The year was 1870, shortly before the Liberation, when Plovdiv was still more of a medieval than a European city in urban planning terms. Then French engineers traced the first section under the hills. It was about a kilometer outside the last houses of the city, located around today's Central Square. In the old photos - and in reality - the street looked like a country road and a typical carriage road. It received the name Stantsionna (Station) - i.e. the street to the station, whose first building was opened in 1873.
It is said that Stantsionna Street was paved with stone blocks only after the arrival of Tsar Ferdinand in connection with the declared Independence of Bulgaria on September 26, 1908. Then, he was welcomed in the new building of the Central Station and passed through the street to reach the Military Club, where a special arch was erected. On the way he got his boots dirty and this led to the paving of the street.
It got its current name - Ivan Vazov, in 1920, when the great poet and writer arrived in the city under the hills on the occasion of his 70th birthday, and the administration decided to change the name of the street in memory of the occasion.
It is an interesting fact that the original beginning of Ivan Vazov Street was "eaten" by Central Square and the Party House and can be conditionally defined by the "lonely" plane tree between the two buildings. During the construction of the tall building in the 1960s, the properties on the southern side of the section with numbers 1, 3 and 5 were destroyed. The Dutch Consulate was located in the house at number 1.
Thus, today the street begins with number 7 – a private building next to the small parking lot at the dead end, which also existed in the 1920s. In the neighboring number 9 - a municipal property – there is an ordinary parking lot today, and a hundred years ago there was the 3rd police station.
On the other side, Ivan Vazov Street currently starts with the Military Club, built in 1908 with a project by the great Sofia architect Nikola Lazarov. It burned down in a fire in 1927, but was rebuilt with numerous donations. Only a year later, it suffered again from the Chirpan earthquake and new sacrifices were made to acquire its current appearance. Between numbers 4 and 8 there were several buildings, among which was one of the homes of the first Plovdiv mayor - Atanas Samokovetsa. The Italian school Vittorio Alfieri was also located nearby.
At number 8, we find a modern socialist building from the 1960s, known among Plovdiv residents as the White House. At the moment it is inhabited by private individuals, but in the past a number of local party leaders lived in the apartments there, among them Drazha Valtcheva herself.
On the same side, you can't help but be impressed by several beautiful buildings, and unfortunately one of the most impressive palaces, with many elegant neoclassical elements, is covered with a protective panel and has no prospect of restoration. During socialism, it was a student dormitory.
The next classical house was built in the year of the Unification - 1885, it was inhabited by representatives of the Hungarian Consulate, and the other, distinguished by an elegant symmetrical facade, was part of the home of Dr. Antoniadis and also a consulate - but of Belgium.
The next house in the series is a little "newer" - it was built by the Italian Mariano Pernigoni (who also built the Hotel Molle on Main Street next to Stefan Stambolov Square) - in 1911. Today, there is a children’s daycare center there, and before the changes, there was the Svoboda kindergarten.
On the side of the school, the green building of the heirs of the tobacconist Kutsooglu attracts attention. The building is a project of the architect Svetoslav Grozev from the 1930s and is one of the most modernist houses in the city with the large usable roof terrace, completely cleared of external decoration, but with a richly developed window on the staircase.
There is no way to write about Ivan Vazov Street and miss the building of the Administrative Court, which was intended to be a building of the Russian Consulate. The interesting building is a project of the architects Dimka Taneva and Milcho Sapundzhiev and was renovated by them about 10 years ago, preserving its authentic appearance to a certain extent.
Previously, there was a Turkish consulate there, says Nikola Alvadzhiev in "Plovdiv Chronicles". Little known among the public is that the Roman Philippopolis extended all the way there.
We end our story at the other end of the section, where the tour actually started, although we visited and learned more about the history of the People's Library and several other buildings along it.
The original function of St. Mina Hospital was a House of Work built in the 1930s. It was an institution that united 3 services: labor exchange, labor inspection and – this is also the connection with today's function of the building – a hospital. The realization of the building was entrusted to the architect Georgi Ovcharov.
Although not fully completed according to the original plan, the building already built is among the impressive examples of modernism. In the interior, the large waiting room is especially interesting, with the large L-shaped table with counters and the lighting from a glass skylight over the entire area.
To date, after the last renovation of the building, a large part of its beauty has been covered by Styrofoam thermal insulation, and a number of decorative elements have also been lost.
The architectural-historical walk of Bulgarian Modernist Architecture and Free Plovdiv Tour took place within the Station Street Festival, but all Plovdiv residents and guests of the city are waiting for new dates, because the tour is worth it and you will be amazed how much history there is in those meters locked between the central square and the train station.