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Aerial view of the Southern Gate.

Hisarya (Хисаря, pronounced hi-SAH-ryah) is a health resort in Central Bulgaria, famous for its hot mineral springs and the Roman ruins in its heart. It's one of the oldest and largest balneotherapy resorts in Bulgaria, and probably the most famous one; it produces one of the most well-known brands of bottled mineral water in the country, dating back to the Communist era (1958). It's a small town (population of 6.5 thousand) nested in a mountain valley in the Sredna Gora range, 170 km (110 mi) east of the capital Sofia, 45 km (28 mi) north of Plovdiv and 26 km (16 mi) south-west of Karlovo.


There are 22 mineral water springs in Hisarya - 16 natural and 6 artificial (boreholes), with temperatures ranging 24–49 °C (75–120 °F). Their waters are alkaline, with low mineralisation (170-275 mg/l). The water of the Momina Banya spring contains low amounts of the radioactive gas radon (Rn, element 86) - 165 Eman/l, or 16,500 picocuries/l.


The name of the town originates from the Roman ruins: "hisar" is the Turkish word for "fortress" (a borrowing from Arabic), but with a Bulgarian definitive suffix (-ya) - "the Hisar". Confusingly, the use of the suffix is inconsistent - it's sometimes dropped even on road signs and in official documents (Хисар). The name is sometimes also spelled with a double S to make the correct pronunciation more clear - Hissarya, Hissar.


The hot springs have attracted people there since prehistoric ages. Archaeologists have found remnants from a settlement dating back to the Late Neolithic Age (5th millennium BCE). In later times, the Thracians settled the area, which was conquered by the Roman Empire in the first century CE. The settlement grew into a city, which was destroyed by the Goths in the 3rd century, then rebuilt and fortified with thick walls in the 4th century. The exact name of the town hasn't been positively identified (e.g. by finding an inscription), but possible names mentioned in ancient sources include Augustae, Sevastopolis, and Diocletianopolis ("City of Diocletian", afer the Roman emperor of that name), with indirect evidence suggesting the last option as the most probable. After the Empire split, the town remained a part of the Byzantine Empire until it was conquered by the First Bulgarian Empire in the 8th century. The fortress was likely destroyed during the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans in the 14th century.

Settlements in the area start appearing again in historical record in the 17th century. While in Hissarya the population was mainly Turkish, in the nearby villages Verigovo and Momina Banya (now quarters of the town) there lived enthusiastic Bulgarians who took an active part in the fight against the Ottoman rule. In 1868 Vassil Levski founded a revolutionary committee in Verigovo, 15 members of who took part in The Grand People’s Gathering at Oborishte. The village rose in rebellion against the Turkish rule in April 1876 together with other villages in the area, but it was devastated when the April Uprising was suppressed - the village was burnt down, many people were slaughtered, others sent on exile to Cyprus Island, some were driven away.

After the Liberation War, the place remained within Eastern Rumelia, but its potential as a health resort was recognized by the government even before the Unification. In 1942, the villages of Hisar and Momina Banya were merged, and the settlement received town status in 1964 under its modern name. Later, the nearby villages of Verigovo and Miromir were added to the town as outlying neighbourhoods in 1971.

Get in[edit]

Map of Hisarya

By train[edit]

Hisarya is the end point of a short branch line that splits off the Karlovo-Plovdiv line, which in turn is a secondary line that connects the Sub-Balkan Railway in the north and the main lines passing through Plovdiv in the south. This means that reaching Hisarya requires changing trains at the split-off station (Dolna Mahala), but the schedules are synchronized to reduce waiting to a minimum. From either Karlovo or Plovdiv, the trip lasts 70-75 min. Both the station's sign and BDZ's website call the station just Hisar (Хисар).

As of the summer of 2024, you can disregard the above: the shuttle train to Hisarya is suspended due to the ongoing renovations at Sofia Central Station. The train normally serving the line was transferred to Sofia to ferry passengers between Sofia Central and Sofia North. Renovations are expected to last at least a year.

  • 1 Railway Station (north of the ruins, north-west of the town centre). Small, old building (mid-20th century?), with an interesting column supporting the canopy.

By bus[edit]

  • 2 Bus Station (Avtogara, Автогара) (almost immediately south of the railway station). Several daily buses from Plovdiv and some of the neighbouring villages, including Starosel (see below). According to old information, the ticket office works until 15:00, afterwards and Sa Su tickets must be purchased from the bus driver.

By car[edit]

Road 642 splits off from and then merges back into Road 64, which runs north-south and connects Karlovo and Plovdiv. In both cases, the exit is to the west side of Road 64. Hisarya is 24 km (15 mi) from Karlovo/Sopot and 45 km (28 mi) from Plovdiv.

Get around[edit]

Hisarya is a small, mostly flat town, and most of the points of interest are concentrated in a relatively small area. Public transport does exit - three bus lines connect the outlaying neighborhoods to the central part of the town.


One of the preserved pools in the Thermae

The ruins[edit]

The walls of the Roman city encompass a roughly rectangular area, 630 by 480 metres (690 by 520 yd), approx. 30 hectares (74 acres); in places, they have been preserved up to a height of 11 m (36 ft). The fortifications included 44 towers and four main gates, one for each cardinal direction, but only the southern and western gates are relatively well-preserved. In addition to the various ruins, the area within the walls contains a park with mineral water drinking fountains and a sizable modern residential area.

  • 1 Archaeology Museum. Archaeological museum of Hisarya (Q115142060) on Wikidata
  • 2 "Naked woman" fountain. A modern fountain with a statue of a nude woman, in the middle of a park. Immediately south of it there's a decorated colonnade (built 1960) with a mineral water drinking fountain hooked to the Momina Salza spring. Further along the alleys to the south there's another, smaller fountain with a boy with a ewer, and then the ruins of the Thermae.
  • 3 Roman Thermae (Baths). Hisarya Roman Thermae (Q114815607) on Wikidata
  • 4 Southern Gate (The Camels) (Ivan Vazov Blvd passes right through it). The southern gate of the fortress is the most imposing one and a symbol of Hisarya. The two "humps" at its top are the source of the nickname. Only the topmost part of the arch (between the "humps") is a restoration. Category:South gate, Hisarya (Q115127604) on Wikidata
  • 5 Momina Salza spring. The location of the mineral spring itself, with a drinking fountain on top. The name means literally "tear of a maiden", but it's also the Bulgarian name of the flower lily of the valley.
  • 6 Roman Tomb (pedestrian alley leading south from the south-western corner of the walls). An underground Roman family tomb outside of the walls, open for visitors. Roman tomb (Q105394781) on Wikidata

Sights, parks, mineral drinking fountains[edit]

  • 7 Tourist Information Center (east of the ruins, crossroads of Vasil Petrovich Str and General Gurko Blvd.). At the corner of the building it shares with the "Ivan Vazov" community center (chitalishte). There are a couple of amusing exhibits inside, including several kinds of hisarche ewers (хисарче, "little thing from Hisar(ya)"). These were decorative ceramic vessels for mineral water, made for the visitors of the resort - people would fill them from the springs to drink the water throughout their day, and then keep them as souvenirs. Unsurprisingly, the increased availability of plastic bottles ended that tradition. In front of the Center there's a small garden with benches, a fountain and a "giant" chess board; right across the street there's a selfie-friendly "HISARYA" sign at the corner of the Momina Banya Park.
  • 8 Water-Drinking Pavilion (east of the Information Centre, along Vasil Petrovich Str). Another ornate mineral water drinking fountain with a small statue of a woman. Supplied from Borehole #3, contains radon.
  • 9 Momina Banya spring (and park). The drinking fountain is in the middle of the park with the same name ("maiden's bath"), which should not be confused with the neighborhood to the north-east. In the park, there's a playground, an open-air gym, and a bust of Vasil Levski.

Outside of town[edit]

  • 10 Verigovo cross and St. George Chapel (2 km (1.2 mi) north-northwest of the railway station). A large white cross on the small height overlooking the Verigovo Quarter (the part of Hisarya north of the railway station). There's also a chapel and a roofed picnic bench with a view of Verigovo and the rest of the town.
  • 11 Momina Banya cross (3 km (1.9 mi) north-east of the tourist information center). A large white cross on the small height overlooking the Momina Banya Quarter (north-east of the central part of town, along Road 642/Hristo Botev Blvd). There's a small observation deck and picnic shelter with a fireplace.


  • Fishing Pond - common carp, caracian carp, silver carp, catfish
  • Motocross track


In addition to the hotels' spa and pool facilities (see below), there's also a number of standalone pools and baths.


Hisarya lies at the base of the south-eastern slopes/foothills of the Proper (Central) Sredna Gora range (Sashtinska Sredna Gora), on the west side of the gap separating the central range from Sarnena Gora (Eastern Sredna Gora). There are a couple of spots suitable for short hikes or picnics outside of Hisarya - the crosses mentioned in § See - but as they are used primarily by the locals, the footpaths leading to them are not particularly well marked and may not show up even in OpenStreetMap.

More serious hikes involve venturing deeper west into the woods of Sredna Gora, multi-hour stages and altitudes of more than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above sea level, so prepare accordingly. The Communist-era hiking infrastructure in Sredna Gora has been in decline for decades, and few of the mountain huts remain in operation; the 2008 economic crisis and COVID-19 haven't been kind to modern enterprises either. Due to the inconsistent (or non-existent in the first place) trail markings, using a map and a GPS-enabled device is a must. Online map sources: OpenStreetMap and (online map zoomed in on Fenera Peak; downloadable maps for Garmin with Latin place names). There's also a paper hiking map of Sredna Gora in 1:50,000 scale published by Domino in 2016 (red cover, title on yellow rectangles; allegedly in Bulgarian and English, but mostly in Bulgarian; information about any businesses is probably obsolete).



  • 1 Garden Restaurant Chinar (Ресторант "Чинар"), 17 Augusta Str (inside the Roman walls, 200 metres (220 yd) south down the street from the train station). 11:00-23:00. Restaurant with additional seating area in a garden/yard across the street and some amusing decorations (early 20th century/pseudo Ancient Rome). "Chinar" means "plane tree" (Platanus orientalis).


  • The water from local mineral springs is bottled under the brand name ХИСАР (HISSAR).


Being a resort town, Hisarya has a disproportionate number of hotels and other lodgings.

Spa hotels[edit]

  • 1 Spa Hotel Hissar, 1 General Gurko Blvd, . Check-in: after 15:00, check-out: until 12:00. A four-star hotel with many amenities (and prices to match), one of the largest in Hisarya. There's a "normal" and a "deluxe" wing, with difference in free services included. Indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, etc. Two restaurants (one with panoramic views) and two bars. Room prices depend on the day of the week and other factors, various package deals are available. In the "normal" wing, breakfast only: single (+child): 170-230 лв, double: 190-250 лв, studio (1-4 people): 270-330 лв, family room (2-4): 310-380 лв..

Just hotels[edit]

  • 2 ApartHotel Astoria, 35 Vasil Levski Str. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Two-star apartment hotel. In an apartment: max 4 people, double bed, living room with a sofa bed, kitchenette, and a balcony with a view of the mountain (and the new town stadium). Breakfast not included, but it can be ordered separately. Free parking, free WiFi, etc. Children 6 and younger stay free. 2 people: 80 лв, 3 people: 98 лв, 4 people: 118 лв..

Camping and mountain huts[edit]

  • Fenera Hut (peak, Thracian ruins)



The former village of Miromir, now an outlaying neighborhood, is one of the few Roman Catholic enclaves in Bulgaria, and has a functioning church.

  • 1 Sts. Peter and Paul Church (2 km (1.2 mi) south-east of the South Gate of the ruins, in Miramir)). Built in 1882. (Q28790477) on Wikidata



Starosel is a large village (pop. 900) 21 km (13 mi) west of Hisarya (along Road 6061, which splits off Road 642 south of Hisarya). It's notable for several Thracian ruins nearby, as well as for being the starting point of a marked hiking trail that reached Fenera Peak (see § Hiking). Starosel can be reached by buses starting at Hisarya's bus station.

  • 12 Horizont Tomb (2 km (1.2 mi) north-west of Starosel, along the road leading to Starosel Vinery). Excavated in 2002. Thracian burial mound with a colonnade in front of the tomb dating to 4th century BCE. Don't expect too much. Thracian Tomb near Starosel (Q12298139) on Wikidata
  • 13 Thracian Cult Complex (Chetinyova Mogila) (4 km (2.5 mi) north-west of Starosel, i.e. further along the same road.). Sep-Apr: 9:00-17:00; May-Aug: 9:00-20:00. A group of several tombs and temples centered around the large tumulus tomb (Chetinyova Mogila) of a ruler, dating back to 4-5th centuries BCE. One of the 100 National Tourism Sites of Bulgaria. Adults: 4 лв, students/pensioners: 1 лв. Thracian Cult Complex (Starosel) (Q6153793) on Wikidata

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Hisarya is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.