About us


The beginnig...

The gallery’s rich collection began as early as 1881, when the National Library and Museum of Plovdiv acquired four copies of the donors’ portraits in the Boyana Church, painted by the artist from Tryavna Simeon Ts. Simeonov.

The collection was gradually enlarged with paintings, graphic works, icons and prints from: the People's Archaeology Museum of Plovdiv, the National Library Ivan Vazov in Plovdiv, the County Museum at the County Standing Committee in Plovdiv, Plovdiv Municipal City Museum House (since 1949 Ethnographic Museum), the collection of the Department of Science, Art and Culture, the museum at St. Augustine Boys’ College in Plovdiv, the National Art Academy in Sofia and the National Art Gallery in Sofia.

Development over the years…

The City Art Gallery of Plovdiv was officially opened on 2 March 1952, in the building on the Main Street (present-day Temporary Exhibition Halls 15, Knyaz Alexander St.)

The first director was Georgi Tchaikovsky (1923-1984). The former two-storey fabric shop (Dreharnitsa) was transformed into an exhibition hall with a storage depot for the collection, which currently contains 300 artworks. The building has now been declared a cultural monument.

Icons Permanent Exhibition

Тhe icon exhibition was opened in 1975, in a building specially designed by the architect Nikola Moushanov. It is located in the Old Town, next to the Revival Period church of St Constantine and St Helena.

The exhibition includes a large number of valuable icons, the oldest ones painted five centuries ago. The oldest exhibits include eight Fiest tier icons from present-day Nessebar, the icon St George Enthroned from Plovdiv, as well as the Royal register icons of the former Plovdiv church of St Constantine and St Helena (dating from the 16th century). Here you can see impressive works by three generations of Samokov icon painters from the renowned Dospevski family: Hristo Dimitrov, Dimitar Hristov, Zakhariy Zograph and Stanislav Dospevski. In the 18th and 19th centuries, they were among the most popular master painters on the Balkans.

On the right side of the exhibition hall are valuable icons by master painters from Plovdiv and the region, such as: the icon painter Yoan from Voden, the teacher Valko from Dermendere, the great master painter Nikola of Odrin and Spiro Mihailov.

The exhibition also includes icons by Tryavna master painters and icon painters from different regions. Some of the icons show what pilgrims, merchants and monks brought from their travels to Jerusalem and the monasteries of Mount Athos: copies of miracle-working icons of Mount Athos, Jerusalemia, mother-of-pearl icons from Jerusalem, etc. Also, home icons depicting the most revered in Bulgarian homes healing saints and patron saints of young children can be seen.

Mexican Art Collection

In 1981, on the occasion of the 1300th anniversary of the Bulgarian state, the gallery received a large donation of graphic works (1,150 works) from Mexico.

Some of them are displayed in a special exhibition in the building at 11 Artin Gidikov St. in the Old Town. Alongside 20th century modern Mexican art, the collection includes exact replicas of Mayan and Aztec cult stone statues, pottery and musical instruments. Among them is the famous Aztec calendar or sun stone (Piedra del sol). 

Kikor Mesrobovich house 

The Mexican art collection is displayed on the first floor of the restored Revival period house of the merchant Krikor Mesrobovich, custom-built in 1845-1846.

It is a two-storey symmetrical building, with a central dual side stone staircase and a portico supported by oak columns above it. There is a long hall with a wooden ceiling with oval rosettes and a decorative interior.

Bulgarian Art Permanent Exhibition

The gallery’s largest and most representative building is its main art museum - the Permanent Exhibition at 14A Saborna St. in the Old Town.

In 1992, nearly 300 original paintings, graphic works, sculptures and applied art works were displayed on two floors in the imposing three-storey building of the former Girls' High School, designed and built in 1881 under the guidance of the architect Joseph Schnitter. Arranged chronologically, the exhibition traces the development of Bulgarian art from the Revival Period to the present day. It presents outstanding artists and distinctive trends in art style. 

Permanent exhibition Tsanko Lavrenov

In 2001, the second floor of the building at 11 Artin Gidikov St. housed the permanent exhibition of one of the most famous Bulgarian artists, Tsanko Lavrenov. 55 paintings from different periods of his work are on display. 

Еncho Pironkov Permanent Exhibition

In 2006, the permanent exhibition of Encho Pironkov opened, an artist emblematic of Bulgarian fine art.

The 45 works, donated by the artist to Plovdiv and the gallery, are displayed in a beautiful two-storey house with a spacious yard in the Old Town. The house was built in the mid-19th century and restored to its original state 100 years later. 

New Exhibition Spaces

In 2017, the City Art Gallery grows, when two new buildings were acclaimed under its management:

the Skobelev House and "Banya Starinna".

Since 2003, the Skobelev House in the Old Town has hosted a permanent exhibition of Georgi Bozhilov - an artist who holds a special place in Bulgarian visual arts. Since 2017, the exhibition has been in the care of the City Art Gallery and the displayed paintings belong to its collection

Skobelev House 

The exhibition is displayed in the Revival period house of Kostadin Kaftandzhiyata (the kaftan maker), restored in the 20th century and located at today's 1 Knyaz Tseretelev St. in the Old Town.

It is better known as the Skobelev House, because Olga Skobeleva, the mother of General Mikhail Skobelev, lived there after the Liberation, until her death in 1880. 

Since 2017, it has been among the City Art Gallery’s exhibition spaces, with the official name Banya Starinna (the Ancient Baths) Contemporary Art Halls, located in today's Shesti Septemvri Blvd.

Concerts, performances, happenings and contemporary theatre and dance events take place every year in the unique atmosphere under the bathhouse domes.The labyrinth of its numerous rooms and corridors attracts film and music video directors. 

Chifte Hammam

It was built in 1582, by order of Sultan Murad III, during the rule of Ziya Pasha, the city’s Chief of Police and Judge at the time.The name Chite Baths comes from the Turkish word “çift” which means “pair, couple”, as there were separate facilities for men and women (çelebi kadı hamam). 

The spacious anteroom had a large pool in it. There were small rooms around it with hot and cold water continuously flowing and an underfloor heating system (hypocaust). Such heating was very popular in Roman and Byzantine cities and was later borrowed in the Ottoman Empire. The interior walls still have carved inscriptions and structural drawings of the building, as well as remnants of frescoes with floral and geometric ornaments. The external walls of the building are decorated with the typical of the early Ottoman period “cell-like” masonry technique. Marble fragments from earlier buildings are incorporated in the masonry. The bathhouse performed its original purpose until the 1980s. The building was partially restored in 1999.



Alongside its museum activities related to the research, preservation, display and promotion of our cultural heritage, the gallery team organizes and presents to the public dozens of temporary exhibitions of artists from Plovdiv, Bulgaria and abroad. This activity has been especially dynamic since 2019, when Plovdiv became the European Capital of Culture. In the same year, two new modern exhibition spaces opened. 

Kapana Gallery    

Kapana Gallery was opened in the summer of 2019. It is located in the lively pedestrian street Rayko Daskalov 29, near Kapana creative district in the heart of Plovdiv.

2019 Exhibition hall

The most spacious exhibition hall in Plovdiv was named 2019 in honor of the year when Plovdiv became the European Capital of Culture. It is located at 32 Gladstone Street. With a size of 625 square meters, spread over two open levels, and its beautiful skylight providing a diffused natural light, it is a most desirable location for large exhibitions of both classical and contemporary works. 

Very quickly, they became extremely attractive to artists from all over Bulgaria, as well as to curators from various European countries.

Plovdivians and the guests from all over the country find them to be a favorite place to experience art. We are having more and more international visitors and our audience tends to have constantly rising expectations.

In 2019, the gallery created and equipped a restoration studio of its own, with two specialists to maintain the works from its collections.


The City Art Gallery celebrates its 70th birthday in the fully restored building of its main art museum, with a renewed and enriched exhibition. All the artworks on display have been restored.

Over the past 70 years, this cultural institution has expanded with new buildings and continuously enriched its collection.

Currently, the gallery's collection includes more than 8000 valuable artworks: paintings, graphic works, sculptures, photographs, ceramic works, textiles, and contemporary art. Some of the works are displayed in 6 permanent exhibitions. The Gallery manages 9 buildings, most of them cultural momuments.