In a world without boundaries we are tempted by distant exotic destinations. The further from home – the more exotic and desirable. Then, one day, we are surprised to discover our own home town. We now see it with a different eye and enjoy the charms of this place the way we never have before.
I was born in a mid-size Bulgarian town. The moment I finished high school I moved to the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia and since then I’ve been everywhere else but my hometown Pleven.
A Tiny Bit of History
As it turns out Pleven has ancient history. It was a Thracian settlement, a Roman province and a fortress. It is mostly known for being a major battle scene during the Russo-Turkish War, which you will be reminded of by every monument you see.
The town of Pleven in Bulgaria
At first Pleven looks like a typical post-communist mid-size Bulgarian town. You will see the usual large marble square, the monuments of the Russo –Turkish War and the concrete residential districts inherited from communist time.
However, Pleven is a very special town. It is quiet, laid back and green. It has the most beautiful fountain cascade and when the lights are on in the evening the square looks magical.
If you wanna go for a super pleasant 30 minute relaxed walk start from “Pleven’s Big Ben” (the town hall) – a big red building with a clock tower, where the offices of the municipality reside – and just walk down the square. You’ll pass the marble square with the fountains, continue along a street lined with cafes, pass the Drama Theatre and then reach the shady “Old Main Street’’. I love its old houses and its cool shade in the summer. And the best thing – nowhere you will see or hear or watch out for cars. It’s all pedestrian.
Here is a short list of ‘must sees’ in Pleven, Bulgaria
Kaylaka Park Reserve in Pleven – a huge park – one day is not enough to explore. It is ideal for biking and walking.
Pleven Panorama – this is a kind of monument-museum , which depicts the Russo-Turkish War. I remember I was quite impressed as a kid by the reality of the set-scenes. Pleven Panorama is located in a beautiful area – Skobelev Park close to the so-called Dead Valley Lake. The valley is “dead” because it was covered with the bones of soldiers.
Pleven Regional Historical Museum – one of the largest museums in Bulgaria.
The Chapel Mausoleum – you can’t miss it even if you wanted to. Its right in the centre of the square. There is the “eternal fire” burning in front and the bones of soldiers resting inside.
Cafeteria Street (that’s not its official name) – Pleven is THE place for drinking coffee and chilling. There is a whole street lined up with cafes full of beautiful young people doing just that. There is a word that Pleven women are extraordinary beautiful. Choose a soft chair, order an espresso and enjoy the view:)
Pleven Plattenbauten – just out of curiosity you might wanna visit one of these residential areas – “Druzhba” or “Storgozia”. A bunch of large-panel system buildings or LPS, looking just like one another. Its pathetic! I actually grew up in one of those. The good part was that we had sooo many neighbours and friends – it was never boring!
Pleven is all about drinking espresso and shopping clothes. For a small town like Pleven the 3 shopping malls are a little too much!
Where to stay
I can’t really recommend any hotels in Pleven. They are not cheap due to the lack of tourist flow. I would stay in Park Hotel Kaylaka or Orbita hotel only because they are located in Kaylaka park.
Quick facts about Pleven, Bulgaria
Location: (see map) about 2.15 h driving North East from the capital – Sofia
Population: about 80 000
Must see: Kaylaka Park Reserve, Pleven Panorama, Regional Historical Museum, the Chapel Mausoleum, The Drama Theatr
Best time to visit: April – June and September – October
*Most of the photos in this post are a present from my friend Martin Milev. Thank you Marto!