Interesting facts and stories from the former neighborhood, stretching north of Kocho Chestemenski Square


Cover photo: Central State Archive, Sofia, Fonds: 1735К "Колекция „Снимки от обществено-политическия, стопанския и културния живот в България 1850-1976”

In the foreground of the city, made by Josef Schnitter in 1892, there were 32 squares, 399 streets and about 40 neighborhoods. Some had Turkish names, others had numbers, and most of them remain to this day.

This is also the case with the Marasha district, which starts north of Muselle Square (today's Kocho Chestimenski) and is locked in the part between the two bridges (Gerdzhika and VHVP). According to the chroniclers before the Liberation, there and in Karshiyaka were the only places in the city where only Bulgarian was spoken, Turkish - a little, and Greek - never.

Most of the houses were shabby, painted simply, but with spacious yards. To date, almost nothing of them remains. Although there were already water pipes at that time, there was a large and deep well in each yard. It was most often used for watering the garden.

According to their ethnicity, most of the people in Marasha were Bulgarians, followed by Jews and very few Turkish families. There weren't many shops in the neighborhood. On the way back from work, men most often stopped at a pub, but there wasn’t as much fun and drinking as at Tepealti (southeastern foothills of Dzhambaztepe).

Most famous was the pub of Ivan Shivkov on Bratya Miladinovi Street on the east side of St. George. Its regular visitors were the experienced fishermen, because of whom Marasha's fame was most widespread. To this day, it remains one of the favorite places for water sports on the Maritsa River. In those days, however, the banks of the river were very low and the danger of floods often threatened the residents of the neighborhood. The water disaster of 1911 was especially terrible.

Due to its proximity to the water, it is also believed that the tulumbaci groups were formed in the neighborhood. Their function was to help put out fires. Back then the water was sold by the so-called sakadzhii (water carriers) with tulumbi (hand pumps) loaded with water from the Maritsa River on their mules. When there was a fire signal, they immediately ran to the site of the explosions. Finally, the "fire brigade" itself was set up, equipped with a pipe. It was private and consisted of several people who met only in case of fire. In order to start extinguishing the fire, the leader of the tulumbadzhii group started bargaining with the owner of the burning house for payment. Over the years, however, this seemed ineffective to city management and the organization was changed.

In Marasha, at 17 Trayko Kitanchev Street, was the convent of the Krichim Monastery, where the apostles for freedom once hid. The small hiding place is still preserved.

On the bank of the river, north of the church of St. George was the abandoned (later the first Bulgarian school) chiflik of the famous in Turkish times abadzhi Stancho Ivanov. He donated the place for building a church and a school in its yard. This was the first Bulgarian school in the city. Next to this chiflik was the old school Malki Valko Kurtovic. One of his rooms housed the Marasha School and the office of the Printing Society. Before the Liberation, amateur actors, including Kocho Chestimenski, performed in it. Its building burned to the ground in 1907.

Shortly before that - in 1904, a new chitalishte was built in the neighborhood, called Hristo G. Danov, named after the famous bookseller and publisher. For decades, it has become a center of cultural life in the city under the hills. The place for him was given by the modest stonemason At. Kamenarov, after whom a street is named today.

To this day, although at first glance it seems like a normal urban area, residents live in that specific atmosphere of layers of time, but only with a careful inspection and knowledge of the history of this significant part of Plovdiv.

The text is based on information from the book Plovdiv Chronicle by Nikola Alvadzhiev.