Forum and Odeon

 

The Odeon was the place where the city council of Roman Plovdiv used to meetThe Odeon was the place where the city council of Roman Plovdiv used to meet

Even at this early stage, the forum was impressive. It was, and still is, the greatest structure of the kind in present-day Bulgaria. Stores and shops occupied the eastern, the southern and the western side of the forum and patrons entered them through narrow porticoes.

The Romans gave the forum and the streets a complete facelift soon after their arrival. After all, it was a matter of prestige. Probably under Emperor Vespasian (69-79), the area was rebuilt with sandstone from the Kardzhali region of the Rhodope in the Doric architectural order. People entered the forum through three magnificent propylaea. For merchants, there were smaller and more convenient gates in the corners of the forum. The porticoes were significantly widened.

The northern part of the forum was reserved for public buildings. Due to lack of excavations in this part, it is hard to say whether the hypothesis of a great basilica where people met in bad weather is relevant. It has been established however, that in the north part of the forum the public inscriptions, the emperors’ statues and probably a small temple were placed.

Vespasian was the first emperor we know of who had a statue of himself in the forum. Ironically, it didn’t stay there for long. When archeologists discovered its pediment, it had already been reused as building material in one of the shops on the eastern side of the forum, during the complete reconstruction of the area in the 2nd Century.

The second reconstruction made the forum even more splendid. Marble replaced sandstone, and ornate Corinthian architecture replaced the Doric one. A pediment with a niche, probably for the statue of an emperor or a deity, was added.

North of the forum two important public buildings were identified. To the northwest stood the Mint (or Treasury) of the city. To the northeast was the Odeon, or Bouleuterion, a small hall with semi-circular room where the city council met.