Plovdiv is a major economic, cultural and tourist center with a population of roughly 380 thousand people. It is the second largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia in terms of population, area and importance. It is situated on either banks of Maritsa River, on and around six siennite hills, in the western part of the Upper Thracian Plain.
Plovdiv has a millennial history. One of Europe's oldest cities, it was originally a Thracian settlement before becoming a major city ruled by Greeks and Romans in Antiquity. In the Middle Ages, it retained its strategic regional importance, changing hands between the Byzantine and the Bulgarian Empires. It came under Ottoman rule in the 14th century. In 1878, Plovdiv became the capital of the autonomous Ottoman region of Eastern Rumelia; in 1885, it became part of Bulgaria after the unification of the region and the Principality of Bulgaria.
Today Plovdiv is a busy commercial and cultural center. Although it is a relatively small city, it accomodates various work and leisure events. Its many parks and its signature hills provide residents with many places to relax and enjoy the peace and fresh air.