On International Women's Day, March 8, we tell more about their creations and legacies in the city under the hills


Gaining women's rights has been a long and continuous process, and women’s influence in the past was much more limited than it is today. There are few ladies’ names in the history of the city under the hills, as their role is mostly represented through family and social status.

An interesting fact is that only three streets in Plovdiv are named after women. These are: Lady Strangford in the central part, Nedyalka Shileva Street in Trakia and Rayna Knyagina street in Severen. We note the fact that there is also a boulevard named after a lady. This is Knyaginya Maria-Louisa Blvd.

Today, however, we reveal three other women whose creations remain forever part of the city's landscape and which we admire to this day:

It is a little-known fact that the house known to the people of Plovdiv as the House of the Nymphs was the work of a female architect. Her name is Emilia Sabeva, daughter of a Venetian artist. She was the wife of the famous local doctor Dr. Atanas Sabev and she herself drew the project of her new home under the hills more than 110 years ago. She designed it in the then modern Venetian style with high ceilings, large windows and rich relief decoration on the facade. At that time, the street was called Knyaz Ferdinand, and in this place was the old inn of Marco Bey, who was given it by the Sultan for services to the empire. The family was building the house long after the start in 1911, because of the subsequent historical events – the three wars: Balkan War, Second Balkan War and World War I. Therefore, the landmark house was completed in 1919. In addition to the facade of this beautiful house, the building of the Drama Theater facing Main Street is also her work.

Another distinctive building, in the appearance of which today there is an intervention of a lady, is the building of Central Hali. It ranks among the most outstanding objects of industrial architecture in Plovdiv. The story surrounding its construction begins in the first half of the 1930s, when several projects appeared for the building that would take the place of the Kurshum Khan, which was already announced for demolition. In 1935, the project of the Sofia architects Elena Varakdzhieva, Skordev and Tsvetkov was prepared, and its implementation began in 1936-1937. Varakadzhieva was part of the first generation of female architects who completed their education abroad in the second and third decades of the 20th century. She was actively involved in architectural life on an equal footing with all her other colleagues, working mainly together with her husband Gencho Skordev and their colleague Petko Tsvetkov. The three specialized in industrial buildings. The ideas of modern architecture in the project for the Hali were realized both through the treatment of the facade and the design of the interior of the trading hall. The building is active as a shopping center to this day and you can safely explore the structure.

The girls' high school under the hills (today’s AMTII building) is also a project of a lady. Viktoria Angelova-Vinarova was probably the most prominent female architect in our country, the author of a number of large public buildings, most of them completed after winning competitions. She herself was born in the city of Tarnovo, in the family of a prominent merchant who was educated in England. Architecture followed - first in Vienna and then in Dresden, where she graduated in 1924.

The implementation of the Taksim Tepe project in Plovdiv took place at a time when a woman was also the district architect in the city. This was Nadezhda Nancheva. She was a hereditary architect and a lady who broke the stereotype and managed to overcome the prejudices of society, which wasn’t used to a woman occupying such a responsible position, and doubted her capabilities. She remained in the position until her retirement in 1963.