At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, production of tobacco was plentiful in the Plovdiv region. Many of the wealthy tobacco merchants from Plovdiv decided to modernise and turn their business to mass production, building big facilities for processing, drying and packaging of tobacco. The buildings were designed by some famous architects of the time and their functionalities and facades could compete with similar buildings all over Europe. There were around 30 buildings in total. They were mostly 4- or 5-storeys high. Their facades were richly decorated. Inside the buildings were big open spaces; the upper floors were mainly wooden.
On the eve of the regime change in 1944, there were 81 private, Bulgarian and foreign, companies producing tobacco and cigarettes in Plovdiv. They were nationalised and became part of “Bulgartabac”—a nationally owned Bulgarian monopoly firm. The warehouses continued to function, producing record amounts of cigarettes and tobacco products that were sold across Bulgaria and all over the world. In 1993, after the fall of the Communist regime, Bulgartabac became the property of 22 private investors. In the 1990s, the tobacco industry began to decline so the owners started to sell the warehouses one by one. The last functioning warehouse closed several years ago.
Many discussions, concerning the future of the neighbourhood and the buildings in it, were held. The private companies that owned them wanted to tear them down and build something else, probably business centres. Architects and people from the city wouldn’t let them do it so the owners left the buildings to ruin so that they could have ground to build on. One of the warehouses was turned into an urban art gallery, but it lasted only a few years. In 2016, three warehouses burned down—supposedly due to a careless homeless person. There was a lot of speculation that the owners had set fire to the buildings on purpose, so they could get a building permit. One warehouse was partly destroyed by its owner before the citizens of Plovdiv could prevent it.
A few of the warehouses have been restored. One of them is being used as the headquarters of the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation that manages projects connected with the European Cultural Capital 2019 activities and programmes. It has been restored in a nice, contemporary way and a lot of exhibitions and events are being held there. Other warehouses have been turned into office buildings and a fitness centre.
At the moment, different projects are being compiled so that a long-term plan can be devised as to how to turn the neighbourhood into a big centre of cultural and artistic life. Also, right now, only four of all the warehouses hold the status of monuments with real cultural value, so the whole region will have to be re-evaluated. The idea is for the entire place to be declared an architectural ensemble with real cultural value. But, this will be a very difficult and painful process because there are a lot of interests and money involved.
Multiple authors* some of the known architects are Kamen Petkov, Vasil Tarpomanov and Dimitar Popov
Researcher Aneliya Ivanova
1870Tobacco processing and storage facilities between 1870-1930
1944 Tobacco processing and storage facilities between 1944-1989
2018 Half ruined, unused, roped and closed off, because they are dangerous
Form of government
1870 Constitutional Monarchy
1944 Totalitarianism under Soviet influence
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
2018 Four of them are considered to be monuments with real cultural value of local importance