The Ancient Roman stadium is located on Dzhumaya Square and divides the main street in two. Its length is 240 meters, and so far its northern end is exposed, while the rest is located under the Main street of Plovdiv. Separate parts of the huge ancient facility can be seen in the underground rooms of some of the buildings on the main pedestrian street – the Excelsior Center and the H&M store. The treasure hidden under them is really impressive. The seats of the Stadium have been preserved and exhibited, as well as a huge water tank.
At the beginning of the week, the archeology under H&M was finally officially unveiled and is available for viewing. Historically, the former Narmag, which now houses the famous fast fashion brand, is the successor to the Kovo and Sidi Trade House. It unites two buildings, built in 1926 and 1930 with a project by arch. Hristo Peev. They are formed in a single complex. The building has five floors with a mezzanine from the side of the central Knyaz Alexander I Street and three floors from the side of Otets Paisii Street. It is recognized as an architectural monument of culture.
During its restoration and repair, a rich archeological material was found in the foundations - a large number of marble seats, some of which decorated with a relief image of lion's paws, 100% of the marble orthostat in this segment of the stadium, basic order, bearing structure - brick and stone, a staircase with five in situ steps preserved, a water tank and three street water mains belonging to the water distribution system of the early Byzantine Philippopolis. An in situ stone vault has been preserved in the fourth, southernmost axis of the discovered part. This vault of large, stone blocks is one of a kind and speaks of the high level of construction skills of the ancient Romans.
The preserved central tribune of the 240-meter facility, built in the second century in the ancient city, is unique because of the inscriptions marking the places of the notables among the spectators. There is another inscription on one of the seats, which indicates that the hymn singers were probably sitting on it. The people who sang hymns in the Roman Empire were usually very close to the imperial lodge.
The eastern sector differs from that of Excelsior in the way it is built. While in the western part the seats are built on a rock on the slope of Sahat Tepe, in the eastern part they are placed on artfully made vaulted structures. The seats themselves are arranged without any soldering material, which means perfect geometry during construction work.
“The stadium functioned from the 2nd to the 4th century, and after this period a cistern was built in its back part. It was part of the water supply system of Philippopolis. Elements of the tank and the system itself are beautifully exposed at the eastern end of the site. The tank was connected to the aqueduct in the northern country,” explained the guides of Old Plovdiv to the first guests.
"The Philippopolis Stadium gives indirect evidence that the city was at that time, 2-3 century, a huge ancient city in terms of population. In 251, shortly before the Gothic invasion, the governor gathered the people in this stadium and read a letter to Emperor Trajan Decius, who encouraged them not to surrender the fortress to Philippopolis and promised reinforcements with troops and supplies, but was unfortunately killed. And during the invasion of the Goths, 100,000 Philippopolis citizens were killed. Which means that the city was much larger in terms of population," said the guides of the site.