Dzhendem tepe, also known as the Youth Hill, is the highest among the 6 hills in the city of Plovdiv – 307 meters. It is the one furthest from the central area and for that reason tourists sometimes miss it. The Turkish name of the hill actually means “hell’s hill” as it was considered to be very far away from the city back then and people believed the place was inhabited by ghosts and evil spirits. In fact, the Ottomans used to call it Dzhin Tepe (hill of the spirits), which gradually changed to Djendem Tepe. It was also called Chigdem Tepe (hill of the crocus flowers).
Back in ancient times, this hill was home to a Thracian sanctuary. It was called the Mount of the Dryad Nymphs. There is some evidence, collected from Roman coins, that a Greco-Roman style temple of the god Apollo was perched up on the hill in antiquity.
The Bulgarians eventually built a big basilica on top of the hill when Christianity was accepted in the country. Unfortunately, its remains are not visible nowadays but local archaeologists have explored them.
The hill gets its new name – the Youth Hill in the late 1940s, when groups of young people built the road to its peak. They even constructed a now-decrepit swimming pool on the top.
An interesting moment in the history of the place dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. At this point a construction company had opened a site at the bottom of the hill, offering new places for workers. However, their plan was to use material from the long abandoned and forgotten hill to build cobblestones. When the locals and the city authorities finally realized what was happening, an over 20 years long battle for its preservation started. Lucky for us, it was successful.
The hill is famous for its biodiversity and has been declared a natural landmark. It has specific flora and fauna to which contributes the fact that it is not as populated as the other hills. There you can also find the so-called “Children’s railway”, an attraction both for kids and adults. While you are in the area, we recommend that you go and see the Aqueduct of Philipopol, as it is in the vicinity of Dzhendem tepe. It is an impressive construction that shows us how the Roman water supply system looked like in the II- III century. For those of you interested in sports, the hill offers tennis courts.
In 2023, a new venue opened at the foot of the hill – Plovdiv Stage Park. It constitutes of various little shops and a stage for performances. Right next to it there is a wonderful area for walks and Plovdiv’s favorite activity – “ayliak”. “Ayliak” as a word does not have a direct translation, it is a concept, a way of life. It can be used to describe a person, a situation, or even how you feel. In a way, it means “chill” and stands out for a good way of life – with a cold beer on a long summer night in a hammock at the Youth Hill. Plovdiv Stage Park contributes to the atmosphere at the hill without affecting the park area. It will host various events such as food festivals, beer festivals and different music festivals. You can follow the program on their FB page.
Author: Free Plovdiv Tour Guide – Nikolina Mihaylova