The building that houses the Ethnographic Museum under the hills turns 175 this year and is still one of the most impressive houses under the hills


For centuries, until the Liberation, the great Plovdiv Orthodox families considered the Three Hills, or the triangle between Dzhambaz, Nebet and Taksim Tepe, to be the most prestigious place to live. The Plovdiv researcher Nikola Gasharov wrote that "every Bulgarian or Greek, who became rich in the bazaar from trade or from craft, eagerly raised his eyes to the hills, to build a house there, to be among the nobles, who long ago, like the patricians in Ancient Rome, kept living in the high places - on the hills".

The Kuyumdzhiev family was no exception. The beginning was made by Constantine, who together with his sons came to Plovdiv from Kirk Klise (Lozengrad) and devoted himself to his craft - kuyumdzhiystvo (goldsmithing). Initially, they settled in the Marasha district of Plovdiv, and after rising with their mastery, they settled in the Three Hills. The third branch of the family and its representative, Nikola, was the one that preserved and transmitted the name of Kuyumdzhioglu over time. The heirs didn’t continue the father's craft, but were oriented towards abadzhiystvo. At that time, this very guild took first place in power and importance among all the others. Of his three grandsons, Argir, the youngest, became a craftsman and ran a prestigious trade in abi and shayatsi in Anatolia, from which he managed to accumulate a solid capital.

He and his numerous descendants didn’t manage to glorify their name, but it was Argir Kuyumdzhioglu who left behind the most representative building in Old Plovdiv, the pinnacle of Baroque architecture in Bulgarian lands.

He purchased the property with the sides in the 1820s. There was only one house on it at the time, on the corner opposite the St.St. Constantine and Elena Church. Before him, it was owned by as many as 6 owners and there were legends that the building in it was inhabited by "vampires" and "karakondzhuli". It was believed that their wanderings stopped during the time of grandfather Hristo Kazanluchnenina, who sold the property to the merchant Yanaki, and Argir himself bought it from him. However, he didn’t start building right away, and only when he got rich, he hired the team of the famous builder Hadzhi Georgi Stanchovski from the village of Kosovo to build a home for him and his family. In order to demonstrate his wealth and capabilities, he demanded not just a new house, but an entire royal palace.

At its core, the house has 570 square meters of built-up area, which is divided into two parts: a symmetrical central living area and a wing that reaches the Hissar Gate itself. The emphasis is placed on the representative reception hall (hayet) on the second floor, arc-shaped under the portico towards the courtyard. It is characterized by the oval central part, ending in a highly profiled plank ceiling, raised by a tall inscribed holkel.

At the end of the 19th century, the building served as a boarding school for girls, and later it was turned into a hat factory, vinegar factory, and a flour warehouse. In 1930, it was bought by the merchant Antonio Collaro. He intended to convert it into a tobacco warehouse, but he went bankrupt and because of his accumulated debts, the building became state property. The auction announced for it failed due to the intervention of Plovdiv mayor Bozhidar Zdravkov, who wanted to turn it into a museum. On October 22, 1938, on his initiative, the Plovdiv Municipality and the Ministry of Public Education signed a protocol for the creation of a Municipal House-Museum, whose successor is now the Regional Ethnographic Museum - Plovdiv. Since 1943, the exhibit house has been open for visits and is undoubtedly still one of the most impressive in the architectural-historical reserve.


Source: Regional Ethnographic Museum