As the world's most important production site of rose oil, the picturesque Rose Valley in the center of Bulgaria with miles of rose fields pampers the nose and eye of every visitor.
In the middle of Bulgaria, Rozova dolina exudes a stunning fragrance. In the Valley of Roses, some 200 kilometers from Sofia, white, pink and red roses are grown in beds that stretch for kilometers and from which more than half of the rose oil sold worldwide is extracted. The beguiling valley is one of our top 10 sights of Bulgaria.
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PICTURES: Rose Valley near Kazanlak
Most important rose growing area in the world
The cultivation of Alba and Damascene roses has a centuries-old tradition in this broad east-west valley. The majestic Rosa damascena is one of the national symbols of Bulgaria. The Trigintipetala variety, also known as "Kazanlak" or "Bulgarian oil rose", was mentioned in a document as early as 1689.
At the beginning of the 18th century, rose cultivation began on a large scale. Since then, the precious rose oil, one of the most expensive essential oils in the world, has been distilled from its petals, and the Bulgarian Rose Valley developed into what is now the world's most important rose-growing region.
Rose oil is used mainly in perfumery, pharmacy and cosmetics, but also in the food industry. 70% of the world production of rose oil comes from Bulgaria, the majority of which is obtained from the roses of Kazanlak.
Visit to the Rose Valley of Kazanlak
The best time to visit the fabulous Rose Valley is early May to mid-June. Then the roses are in full bloom and the whole valley smells absolutely irresistible. The administrative and also economic center of the Rose Valley is the town of Kazanlak, nestled in a picturesque national park. Besides the Rose Valley and the Rose Museum, the Thracian burial cave a special sight, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Tip: The magic of the Rose Valley is at its best during an early morning walk. The morning dew still clinging to the brightly colored petals conjures up not only fantastic photo motifs, but also a fragrance that almost steals your senses.
Even at the end of June, when the harvest is over, it pays to visit, as the successful picking season is celebrated with flower-filled folk festivals that provide an interesting insight into Bulgaria's rich culture.
Festival of Roses
The Festival of Roses on the first weekend of June is also a sight in itself. Colorfully dressed parades decorated with flowers and traditional dancers parade through the streets disappearing under thousands of petals. Celebrated, of course, the rose, which represents youth and fertility. Since 1903 until today the Rose Festival is celebrated according to ancient customs and tells of spring and the joy of a rich harvest.
Young and old from the surrounding area and now thousands of tourists from Bulgaria and other countries take part in this exuberant festival. The election and uprooting of the Rose Queen, as well as the two rituals of rose harvesting and rose distillation are among the highlights at the Rose Festival.
Kazanlak Rose Museum
The Rose Museum in Kazanlak was opened in 1984. Here the visitor learns everything about the fragrant Damascus rose, the history of its cultivation in Bulgaria and the production of rose water and rose oil. Over three tons of blossoms are needed for one liter of the precious rose oil.
Photographs, pictures, documents and tools present in three exhibition rooms the importance of the rose valley from the Renaissance until today and explain the elaborate production of rose oil. For this purpose, the rose blossoms are picked in the early morning, when the oil content is at its highest.
Harvesting is traditionally the task of the women, who cut each blossom individually by hand so that they can then be taken to the distillery in wicker baskets. Even in the early hours of the morning before sunrise, there is therefore a lot of traffic on the streets of the Rose Valley during the picking season.
Tip: In the "Kulata" ("Tower") about 1km from Kazanlak are served food and drinks, which were refined with the essence of Kazanlak rose. Registration required!
PICTURES: Rose Museum in Kazanlak