The legend of the Seven Hills of Plovdiv
The troops of Philip of Macedonia unsuccessfully stormed Thebes several times and the city definitely did not want to surrender. Then the commander ordered – the one who first climbs on the fortress wall, will win the management of the city as a prize. He had many Thracians in his army and one of them managed to avoid the enemy arrows and swords, to climb the ladder and to step on the battlements. After the attack, the city fell quickly and Philip of Macedonia fulfilled his promise – the brave warrior was appointed as governor. Years passed, the new governor established his power, but his neighbors threatened to attack him. It was then when he received a message from his birthplace, his brother asking him to come to their aid against the barbarian tribes. The Thracian did not respond. He was too worried for the city which had been entrusted to him. A decade passed and he received another message from his brother – their mother was dying and she wanted to see him one last time. Again, the Thracian ignored it, royal intrigues were threatening his rule and he feared losing his power too much. Before she died, however, his mother cursed him to turn to stone if he should set his foot in his native region once again. The end of the life of the ruler came. His last wish was to be buried where he was born. His most faithful servant loaded the casket with his body on a few camels and went on the road. He walked for a long time, he crossed many lands and he finally got to the lands of present-day Plovdiv. He stopped in the evening to kindle fire and the coffin slid off the camel, fell to the ground, opened and the body rolled off. Everybody instantly turned to stone – the Thracian who had already been dead, his servant and his camels – that is how the hills were formed.
The legend of the creation of Plovdiv
Legend has it that in the mountains south of the flat area lived a beautiful girl named Rhodope. The moment he saw Rhodope, the sea god Poseidon fell in love with her, but he soon abandoned her and kidnapped the son of Rhodope and Hemus – Evmolpias. The giant Hemus tried to stop him and threw several huge rocks to block his path. Poseidon got angry with Hemus and turned him into a mountain and the rocks remain sticking out like a heap right in the south bank of the Maritsa River. When Evmolpias grew up, he returned to seek his mother, but he found only a beautiful mountain with her name. He settled in the hills near the river and built up the city of Evmolpia there, the present-day Plovdiv.
The legend of the Seven Hills
(by motifs from Mother’s Spell by Angel Karaliychev)
Many years ago, the turbulent waters of Hebros (Maritsa) passed through the most wonderful city in Thrace and it seemed like they quietened down enchanted by the white stone castle. People here lived happily – they bred wonderful horses, cultivated gold corn and sweet grapes, sang their wondrous songs and glorified the mighty Thracian gods. The men’s warrior bravery was notorious, wonders were told of the splendid beauty of women. The riches of the fairy tale town were multiplying and its fame floated far, far away...
One day near the city gates a white-haired woman appeared hugging her young son farewell. The fortress walls were narrow for him, the heart of the young man yearned for unknown lands and his mind for new knowledge. And he headed to the unknown, riding his best horse, carrying with him the last maternal embrace and together with the grain bread – his mother’s spell never to forget his land.
The young man joined the victorious army of Alexander the Great and marched away to the east. Many lands he saw, many people he got to know, many things he learned. He glorified himself as a brave warrior and was the first to climb the fortress walls of the full of untold riches city of Babylon after its seizure by the Macedonian army. For this feat Alexander personally handed to the young Thracian a royal sword of the defeated city and made him his ruler. The former Thracian adolescent and brave warrior ruled Babylonia for nine years. He raised new fortresses, increased the wealth of his new kingdom. The luxury and royal power gradually began to erase from his memory the image of his homeland...
Meanwhile, his homeland was invaded by ruthless enemies who destroyed everything in their path. The wild hordes surrounded the fortress by the river and its defenders, day after day harder and harder repelled the countless attacks against them.
The glory of the king of Babylon had long reached his native lands. In the days of supreme danger the mother sent with her younger son a request for help. The young man snuck out the secret exit of the fortress and overcoming thousands of dangers on his way he arrived in Babylon with the last hope for support of the besieged city.
But the ruler did not want to help his family. He was feasting after yet another successful hunt. With empty hands and caving hopes his brother returned to the besieged fortress. The messenger told his old mother with a lot of pain about his brother’s refusal. And she was so old that no one remembered her years. But all remembered her words which she spoke quietly, and they echoed over the devastation and the conflagration with terrible force: “Oh, my son! A day will come when you will want to come back. May your land not accept you then! Your heart remained closed for our pain, may your town be forever closed for you! Your soul has turned to stone – and may you become a stone. May my curse overtake you, because there is nothing worse than treason and oblivion!”
It seemed that these words gave her strengths and the old woman grabbed the sword of one of the slain soldiers and ran down to the enemies.
The cruel warriors backed off, struck by the fearsome appearance of the seemingly frail old woman, but after her, with their last efforts, injured men were brandishing swords, enraged women and children were tossing wildly copies, as if they had forgotten everything else in the world. The dismayed enemy hordes withdrew and the surviving defenders of the castle returned to extinguish the fires in it. Life went on. The city started to live again as before, people gradually shed the horror and began to re-construct their homes, to sow their fields and raise their horses.
Years passed and the once beautiful young man grew old and wanted to return to where he came from. Now a broken down old man he was not enjoying the wealth that he had accrued or the outlandish songs and dances. The only thing he wanted was to return to the flat Thrace. He saddled part of his vast wealth on seven camels – a gift to his hometown, then he headed northwest. The more he approached his homeland, the more anxiously his heart was beating. And over there, the battlements of the fortress were in the distance, he was already hearing the noise of the river... But the old man felt how his feet turned into stone, how cold ice covered his hands... He did not reach his city. The curse of the mother was fulfilled – the homeland refused to accept even the remains of the person who betrayed it and gave up on it. Even the seven camels loaded with countless riches turned into stone.
Maybe that is why the City of Seven Hills remained rich and beautiful forever, and the rock cairns remind of the curse of the mother to this day, that there is no pardon for treason, that no land in the world is more beautiful and holier than homeland.