Forum and Odeon

 

In the years of its growth, Philippopolis could rival in beauty and richness the greatest cities of the Roman EmpireIn the years of its growth, Philippopolis could rival in beauty and richness the greatest cities of the Roman Empire

Small traces of the people who used to frequent the forum are preserved in time, giving precious evidence about the significance of the area and the little dramas that took place there. At the end of the 2nd Century for example, the priest of the emperor's cult, Flavius Montanus, and his wife proudly announced, in a stone inscription, that they were sponsoring two-day gladiator games. Sadly, the name of the emperor in whose honor the event was to be held hadn't been preserved.

People often lost precious items on the forum, many of them recovered only when archaeologists entered the area. Most of the lost things are coins, but several objects are stranger – a gold amulet with an invocation to the Semitic god Ba'al, a metal token used as ticket for gladiator games.

The forum was devastated during the Goths' invasion of 251, but soon after it was restored. Life continued, undisturbed and varied.

It went silent in the middle of the 5th Century when waves of Barbarians forced the people of Philippopolis to abandon the quarters in the plain and move to the acropolis. It was rediscovered in the 20th Century with the building of the central area of modern-day Plovdiv.

The greater part of the Forum still lies under newer buildings, most notably the Central Post Office, but a significant portion of it is exhibited in situ [Google maps link]. Next to it stand the recently restored columns and seat rows of the Odeon, a silent reminder of the times when that was the beating heart of Roman Philippopolis.