The town of Kazanlak is located in the pretty Valley of Roses at the foot of Balkan Mountains. The natural geographical centre of Bulgaria is just here - where the roads of home and international tourist routes cross each other. The town is at about 200 km east of Sofia, and 75 km west of Sliven. In this area the nature has combined the beauty and majesty of the Balkan Mountains with the fertility of the Tundzha River valley.
The oil-yielding rose takes an important place in the history of Kazanlak region. It is a constant part of the way of life of the native-born. The enterprise and diligence of generations of rose oil producers have preserved this so important means of livelihood. The municipality of Kazanlak possesses an exceptionally rich cultural and historical legacy, which has been multiplied with time, since the settlement lies on a crossroad, where highly developed cultures meet. Its greatest wealth comprises of items from the material culture of the Antiquity and most important from the Thracian cultural and historical legacy.
More than 90 cultural and historical monuments give evidence for the exceptional contribution to the European civilization of the people, who have inhabited this area. The vicinity of the town offers the marvelous opportunity to get acquainted with the Bulgarian village, to experience the special rhythm of life in the countryside. The towns of Shipka and Maglizh, the villages of Enina, Tarnichene, Dunavtsi and Golyamo Dryanovo have the typical sub-Balkan atmosphere. Almost every house in the area offers accommodation and a taste of coziness and hospitality. Tourists will also have the chance to try home made dishes from the traditional Bulgarian cuisine. The pleasure is supplemented by fresh Balkan air, clear water, peace and tranquillity. Outside the town of Kazanlak tourists can practise hiking and biking tourism, orienteering, alpinism, sports climbing, ski-tourism, etc. There can also be organized many interesting alpine tourist routes with mountain guides.
The first settlement sprang here in ancient times. The material culture of its inhabitants was manifested as early as the New Stone Age (Neolithic) - 6th-5th centuries BC. During the 4th through the 3rd centuries BC the lands on the upper stream of Tundzha River were a part of an area, ruled by the Thracian King Seuthes III, and took an important role in Thracian history during the Hellenistic times. During the construction of Koprinka Dam, the Thracian town of Seuthoplis was completely excavated, preserved and researched.
In the Middle Ages the town was a military fortress, but later on more than 50 crafts developed here – leather-working, coppersmith’s and goldsmith’s trade, homespun tailoring, shoemaking and, of course, rose-oil manufacture. In 1270, during the crusades, Count de Gruye brought the Damascus rose from Syria to the valley at the foot of the Balkan Range, where conditions proved excellent. The temperatures in February, when roses bud, are ideal. The blossoms are picked in May and June, when high humidity is very important. So is the cinnamon-forest soil in the area. The first store house, run by the rose merchant Doncho Papazov was established in 1820. Since the 19th century Kazanlak has been the centre of Bulgarian rose-growing and rose-oil manufacture.
During the Russian-Turkish Liberation War (1877-1878) Kazanlak region was a centre of the heroic battles. After the liberation from the Ottomans the textile industry experienced a rapid development. A modern textile company, named "Rozova Dolina" was established as a spinning factory. Kazanlak had an important role in Bulgarian economy after the Second World War. Hydraulics and pneumatics, arms industry, food industry, textile industry, essential-oil bearing plants, perfumery, and cosmetics experienced rapid development. Kazanlak has strong cultural and educational traditions. In 1836 Neofit Bozveli introduced the mutual method of teaching at monastery schools (e.g. older students instructed younger ones); the first school was established in 1860. Kazanlak is known as the native town of many artists and actors of national importance - Porfirii Velkov, Mara Penkova, Todor Mazarov, Stefan Getsov, Luna Davidova, Lyubomir Kabakchiev.
Sports and Recreation
The diversity of the nature in this region is favorable for sport and recreation during both winter and summer. The numerous mountainous chalets in this part of the Balkan Mountain are well equipped and the area is suitable for recreation, winter sports training, hiking, etc. There are ski -lifts and ski-runs near some of the chalets and ski equipment can be rented. In the summer time Koprinka Dam is the most popular place. The facilities for water sports, fishing and the beach area attract many visitors. The fresh pine forests and the newly built exquisite hotels contribute to the unique atmosphere of this site.
Hiking, cycling, orienteering, mountaineering, climbing, skiing are the most popular sport that can be practiced in the vicinity of Kazanlak. Led by experienced guides tourists can explore the mountains. Kazanlak sports schools have long traditions and are well-known to the lover of sports in Bulgaria and abroad.
Shipka Memorial Church is located only 12 km north of Kazanlak, at the south foot of the Balkans, near the town of Shipka. It was erected after the Liberation as a monument to both Russian and Bulgarian dead. The golden domes and the green and pink colored facade loom against the mountains and attract the attention of the travelers in the Shipka Pass. Shipka National Park is founded on the same area, where the bloody battles of the Russian-Turkish Liberation War took place in the 1870's. It represents a complex of memorial tablets, monuments and bunkers, reminiscent of the battle.
Buzludzha National Park rises east of Shipka Pass. It is a very important part of the Bulgarian history - here, on July 30, 1868, Hadji Dimitar fell in battle. He was at the head of a small group of rebels fighting the numerous Turkish enemies. In 1961 a monument was built here to commemorate this act of heroism. The impressive marble figure of Hadji Dimitar is outlined against the green background of the pine - trees. Chudomir Literature and Art museum - on May 27, 1969 Chudomir’s home was declared a museum.
In 1944 the Thracian Tomb, world-famous for its murals, was occasionally discovered during the construction of an air defense observation post. Today it is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The tomb is situated in a mound near the town of Kazanlak. It consists of a lobby, a corridor and a dome. The system of ornaments in the corridor is complex and extremely interesting. The walls are covered with shining, fine plaster and a beautiful fresco. Ostrusha Hill is one of the biggest cult-sepulchral complexes in Bulgaria.
The rose has an important role in the history of the Kazanlak region. It is an unchangeable part of the life style of the local people. The rose cultivation and rose industry have been kept by generations of enterprising and hard-working people from Kazanlak. As a capital of the rose - growing region, Kazanlak hosts the annual Festival of Roses during the first week of June. This festival was held for first time in 1903 and was dedicated to the beauty and charity. Nowadays the festival is a pageant of beauty in the unique Valley of Roses and one of the most attractive happenings both for the local people and the visitors. The festival program includes coronation of Queen Rose (a beauty contest in several rounds), traditional rose-picking ritual and rose distillation that give you a true feeling of authenticity. The Festival ends with a street procession in which the main role is allotted for the participants of the International Folklore Festival that has been hold parallel to the Festival of Roses for some years.
The hot mineral springs of the region (located in the town of Pavel Banya and in the villages of Ovoshtnik and Yagoda) make the region even more attractive for many tourists from home and abroad.