When we think of a city in the world with many bridges, we will definitely not think of Plovdiv. Oddly enough, even Venice doesn’t hold the championship, but the German city of Hamburg, which has more canals than Venice and Amsterdam combined, and ranks first in the world in the number of bridges.
In the city under the hills, Maritsa River is the watershed that divides the landscape as if in two and in the past was a very important element of the transport connections to and from Plovdiv. However, connections from its two shores were no less necessary for the urban environment. Not only have they connected different neighborhoods and cultures, but they have withstood a number of cataclysms and have "witnessed" various events in the past and present, and will probably stay long after us and our children.
Their official history begins with the Old Bridge, officially named Stolipin Bridge. It started from the Small Main Street (Rayko Daskalov) and ended at Karlovska Street. It connected the Main Street with the Karshiyaka neighborhood. The bridge was damaged in 1971 as the powerful force of the incoming river undermined two of its columns and it broke. It was later demolished, and in the 1980s a new pedestrian bridge was built nearby.
There is information about the existence of a bridge over Maritsa River in Plovdiv since the 15th century. In the plan of Plovdiv and its surroundings made in 1827 by the French reserve officer A. Jegerschmid and in the plan of Plovdiv by neighborhoods, prepared by Guillaume Lejean in 1867, a bridge is marked approximately where the old bridge was. During the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation, in early 1878, in order to stop the Russian offensive against Plovdiv, the retreating Turks burned the bridge. On April 23, 1879, the people of Master Vasil Yurgovets restored it and even the acting General Governor of Eastern Rumelia, Arkady Stolipin, was present at its official opening. The bridge is called Stolipin Bridge in his honor. But the people of Plovdiv called it "the bridge" for short. After the new bridge was built, they started calling it the Old Bridge. During the second quake of the Chirpan earthquake, when a third of the buildings and facilities in Plovdiv collapsed, the old bridge over Maritsa River remained intact. Later, the copper cables of the first trolleybus line for Plovdiv were stretched over it. Early in the morning of March 30, 1971, however, due to the oncoming waters of the river, it gave in.
On January 9, 1982, the construction of a pedestrian bridge in Plovdiv began east of the old bridge that fell in 1971. It connects Rayko Daskalov Street from the south shore and Brezovska Street from the north shore at Grand Hotel Plovdiv. It was put into operation in 1986. It was officially named Saedinenie, but few people know that name. It was designed mainly for pedestrians and cars in case of accidents. Subsequently, the bridge was covered with light metal structures and a commercial area was formed on it. The reconstruction was designed by Marcho Minev and Dimitar Kumanov. Due to the red and white colors used to decorate the metal structure outside and the location of the windows, Plovdiv residents began to call the bridge the Train.
This bridge passes over the island of Adata and connects the North and East regions. It was built in the late 1970s to take traffic outside the central part of Plovdiv on the first-class road between Kalotina and Kapitan Andreevo. On January 11, 1907, the Plovdiv administration published an announcement in the newspapers for a tender for the construction of a bridge near Stolipinovo, which would be wooden, would have 28 openings, and would cost 86,000 levs. However, the construction itself began only on April 10, 1923 and this is the second bridge over the river, near the area of Adata. Today the bridge connects the boulevards Sveren and Iztochen.
The Gerdzhika Bridge, or the New Bridge, connects Ruski Boulevard with Karshiyaka. After the Chirpan earthquake with the help of hundreds of donors from all over the world, the Directorate for Assistance and Reconstruction of the Earthquake District in 1928 allocated the money for the construction of a new bridge in Plovdiv. Its construction began on November 23, 1930. The purpose of building the bridge was to take over the traffic from Central Station to Filipovo Station and therefore it was decided to build it on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard (Ruski today). The bridge was completed in less than a year - on May 31, 1931.
During its construction, the river came five times and the scaffolding was destroyed and work was interrupted. The construction cost 19 million levs. In the summer of 1937, a retaining wall was erected on the banks of Maritsa. Gerdzhika was an integral part of many postcards with views of Plovdiv at the time.
It was only in 1949 that its builders, Eng. Iliya Draganov, Eng. Parvan Gerdzhikov and arch. Ivan Naidenov were awarded. In 1956 the first trolley crossed the bridge. In 1966 an overpass was built near the bridge on Ruski Boulevard.
In 2007 the construction of a second bridge facility began in parallel. The new bridge is 10 m wide on the roadway, 3.5 m wide on the sidewalk for pedestrians with a one-meter additional sidewalk on the side of the old bridge. There is no connection between the two bridges, there is a one meter wide opening. In the summer of 2008, the facility was put into operation. On each of the bridges the traffic is one-way.
It was originally called the Royal Bridge, but the name New Bridge became popular to distinguish it from the Old Bridge. In 1934, Stoyu Gerdzhikov built the Gerdzhika pub on the north side of the bridge. Gradually, the people of Plovdiv began to call the bridge Gerdzhika Bridge, after the pub, famous for its spicy grill and good wines. The name New Bridge was abandoned after 1960, when the next bridge over Maritsa was built - the one at the fair.
The railway bridge at Plovdiv Stadium was built around 1911-1913 as part of the Plovdiv - Burgas railway line. During the second quake of the Chirpan earthquake on April 18, 1928, the bridge was moved to the side by 28 cm. Despite the bans, it was often used to cross the river by pedestrians. It was widely used during football matches played in stadiums and fields on both sides. It is planned to be built and integrated with a new road bridge, which will provide the so-called western tangent of the central part of Plovdiv on Koprivshtitsa Blvd.
Green Bridge (VIHVP)
In 1972 the construction of a bridge at the then Yordanka Nikolova Blvd to VIHVP began. During its construction there was a collapse, the remains of which were cleared by an explosion. The bridge was put into operation in 1977. Its parapet was painted in light green for a long time, which is why the people of Plovdiv call it the green bridge.
During the excavation of the tunnel in Plovdiv in the 1950s, the excavated stones and gravel from it were intended for laying the foundations of a new bridge to connect the boulevard formed by the tunnel with the fairgrounds established north of the Maritsa River. Construction began in 1949 and was then abandoned. Initially, an auxiliary wooden structure was built between the two shores next to the construction of the bridge, which was used by pedestrians in both directions. The river that came in the summer of 1957 first broke the wooden bridge in two and then carried away its left half. Later, the current carried the other part.
The construction of the fair bridge was resumed in 1959. It is 165 meters long and is a continuation of one of the central boulevards - G. Dimitrov. The facility was put into operation 127 days ahead of schedule - on August 25, 1960.