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Kazanlak and the Rose Valley - see and do

 

Culture Vulture

The Festival of the Roses – the rose plays an important part in the lives of the people of Kazanlak and the surrounding region. Rose growing and the associated industries have been integral to the people’s lives for centuries, and they continue to keep this tradition today.

Kazanlak plays host to the annual Festival of Roses during the first week of June. The first festival, held in 1903, was dedicated to beauty and charity. Today the festival is one of the most beautiful events of the year in the region for local people and tourists.

There is a beauty contest, the winner being crowned ‘Queen Rose’, traditional rose-picking rituals, and rose distillation.

The festival culminates in a large street procession and is joined by people from the International Folklore Festival which is held at the same time.

A great tourist attraction is the Bulgarian custom of ‘Simi Zagovezni’ and ‘Koukerski Igri’ which are performed in Pavel Banya and some of the surrounding villages. The village of Tarnichene attracts a lot of tourists owing to its active rose distillery.

The Rose Industry Museum – the Rose of Kazanlak expo was opened in 1969 at the Institute of Roses. The museum shows how the various rose products are made – jam, toothpaste, perfume and essential oil. The development of the industry over the years is shown in various displays.

Thracian Tombs – during the construction of an air defence post in 1944, a Thracian tomb was discovered by accident. The Thracian tomb can be found in the northern part of the Tyulbeto Park. It dates back to the 4th or early 3rd century BC. The tomb contains a completely preserved painting of early Hellenistic art. The delicate frescoes are protected by a special protective structure which has been constructed over the tomb. Only researchers are allowed to enter the real tomb, but there is a replica 50 m to the east which is open to visitors.

Near Kazanlak, in recent years, a further ten Thracian tombs and mausoleums have been discovered. The most important of these are: Ostrousha (2 kms south of Shipka), Golyama Arsenalka (near Sheinovo village), and the Shoushmanets necropolis tombs near Shipka.

The Ostrousha Mound tomb is the largest covering an area of 100 sq.m. There are four halls – one round, and three rectangular – and a chamber resembling a sarcophagus. The tomb contains reliefs and paintings of people and animal figures. It is thought to date back to the 5th century BC.

The ‘Tomb with the Columns’ was constructed from polished stone blocks. It has a round domed burial chamber, and a rectangular ante-chamber with a half-cylindrical dome. In the middle of the chamber stands a Doric-style column. The tomb is believed to date from the 4th century BC.

The Helvetia Mound tomb is again thought to date back to the 4th century BC. It was constructed from big stone blocks that were clamped together with iron braces. The tomb is made up of a long corridor, ante-chamber and burial chamber. The walls are covered by a thin coat of mortar and are divided into rectangles meant to imitate marble blocks.

The Golyama Arsenalka Mound tomb consists of two chambers with an impressive façade. In front of the tomb lies a stone sarcophagus (next to which gold treasure was discovered) and a stone grave from neighbouring mounds. The tomb dates from the 4th century BC.

Public Mineral Baths – these can be found 5 kms south-east of Kazanlak and 2 kms west of the village of Ovoshtnik. They are close to the Tundzha River, and the water here is said to be good for curing diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, locomotory system, and gastric complaints. Near to the baths there are two mineral water pools which are used in summer, and a beach.