Friday, August 9, 2013

Bulgaria, Land of Roses

Bulgarian rose

In central Bulgaria, just south of the Balkan Mountains, is a region famous for its rose-growing industry. Bulgarian roses reportedly produce as much as 85% of the world's rose oil, which is an essential ingredient in the production of perfumes. The soil and climate of what is commonly known as the Valley of Roses help produce some of the most beautiful and oil-rich roses in the world. Rose oil is considered the 'liquid gold' of Bulgaria, due to the high demand for it on the world market.

At the center of the Valley of Roses is a small town by the name of Kazanlak. Following the annual rose petal harvest in May and June, a time when the entire valley is enveloped with the fragrance of roses, Kazanlak stages its well-known Rose Festival. The Rose Queen is crowned and people from all over the country parade in the streets in a colorful display of pageantry and culture.

During our stay in Bulgaria, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Kazanlak during its Rose Festival. Roses and the rose oil industry also play a role in Valley of Thracians. Enjoy photographs of Bulgarian roses and passages about roses from my suspense novel.

In central Bulgaria, lying between the Balkan Range and the Sredna Gora mountains is a long fertile plain known as the Valley of Roses. Due to the high quality of its roses, mastered over centuries of dedicated cultivation, Bulgaria is one of the world’s largest exporters of rose oil, used in the production of perfumes, beauty creams, chocolates, liquors, and jams. There is even toothpaste made from roses.

An enormous quantity of rosebuds is required to produce a minuscule amount of the valuable fluid. To extract one kilogram of this precious liquid, three thousand kilograms of rose petals are needed. Because of this, rose oil is three times more expensive than gold.
"They get up before dawn to pick the petals at exactly the right time. It’s quite a fascinating sight to see the moist flowers sparkling in the first rays of the rising sun. They need to be picked very early in the day because the oil evaporates in the sunlight. The bushes are head-high; you should see them! Young women pick the buds, drop them into these huge baskets, and then they’re carried away on donkey back to distilleries. It’s very picturesque, all that manual work, almost like a scene out of another century. And they have this festival every year to celebrate the harvest. It’s in the town we’re going to, Kazanlak.”
The Rose Festival parade in Kazanlak
Rose Festival parade, Kazanlak, Bulgaria

“Roses!” Scott sat up straight in his seat. The word conjured up more than he had imagined. It brought to mind a specific town in the center of the country, one to which he had traveled with Lance three years before. The festival, the girls, the beers, the costumes, the roses. There was a small cafĂ©, where he sat with Lance enjoying the sounds and sights of the festivities. It was a small town, as quaint as any they had visited. The people were simple, the enjoyment complete. Lance remarked that they had come to one of his favorite places in all of Bulgaria.
The Rose Queen

If you're looking for a souvenir from Bulgaria, try one of the many rose oil products = soaps, perfumes and more.

Rose oil products, Bulgaria

There's nothing like a Bulgarian rose = beautiful, fragrant, and producing a very valuable oil prized all over the world.


  1. Wow! I didn't know Bulgaria was known for roses. They're beautiful. Thanks for posting the lovely photographs.

  2. How wonderful to live in a country that loves the rose!

  3. Beautiful! I had no idea! Thanks for the mini education! :O)

  4. As a Bulgarian, I am really glad that foreigners value our culture and traditions! We are really proud with the rose oil and we want the world to know about our richness and beautiful culture! Thank you for the awesome article!

    Best wishes from Bulgaria,

  5. I have some Bulgarian rose oil in my cabinet. I knew about it because I read a lot about roses - particularly antique ones - and I always grow roses in my garden. I would love to visit Bulgaria during the rose festival some day.

  6. I love learning about nations that are totally unfamiliar to me. This article adds to my wonder about the world. A beautiful reminder that I have much yet to see.

  7. Wow! Thanks for this great piece of trivia and the beautiful rose photos. No wonder you were inspired!

  8. I enjoyed your article on roses. They are one of my favourite flowers AND I may come across some when I go to Bulgaria next May!