The title "Honorary Citizen of the City of Plovdiv" was given out for the first time after the Liberation. The title is given to:
- Distinguished Bulgarian citizens who have outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of public life, business, research, health care, education, culture, sports, and other areas, who have linked their activities to the city of Plovdiv and contributed to its development, national and international prestige;
- Foreign citizens with significant achievements for the development of the city of Plovdiv and the Republic of Bulgaria;
- Citizens who have shown extreme heroism in extreme or emergency situations;
- Other citizens, for achievements of high public importance.
- Donors whose donations have enduring value and importance for the development of the city and the municipality.
The first honorary citizen of the City under the hills is ArkadyStolypin, who received the title in 1879. He has exceptional merit for both Bulgaria and the city. Besides Lieutenant-General of the Russian Army, he was the first Governor-General of Plovdiv.
In the next more than 40 years until 1927, eight more people were honored, including: in 1889 knyaz Ferdinand and knyaginyaKlimentina, NaydenGerov (1897), Lucien Chevalas (1901), Leonid Sobolev (1902). The second governor-general,knyaz Alexander Bogoridi (1904), Hristo G. Danov (1905), Ivan Vazov (1920). The last was DimitarPetrov - Kudooglu in 1927.
The discovery that knyaz Ferdinand was given the title "Honorary Citizen of Plovdiv" was made thanks to the director of the Plovdiv Library RadkaKoleva, and according to historians, his title is due to the role he played in declaring Bulgaria's independence.
In the period from 1927 to 1945, no titleholder was selected, although there were decent people who deserved the distinction.
During the communist regime, until 1989, the City Council had only distinguished 23-24 people, and after Democracy, there was a kind of boom in the list of those who deserved the title.
Photograph of the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin at a press conference during his visit to Finland, source: Wikipedia, taken by: Arto Jousi / /Suomen valokuvataiteen museo / Alma Media / Uuden Suomen kokoelma; Restored by Adam Cuerden
After General Stolypin, there are six more "Russian-speaking" honorary citizens - Leonid Sobolev - Prime Minister of the Principality of Bulgaria, Nikolay Derzhavin - scientist, Yuri Gagarin - the first astronaut, Nikolay Podgorny - Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Leonid Brezhnev - Secretary-General of the CPSU and Alexander Burago - also called the Liberator of Plovdiv.
To the list of high-ranking foreign honorary citizens of the city can be added Josip Broz Tito and Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ben Bella. It is believed that in those cases the title is more like a testimony of respect at their visit rather than special merit for the development of Plovdiv.
Among the foreigners on the list are Lucien Chevalas, whose name we associate with the cultivation and creation of the green opulence in the Tsar-Simeon's Garden and the afforestation of the hills of Bunardzhika and SahatTepe, as well as the Japanese architect Akira Ishii.
The architect Josef Schnitter, to whom we owe the city's first regulatory plan and the design and construction of a number of public and private buildings, was awarded posthumously in 2006. On April 30, 1905, he officially became a Bulgarian national.
It is an interesting fact that among the honorable citizens there is only one person in the business - Dimitar Kudoglu. The most numerous group on the list are the athletes selected in the last 3-4 decades. Ladies make up only about 15% of all honors. The last elected honorary citizen under the hills is the posthumously awarded longtime director of the Russian High School in Plovdiv - Mariana Dimitrova.