Roses dominate both the scenery and local commerce in this region, which stretches between Kazanluk and Klissura about 55 mi/90 km to 125 mi/200 km east of Sofia.
Area villages not only export the flowers intact, but they use rosebuds to create medicine, liquor and even jams. Flowers are, in fact, Bulgaria's oldest industry and an important source of foreign currency. Stop and smell the roses in May and June, the best time to see them bloom. To see pickers at work, be sure to go early in the day—petals must be plucked between dawn and 8 am, before the dew dries.
A rose festival is held in Kazanluk, the Valley's main town, in June. There's also a rose festival in the towns of Karlovo, Kanchevo and Pavel Banya. Kazanluk also is home to the Iskra Museum and Art Gallery and the Kulata Ethnological Complex, which features tastings of locally made rose liquor. A magnificent excavated third-century BC Thracian tomb with beautiful frescoes also lies nearby in Tyulbe Park.
Shipka, some 7 mi/12 km north of Kazanluk, boasts the Shipka Memorial Church with golden domes. The drive over the 4,285-ft/1,300-m Shipka Pass is particularly beautiful.
Northwest of Kazanluk, the Troyan Monastery offers excellent frescoes. Closer in is the Dryanovo Monastery, site of an 1876 rebellion and home to a decent collection of icons.
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