Stara Zagora (Стара Загора) is a city in Northern Thrace, Bulgaria. It is the centre of booming industry, having a remarkable culture, and numerous tourist attractions. The beauty of the city of linden continues to be an appealing destination for travellers. Don't miss the Roman Villa Mosaics, the Neolithic Dwellings, the Regional Art Gallery, and the countless coffee-shops and art-galleries, which give the city the feeling of a small Paris.
Stara Zagora is the centre of the Stara Zagora province. With over 8000 years of history, it is one of the oldest continuously populated places in Europe.
Geography and climate
Situated almost in the geographical centre of Bulgaria, Stara Zagora is linked with major roads and railroads to the rest of the country and the neighboring Turkey, Greece and Romania. In less than 4 hours drive, you can be in all these three countries by very decent roads.
Sheltered from the north winds by the mountains of Sredna Gora and the Balkans, Stara Zagora enjoys very mild winters, long springs and falls. Thanks to the big amount of trees, the summers in the city are sufferable and not very hot, with specific micro-climate. The rich soils and its geographical situation were the main reason behind the 8000 years
In the city limits of today Stara Zagora, the place has been continuously inhabited since the Neolithic era (over 8000 years ago) through the times of the Thracians, to achieve its glory in the past during the Roman times. Then the city was called Augusta Traiana and it was one of the most prominent cities in the Roman Province of Thrace. Huge avenues, covered with marble slabs, lined with statues, and a large amount of archaeological artifacts remain from this period, including the Roman Walls and Gate of the city, mosaics and the Roman Forum.
During the centuries to follow, the city was called Beroe, Irinopolis, Eski Zagra and finally – Stara Zagora (old city behind the mountain). Just before the liberation from the Ottoman Empire, the city was burned 3 times in the late 1800s and there is not too much left to see from the medieval or Bulgarian National Revival buildings. The exceptions are the few churches and monasteries within the city limits, as well as a 15th-century Ottoman mosque with amazing frescoes, declared now a National Monument of Culture.
After its rebuilding in the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Stara Zagora became one of the few Bulgarian cities build on grid. This was also the time that the large boulevards and small streets were lined up with linden trees, giving the city the aroma of late spring perfume so enchanting in the beginning of June.
Stara Zagora was also called the city of “poets” since many Bulgarian poets were born, spend their lives and created amazing poetry here, in the inspiring surroundings of one of the most prominent cultural centers in Bulgaria. Stara Zagora also has the first Opera House built outside of Sofia, one of the oldest telephone communication systems and the first robotics plant in Bulgaria.
Now it continues to be the center for prosperous cultural life, and important industrial and agricultural center.
Situated almost in the geographical center of Bulgaria, Stara Zagora is linked with major roads and railroads to the rest of the country and the neighboring Turkey, Greece, and Romania. In less than 4 hours drive, you can be in all these three countries by very decent roads.
Local airport accessible for small private planes.
- From Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, take the Trakia expressway.
- From Burgas, on the Black Sea Coast, take the Trakia expressway.
- From Istanbul, Turkey, take the highway via Edirne, and Svilengrad, which is a good highway.
- From Rousse, in North Bulgaria, take the highways crossing Shipka or Haimboise Passes.
Buslines link Stara Zagora with all cities in Bulgaria and almost all towns and some of the villages. Regular lines every hour or half an hour from/to Sofia, Plovdiv, Haskovo, Bourgas, Sliven, Veliko Tarnovo, Rousse, Varna, etc.
- Regional Museum of History, 42 Ruski, Blvd.. One of the richest museums in the Balkans, when it comes to number and significance of its artifacts. The largest and the most preserved Neolithic art collection, the collection of Roman glass, the collection of Thracian chariots, the antique bronze collection and the artifacts of the Roman city of Augusta Trajana give to the museum one of the most significant places among the European museums.
With a history of more than eight millennia, the region of Stara Zagora continues to give to scientists and lovers of history the pleasure of new archaeological and historical finds. Unearthed almost on a daily basis, these artifacts are making the headlines around the world. Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History continues to be a scientific center for research and preservation of 130,000 precious objects from all periods of the human history in South Eastern Europe. The museum is also a center for enlightenment, entertainment, and enjoyment of the region’s rich cultural heritage for more than 100 years.
- Neolithic Dwellings Museum, Armeyska Street, 20, ☏ . Tu-Sa 09:00-12:00, 12:30-17:00. Created in 1979, the museum "Neolithic Dwellings" of Stara Zagora hosts one of the most important prehistoric art exhibitions in Europe. It was built around 2 Neolithic houses (dwellings) dating back to the 6th millennium BC.
During the excavation of the Neolithic houses, 1826 artifacts were found. The houses are the best-preserved in Europe from this period. Kitchens, fireplaces, hand grain mills, and ceramic vessels comprise the richest inventory of VI Millennia prehistoric house life in Europe.
The Prehistoric Art Exhibition hosts 333 of the most important finds from the Neolithic, Eneolithic, and Chalcolitic periods (6th millennium BC – 3rd millennium BC).
- Samarsko Zname Monument.
There are many shops in the central street of Stara Zagora. Buying rose water and rose oil would be a great idea. You can buy small handmade metal and wooden gifts and souvenirs.
Diary products like kashkaval cheese and the local white cheese (sirene). Also honey and forest products like walnuts and mushrooms, very cheap and delicious.
There are plenty of options, from local restaurants to luxury restaurants around Zagorka Lake. Generally, restaurants offer Bulgarian-style food and international food.
- Hotel Zheleznik (facing the bus station), ☏ . лв44 for a single or double room as of March 2010.
- Hotel Деэин Тегра Тор (Desintegrator) (behind the Стаза petrol station; take to your left for some 200 m when exiting from the bus station). лв36 for a single or double room as of March 2010.
Stara Zagora is a very safe city, even for late night walks, or coming back from a bar or a dance club.