Something completely new for the city under the hills happened literally days ago and revealed to us an important part of the history and spirit of Plovdiv. Our guides on the one-of-a-kind tour were Adelina Kalupchieva from 365 Association and Teodor Karakolev, part of the Bulgarian Modernist Architecture Foundation. In the May afternoon, they took us on a walk through the secrets of the Central Cemetery in Plovdiv and revealed to us many curious details about some of the persons who rest there and the overall symbolism related to honoring the dead in our country.
The Central Cemetery Park - as we know it today - began to form only after the Liberation and the entry into force of the first urban development plan of Plovdiv. Until then, the inhabitants of the city buried their loved ones at the foot of Sahat Tepe or Bunardzhika, there was also an old cemetery on the site of the Tsar-Simeon garden. On its current territory there are also: British military cemetery, Russian military cemetery, Jewish and old Turkish cemeteries, Catholic and Armenian cemeteries. The funeral parks under the hills include the ones on Rogoshko Shose, the Dragan cemetery in Kyuchuk Paris, the cemeteries in Proslav and Komatevo. The only place where you can bury your pets after permission from Funeral Service is in Rogoshko Shose.
Today’s main entrance was formed much later. The original was a little lower down the street, and around it are buried many of the prominent Plovdiv figures of that time. The famous families of Obreikovi, Hadji Gyoka Pavlov, Gyumushgerdan, Samokovliev, the first mayor of Plovdiv after the Liberation, Captain Raycho Nikolov, etc. You will notice that some of the inscriptions are in Old Church Slavonic and even Greek. The older monuments are lavish and richly ornamented, with various mourning symbols, while the newer ones are simple and stylistically muted. The burial place of the family, which we associate with the creation of the Plovdiv fair - Obreikovi, is known to have been designed by the prominent architect Hristo Peev and can be found among his work archives.
Nearby is the only tomb in the park, that of Dimitar Kudoglu. We have dedicated a separate text to his great deeds related to the city under the hills, but without a doubt he is one of the biggest donors and benefactors who did a great deal for Plovdiv and its residents. He spent most of his life in Germany, but he died here and was therefore buried in Bulgaria.
As a contrast to the side, there are also two huge memorial plaques with large colored photographs belonging to Tsar Kiro and his son and marking their resting places, and they definitely catch everyone's eye.
Along the central avenue in the direction of the church, right in the middle, is the grave of the manufacturer with whose bricks Plovdiv was built - Pavel Kalpakchiev. He is also a prominent donor, and with his funds and construction materials, landmark buildings such as the Concrete Bridge, the Plovdiv Central Station building, the Church of St. Michael, etc., were built.
The tour ended at the building of the Church of St. Archangel Michael, where funerals are held only in Plovdiv, but on the way there we also found out who are the people who maintain the British Military Cemetery and whom Elizabeth herself invited to her birthday years ago; they revealed to us where the square of Plovdiv artists is and why Zlatyu Bоyadzhiev isn’t there. We didn’t know that here rests the only woman who took part in the April Uprising - Maria Sutich, and near her rests the first chief architect of Plovdiv - Josef Schnitter.
All this can’t be described and conveyed in a few hundred words, but certainly the tour of the Plovdiv Central Cemetery is extremely instructive and interesting for everyone with an interest in the history of the city under the hills.