The Valley of the Bulgarian Roses

971670_10201514527331059_420501731_nSome of the best things in life happen without a plan or preparation. The same rule applies for some trips. So it was our last trip in the beginning of July. Vesi and me spontaneuosly decided to go to Kazanlak – on the Festival of the Bulgarian roses.

We wake up early on Sunday morning and took a bus to the exit of the city. We had decided to go by hitch-hiking although we weren’t sure how much time it will take. The distance between Plovdiv and Kazanlak is around 100 km. However, it takes 3h or more to go there by train. Crazy! So we decided that hitch-hiking will be faster and funnier way to travel to there, even though we weren sure if there will be many cars. Fortunately, after 15 mins some guy stopped to take us. He drove us to a village near by where another guy took us. And so on, when the fourth car that stopped was directly to Kazanlak. We arrived just in time for traditional picking of roses. Well, not exactly on time, but we still had the chance to pick a rose or too and see how the traditional rose oil is made. The rose oil is called “the liquid gold” of Bulgaria, because it is a very expensive 969338_10201514506650542_2113902851_nproduct, used mainly for the making of  perfumes, chocolates, liqueur and jam. The rose oil is 3 times more expensive than the real gold. One kilogram rose oil can be extracted from 3000 kg of roses. This means that for one gramme of rose oil are used more than 1300 rose blossoms!

Meanwhile in the center of the city there was big celebration. Different types of shopkeepers were selling hand-made jewelries, traditional hand-

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crafts, rose parfumes and cosmetics. There was wine tasting as well. Since there was more time till the beginning of the official ceremony, we decided to visit the famous Tracian Tomb of Kazanlack. Its on the UNESCO protected World Heritage Site and the paintings are Bulgaria’s best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period. It comprises a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. It was really beautiful!

When we went back to the center, it was already full with people. There were groups Japanese, Italian and French tourist. There were people from Kazanlak and all the villages near by, and people from different cities in Kazanlak. The Rose festival is one of the most famous events in Bulgaria and gather people from the whole country. Every year the festival begins with the Queen Rose beauty contest and continues with the coronation ceremony in her honour. In the coronation day there is a big parade that includes demonstation of traditional singing and dances,or other customs, martial arts and so on.

The whole festival lasts 1-2 weeks and the visitors can choose to attend variety of events. If you want to visit Kazanlak, do it in the week of the Festival when the whole town smells like roses…

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