I always say the size of towns cannot be measured according to population. In Spain there are “villages” as Dos Hermanas (120.000 inhabitants) and “cities” as Soria (30.000 inhabitants).
But, actually, I often search through Wikipedia the population of anywhere in order to know how big it is. So that, I should recognize that, at the beginning, I didn't like to live in a small town as Gorna Oryahovitsa: 35.000 inhabitants.
Before I moved to Bulgaria, I wondered which kind of '35.000 inhabitants town' Gorna could be. Somewhere like Écija? Like Teruel? Like Carmona? Like Ciudad Real? After that, when I took some information about the region and the country, I began to do absurd comparisons.
Bulgaria has a population of eight million inhabitants in a very small territory compared to Spain. This territory is bigger than the region of Andalusia (southern Spain) where almost the same number of people lives in. Southern Spain hasn't got a city as populated as Sofia (one million citizens), that is bigger than the two leading cities in Andalusia: Málaga and Sevilla (between 600 and 700 thousand inhabitants). But, in Bulgaria there are two equatable cities to Córdoba (Plovdiv and Varna, between 300 and 350 thousand inhabitants) and several similar cities to Almería, Cádiz, Huelva or Jaén (Burgas, Ruse, Stara Zagora, Pleven,... between 100 and 200 thousand inhabitants).
When I observed Bulgarian cities are not so big, I thought Gorna Oryahovitsa may be one of those towns halfway between “big village” and “small city”. In fact, I gave a very good example: my home-town El Ejido, 83.000 inhabitants.
Even though El Ejido is double its population, I was still comparing all the region. So that I thought in Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of the province (less than 70.000 inhabitants), as the capital of my province in Spain: Almería (about 187.000 inhabitants).
The Gorna Oryahovitsa's main square is very cold and grey. Council is at one side and the hill of Hamalka is at the other side. It reminds me to El Ejido's Plaza Mayor where the local goverment building, with its minimalistic design, is at and the mountains of Gádor are behind it. Generally, Gorna seems to El Ejido because they rank the second in size in their respective provinces, and they haven't got any old monument and nor old quarter. I was not mistaken when I thought Gorna Oryahovitsa is “the Bulgarian El Ejido”.
In the other hand, Veliko Tarnovo outdoes Almería. Have in mind that Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of Bulgaria during the Middle Ages, so that nowadays it's a very monumental city. But its great fortress Tsarevets may be the Almería's Alcazaba.
All these comparisons are hateful. Perhaps, stupid. So that I'm not still going to write any more about urban landscapes... I will talk about statistics again.
So that, If Gorna seems El Ejido and Veliko Tarnovo seems Almería, one Spanish inhabitant would amount to half Bulgarian inhabitant. Much to my surprise, I have observed these calculations are applicable in the whole country. For example Gabrovo (pop. 67.000) has got an appearance which is more close to Cádiz (pop. 140.000) than Motril (pop. 66.000).
Plovdiv made the main impression to me: from the highest hill of the old-town, tall buildings can be seen until the horizon. This view is similar to the view of Sevilla from el Aljarafe (the hills off the city). I would say that Plovdiv (pop. 340.000) looks bigger than Sevilla (pop. 686.000).
I haven't been in Varna and Sofia yet. The first one is by the sea and its population numbers 320.000 citizens. I imagine Varna could be like Málaga (pop. 590.000). About Sofia, it may be one of those urban labyrinths as Madrid.
I don't know the reason for this curiosity about the relation between the population and the size of Bulgarian cities. Probably this is emigration and perhaps there are a lot of empty apartments in those tall buildings in Plovdiv. In other hand, the Bulgarian towns haven't lost their rhythm of big city although they have got little inhabitants. For example, Veliko Tarnovo -with only 67.000 citizens- has got the typical busy streets and a lot of people walking by their pavements. I believe this is it because the University of Veliko Tarnovo is quite important... Right now, I'm going to do another (hateful) comparison: it looks Granada. This Spanish city was “designed” for 240.000 people, but students (and hippies) have increased it by almost double.