We constantly go through these underground facilities in our everyday life and often don’t pay any attention to them. Unfortunately, in Plovdiv, they are usually dark and unfriendly and we even avoid them if there is another way of crossing. But what would happen if we looked from another angle? In fact, when we look at the details, we will undoubtedly find that some of the underpasses in the City under the hills are like an open-air museum-gallery.
The underpasses of the Chifte Ottoman baths:
Perhaps one of the largest and most confusing underground facilities not only for visitors but also for Plovdiv residents. There are several branches and if you are not careful you will quickly find yourself on the wrong side of the street. This underpass is also the first place the Municipality has provided for the Street Art Fest in 2012. To date, guides from the Plovdiv Graffiti Tour can tell you in great detail about the art on its walls. Interestingly, it combines works by contemporary graffiti artists and panels related to the history of Plovdiv from the time before Democracy.
The underpass between Kapana and the Old town:
Another iconic place with graffiti depicting the symbols of Bulgaria - the proud lion and the tricolore. It is very often used as a location for various art installations during NIGHT of museums and galleries. Currently, its walls are cleaned and painted white, and we have the information that this is in preparation for the next edition of Street Art Fest in 2020. However, the huge graffiti is very impressive, especially for foreign visitors under the hills, and we often see it on pictures from their visit to Plovdiv.
The underpass of the Monday market:
It is known among the people of Plovdiv as the Archaeological underpass, and this is mainly because of the ancient mosaics that you can see in the cultural center-museum Trakart. Since 2004, it has become an iconic venue, focusing the attention of a wide range of specialists in archeology, cultural heritage and almost all forms of contemporary art.
The underpass on Bulgaria Blvd. against Yavorov School:
Very recently, one of the underpasses in the North region was artistically renewed as part of the program of Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019. The folklore underpass is already full of colorful images of Bulgarian folk art. On the walls of the facility come to life unique murals depicting the diligence and values of the Bulgarians, lifestyle and old crafts. The drawings are made by graffiti artist Tsvetan Uzunov (TSE) and are inspired by the folklore panel of Bulgarian women, created by the famous Plovdiv artist Encho Pironkov, which adorns the southern part of the same tunnel. Calligraphic and various messages of Cyrillic and Glagolitic are written on the walls. The idea is to transform underground urban spaces into unconventional sites with cultural and educational content and develop a youth audience to the nearby chitalishte.
In some of the facilities you may also find commercial areas (e.g the underpasses of Central Station or Trimontium), but the trend seems to be passing. And the idea of developing them as art spaces is great, and we hope that places like the ones described above will multiply.