Plovdiv’s Kapana district is an object lesson in how to transform run-down into lively, neglected into loved.
In this part of the city , a maze of small streets follows much the same pattern as the Ottoman souk which once stood here, although the mainly wooden buildings of that era are long since gone. The very name, Kapana, recalls that maze, as it means ‘Trap’; once among these streets it was hard to find your way out!
When the Communist Party came to power in 1944 many of the nicest houses were in this area; so they seized them for senior party officials to live in. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and restoration of democracy the houses were to be handed back to the original owners; but not all could be traced. Furthermore, many didn’t want to return, either because they didn’t fully trust that the Communists had truly been overthrown or because they had meanwhile established comfortable new lives elsewhere. So Kapana became a sort of ghost town and the houses stood empty and began to crumble and decay.
Capital of Culture 2019
But when Plovdiv was awarded the Capital of Culture for 2019, the city authorities realised that they had to clean up Kapana. Houses were restored; craftspeople encouraged to move into the empty shops and revive the old trades (leather work, metalwork etc) or introduce new ones; and a street art competition was organised to replace random graffiti tags with real art, with wonderful results!
I loved the buzz of this area. It has rather the feel of some of London’s trendier East End districts (Hoxton, Shoreditch); but on a lower key, more accessible scale. So come with me on a stroll through Kapana for the week’s Photographing Public Art challenge. And this could also be a pleasant but very belated Monday Walk with Jo.
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I visited Plovdiv in 2019