Photos: Daniela Kalcheva, intern
The history of the building begins in the early nineteenth century with the wealthy merchant, a member of the tailors’ guild, HadzhiPanayotLampsha. According to LyubenKaravelov, he was one of the most famous merchants of Plovdiv from that time. At the end of the century it was bought by HristoGerov, a nephew of the revivalist NaydenGerov, and its last owner is the timber trader Luka Balabanov, whose name it still has today.
In 1935 the house was demolished, but in the period 1976-79, it was restored by the records of architect HristoPeev, the most in-depth researcher of Plovdiv Revival houses.
The size of the building is really impressive - it was built on an area of 546 sq. m. and covers a volume of 4723 cubic meters. In architectural terms, the Balabanov House is a model of 19th-century symmetrical houses bearing the influence of rich houses on the Bosphorus coast.
The large gate from the street and the opposite door to the courtyard lead into a long veranda with a high ceiling, round which there used to be some farming and household premises. To reach the upper floor one must go up an inside staircase, which takes the visitor into a large glass lounge. The middle part is the most representative, with a richly carved ceiling. Along the salon there are four rooms with a unique atmosphere. They are furnished with restored antique furniture, fabrics and other items, demonstrating the taste and capabilities of the wealthy citizens of Plovdiv.
At present, the ground floor features a permanent exhibition of modern Bulgarian art. The second floor, once having served for welcoming guests, exhibits Revival period interior and serves as a popular venue for the holding of cultural events – theater performances, concerts, exhibitions, literary premieres, meetings with some of the country's distinguished artists. Here also started the International Balabanov House Music Days festival, which has been invigorating the house space with its spring and autumn editions for several years now.
The two halls in the basement area are intended for temporary art exhibitions.
Balabanov House is like a collective image of two different worlds. One is the world of the Revival era, where lavish wood-carved ceilings, rich in styles of furniture and alafrang take us, and the other is the world of culture and art.