Where is the Rose Valley located?
As this website is devoted to the rose festival and the Rose Valley of Bulgaria, we must first find out where this magical event takes place. It takes place in the Rose Valley, which according to Wikipedia, “is a region in Bulgaria located just south of the Balkan Mountains and the eastern part of the lower Sredna Gora chain to the south” and I have to agree, good job Wikipedia.
According to the locals Petar Arnaudov and Ivan Hlebarov, the geographical area of the Rose Valley combines the land between the Kalofer (Калофер) heights of Straja (Стража) and Mejdinika (Междиника) near Tvarditza (Твърдица). The rose valley is around 95km long and 10-12km wide on average and an average of 300-400 meters above sea level. It has a total of 1895 square meters of land which is 1.8% of Bulgaria’s total area.
Bulgaria’s Rose Valley has two main regions, one is the Kazanlak rose valley, to the east, and the other, Kalofer’s rose valley, to the west, which fills an area of 1387 square km and is long 55km and 16km wide on average.
To the north of the valley, the mighty Balkan Mountains (or as we call them Stara Planina – Стара Планина) play the role of mighty stone titans who defend the valley from the cold northern winds. On the south, the not so mighty yet charming Sredna Gora (middle forest) spreads its hills and both mountains create a kind of magical, cosy atmosphere which as if protects this sacred land from the outside world.
– Is that the reason the famous Rosa Damascena grows only in this region?
– I like to believe that, yes!
In the center of the valley lies my hometown, the heart of the valley – the town of Kazanlak. And here is where the magic of the rose festival happens.
The valley of Thracian kings!
The Rose Valley is also often times referred to as the Valley of Thracian Kings, sounds cool right? And as the Valley of Kings in Egypt, there are hundreds of tombs densely located in the area, many of which hold the remains of Thracian kings. There are around 1500 tombs in the area with only 300 officially reviewed by archaeologists.
- Thracian tomb of Kazanlak
What about the other tombs, why aren’t they uncovered? Well, I guess we want to let treasure hunters have some more time to get their hands on some Thracian gold before we officially check the tombs :D.
If you’re visiting the valley, you might stumble upon some uncovered treasure yourself.
Rosa Damascena – The charm of the Valley
The other most common reason tourists visit the valley is the roses and more specifically, the Rosa Damascena. It is a rose used to produce rose oil which on its turn can be used for various purposes, more on that in a bit.
It is said that the rosa Damascena was brought from Syria to Europe by the crusader Robert de Brie in the mid 13th century. The cultivation of the Damascena and its production in Kazanlak began shortly after the town was founded (in 1420).
The process of rose picking is labour intensive and you can try it yourself during one of the ceremonial rose picking events near Kazanlak. In order to reach the best quality of rose oil, the roses must be picked early in the morning, so prepare for some early morning work!
Bulgaria is one of the biggest producers of rose oil in the world and most of the rose oil is gathered in the valley.
What is the rose oil used for?
It is mainly used for the production of high-quality perfumes as the scent of the Rosa Damascena is long lasting and can be combined with a variety of other scents as well.
Another usage of the oil is to produce pharmaceutical products. It can also be used in culinary. The food tastes like roses!
Rosa Damascena is the reason the Rose Valley of Kazanlak has its name, read all about the amazing history of rose oil production in the valley here.
Feel free to visit the facebook page and our photo gallery, or simply ask me anything you want to know about the valley, I hope I can be of help.