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Celebrating Bulgaria

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Issue 26

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Bulgarian Rose Oil and the Festival of Roses

Desislava Dragomirova is a student in journalism at Shumen University in Shumen Bulgaria.

Rose Dance in the Rose Festival
Photo: Erik Wiley
Each year on the first weekend in June, during the harvest, there is a Festival of Roses in Kazanlak with a parade and many performances.

 

Bulgaria is famous for its roses, and produces about 85 percent of all the rose oil in the world.

Rose oil is called ‘liquid gold’ because of its great value, and is used in making perfumes, soaps, cosmetics, chocolates, and even some kinds of jam and liqueur.

The first records about cultivating roses on Bulgarian land go back many centuries. What is called the Rose Valley developed in the area between the cities of Kazanlak and Karlovo in central Bulgaria.

The roses seem to love the soil and climate there. The rose is the most important plant grown in Bulgaria, and we could be called the ‘country of the roses.’ The rose plantations in the Rose Valley are the largest in the world.

Much of the population in the Rose Valley works in some way in the rose industry. In Bulgaria, we produce rose oil, rose water, rose concentrate and other products. Rose oil has an exquisite aroma, and is used in high-quality perfumes produced in many countries. The main flower grown is the Kazanlak rose (rosa damascena), which is famous around the world.

The oil is prepared by a process of distillation. Each flower is picked by hand, and you need 3,000 kilos to make one kg of rose oil. That means about 30 blossoms for just one tiny drop of oil. So you can understand why it is so expensive.

Desislava Dragomirova
Desislava Dragomirova is the author of this article.



Each year on the first weekend in June, during the harvest, there is a Festival of Roses in Kazanlak with a parade and many performances. Judges choose the Queen of Roses in a beauty pageant as part of the summer festival. After her coronation, she rewards the most skillful pickers of roses in the harvest.

This festival is an old tradition and goes back more than a century. Today it also includes an International Folklore Festival and attracts many tourists.

Tourists can also visit the Rose Museum and many archeological sites in the Rose Valley dating from the very ancient kingdom of Thrace (4th century B.C.) The festival ends with a carnival procession through the Kazanlak streets at noon and a concert in the evening. There are also rose festivals in Karlovo and other towns. Come to see and enjoy!


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