Tag Archives: mosque

Bulgaria, Plovdiv – 2019 European City of Culture

Plovdiv is a charming town in central Bulgaria and worth visiting but I think it can be done in two full days. Plovdiv is remarkably the oldest inhabited city in Europe but it is also gently modernising.

The main shopping street in Plovidv

It consists of an old town with an excellent Roman amphitheater and we were lucky to be able to watch an orchestra play on a warm sunny evening. A special treat.

Listening to the music at the Roman Amphitheatre

Visiting the Old Town of Plovidiv is a must. Full of quaint houses, a few shops and people practising old crafts – it has a quiet vibe and is a great place to walk around – with comfortable shoes.

The charming old part of the City

The Old town also has many revivalist homes that allow you to see what life was like in the early part of the 20th century as modernization was taking hold and the Ottoman Empire rule was declining. These houses have been lovingly restored.

The inside of Balabanov House

The Ethnographical Museum also in the Old Town was a beautiful building but sadly no inside shots allowed.

The Ethnographical Museum (with pesky children having their lunch)

The city still has a large mosque which towers over more ancient Roman ruins and it is a mosque you can visit inside so we did – it was splendid. I do enjoy the way there are so many layers of civilization in this part of the world. The deeper they dig the more they find.

The Mosque in Plovdiv perched above the Roman Forum

The trendy and arty part of town is called Kapana and is where all the bars and restaurants are plus some street art. I think this is where most of the events linked to European City of Culture will be focussed as the summer season gets into full swing.

Street Art in Kapana

Some good restaurants in Kapana and we were especially enamoured of Tam’s House – the chefs were Bulgarian and Peruvian who trained at a Michelin starred restaurant in the Napa Valley and now they are in Plovidiv. The food was amazing as was the local wine and the cost was just AUD50 a head for a meal that was top class and would cost three times that in Melbourne.

Tam’s House – strongly recommended if you can find it!

Morocco, Marrakech  – finally here.

Marrakech looking its best in Spring time. 

The quieter parts of Marrakech including the madrassa and mosque and the jacaranda trees

First visit to the souk – slippers, dyers, locks and lights

Want to find something? Visit the souk. Everything from locks to slippers. 

You can even find many varieties of cacti – including a few fake ones (!) at La Mamounia Gardens. 

Cacti at La Mamounia

Morocco, Casablanca – Hassan Mosque II

The main thing to see in Casablanca before heading elsewhere is the Hassan II Mosque. Completed in 1993. It’s the 3rd largest in the world after Mecca and Medina and houses 25000 people inside and another 80000 outside so it is indeed pretty big! Also unusual in that non Muslims are allowed to visit – so we did, both outside and inside – very impressive. On the other hand it cost USD800,000 million to build some of which arguably could have been spent on more pressing needs for the Moroccan people. 

Hassan II Mosque exterior

Hassan II Mosque interior