Karlovska Street is the natural continuation of Plovdiv's Main Street - at least it was from Ottoman times to the second half of the 20th century, when a new bridge over the river was built. The old one was called Stolipin Bridge and 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 facility was built nearby. Its location slightly displaces the flow from the city center and so Karlovska stays away from it.
The first secret, which you will find out at the beginning of the tour of this almost forgotten road artery, is the preserved "signpost" stone with an absolutely authentic inscription which reads Plovdiv and Pazardzhik. Due to its function in the past, it was placed there on the main exit road to Pazardzhik, but also to Sofia (and from there - to the whole of Europe). It is difficult to find it among the unmaintained bush and certainly most of the living and frequent passers-by don’t even know what important vector they pass.
A characteristic feature of the section is that as one of the most important streets of the city in the past, the largest and most expensive cobblestones cover the road. What is specific about them, which you can observe in certain areas even today, is their diagonal, rather than not fan-shaped placement as in the case of smaller mass paving stones.
From the very beginning, you can't help but be impressed by the large corner house, at the bottom of which now hides a neat coffee-bakery. Before that, the house with a bakery of Misovi was located there. One of the earliest projects of arch. Svetoslav Grozev, which, however, already bears the marks of his work - the triangular bay windows. The interesting thing about the building is that it has a hidden courtyard, probably due to the curved trapezoidal plot.
When you look at most of the buildings on Karlovska, you will undoubtedly notice how most of the ground floors are divided into shops and commercial premises. A typical example of this is the house of Iliya Shotlekov, a well-preserved building in its authentic form, designed by arch. Chinkov. The windows and the woodwork typical for the architect are preserved. In one of the comments under its photo on the page of Bulgarian modernist architecture we find out that Nikolay Haitov himself was an apprentice in the shop on the ground floor in tsarist times.
Just before the next remarkable building, look to the right and on the sidewalk, you should notice another secret - a milestone. It shows the kilometers to Karlovo, and on the other side with there is a 1, which stands for the kilometers to the center of Plovdiv. It may seem absolutely unnecessary today, when we can easily navigate anywhere with our phone, but it is significant for the period decades ago.
Opposite is another interesting representative of the cultural heritage under the hills - Kasabova's house with architect Georgi Bachvarov. It is one of the most authentically preserved not only on the street, but in the city in general. Excellently preserved doors, blinds on the ground floor and other more specific elements.
In fact, some time ago Karlovska was a very busy shopping area, as well as an area of a number of inns, where those arriving for market days in the big city spent the night and left their goods. Even if you just walk around and just look around, you will notice impressive elements both on the facades and on the knobs of front doors or shop windows.
Another impressive building that the tour guides will pay attention to is the house on the corner of Batkun and Karlovska Streets, bearing the specific features of the Italian graduate - arch. Todorov. Clean of all decorations, with large and wide windows, memorable with striped glazing and a small semicircular terrace - it is definitely memorable and distinctive among others on the street.
The tour ends a little away from the road with the Yavorov school and the church of St. Ivan Rilski, which is one of the few temples from the period, built entirely under the auspices of modernism.
The Bulgarian Modernist Architecture Foundation aims to acquaint us with the examples of Bulgarian modernism from the 20s, 30s and 40s of the XX century, which in many cases remain out of the wide interest of both amateurs and professionals (architects and researchers). Its themed tours are a real pleasure and a source of knowledge about both architecture and history, so follow their pages on social media and don’t miss the next dates.
They will visit Varna very soon, and we’ll be watching for more secrets in the city under the hills.
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