We view stations as a place where we welcome and send our beloved guests and we rarely look at them because of their architectural or historical value. Such is the fate of the central station in the city under the hills, which for more than a century complements the landscape of baroque pearls in Plovdiv. In the period 2015-2018 the building was skillfully and carefully restored with respect to the original look of the project of arch. Mariano Pernigoni, for which it was awarded a special prize in the Building of the Year competition.
In fact, the first station building under the hills was built in 1873 and was located 2 km south of the city. The distillery of the Swiss Christian August Bomanti was later built next to it, and the then cart road connecting them with the city gradually became one of the most beautiful streets - Stantsionna.
The current building was designed by the Italian architect Professor Mariano Pernigoni, built for three years from 1905 to 1908. The structure is load-bearing with brick walls. The bricks were donated by the brickyard of the Plovdiv industrialist Pavel Kalpakchiev. He also provided the materials for the construction of the concrete bridge over the railway line, so that the carts could pass unhindered and not wait long for barriers.
Even before its official opening, Tsar Ferdinand arrived in Plovdiv in connection with the declared Independence of Bulgaria on September 26, 1908 and one of the halls was called the Royal Waiting Room in his honor. It is said that Stantsionna Street was later covered with stone blocks because of the muddy boots of the king, who got dirty on his way to the Military Club, with which the street ends today.
The opening itself took place on November 30 of the same year. The reception building of the station is designed on the principle of symmetry, with three avant-corps and a baroque, richly ornamented facade. The floor constructions are "Prussian vault". The northern facade is the main facade to the station square. A canopy was built in front of the southern facade of the platform on the first track, probably immediately after the construction of the reception building of the station. The canopy has a preserved original supporting structure, but with a replaced roof covering.
In connection with his 50th birthday, Ivan Vazov was also welcomed at Plovdiv Central Station in November 1912. The platform was filled to the brim, and his arrival became a national celebration. Getting off the train, Ivan Vazov was taken to a chariot in which snow-white horses were harnessed. The chariot solemnly set along Stantsionna Street amid a guard of honor and numerous greeters. When the procession stopped at the Military Club, the poet was informed that from that moment Stantsionna Street now bore his name.
On August 30, 1984, at 5.29 pm, a terrorist act was committed at the station - a bomb was detonated in the waiting room. A 50-year-old woman from Kardzhali died on the spot and 42 people were injured. The explosive device was placed next to a waste bin at the bottom of the waiting room, near the public telephones. The bomb destroyed the metal roof and some walls of the waiting room. A modest memorial plaque has been placed at the site of the blast.
Until they were moved to new buildings in the 1990s, Plovdiv Customs and the Transport Hospital in Plovdiv were housed in buildings next to the station.
In 2015, the complete reconstruction of the building and the station space began. The renovation of the building was done as carefully and respectfully as possible to the original look of the project of arch. Mariano Pernigoni. The canopy on the first platform has been restored in its original form. The royal waiting room has been restored and the great hall is air conditioned. The offices have also been renovated. All original elements of the exterior and interior of the building have been restored and once again delight the eyes of visitors. The old metal columns in the central lobby are removed and perfectly exposed. The floors are authentic, so are the chandeliers. And the Royal Waiting Room in the east wing of the station has been completely restored. The friezes on the walls, the interior joinery, even the furniture and the hanger are the royal ones.
And the next time you pass the building, hurrying for another train or maybe a bus, stop for a moment and pay attention to the piece of history around you. Sometimes beauty is hidden in the most banal places!