Kazanlak and Shipka

Kazanlak is a small city in the wide valley on the Southern side of the Balkan mountains. Geographically, it is almost in the exact center of Bulgaria, three hours on a fast train from the capital, and about the same distance from the Black sea resort city of Burgas.

The valley is nicknamed Rose Valley for it being the center of Bulgarian rose oil industry. The vast fields of roses are blooming in the end of May and the first week of June is the time of the traditional Rose Harvest Festival, but Kazanlak definitely worth a visit other times of the year too.

I got here on Easter, in the second half of April, and the whole city was blooming in white. Many if not most trees lining the city streets are fruit trees and they were all covered in little white blossoms this time of the year. Kazanlakians seem to enjoy their status of the flower capital of the country — there is an abundance of seasonal flowers everywhere, both in public spaces and on private land.

Kazanlak is a compact, perfectly walk-able city with amazing (by Eastern European standards) bike infrastructure. There are even bike lanes leading outside of the city, through the fields of rose and lavender, all the way to the Shipka Pass.

Kazanlak city sign
Traditional Horo dance at the Seuthopolis square
Traditional Horo dance at the Seuthopolis square.
Lions-headed drinking fountain on the main square of the city
Lions' fountain at the Seuthopolis square.
Blooming fruit trees lining a narrow street
A small street in the city.
Apartment blocks along the central street
Abayata neighborhood.
Electric city bus
Electric city bus in Kazanlak.
A central street in Kazanlak
Rose Valley street.
One of the central streets in Kazanlak
Rose Valley street, next to the city hall.
Tipical residential housing in Kazanlak
Remains of the ancient Thracian tomb
Thracian tomb.
Entrance to the city park
Entrance to the city park.
Balkan mountains
The view on the Balkan mountains.

Shipka

There are two easy and well marked trails to the Liberty Memorial on top of the Shipka peak. One starts right behind the Shipka Memorial Temple in the town of Shipka (about 15 minutes on bus route №6 from Kazanlak) on the Southern slopes of the Balkan mountains. The other — next to the Ethnographic Complex Etar in the city of Gabrovo on the Northern slopes of the mountains. Both are marked white-green-white. The Northern one is a little bit easier, but the Southern is a little shorter.

Alexander II monument
Alexander II monument.
Old guns pointing towards Buzludzha peak
Old guns pointing towards Buzludzha peak.
Shipka monument
Shipka monument.
Shipka monument
Old guns pointing towards the Dzhendema
A flag pole and a gun infront of the Shipka monument
A scenic view from the mountain top
A brook in the mountains