The rose is one of the symbols of Bulgaria. The country produces the best rose oil in the world since 1664 when the first rose bushes were imported from Syria via Turkey. Now Bulgaria manufactures about 70% of all rose oil in the world. The Kazanlak rose (from the family of the Damask roses) is being grown in the notorious Rose Valley in Central Bulgaria where the unique climate conditions and soils are perfect for this remarkable plant. The Rose valley covers geographically the Valley of the Thracian Kings as well. The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in South-eastern Europe between the 3-rd millennium B. C. and 6-th century A.D. Many impressive Thracian tombs, temples and sanctuaries with lots of golden, silver and bronze craftsman masterpieces inside them have been found on the territory of Bulgaria.
Travelling through some rose bushes fields we arrive to the centre of Kazanlak town (population: 52 000 people). Our first stop for the day is the Rose Museum of Kazanlak which is the only one of its kind in the world and stores more than 15 000 exponents related to the rose-picking and rose-production in Bulgaria.
Then we proceed to the local historical museum keeping more than 50 000 original exponents. The museum protects, examines and popularizes the entire rich historical heritage of the Kazanlak region, including all Thracian tombs and treasures from the Valley of the Thracian rulers.
Next we discover the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site – the Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak which impresses the visitor with its unique frescoes from IV century B.C. The tomb consists of a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber with the famous paintings on the cupola. The Thracian tomb of Kazanlak is a unique aesthetic and artistic work, a masterpiece of the Thracian creative spirit. This monument is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world. The exceptionally well preserved frescos and the original condition of the structure reveal the remarkable evolution and high level of culture and pictorial art in Hellenistic Thrace. The original Kazanlak tomb is closed for tourists in order to preserve the very precious frescoes inside. Travelers visit the replica nearby.
After lunch we continue to the Thracian Tomb Golyama Kosmatka. This is one of the biggest mounds ever found on the Balkan Peninsula, dating from the end of V century B.C. About 20 gold objects were found in that tomb. Among them is a very precisely made golden wreath from oak leaves, a golden wine cup, golden heads of a goddess and a deer. The most ancient object ever found in a Thracian grave is a silver shell with golden decoration. A bronze man’s head was found in Golyama Kosmatka too. All findings impress with their marvellous workmanship and are valuable examples of art. They are exhibited in the historical museum of Kazanlak. Archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of the greatest Thracian king Seuthes III.
Our final stop for the day is the Shipka Memorial Church which is an outstanding Russian Orthodox temple built between 1885 and 1902 near Shipka town at the foothills of the Balkan Range. The Shipka Monument complex is dedicated to the Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian soldiers who died for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo - Turkish War from 1877-78.
Period: Year round; the bloom of the roses varies slightly every year but generally is between 1-st of May and 15-th of June. Lavender is in bloom in June, while sunflowers start in mid-June until the end of July
Trip duration: 7,5 hours
Included: English speaking tour guide, transfers from/to your hotel in Plovdiv
Not included: Golyama Kosmatka Tomb entrance fee (3 EUR), Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak entrance fee (3 EUR), Kazanlak historical museum entrance fee (4 EUR), Rose museum entrance fee (3 EUR), food and tips
Note: You can combine this day trip with a transfer to Veliko Tarnovo if you need to be delivered there after the tour or vice-versa - to get collected from your Veliko Tarnovo hotel in the morning and after exploring Kazanlak area to get transferred to your accommodation in Plovdiv.