Plovdiv (Bulgarian: ???????, pronounced ['p?ovdif]) is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, with a city population of 341,567 as of 2015 and 675,586 in the greater metropolitan area. It is an important economic, transport, cultural, and educational center. There is evidence of habitation in Plovdiv dating back to the 6th millennium BCE, when the first Neolithic settlements were established; it is said to be one of the oldest cities in Europe. During most of its recorded history, Plovdiv was known in the West by the name Philippopolis (Greek: ?????????????; Turkish: Filibe; "Philip's Town") after Philip II of Macedon conquered the city in the 4th century BCE. The city was originally a Thracian settlement and subsequently was invaded by Persians, Greeks, Celts, Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, Rus people, Crusaders, and Turks. On January 4, 1878, Plovdiv was liberated from Ottoman rule by the Russian army. It remained within the borders of Bulgaria until July of the same year, when it became the capital of the autonomous Ottoman region of Eastern Rumelia. In 1885, Plovdiv and Eastern Rumelia joined Bulgaria. Plovdiv is situated in a fertile region of south-central Bulgaria on the two banks of the Maritsa River. The city has historically developed on seven syenite hills, some of which are 250 metres (820 feet) high. Because of these hills, Plovdiv is often referred to in Bulgaria as "The City of the Seven Hills". Plovdiv is host to a huge variety of cultural events such as the International Fair Plovdiv, the international theatrical festival "A stage on a crossroad", the TV festival "The golden chest," and many more novel festivals, such as Night/Plovdiv in September, Kapana Fest, and Opera Open. There are many preserved ruins such as the ancient Plovdiv Roman theatre, a Roman odeon, a Roman aqueduct, the Plovdiv Roman Stadium, the archaeological complex Eirene, and others. The oldest American educational institution outside the United States, the American College of Sofia, was founded in Plovdiv in 1860 and later moved to Sofia. On September 5, 2014, Plovdiv was selected as the Bulgarian host of the European Capital of Culture 2019. This happened with the help of the Municipal Foundation "Plovdiv 2019?, a non-government organization, which was established in 2011 by Plovdiv's City Council whose main objectives were to develop and to prepare Plovdiv's bid book for European Capital of Culture in 2019.
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