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The Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis | Plovdiv, Bulgaria

10420 Views 38 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  AgoraGallery

The Stadium of Philippopolis was built in the beginning of 2nd century AD during the reign Emperor Hadrian. It is situated in the Northern part of the fortified city surrounded by defence walls, in the natural terrain between Taksim Tepe and Sahat Tepe.

The facility, approximately 240 meters long and 50 meters wide, could seat up to 30 000 spectators.

The spectators seats are tiered in 14 rows, crossed by stepped aisles down to the track. The seats are made of solid marble blocks (40 cm high and 75 cm wide) and the front parts are decorated with stylized lion paws. The front part of the lowest row is revetted with massive marble 1.80 meters plates (orthostats), stepping on solid marble blocks. The seats from the highest row had backrests.

At Dzhumaya Square is exhibited in situ the northern curved part of the Stadium (sfendona). Under the tiered rows of seats (cavea), a covered vaulted passage was found. It connected the track with a corridor dug in the terrain. The vault supported the royal seats above it. North of the corridor a section of the fortress wall built back in 2nd century AD was found. It had undergone certain readjustments in 3rd and 4th century AD. In the 4th century AD this area was crossed by an ancient aqueduct.

The revealed archeology:

The map of the Ancient Stadium:

Like the other imperial buildings for spectacular events, the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis had its seats of honour preserved by inscriptions in the marble blocks. Seats with Greek inscriptions were found, proving the existence of special seats for members of higher public position.

The main entrance to the Stadium is formed by masonry pillars decorated with marble pilasters and reliefs. On the pilasters there are busts of Hermes (hermai) with placed above them prize vases with palm sprays, accompanied by Hercules’ attributes – lion skin, a mace and a quiver.

The limiting walls of the cavea are built from cut granite stones, labelled with letters at some places. The architectural marble elements of the entrance and the orthostats on the front row were tied to each other with lead-soldered iron cramps. In front of the entrance a granite pavement was uncovered, consisting of hexagonal blocks – 0.70 by 0.70 meters diagonally.
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by Deliana Kostadinova
Revealing of the Ancient Stadium (1973-1977)

Current state:

Reconstruction of the Ancient Stadium:

Photos provided by the author
I give it an 8 out of 10, since only a part of the stadium is revealed. Still, after the recent renovation the place looks much better.
9.5. Great project. Good connection with the street level.
looks nice indeed! 8/10 for me.
Underground level: the pillars of the aqueduct and the fortification wall of Philippopolis:

Would have looked fantastic if it were rebuilt, but even so, the way they set up the site looks really great. 10/10 :cheers:
Would have looked fantastic if it were rebuilt, but even so, the way they set up the site looks really great. 10/10 :cheers:
The remaining part of the stadium is lying under the buidlings on the central street of the city. Hence, it would be extremely expensive to reveal it. The municipality is planning to build an underground museum in the near future, yet the project is far from being done. Hopefully, the implementation will start in a few years and the stadium will be revealed.
Some photos taken before the official inauguration of the project by Deliana Kostadinova:

General View

Seating Area - Sfendona
The Sfendona is the curved part of the Stadium with 14 rows of marble seats for spectators, divided by sectors of aisles with stairs, reaching the track. The vaulted entrance under the seats leads to an underground passage-street. Above the entrance there is a luxury box.

Vaulted Passage-Street
A vaulted passage-street is dug in the terrain under the seats of the Stadium. The pavement was made out of big syenite slabs, under which a canal was built (with a height of 1.50 m) for the purpose of draining the Stadium. Probably the street led to a tower or a gate in the fortification wall.

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