Valley of Roses
Maybe you know, maybe you don't. Bulgaria is one of the top producers of rose oil in the world. This is famous enough here to have a very popular book written about a trader who sells our rose oil in Europe (OK, the book is not at all about this but that's all you need to know :D). These roses grow in the Valley of Roses - an area South of Stara Planina around the town of Kazanlak.
The Valley of Roses is one of the most beautiful places to see here and much less popular than it has to be. Of course, to see roses you must come in the right season - definitely not in the winter. The best time to visit is between the middle of May and middle of June.
So how to get there and what are the most interesting towns in the region?
Kazanlak is the Capital of the Valley of roses and the largest town there with population of about 50,000. Getting there is easy: several trains go daily from Sofia andn the journey takes between 4 and 6 hours. Similarly you can reach Kazanlak from Varna or Burgas. If by any chance you are in Plovdiv the journey will be much shorter. The train price from Sofia is about &eur;7.
Once in Kazanlak visit the Kulata museum which shows how the rose oil is made. In the beginning of June every year there is the Festival or Roses that typically includes a carnival, competitions, and more.
Besides the rose fields (which apparently you just have to walk out of Kazanlak to see), there are two natural reserves around the town. The Leshnica Reserve is near the village of Yassenovo - there are deers, boars, wild bears, etc. Similar to it is the Kamenshtica Reserve near v. Enina.
If you are in the region it's worth visiting Rosino. The most popular landmark there is the rock phenomenon "Bulskia kamak" and the old factory for rose oil cosmetics.
Koprivshtica is historical town with just about 2,000 inhabitants 110km away of Sofia. Reaching Koprivshtica is much faster than going to Kazanlak, but you'll see less rose-related stuff there and a lot more history. There are a number of museums, architectural landmarks, old Revival houses, natural reserves and phenomenons.
Karlovo is another big rose oil producing town. Karlovo is 56km North of Plovdiv and very easy to reach from there by several daily buses and trains. Many trains daily go from Sofia to Karlovo. The trip takes 3-4 hours.
Besides the roses, Karlovo is proud to be the town of Vasil Levski and of course has a museum and monuments built after him. It's a nice Balkan town to visit with good nature views, so if you have the time, include it in your trip.
Kalofer is the third important center of rose oil manufacture. It's a small town with nearly 3,000 inhabitants and again (seems like all towns in Bulgaria!) is heavy on history. Kalofer is just 17 km away of Karlovo. If you plan to visit one of the towns, you can very easy reach the other one. At 600 m above the sea level this is a really beautiful mountain town - so even if you aren't keen on history or even roses, you won't regret going there.
Many touristic trails start from Kalofer: the route to Botev peak, to Djendema natural reserve, and many more. If you are the kind of traveller who likes to walk in mountains this is one of the top places with easy access to many things to see.
A few more important towns in Valley of Roses are Pavel Banya, Panagiurishte, Pirdop, Sopot, and Hisarya. We will review these in another article since they aren't that focused on rose oil. But if you are in the Valley and have the time, each of these towns worths a visit of few hours at least.
If all you want to see are the rose fields and the things that make the name of Valley of Roses, Kazanlak should be your starting point and you should go in May - June. The other towns can expand your trip of course.
comments powered by Disqus