National Revival Architecture

The National Revival period of Bulgaria's history is the period when Bulgarians began to form their own identity and regain autonomy from their Ottoman rulers.

Starting in the second half of the 1700s the movement continued to grow in strength throughout the 1800s and culminated in the April Uprising of 1876 and the country's liberation from Ottoman rule in 1878.

In this period a new middle class Bulgarian emerged, accumulating wealth through trade with the countries of the Ottoman empire (the trade routes met in Bulgaria). Bulgarians began migrating from their remote villages back to the towns, crafts thrived. They funnelled much of this wealth and new-found self-esteem back into encouraging literacy, education, culture and a sense of national identity among the Bulgarian population. The Orthodox church, which had managed to preserve itself, hidden away in mountain monasteries, provided much needed spiritual guidance.

Plovdiv's Old Town is a living museum of the type of National Revival architecture that developed there (there were regional differences) in the early to mid 1800s. The residential buildings here are exceptionally rich, most could be described as mansions. They demonstrate a love for fancy decoration, bright colours and wall painting. One can imagine how proud their owners must have been of their achievement.


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