In the first part of our series of articles on the topic of the centers of Bulgarian culture, we will highlight the history and activities of the community centers in the Central, Northern and Western regions


By its nature, chitalishte, a kind of community center, is a traditional Bulgarian institution that began its development during the Revival and helped spread and preserve knowledge and culture. It usually has a library, halls for organizing events and various clubs and interest groups are formed there.

Today, although they have lost some of their public importance, they are still the place where we can find a range of educational materials and develop our skills and talents.

Central Region:

Ivan Vazov Public Library - 17 Avksentiy Veleshki St

On September 15, 1882, the Plovdiv library Ivan Vazov was opened for readers. It performs the functions of a national repository of Bulgarian literature and has a huge contribution to the preservation of the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage and stores over 1.5 million library items. It was created on a personal initiative and with the efforts of the prominent revivalist Yoakim Gruev, director of public education in the middle of 1879. It owns an extremely valuable archive, among which there are manuscripts on parchment and paper from the 12th to the 19th centuries, archives of prominent Revival writers and public figures, numerous complete and annual issues of periodicals, newspapers and magazines, relatively the most complete collection of national literature, etc.

Today, the Plovdiv National Library is a universally accessible scientific library with a collection of over 1,960,000 library documents. It has a rich variety of scientific and fiction literature, manuscripts, paleotypes, old printed, rare and valuable editions, a rich reference fund, Bulgarian and foreign periodicals, audiovisual and electronic documents, original works of art, personal libraries.

It also has a children's section, which is located at 34 Filip Makedonski Street. It registers users up to 14 years old, but its library collection is used by all age groups. The availability of textbooks, study aids and reference books makes it a frequently visited place by students, teachers and parents. There are three rooms for free access and they are separated by age groups.

Aleko Konstantinov Public Community Center - 160 Shesti septemvri Blvd

The chitalishte was originally created under the name Vasil Kolarov in memory of the famous politician and statesman who lived for more than 15 years in Plovdiv. It was located in the former district of Gül Bahce between Sahat Tepe and Bunardzhika hills. The first books were collected from "house to house" as donations and gradually his fund grew. Already in 1965, access to books was free, and the chitalishte was declared exemplary. After the changes of 1989, it was moved to its current address, and since 1995, its patron has been the great Bulgarian satirist writer Aleko Konstantinov.

Today it contains a rich library collection and has various schools and activities attached to it. It often hosts various cultural events in the city under the hill.

Vazrazhdane Public Community Center – 1 St. Chalakov St

The chitalishte was established with the participation of local artists, architects, people from the cultural and spiritual life in 1983 after a number of attempts to restore its revival original image in the heart of the Old Town. Atanas Krastev, emblematic of Plovdiv, better known as Nacho Kulturata, was elected as the chairman of the institution. It has a large library and is housed in a building - a monument of material cultural heritage of local importance. It is a kind of successor of the so-called Bulgarian Chitalishte - Plovdiv from 1869, created by local youth and housed initially in the Yellow School, then in a public building at the foot of Taksim Tepe and finally in the Ivan Evstratiev Geshov chitalishte created in 1904 near the Sveta Nedelya church.

In addition to the active library, it hosts literary readings, book premieres, meetings with authors, creative portraits, exhibitions, concerts, theater performances, recitals, celebrations, music, literary and language schools, workshops, club activities are developed, courses are offered. A particularly significant event is the opening of the Vazrazhdane gallery at the chitalishte, which has been open for nearly 20 years.

P. R. Slaveykov Public Community Center - 42 Petko D. Petkov St

The chitalishte was established more than 110 years ago in the then Catholic neighborhood. At the beginning it was called Izgrev. In 1959, two branches of the community center library were established - one in the Kamenitsa quarter, the other in the Trakia residential area (subsequently transferred to the newly founded Mladost community center).

Today, it has more than 28,000 volumes of multi-genre literature, reference and periodicals, audio materials, a well-organized collection of local lore, etc. Various activities are organized, including literary evenings - meetings with writers and artists, presentations of new books, lectures, open lessons, quizzes, contests, celebrations of personalities, dates and events, exhibitions are arranged. There, young and old can find their interest club, amateur ensemble, art schools with classes in: piano, guitar, singing. Lessons are held, concerts, festivals, competitions and other cultural activities and events are organized. The chitalishte actively works with children and is a place for creative expression and lifelong learning.

Antim Parvi Community Center - 6 Svoboda Blvd

The building at 6 Svoboda Blvd includes a library with two departments - for adults and a children's department, a book depository, a reading room, a piano room, a room for fashion design. In good weather, the outdoor spaces are used for events and other activities: a garden, with a capacity of up to 150 people. At 18 Svoboda Blvd, the chitalishte has a dance hall - sports dance, folk dance, modern dance, with a capacity of up to 200 people and a classroom for learning English.

Hristo G. Danov Community Center - 128 Shesti Septemvri Blvd

Created in the former Marasha districy, following the example of the founded in 1869 Bulgarian chitalishte – Plovdiv, it was called Rodolyubie. Its members were several young people who were inclined to revolt against the Turkish tyranny, the most famous of whom is the shoemaker Kocho Chestimenski. After the April Uprising /1876/, the Marasha chitalishte finally ceased its existence. Almost 30 years later, a group of printing workers, attached to books and knowledge, returned to this patriotic idea and on 26.12.1904 again in this Plovdiv neighborhood they laid the foundations of their chitalishte. The initiators proposed that the eminent bookseller and publisher, former mayor of the city Hristo G. Danov, become its patron.

Since 1978, it has been located in a modern building on the territory of the Central district, continuing to search for, introduce and enrich current and diverse forms of its activity, becoming an attractive cultural and information center. It has a library with over 25,000 library units and hundreds of readers. It has a rich fund of fiction, children's and reference literature. There is a dedicated corner for poetry and a collection of poetry books by blind authors.

Northern Region:

Georgi Tarnev Public Community Center - 144 Bulgaria Blvd

Created in 1900 by a group of young choristers from the so-called "singing group" at the St. Ivan Rilski church, the chitalishte was named in memory of a local revolutionary. Until 2018, it was the only chitalishte on the territory of Northern region. In the 1950s, there were over 2,500 members, the book fund amounted to 27,960 volumes, the readers numbered nearly 1,000. A children's music school was also established with 110 students and classes in violin, accordion, piano, solfege. The chitalishte was awarded the Cyril and Methodius Order for all its activities on its 75th anniversary. In 1975, library branches were opened in the eastern and western parts of the region, and in 1980, the chitalishte became a methodical center, including 19 villages. Activity continued in the 1990s, although not on such a scale. In 2007, the chitalishte received the award of the Municipal Chitalishte Council for its overall library activity.

Today, it has a rich library with over 55,000 volumes with a children's section and a section for adults, as well as reading rooms for them, two book repositories, the Art Library section, which stores library documents on fine arts, architecture, music, theater, cinema . A variety of school activities are offered in arts, languages, extracurriculars, three clubs, a ladies' vocal group.

Prof. Kiril Dzhenev - 2018 Public Community Center - 37 Filipovo St

This is the first private community center in the city, established during the democracy. It was founded at the end of 2018 in Plovdiv. Its activity is mainly in the field of folklore, folk choreography, music and customs. In 2019, acting, drawing, mathematics and pop and jazz singing schools were also established at the chitalishte. To this day, they continue to raise a library fund and accept donations of books and materials.

Western Region:

Zahari Stoyanov Public Community Center - 4 Ravnishta St

The chitalishte was founded in 1984 on the basis of a library branch at the Vasil Kolarov Primary School (now the Aleko Konstantinov Primary School). Its activity includes working with students and people of different ages from the Hristo Smirnenski district. Music schools, schools of various arts, as well as school of yoga and relaxing meditation work with them all year round. A puppet theater functioned in the chitalishte for almost 10 years (1998-2008).

At its core is the library, which has a fund of over 22 thousand volumes of diverse literature and is renewed every year with new books with the funds from library fees, with projects to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria, from donations from various publishing houses and private individuals. Various concerts are held and participated in in Bulgaria and abroad.

Hristo Smirnenski Public Community Center - 15 Koprivkite St

The chitalishte began its existence in 1935 under the name Napreduk in the Saraikar quarter, inhabited by refugees from Western Thrace and Macedonia, and only in 1944, after the political changes, it and the entire quarter were renamed Hristo Smirnenski. After its creation, an amateur sports club also joined.

In 2004, the chitalishte received a diploma and an award. It has a rich library of more than 15,000 volumes, has vocal and dance formations, organizes celebrations and concerts, celebrates notable dates and personalities from cultural, historical and military memory.