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A City Visit To Stara Zagora

The often overlooked city of Stara Zagora is situated in the central region of Southern Bulgaria near the Bedachka river, covering the northern fields of the upper Thracian plain and the southern hills of the Sarnenea Sredna Gora mountain. The city offers the visitor many hidden charms. Leafy boulevards, children's play areas and well-tended parks filled with greenery, beautiful flowers, as well as many ancient Roman remains, water fountains and the scent of the Lime and Linden trees.

It is a city of poets, writers, artists and magic often overlooked by most travelers to Bulgaria. Its proximity to the Balkan range provides many opportunities for the photographer, hiker, hunter or fishing enthusiast.


Stara Zagora's population of 163,000 ranks it as the sixth largest city in Bulgaria, yet a recent study ranked it as Bulgaria's second largest city in terms of average salary making it an important economic area.

Situtated in the central region of Southern Bulgaria near the Bedechka River covering the northern fields of the Upper Thracian Plain and the southern hills of Sarnena Sredna Gora Mountain. The plain lies 150-180 m above sea level, the highest point of the mountains, the Moruley peak, reaches 895 m. It is 231 km from the capital, Sofia, 90 km from Plovdiv and 180 km from the Black Sea. It has a continental climate with a Mediterranean influence.

A Dip Back in Time

Stara Zagora is one of the oldest cities in Europe, established over 8,000 years ago and has held many different names.

Inhabited by Thracians, ancient Greeks, Romans, Slavs, Ottomans and Bulgarians, this unique city bears the historical mark of early civilizations along with many of their old treasures. Archaeologists have found more than 100 prehistoric mounds dating back to the third century BC and a rich collection of tools and artefacts. One of them, the Bereketska mound, is the largest in Bulgaria and contains traces of people from the New Stone Age. The oldest copper mines in Europe were discovered 8 km east of the city; copper ore mined in Stara Zagora was traded throughout the continent.

The city's current name appeared for the first time in documents from the Church Council of Tsarigrad in 1875. It means ‘old town behind the mountain.' The first major battle during the Russian - Turkish Liberation War took place near the city, when a large Turkish army consisting of several thousand soldiers attacked the town. An undersized Russian army supported by a small unit of Bulgarian volunteers defended the town. After a six-hour fight, the Russians and Bulgarians surrendered. The Turks burned down the city; ironically, the only public building to survive fire was the mosque, Eski Dzhamiya. The number of the casualties from Stara Zagora and its neighbouring villages reached 14,500. Several monuments pay homage to them.

The town's restoration began immediately after the liberation of Bulgaria. Prince Aleko Bogoridi laid the foundation stone for the new city on October 5th, 1879. Czech architect, Lyubor Bayer designed the new city giving it a modern feel with a grid system of large straight streets and spacious squares.

Getting Around

Stara Zagora is a central hub for the main Bulgarian railroads, connecting Sofia with Plovdiv and Bourgas. The train station lies to the south of the City Garden, just ten minutes walk from the centre. There is also a strong bus link with key Bulgarian cities like Sofia. Bourgas, on the Southern Black Sea coast is home to the nearest international airport.

Parks

There are numerous well-tended parks and gardens in the heart of the city adding to it's natural feel. The open spaces provide respite for weary office workers and parents with children.
The most prestigious of the parks is undoubtedly the Ayazmoto Park, which was established in 1895 when a barren area to the north of the city was planted with a magnificent variety of trees imported from Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Spain and Italy. It is home to the cities only zoo, which is a great place for children and adults to view a vast array of animals including several brown bears and lions.

In the centre of town lies the City Park, created in 1891 on a vast green space of 20 decares of land. The small Bedechka Park offers the tranquillity of its namesake, the River, Bedechka, which runs through it. Other parks in the city are the Thrakia Park, the Zhiten Alan Park and the Railway Station Garden. In spring and summer, Stara Zagora is awash with blooms making it an ideal time to visit.

Where to Stay

Art Hotel - A quiet family hotel in the very centre of Stara Zagora. Cosy rooms with modern furniture, cable TV, Internet access, air-conditioning.
Dedov Hotel - In the heart of the city, a beautifully designed hotel with soundproofed rooms and a gourmet restaurant.
Hotel Ezerto - A luxurious facility built in 1996, with 24 beds, located on a lake between the train station and the city centre. It has two exquisite restaurants, featuring traditional cuisine.
Forum Hotel - Located in the town centre, this beautifully restored building dates back to 1891 and is now a cultural monument. It has been open for guests since March 2006.
Mania - A family hotel located in the eastern part of the city, close to Bedechka Park, and only within 5-minute drive to the city centre.
Uniqato Hotel - A quiet hotel with good communications, offering individual and sophisticated service. The hotel has a total of 16 unique rooms and apartments including a VIP suite. The restaurant here is highly recommended.