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Renovation of Tsar Simeon Garden in Plovdiv Park, Bulgaria
Water Features Product Manufacturer: Crystal Fountains, Inc.

Steve Kelly, LASN Editor


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Tsar Simeon's Garden in Plovdiv, Bulgaria was designed by Swiss landscape architect Lucien Chevalas (1840-1921) for the 1892 Bulgarian Agricultural Exhibition. The park and garden restoration were aided by archival photographs and historical records. The completely restored Singing Fountain has five distinct water jet effects: alternating cascades; fan jets; finger and plume jets that jump and sway in sync to a musical compositions; and hydraulic Spyra jets that spiral water up to 16 feet high. The Singing Fountains put on a spectacular show of lights, music and jetting waters every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 9:30.


Considered the oldest living city in Europe, and the 6th oldest city in the world, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (pop. 341,567) is a city steeped in rich history and culture that dates back to 5000 B.C.

You may know that Bulgaria is in the Balkans; fortunately, this is not a geography quiz. More precisely, Bulgaria is in southeastern Europe, bordered by Romania (north), the Black Sea (east), Greece and Turkey (south) and Serbia and Macedonia (west).

Plovdiv, Bulgaria, like Rome, was built on seven hills. The city is located in south-central Bulgaria on the banks of the Maritsa River, the longest river (298 miles long) in the country. The city has the remnants of ancient Greek, Roman, Turkish, and Byzantine civilizations.
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The Dry Deck Fountain uses powerful Spyra jets, which are ideal for large animated fountains like the Spring Fountain, but are also safe for this interactive play fountain when run at the proper levels. There are wooden amphitheater style benches on the edge of the fountain.



Since the end of the 18th century, the landscape of the city has revolved around a central community hub. Tsar Simeon's Garden in Plovdiv was designed and installed in 1892 by Swiss landscape architect Lucien Chevalas (1840-1921) for the Bulgarian Agricultural Exhibition. Chevalas had become Plovdiv's official gardener in 1879, and was sometimes referred to as the "Minister of Flowers." The garden was one of Bulgaria's first city gardens and primary green spaces, and named after Simeon I the Great, Bulgaria's first tsar (ruled from 893 to 927).

The garden was intended to embody the artistic spirit of the host city, with shade trees, flowers and winding walkways. The iconic themed feature of the exhibition was the Demeter Fountain by Italian sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi. You may recall (or have no clue) that to the ancient Greeks, Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and agriculture. As the gardens evolved over the years, sculptures and fountains were added: the large, expansive "Singing Fountain" at the park's west end, constructed within a shallow, man-made lake, which was used for canoeing and recreation; the Angler and the Bear fountains; plus numerous monuments of Bulgarian cultural leaders, modern sculptural compositions and plastic arts.

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In preparation for the revamped fountain design, the lake basin was completely refurbished, with care taken to preserve its historical outline detailed in archived site plans. The original fountain equipment--tarnished and broken--was of course completely removed and replaced with the latest in fountain technology and contemporary design.


A Neglected Garden
As historic places are apt to do, Tsar Simeon Garden eventually fell victim to time and neglect. The ancient trees were cowed by disease, the gardens choked with ivy and the formally wondrous "Singing Fountains" rendered silent by disrepair. The Fountain of Demeter, the last remaining relic from the 1892 Exhibition, also sat empty and corroded.

The city of Plovdiv came to the rescue of the venerable park, green lighting a comprehensive renovation plan to help Tsar Simeon Garden recapture its former glory, beginning with a complete revitalization of its beloved Singing Fountains. In preparation for the revamped fountain design, the lake basin was completely refurbished, with care taken to preserve its historical outline detailed in archived site plans. Then, to add a touch of modernity to the gardens, the original fountain equipment--tarnished and broken--was completely removed and replaced with the latest in fountain technology and contemporary design.

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The jets of the Singing Fountain are arranged roughly in the shape of a giant question mark. Singing Fountain is illuminated with myriad LEDs in an array of bright colors. Pictured on the right are cascade and fan jets. Crystal Fountains used their physics-based fountain simulation software ('WATERlab') to create a "behaviorally realistic representation of the choreography required for each chosen song."


Arranged roughly in the shape of a giant question mark, the new Singing Fountains comprise five distinct fountain effects; alternating cascades; fan jets; finger and plume jets that jump and sway in sync to a selection of musical compositions, reaching up to a height of 12 meters' and, of particular note, the Spyra jet, a hydraulic nozzle capable of manipulating bursts of water around a 360° axis.

After the sun sets, Singing Fountains is illuminated with myriad LEDs, incorporating an array of bright and exciting colors into the programmed water shows. This addition brightens the surrounding garden space and encourages guests to stay in the park well into the evening hours.

To help facilitate the sequenced fountain shows, Crystal Fountains used their physics-based fountain simulation software ('WATERlab') to create a "behaviorally realistic representation of the choreography required for each chosen song." By employing a simulation before any onsite commissioning took place, the onsite programming time for the water feature was significantly reduced, as the programmer was able to base the sequencing required for each show directly on the simulations provided, eliminating creative guesswork. The use of the software also increased the satisfaction on the part of the Plovdiv municipality, as the decision makers could see simulations of the fountains in action, rather than simply hoping for a positive outcome, or imagining what the effects of the fountains might look like.

To accommodate the addition of the high-tech fountain equipment, and to control the various lighting and jet effects, a mechanical room had to be built under the artificial lake. In addition to the pumps and purification systems for the fountains, a sizeable surge tank was constructed that is fed by a large, aesthetically pleasing, circular overflow on the fountain's surface. The alcove above the maintenance room is completely accessible to visitors by way of a light wooden bridge. They are invited to overlook the Singing Fountains from the shelter of a light wood and metal pavilion that meshes well with the other park structures.

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The Dry Deck Fountain, set adjacent to the Children's Theatre, is generally used as a splash pad during the day. At night, its sequencing Spyra jets and colorful LEDs compete for attention with the lake Spring Fountain (foreground water).


Situated adjacent to the Singing Fountain is an interactive dry deck water feature constructed to provide further recreational opportunities for park visitors. Consisting of slab hung column jets, this feature is an exquisite attraction for visitors and a natural continuation of the pedestrian access to the larger fountain. A small set of wooden amphitheater style benches surround the dry deck to allow comfortable viewing of the water effects, and the activities of the children. Much like its famous singing companion, LEDs illuminate the dry deck fountain to continue the fun after dark.

Classified as an architectural-construction monument of culture by the Plovdiv municipality, the historic Demeter Fountain also needed complete refurbishment. A pump and filter system were installed for water purification; LEDs were also integrated to provide artistic illumination. The degraded concrete basin was replaced with a new one of the same size with a reinforced bottom and waterproofing. The Demeter sculpture, made of cast iron, was artfully conserved and restored, the work overseen by an expert council at the Ministry of Culture.

To complement the reinvigorated fountains, the amenities in Tsar Simeon Garden were also renovated. In addition to the installation of new benches, waste bins and efficient LEDs, all the park's trees and gardens were pruned and or replaced with new plantings if their removal was necessitated.

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Classified as an architectural-construction monument of culture by the Plovdiv municipality, the cast iron sculpture of the Demeter Fountain was artfully conserved and restored, and the degraded concrete basin replaced with a new one of the same size with a reinforced bottom and waterproofing. A pump and filter system were installed for water purification; LEDs were also integrated.


The pair of children's playgrounds in Tsar Simeon Garden were also updated with new equipment and made safer and fully accessible for all.

Coinciding with all the garden work, Plovdiv has been named one of Europe's Capitals of Culture for 2019. This designation is certainly a catalyst for economic growth and raises the city's profile on the international stage, while highlighting the common history and values between European nations.

The thrilling rejuvenation of Tsar Simeon Garden will continue to encourage Plovdiv's dedication to culture and community as a shared beacon of pride and entertainment for its citizens.

About Crystal Fountains
Crystal Fountains has designed and manufactured fountains since 1967. The main office and manufacturing facility is in Toronto, with offices in Dubai, Warsaw and Singapore. Crystal is involved in approximately 750 projects every year.

Project Team
Owner: Municipality of Plovdiv
Architect: Petco Prokopiev
Landscape Contractor: ORAK Studio EOOD
Mechanical Engineer: Nikolay Klenski
Fountain Contractor: Aquapools Ltd.
Audio System and Fountain Programming: Automatyki Budynkow
Fountain Choreography: Dorata Nowicka
Water Features Product Manufacturer: Crystal Fountains, Inc.


As seen in LASN magazine, July 2016.






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