Spring of a town: Pazardzhik *

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Photography, Travel

My great-grandfather ran a caravanserai, an inn, where traders and pedlars used to lodge when coming in town on market days. Accommodation and warm food were provided not only for their owners, but also for the horses in some nicely organised stables.

The place was quite popular and many were those knowing the name of my great-grandfather. Then the communist took office and the inn was expropriated. My grandfather started working in the cooperative farms and on the place of the inn several new apartment blocks popped up, shaping the rigid cityscape of a communist town.

No doubt similar stories could be narrated in numerous towns in the countries from the former Eastern bloc, but ours happened to be in Pazardzhik.

You will not find Pazardzhik (literarly means market place from Turkish) among the top ten sights one should visit when in Bulgaria. The communist heritage and a series of not very capable city administrators were not working in favour. But recently things have changed. The independent mayor Todor Popov and his administration did a lot to revive the founded back in 1485 by the Tatars town and to improve the quality of life.

Returning back to Pazardzhik where I have spent my life until graduating from the high-school came up as a good opportunity to jot down some ideas what I like about the place.

Take a stroll along bul. Knyaginya Maria Luiza

Among the longest streets in Pazardzhik this boulevard strings along Kanala, one of the channels crossing the town. My favourite piece rambles between the church Uspenie Bogorodichno famous with its UNESCO protected walnut wood-carved iconostasis and the corner of Dimitar Petkov str.  Under number 54 of the boulevard one would spot immediately the house-museum of the Renaissance painter Stanislav Dospevski. Do not hesitate to peep behind the mighty wooden gate and get a whiff of old carved wood and paints while enjoying the exposition.

Tantalising rose fragrance

Another personal favourite is the petite rose garden hidden in the eastern part of Park Ostrova. Getting there in the golden hour with a good book or in a good company comes always as a pleasant aromatic experience.

Grocery time

As the toponym signals, Pazardzhik has always been a market place. The history books remind that the city was founded by the Tatars in the 15th century on the exact location, well-known as a traders crossroad. Perhaps not much has left of the old prosperity, but the city market is still the best place to collect impressions about the locals. It is open all day long and the variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables appears to be more than adequate. Walking among stands and stalls one get lost in amber glasses of honey, scarlet cherries, coffee-black olives and numerous of familiar faces. Best time to do your grocery is early mornings.

Wind up your watch

It looks like people in Pazardzhik are fascinated with exact time since at least two of the city sights are related to that. The building of the Old Post with the clock tower was open around 1910 and soon after it became the symbol of the town. Check out the exact time on the clock tower when passing by. Recently the first 27-meter high clock tower which dated back from the 18th century went restored as well and became one more to wind up your watch.

Go green

Under number 18 in Ivan Vazov str. one have all the premises to start the day with a clean breakfast. Зеленото is a cute green bar offering a creative selection of smoothies/fruit juices/teas/all kind of healthy nourishing drinks. In the company of the courteous staff or with a magazine by the window, one feel more than comfortable to design a day full of adventures.

People and Places of Pazardzhik

*  The title is inspired by a book of Konstantin Kantarev, called Пролетта на един град,  or The spring of one town. The volume covers the urban planning and the social life of Pazardzhik between the 1878 and the World War I.

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