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The remarkable French heritage of the city of Plovdiv

Photo: library

A fascinating part of the history of the city of Plovdiv is preserved in the central building of the Plovdiv University "Paisii Hilendarski".
The French all-male college “St Augustine” has been one of the most prestigious educational institutions in 19th century Bulgaria. It was founded by French settlers in Plovdiv.
Nowadays “St Augustine” College is the starting point of a very special tour, named “Bonjour mon amour Plovdiv” by tour guide Ekaterina Terzieva. Its aim is to show the history, culture, architecture and traditions of the French diaspora in Plovdiv, from its settlement in the city two centuries ago to the present.

The French thematic tour takes tourists to the home of Vice Consul Charles Champoiseau, who saved the town from burning in 1858. Champoiseau had a keen interest in archeology and in 1862 he took part in excavations on the Greek island of Samothrace, where he discovered the majestic statue of the goddess Nike. To this day, this ancient find is displayed in the Louvre.

The great French poet and traveler Alphonse de Lamartine, who stayed in a house in the Old Town in the 19th century, also left a mark on the cultural history of Plovdiv. The house on the hilltop of Djambaz is a historical building, named after the poet. Although it is currently closed for repairs and restoration, its appearance catches the eye and imagination of the visitor with its resemblance to a bird which has spread its wings over Djambaz tepe – one of the six famous the city hills.

Compiled by: Gergana Mancheva

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

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