The area north of the Post Office is the most lavish part of the central square of Roman Philippopolis


In a few months the new archeological gem of Plovdiv will be ready - the so-called Forum North. The area north of the Post Office is the most lavish part of the central square of Roman Philippopolis. A number of important public buildings were located there - partially discovered today by archaeologists, and about to be integrated into the new project, which is already taking shape. This is a kind of direct pedestrian connection between the Main Street - Kn. Alexander I Battenberg and the Bishop’s Basilica. There will also be a "fork" - to the Odeon and Gurko Street.

The place is the administrative heart of Philippopolis. While the other three sides of the almost square Forum (or Agora) are entirely a shopping area - with shops, in the north are the institutions. One of the most impressive buildings, however, is underground. Somewhere in the foundations of the former Russian Bookstore is the building of the Treasury of Philippopolis. It was huge for the size of our lands, which we judge by the large inscription with its name. It lies in the embankment along Forum South, between the Post Office and Trimontium, placed there sometime in the 1970s. Unfortunately, there is currently no evidence that it will be moved and presented on site.

The inscription is special for our city also because of the fact that it is one of the few in Latin - most of them in Roman Philippopolis are in Greek.

Adjacent to the Treasury is the Civil Basilica. In the pagan Roman Empire, these buildings had a central function as a place for important gatherings, discussions, court cases and the like. They were elongated buildings that ended in a plan with a semicircular curve at one end - this type of architecture was adopted in the IV century by Christians for the construction of the first large Christian temples. Hence the name of the early church buildings. However, only the south façade can be seen from the Forum North building. The exact analysis of its function is only a hypothesis.

Initially, it was entered through three places, but later two of these three entrances were walled up with architectural fragments, among which jewelry marble elements can be seen. There is also part of a pedestal for a statue of Emperor Commodus preserved - built into the building. The emperor from the end of the II century, who became famous from the movie Gladiator, probably had a statue in the northern part of the Forum, and the dedication inscription in his honor will be restored and exhibited on site. The neighboring treasury building was probably built during the time of Emperor Commodus, who, despite having a relatively negative image, is well remembered in Philippopolis. In most places his name has been erased because he was subjected to damnatio memoriae by the Roman Senate - but his name is preserved in Plovdiv.

The next building in the series of institutional buildings in Forum North, which are currently being socialized, is the so-called Library of Philippopolis. It was also a monumental marble building - the interesting thing about it is that it has a double marble floor. It is believed to have been a Library due to the storage niches in its brick wall, as well as the specially built ventilation system. According to other researchers, the Philippopolis Archive was located here.

After this building is a passage from Forum North to the Odeon. Nowadays, this is where the connection with Gurko Street will be built. There are also several inscriptions here - one of them on the ar, and the other, recently covered with iron sheet to protect it from the weather. Then there are several rooms arranged, the function of which has not been established.

On the other side of the pedestrian crossing - which coincides with the ancient pedestrian space, the so-called ambulatio - the stylobate of the Forum will be exhibited. The granite base from the last period of the agora is already clearly visible, together with the gutter. In some places the bases of ancient columns are preserved, and the most interesting thing about them are the preserved inscriptions of the donors from the family Munations family - Gnaeus Munations.

It will be extremely interesting in the pedestrian part in the direction of the Bishop’s Basilica. The northeast corner of the Forum is revealed there. In one part, a deeper digging will be done to show the first, earlier stylobate of the Forum, which is not in the same place as the newer one. The exposition of both stylobes and Western propylaea was solved in a similar way.

At the end you will go through the corner shop. At one stage of the Forum's existence, this store was used to load the stores. That is why there is a preserved staircase, which will also be exposed. It is lower than the level of the street next door, because in another stage of several repairs in antiquity, the level rose.

In the very corner shop, built into the wall, is one of the most interesting inscriptions from Philippopolis. Walled aside is a text in Greek letters, which according to the latest research, is associated with Emperor Domitian. Initially, it was believed that this was a pedestal from a statue of Vespasian, but the specialist epigraph Nikolai Sharankov, when reviewing this text, proved that it was his successor Domitian. The statue of the unloved emperor from the end of the 1st century was later destroyed, and the base and this part of the inscription were built into the wall. The inscription itself is actually the earliest associated with a Roman emperor in Plovdiv.

Thus, through this last store, the modern pedestrian connection from the Main Street of Plovdiv to the Bishop’s Basilica will reach the Main Street of Philippopolis - the so-called Cardo Maximus. The largest part of this street can be seen along the part of Forum East near the Post Office. Despite being cut by today's Gladstone Street, the long stretch is still clear. And today, every pedestrian crossing the Cardo Maximus will be only a few meters from the Bishop’s Basilica.