Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

Travel Guide to Stara Zagora Bulgaria

Located in southern Bulgaria, Stara Zagora is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria. In the shadows of the Sredna Gora Mountain, Stara Zagora offers beautiful views of the mountain. Winters are mild and summers are warm, yet not overly humid. The temperate climate allows many crops to thrive.

Nicknamed "The Town of Limes," Stara Zagora's streets are lined with fragrant lime trees. These trees delight many tourists. These trees are actually Linden trees; they produce lime blossoms, but not the actual fruit. Linden flowers and the bark are grown for their medicinal qualities in treating many ailments from gout to anxiety.

  • Province: Stara Zagora
  • Population:163,193 (Year 2005)
  • Altitude: 196 Metres
  • Postcode: 6000
  • Area Code: 042
  • Geographic Coordinates: 42° 26' North, 25° 39' East
History

There are artifacts that prove the area was settled as early as 6 B.C. Many historic sites can still be seen on the outskirts of the city's borders. In that period, Thracians called the area Beroe (śiron) thanks to the ample supplies of iron and copper ore. The area became one of the largest mining regions.

When the Romans took over, they renamed the city Trajan in honour of their current emperor. They continued mining and the city thrived.

In the 8th century, the Byzantine armies opted to reinforce all of the old Roman fortifications. Now called Irinipolis, the Byzantine people worried their city would fall to Bulgarian attacks. Instead, the Bulgarians were handed Irinipolis as a reward for helping fight the Arab invaders. Bulgarians renamed the area Boruy and thrived until Ottoman invaders took control in 1371. Eventually the name was changed to Zheleznik, by Bulgarians who had finally regained control.

In the late 19th century, the city was renamed Stara Zagora, not that it would matter. During the Liberation, the city was burned to the ground. In 1879, restoration of the city began. Rebuilding meant that the buildings had to be contemporary designs. Stara Zagora is Bulgaria's first modern contemporary town following the Liberation.

Site Seeing

Nature enthusiasts will want to spend time at one of the area lakes. Ezeroto and Zagorka Lakes both offer boat rentals, fishing, and some water sports. There are picnic areas and trails.

More than 940 acres await tourists at Ayazmo Park. The park is home to trees, flowers, playgrounds, hiking trails, and a sports complex. There is even an open-air theatre and zoo. It's easy to spend an entire day at Ayazmo Park.

Shoppers have two key areas of attraction. They can head to Tzar Simeon Veliki where many boutiques, restaurants, and bars line both sides. A pedestrian walkway has many outdoor cafes. Also, check out Central Market. This open-air market has stands for just about everything under the sun. Vendors sell breads, honey, pastries, cheese, fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and crafts.

The Bereketsa Mound dates back to 6 B.C. The burial mound is 17 metres high and 250 metres in diameter. Nearby are also the ruins of two Neolithic dwellings. There are artifacts on display as well as the preserved furnishings and ovens.

A short drive from Stara Zagara, in Mechi Kladenetz, you can find Europe's oldest copper mines. The eleven mines date back to 5 B.C. and partially finished products are on display.

In the old Roman area, there is an ancient forum left over from that era. The amphitheater offers impressive architectural detail. Walls of the old fortress still stand in some areas. One remaining gate is also available for touring to the south. Tours are available.

Geo Milev is a famous Bulgarian poet who lived in Stara Zagora. His house and gardens are open to the public. Inside the home, guests will find a collection of photographs and some of his writing samples.

In the city centre stands a 19th century house that is now a museum. The museum offers items representing life for a resident of Stara Zagora in the late 19th century. Furnishings, kitchen items, and decor from the 1800s are all on display.

Accommodation

A wide array of lodging establishments can be found in and around Stara Zagora. Hotels can be large or small, often family run, and there are even a few spas that prove to be extremely relaxing!

The three-star Art Hotel is located in the middle of Stara Zagora. The hotel offers three apartments, three suites, and six double rooms. Rooms are well equipped with telephones, cable television, minibars, internet connections, and secure parking lots.

Electrotherapy is popular at The Augusta Trayana Hotel. Fifteen double rooms and three flats await travellers. The hotel offers many spa treatments, including paraffin wax treatments.

Dedov Hotel has eight double rooms and two suites. All rooms are soundproofed (not common in hotels) and have minibars, cable television, and private bathrooms.

Ezeroto Hotel is ten years old and can house 24 guests. The facility offers two in-house restaurants that feature traditional Bulgarian cuisine in one and continental cuisine in the other.

The Grodi Hotel's big draw is the indoor and outdoor swimming pools that are filled by one of the area's hot mineral springs. Spa treatments and massages are available for a reasonable fee. The hotel has 60 rooms and 5 suites.

Recently renovated, Hijata Hotel is located inside the glorious Ayazmo Park. The hotel can handle 30 guests. There is a sauna on the premises.

Hotel Char is located near Ayazmo Park. The outside gardens are perfect for quiet mornings. The hotel's restaurant is located near the gardens and serves traditional Bulgarian fare.

Maritsa East Rest House is located approximately 15 kilometres from the city centre in the Stara Zagora Spa Village. There are 26 double rooms, 37 triple rooms, and 7 suites, all with telephones, refrigerators, and televisions. For an additional charge, guests can receive sauna and massage treatments.

Slantse has 28 hotel rooms and 6 suites. The Bulgarian Mechana restaurant serves wonderful regional fare. The hotel specializes in mineral water treatments.

Tangra is the city’s newest hotel. With six double rooms and five suites, the hotel specializes in business travel. All rooms have satellite television, minibars, and business hook-ups (computer, fax, etc.) There is a restaurant with garden patio seating.

Uniqato is a three-star hotel located in a quiet neighborhood. The hotel is well equipped for business travellers.

The city's largest hotel, Vereya Hotel, is located in the middle of the city. The hotel can hold 150 guests and has a conference room large enough for 50 people.

The Zagore Hotel offers 12 double rooms, 20 triple rooms, and 2 apartments. The hotel has mineral water treatment rooms to help lessen or cure many ailments.

Industry

Stara Zagora has a handful of thriving industries. The area has two large corporations that build food processing or metal processing machinery. These machines are then exported to many European countries. A number of food processing plants are also located in Stara Zagora. These plants produce meat and dairy products, soda, honey, flour, and sunflower oil (the most popular oil in Bulgaria).

DZU is Bulgaria's largest technology company. This company creates magnetic and optic devices. For this reason, the company employs high numbers of electrical and technical engineers.

Maritza-East Complex is located in Stara Zagora. This power plant provides over 30% of all of Bulgaria's electricity.

Thanks to the dense forests in the Sredna Gora Mountains, many furniture companies are located in Stara Zagora. Mebel, IKEA, Trayana Plast, and the Association of Wood-Processing and Furniture, all have manufacturing plants in the Stara Zagora region.

Bulgaria is the largest cigarette manufacturer, Slantze-BT, operates out of Stara Zagora. The fertile soil allows tobacco to grow well and abundantly.

Bulgaria’s most popular beer, Zagorka, has its brewery right in Stara Zagora. The brewery produces large quantities of this tasty beer every year. Also in the area are Noviko and Menada wineries and Chirpan, a company specializing in champagne.

Gastronomy

Beer and wine play an important part in Stara Zagora's culture. Zagorka is the most popular beer in Bulgaria, and as it is locally brewed, you can find it on tap in the area's bars and restaurants. Chirpan is also made locally, so definitely sample some of this locally made champagne.

Bulgarian cuisine is a blend of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Arabic styles. Typically, a wide array of meats and vegetables are roasted, baked in a clay pot, or grilled. Bread is important to Bulgaria. The country eats more bread per year than any other European country. Breads are rustic/crusty outside and soft inside. Nothing is more satisfying than freshly made Bulgarian bread.

One of the area's hottest restaurants has to be Ralitza. This restaurants wine list, over 300 selections, will take time to peruse. Sample the area's wines while deciding on your meal!

Nightlife

A vast array of bars and cafes line the city streets. With local wineries and Bulgaria’s largest brewery, cold, refreshing beers and impeccable wines are always available for a reasonable amount of money.

In the nearby Stara Zagora Spa Village, many nightclubs offer dancing. Residents are friendly with the tourists and usually go out of their way to suggest the best places in both the city and the spa village. Be sure to check the local papers for live concerts.

Summary

Thanks to the delicious local foods, many tourists discover this hidden gem and come back frequently. The mix of smells, sights, and sounds blend magically with a huge array of activities causing Stara Zagora to be one of Bulgaria’s most interesting destinations. Don’t miss your chance to experience Stara Zagora! Add this destination to your itinerary today!