Even though we are currently confined behind the walls of our own home, there is still a way to learn more about your beloved city and look carefully at something we often miss. There is no tourist or resident of the town under the hills, who hasn’t visited the Old Plovdiv and didn’t marvel at the view from Nebet Tepe and the beautiful Revival houses. However, this is not the case with monumental art - often overlooked and missed by passers-by, but with no less mysteries and history.
Some time ago, we showed you some of its patterns in the central city area, and today we will embark on a walk around the Three Hills.
Due to various alterations over the years, many of the houses in the reserve have been destroyed, and unusual urban changes have left bare party walls in different places. It is these bare walls that became the object of creativity in the 60s and 70s in Plovdiv. The tunnel underneath the Three Hills, which was passed through in the 50s, is also subject to artistic interventions, which are much more unknown since they are mostly seen by pedestrians - but almost no one walks there.
The party walls of Dimitar Kirov
Dimitar Kirov - or Di Kiro - is part of the generation of Plovdiv artists who graduated from Monumental and Decorative Painting in the late 1950s at the Art Academy. The "Plovdiv generation" of the 60s is part of the young wave of Bulgarian painters, who are changing the more academic style of the previous years, and some of them are famous for their monumental works. Many of them are related to the history of Bulgaria and, in particular, Plovdiv and the region. Freer as a theme is one of Dimitar Kirov's early public works - a panel at the beginning of today's Krikor Azaryan (formerly Pernik) Street of a chariot with four horses.
Two more of his panels can be seen at the beginning of the Old Town down Saborna Street. They are located on one of the AMTI buildings near the Tunnel and were painted in the early 70s. The theme is historical again - one of Di Kiro's panels relates to Zachary Zograf, his works and church painting. Thus, in addition to reproducing one of the self-portraits of the Revival painter, Di Kiro shows us Christiania, and also Adam and Eve in the lower right corner (which, in practice, means a naked woman in public art, though quite naively drawn).
The neighboring work is related to the development of music. At the center of the sgraffitois Orpheus, but the theme is not only historical - there are contemporary pianists and cellists under it. A little later than the first works, these panels were already more colorful, more boldly developed.
A third panel, part of the same group of buildings, but far less invisible on the usual walk, has "landed" over the house of the Encho Pironkov Museum Exhibition. The panel looks north and is actually very difficult to see from Old Plovdiv itself, and much easier on the other side of the boulevard - but also much further. The theme is related to history and archeology - depicting a typical Thracian art rider, as well as a bullhead and a caryatid.
The works of Georgi “The Elephant” Bozhilov
Georgi “The Elephant” Bozhilov is a part of the mentioned "Generation of the 60s of Plovdiv", and he also graduated "Monumental Art" under Prof. Georgi Bogdanov. His mosaic is in the Post Office, and in Ancient Plovdiv he is the author of a panel just below the City Art Gallery and next to the Civic Club Restaurant. It is also a historical topic - no longer specific to the Plovdiv region but national. The sgraffito represents the baptism and creation of the alphabet by the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius.
In 1968 he created the large sgraffito wall, which all tourists in the Old Town know perfectly: on "Hristo G. Danov" at the beginning of Saborna Street, next to the Church of the Assumption. The much bigger 10x13 meters large work is directly related to the place - next door is the house, and to this day - the museum of the legendary Plovdiv publisher.
Abstract sgraffito of Ivan Kirkov
The Asenovgrad citizen associated with Plovdiv, Ivan Kirkov, also left his imprint with a monumental work in the City under the hills. His is the sgraffito of the party wall of a house on Nebet Tepe - one of the few fully abstract works in this genre.
Stone reliefs around the Tunnel
Most unknown, perhaps, remain the stone reliefs around the Tunnel. Only the few pedestrians passing through the busy boulevard may have been paying attention to them - hardly any driver looked at them, and we don't recommend it.
Anastasia Kmetova has a project for the largest of them, located to the left at the south entrance of the Tunnel. In the same place there is a relief, different from the one saved in the project, but probably the author is the same. Between the inscriptions Hebros and Thrace,there is a depiction of the region of Plovdiv with personification of the river, wheat and grape classes and animals. A number of other smaller stones depict other reliefs related to the history of Thrace and the Thracians - the sacred double ax; Orpheus and the animals that listen to him; Thracian horseman and others.
There are also several reliefs on the north side - from the Old Town. Two of them are inspired, most probably by coins discovered during archaeological excavations - with a profile of Philip of Macedon and a "landscape" of Plovdiv with the famous but unsaved temple that rose above the city during Antiquity. A cornerstone with a lion and a key is also interestingly developed, which, however, remains today mostly under vegetation.