Eumolpia or Trimontium (Plovdiv）
A city on the right bank of the Maritza
river in the great lagoon between the Balkan and Rhodopian mountains at the junction of the Belgrade-Istanbul
and Danube-Aegean roads. The city was founded in 342
B.C. by Philip II of Macedon over a prior Thracian center (Pulpudava). Conquered again by the Thracians after the fall of the Macedonians, the city remained under Thracian control until it was conquered by the Romans,
who made it the capital of the province of Thrace, the
metropolis and seat of the provincial assembly; in 248 it
became a colony. It was provided with a circuit wall by
Marcus Aurelius. Captured temporarily and sacked by
the Goths in 251, it became an episcopal seat in the
4th c. It was occupied by the Huns and restored during
the reign of Justinian.
Traces remain of the Thracian-Macedonian (4th c.
B.C.) polygonal circuit wall. It encircled the three hills
(a prehistoric site) with an irregular and triangular surface area of ca. 80,000 m and was restored in the late Roman and Byzantine period in opus mixtum and rubble core. Only one gate of the original four has been preserved. The second and larger circuit wall (ca. 430,000
sq. m), in the shape of an irregular pentagon, was constructed during the reign of Marcus Aurelius as a defense
against the Marcomanni (mentioned in fragmentary inscriptions). Very little of it has been preserved.
Of the ancient buildings, only the stadium, to the W
and at the front of the hill between the second circuit
wall in the central section of the modern city, remains.
There are ruins of a temple of Aesculapius to the E, a
large bath building with massive vaults on pilasters in
the E section, aqueducts, and many architectural fragments belonging to various buildings that have since disappeared. The theater is supposed to have been in the S section of the city S of Taxim-tepe. It is quite probable
that the city had a stadium (3d c. B.C. on the evidence of
the architectural and decorative elements and according
to the ancient sources). The length of the track is a little
more than a stade—ca. 180 m—and the width was probably 25 to 30 m, with a capacity possibly of ca. 30,000.
The orientation of the stadium was NW to SE. The W
side occupied the slopes of Sahat-tepe, taking full advantage of the natural rock and slope of the land; the E
side was for the most part artificially elevated with buttressing walls of brick and stone. Inscriptions document
the existence of reserved seats for officials and organizers
of the games. The monumental entrance to the track, set
on a slightly curved line, was built of five large vaulted
chambers. This monumental entrance, which must have
been on three levels, was probably decorated in the three
architectural orders. Herodian mentions the restoration
of the Pythian games in the cities of Thrace at the behest
of Caracalla in honor and memory of Alexander the
Great. Coins minted by Caracalla and later by Elagabalus
at Philippopolis commemorate this restoration by the
provincial assembly of the Thracians. The coins represent fights, gladiators, a diskobolos, gymnasts exercising,
and prizes. The games mentioned are the Pythian in
honor of Apollo Pythius, the Alexandria in honor of
Alexander the Great, and the Kendreiseia, local games of
Thrace in honor of the Thracian deity Kendrizos. At the
time of the Gothic invasions, the sources remark that the
stadium was within the city.
The Byzantine chronicler Anna Comnena, who visited
Philippopolis at the beginning of the 12th c., mentions
a hippodrome without remarking on the stadium. That
the stadium no longer existed in her time is proved by
the stratigraphy of the excavations where the Byzantine
coins are at a level higher than that of the stadium. Inscriptions give evidence of the participation of famous
athletes at the games and of the commemoration of statues to them.
The modern city preserves traces of the old topography along with the separation of the ethnic sections and
the irregular, winding course of the streets (characteristically, the houses are wood, the markets are covered, and the baths are Turkish). There is a typical lack of a real urban center.
The National Archaeological Museum in Plovdiv, second only in size to the one at Sofia, conserves the prehistoric, Thracian, Roman, and mediaeval antiquities. Particularly important are the religious reliefs, and the
coin collection is noteworthy.
B. Filov, “Il restauro della fortezza di
F.,” Izv. Ist. Druz. v. Sofia
4 (1915); G. Rudolif-Hille,
“Die Stadt Plovdiv u. ihre Bauten,” Izv. Bulg. Arch. Inst
; C. Danov in RE
XIX (1938); D. Zoncev,
Contributions à l'histoire antique de Philippopolis
; id., Contributions à l'histoire du stade antique
; L. Botušarova, “Des données topographiques sur la ville de Philippopolis de l'époque romaine d'après les trouvailles funéraires,” Izv. Bulg. Arch. Inst
. 25 (1962).
Notices and reports in Annuaire de la Bibliothèque et
du Musée National de Plovdiv
from 1901; and in Izvestia
dell'Istituto Archeologico Bulgaro
, always in Bulgarian
with summaries in
French and German. A. FROVA