As we recently reminded you in our article on the markets of Plovdiv, the time is not so far away when the market days were of great importance and were not only an occasion to buy fresh food, but also to learn all the important things that happened in the city. Thursday market is considered to be the oldest market under the hills - more than 350 years old, but in addition there are several totally and irretrievably lost places, which are now mentioned only in books. Today we will tell you about one of them and we’ll try to immerse ourselves for a moment in the colorful atmosphere of the city crowd.
The area around the Dzhumaya Mosque has always been one of the busiest in the city under the hills. And while now the whole space is almost completely filled with restaurants, in the past the famous Balakpazar (Fish Market) was just behind the Mosque. It opened at sunrise and it was filled with baskets full of ice and fresh fish on one side - carp, eels, mullets, bonitos and others. When the season of dried fish came, the whole place was filled with its smell, and it was the most tempting appetizer for beer and mastic. The hustle and bustle didn’t stop all day, and continued until late.
On the left, where the butcher's shops were, various kinds of meat hung from every shop. The butchers slaughtered the cattle themselves and then sold them, prepared according to the customer's wishes. Keep in mind that at that time the hygiene was not at a high level and there were no extras such as storage in refrigerated display cases or transportation with special refrigerators. Everything was often perched with flies that were barely kept away. There was an order to place the meat in a cupboard or to wrap it with a clean piece of cloth in the hottest heat (from 11 am to 5 pm), but the control over the observance was not particularly strengthened. The first butcher's shop with a refrigerator was built by Petar and Kiril Karabadzhevi.
Today in Plovdiv there is no meat and fish market and this type of product can be purchased in large chains or in specialty stores. Everything in terms of hygiene is at a much higher level, but certainly (and along with the pandemic) we have lost the excitement of the market days and now we even order online and prefer everything to be delivered to our door. Different times - different ways!