About the location

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Kapana (The Trap) is a residential quarter in the town of Plovdiv, the name of which comes from the medieval urban typology characterised by a number of streets crossing each other at various angles. There is only a little space between the streets, enough for one or two houses to be built. In the past, during the Ottoman rule in Bulgaria, the quarter was the very centre of the town where trade and crafts were mainly developed. It played a significant role for Plovdiv for several centuries, being an important stop on the trade and cultural routes of exchange between Asia and Europe.

The development of Plovdiv over the last few decades has transformed The Trap from the centre of trade into a Place that ‘nobody knows what is The Trap’, as one of the residents there said in 2010. Devoid of an entire image, it is spoken of in abstract terms and through the little available information lacking historical framework, and through the already stereotyped delineations of recognition, such as ‘the old trade centre of Plovdiv’, ‘Oriental quarter in the past’, etc. Its streets and sidewalks exist as a peculiar giant parking place, and the people take them mostly just as shortcuts. With the specific variety of activities and locations, the space of the quarter becomes strangely invisible.

Four years ago, The Trap existed merely as a parallel, hardly discernible space to the central parts of the town it belongs to. Preserved small workshops, goldsmith ateliers and shops for bizarre things that can be seen around the quarter, coexist with tight shops selling clothes, coffee and pastry, alongside with night clubs, sex shops and toy shops, dry cleanings and other small trade activities that fitting its scale. Small lawyers’ firms, offices, dental services, guest rooms, etc. are also found in The Trap. In the periphery of the quarter there are buildings, such as the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Interior located near a famous underground club. On the other side of the quarter lies the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis and Dzhumaya Mosque where the main pedestrian street of the town passes. The Trap is a bricolage and a specific area of intermittence in the urban structure of the city.

Although it is not a large quarter, It contains traces of various global processes affecting redistribution of urban spaces and changes in property-possession concepts. This can also be seen in the differences between its periphery where some business activity is concentrated and the central part of The Trap where desolate buildings, shabby facades and closed shutters of shops with fading signs and boards are a frequent sight. Unlike the Old Town of Plovdiv, from which The Trap was separated via a big boulevard and a tunnel under the hill of the Old Town as a part of a big infrastructural project. The Trap has not become a historic site or a tourist destination, It is no longer either part of the centre of trade or a symbolic economy.

The way in which the quarter would participate in the process of urban regeneration and development of the city is a highly relevant issue at present even than four years ago. Not only because of the processes occurring to the city itself, but also because of different external factors to the context there such as: the creative industries, the ongoing gentrification and different socio-cultural, geo-political, economic and demographic processes. The process of understanding and visibility of those factors will inevitably reflect on the way in which Kapana (The Trap) will continue to exist. Not only as part of Plovdiv but also as part of the entire region.

                                                                                                                 Kiril Kuzmanov

© Copyright Kiril Kuzmanov 2015