Any trip to Bulgaria should include the ancient city of Plovdiv, probably the most beautiful one in the country.
During our small group tours to Romania and Bulgaria, we always enjoy going back in time and exploring the old part of this magnificent city.
Plovdiv is older than most of the traditional oldest towns in Europe like Rome and Athens. It boasts in its old town many cultural layers that testify to the evolution and complexity of this settlement. Though today most of the houses and monuments from the old town date back from the 19th century, there are still valuable and well-preserved traces of the Thracians, the Romans, the Slavs, the Ottomans.
Places like the Roman Theater, the History Museums, the Thracian ruins, or the Stadium are, of course, the highlights of any trip to Plovdiv. However, we should also try to explore some of the beautiful Bulgarian houses from the old town.
Visiting the Hindlian House
For the moment, we will rest our eyes on the Hindlian House, a typical Bulgarian Revival architectural masterpiece.
This house was built over 180 years ago, and it is one of the few houses which preserved its original design.
What is Bulgarian “National Revival Architecture”?
While visiting Plovdiv, for sure, you will hear this term mentioned quite often. This is an architectural style born during the Bulgarian Renaissance Period after gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The independence in Bulgaria made possible important economic growth as well as cultural development. This was the time when more and more Bulgarians traveled abroad for their successful businesses.
They got in touch with other cultures and “imported” many ideas to their homeland. Thus, literature, architecture, and arts were transformed and got enriched with new influences.
Traders and merchants formed a wealthy social class. They invested a lot in building imposing residences for them and their families.
These houses are typical for the “National Revival Architecture.” They have:
- Upper floor wider than the ground floor
- Opulent painted facades
- Many large windows facing the streets
- Carved Wooden ceilings
- Alfrangas: decorative niches that create the illusion of a window that leads to lush gardens or different sites.
The story of the Hindlian House
Stephen Hindliyan was a wealthy Armenian merchant. His real name was actually Stepan Manuk. He received the surname of Hindlian because he was trading with distant India. He was the most important owner of the house.
As you enter the courtyard, you will be impressed by a large number of windows, the bright colors together with the floral decorations, and Corinthian columns painted on the house walls.
The building is arranged over 2 levels: the ground floor, which the Hindlian family used (more modest design), and the first floor, which was moreover reserved for visitors and the guestrooms. This upper floor also boasts a more opulent design.
Each floor plan is similar, and it consists of a large sitting area and few bedrooms on both sides.
The beautifully carved ceiling will definitely catch your eye while visiting the Hindlian House.
The walls are richly decorated with different floral and geometrical motifs and “alfrangas”: paintings representing different cities where the owner used to travel for his business.
Some of them depict Saint Petersburg, Stockholm, Lisbon, Athens, Venice, Alexandria, and Constantinople.
Part of the unique compartments that can be admired in this house is the Turkish room and the bathroom featuring hot running water. Actually, the Hindlian House was one of the few ones in Plovdiv with hot running water.
The connection to the first floor is being made through a beautiful, old wooden staircase.
As mentioned before, the upper floor was more richly decorated, more opulent.
The owner did not shy away when it came to bragging about the luxury he could afford. A highlight of the first floor is definitely the small fountain let in the past pour rose water.
There is a separate building for the servants and the kitchen outside the house, but there is also a storage room known as “maaza,” where Hindlian kept his money and other valuable objects.
It is said that he would lock himself in the house even for days to count his wealth.
Visiting hours of Hindlian House:
Summer working hours (April – October): 9:00 – 18:00
Winter working hours (November – March): 9:00 – 17:30
Day for a free-of-charge visit: First Thursday of each month – for students and retirees
Entrance fees at the Hindlian House:
– 5 Leva per adult.
– 5 Leva per camera – photo fee for the interior
If you don’t have time to go inside, the courtyard is free to visit. It is gated, so you’ll still need to visit during opening hours.
Explore more of Plovdiv’s Revival attractions
Visiting the Hindlian House is for sure a great travel experience in Plovdiv. The building is one of the many Revival houses from Plovdiv’s old town. If you have more time to see the city, you should also head to Balabanov House, Nedkovich House, Stambolyan House, and Gheorghiadi House.
For a complete travel experience, we recommend a trip to see the Treasures of Romania and Bulgaria. It can be a great option to explore the off-the-beaten-track destinations of Eastern Europe, such as the Hindlian House.