Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, standing on the banks of the Maritsa river in the historical region of Thrace. It has a population of 346,893 as of 2018 and 675,000 in the greater metropolitan area. Plovdiv is the cultural capital of Bulgaria and was the European Capital of Culture in 2019. It is an important economic, transport, cultural, and educational center. During most of its recorded history, Plovdiv was known by the name Philippopolis after Philip II of Macedon.
Plovdiv is situated in a fertile region of south-central Bulgaria on the two banks of the Maritsa River. The city has historically developed on seven syenite hills, some of which are 250 metres high. Because of these hills, Plovdiv is often referred to in Bulgaria as "The City of the Seven Hills". There is evidence of habitation in Plovdiv dating back to the 6th millennium BCE, when the first Neolithic settlements were established. The city was subsequently a local Thracian settlement, later being conquered and ruled also by Persians, Ancient Macedonians, Celts, Romans, Byzantines, Goths, Huns, Bulgarians, Crusaders, and Ottoman turks.