Plovdiv, BulgariaTwo European cities or towns are selected by the European Commission each year to serve as European culture capitals.

Two cities I’ve visited and enjoyed have just been named as 2019’s culture capitals.

The first is the beautiful Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, the first ever European culture capital in Bulgaria. I already posted about this picturesque city in southern Bulgaria.

I visited Plovdiv as a day trip on a holiday to Sofia, and I was so impressed with the beautiful National Revival architecture, and its blending of eastern and western influences. It’s a wonderful wandering city, and there are good museums that allow you to glimpse into Plovdiv’s rich past.

See my post on Plovdiv here.

Matera, ItalyThe second European culture capital is an Italian town I’ve visited frequently – Matera.

Readers of this blog have read of my enthusiasm for Matera each year when I go down to the inspiring Matera Women’s Fiction Festival. In earlier posts, I’ve already provided tourists tips for visiting Matera and for where to stay in Matera.

I first visited Matera in the 1990s, before there were many tourists, and while the famous (mostly deserted) cave district was still being fixed up. I was surprised to see the transformation when I returned in 2011. So much of the cave district had been renovated. New cave hotels, bars and restaurants had opened, and cave (rupestrian) churches were open to the public to admire their impressive frescoes.

Matera, ItalyEach year, I look forward to my return to this beautiful, unique cave town. I was so pleased to see Matera earned this well-deserved recognition, and hope its year as a European culture capital will help to place this special town more prominently in the minds of visitors.

So, congratulations – tanti auguri, поздравления – to both Matera and Plovdiv, two beautiful towns, on this well-deserved honor.

Be sure to visit these 2019 European culture capitals.