Case 1: Story based on the historical past and national history. Construction of touristic landscape
Each historical period leaves its mark and in practice there are two parallel cities: the ancient, which is located underground, and another – modern, which lives and pulsates. Today we can still see the traces left by the Thracians, Romans and Greeks, monuments from the Middle Ages, architectural samples from the Bulgarian Renaissance.
In modern times, the coexistence of different civilizations and cultures is manifested and visible: Thracian, Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian, Ottoman, Islamic, Christian. The heritage is valued as a wealth of the country and is accepted as a kind of emblem of national affiliation. This phenomenon fits into the ongoing Revival process of constructing the Bulgarian nation and repeats the European model of creating national iconography, using monuments and traces of the past, art.
Case 2: Story based on the European contexts
To quote Halbwachs (1987, p. 89) collective memory is “a continuous current of thought, of a continuity that is by no means artificial, because it conserves nothing from the past except the parts which still live, or are capable of living in the conscience of the group.”
Each generation re-thing and re-shape the past according to shared needs, values, and beliefs.
The past is not a static dimension
The past changes according to the requirements of the present
“Society” represents the past according to the
Circumstances and according to the times
The past is merely a construction
The past is a collective image elaborated in the present and for the present
1. The Old Town of Plovdiv is a Living Museum (UNESCO World Heritage Cite)
2. There are impressive ruins from Roman times that you can still see around the city today (European civilisation)
3. A pedestrian-friendly centre that makes it easier for visitors to see the key sights of the town on foot (a modern European city)
4. You can buy some really unique and authentic traditional souvenirs and products to remember Plovdiv by (Authenticity)
5. Plovdiv is the city of Seven Hills (As the seven hills of Rome)”
Case 3: Story based on cultural diversity
Among the groups that have permanent positions in the city and which are more visible, we can include Bulgarians (Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims), Jews, Armenians, Gypsies, Turks, migrants from different regions. The construction of their identity thought of as a common origin and a common destiny goes through the accumulation of collective memory and common values that are passed down from generation to generation. The territory is an important factor in the expression of collective identity.
The archaeological and historical evidences, missionaries and diplomats’ reports, as well as travellers co-construct the image of that intercultural nature of Plovdiv. They are telling stories about the picturesque coexistence between those diverse ethnic and religious communities.
- The ethnic neighborhoods show how different cultures coexist;
- They make visible inter-community relations;
- The ethnic and religious communities are creating their own significant places (religious buildings, community centers, cultural institutions, and monuments)
In Plovdiv, alongside Bulgarian, there are Armenian, Jewish, Turkish, Greek, and Roma neighbourhoods.
Inesa Gevoruan is teaching Armenian language in the Armenian Scholl at Plovdiv. She shears her insides about the “Armenian places” in Plovdiv, her vision about the city and her favourite place. These videos show the intercultural context of storytelling through the variety of languages a story might be told.
Watch the video “Plovdiv (Bulgaria) – The World’s Sixth Oldest Town” by Stefan Apostolov
Try to “uncover” the communities and their places in the architectural narrative
Case 4: Story based on the contested past. The period of communism
Socialist Bulgaria aims to create a new socialist nation. It must rest on the union of workers and peasants, and cultural and religious differences must be erased. This finds a place in urban policies.
Many of the old buildings have been demolished or changed their purpose.
New neighbourhoods are being built with large apartment blocks, which accommodate people of different origins. Public spaces are filled with monuments that suggest the value of communist ideas.
Centuries of coexistence allow people to notice otherness and to accept cultural differences. Interpersonal relationships play an important role in the process of continuously building the understanding and practice of living together. They give people the opportunity to share the weekday and the holiday with the other, to get closer to him and to understand him. Modern institutions such as schools, government agencies, trade unions and non-governmental organizations, etc. support the building of civic consciousness, which allows for the expansion of intercultural relations.