Plovdiv is wonderful not only with its hills, spirit and history. The city is also memorable because of the great river that runs through it which today is a water dividing line on the southern and northern part of the settlement. Maritza is the largest river on the Balkans which runs through the heart of the city on the way to Greece and Turkey to flow into the Aegean Sea. The length of the river is 427 km. 321,6 km are on Bulgarian territory making it the fourth longest in the country.
Like anything else in Plovdiv, Maritza rives also has its history. It dates for centuries and its first name was the ancient Greek Hebros. During antiquity, the river was worshiped as a deity, which is displayed on coins. There are reserved numismatic finds in which Maritza is presented as a man with a beard who’s resting on rocks. This was a sign of fertility. There was a crown on the man’s head and ears of corn around him. Centuries later, the river was renamed with the Turkish name Meric.
The present name is Slavic and was first mentioned in the 12th century. Six centuries later, the water strength began to be used for mills. Archeologists hound out that Maritza was navigable 2500 years ago. The river was long and wide enough so it was easy for Greek ships to reach Thasos and to establish an emporion - shopping center stocking with imported goods whole Thrace. It is believed that the river bed had reached the Three Hills, as from its banks under Nebet Tepe has carved staircase in the rocks. It has a very slight slope and by the early 20th century heavily loaded rafts and boats, even small ships has sailed on it.
Today you won’t see boats and ships. There are six bridges above it, four of which are key roads connecting the two parts of the city. One is used for the passage of railways and the other is walking and turned into a commercial zone. Currently is running a project to build a new one with modern architecture, which is expected to be the new landmark of the city.
Today Maritza is a national line between south and north Plovdiv. But this will soon change with the hope that the river will become a focal point as the Seine in Paris. Around the bed of the Maritza are a number of bike lanes and parks for recreation, in which you can walk and take a breath of fresh air. Benches are placed along the entire course of the river in the city and around them are shaped improvised colorful galleries.
Only a year ago in the riverbed was built summer beach, covered with additional river sand. It was equipped with a bar and a stage on which were organized various musical events for the entertainment of citizens and guests of the city under the open sky. The management of Plovdiv decided to integrate the river into urban life. There are already a number of projects created for this purpose. They are proposals for parks with panoramic views, different types of restaurants, museums, wooden bridges and even the idea of building a new opera hall about the river, so that all visitors can enjoy the beautiful panoramic views.
Although the river was deserted now a lot of people think about its future. The idea is for it to be the center of the city and to include part of the cultural life of the city. At the moment, these are only proposals and projects that have not yet been realized, but people of Plovdiv are optimistic on the subject and look forward for Maritza to become alive and pulsating part of the city.