Atlas Obscura destinations in and around Stara Zagora

The unexpected and obscure sites of Bulgaria

Written by Adriána Čigášová, edited by Scott Green, photos by Adriána Čigášová and Kristina Petkova

What some people would call weird or obscure, others find fascinating, and works of art – these are the sites of Atlas Obscura. They can be found in almost every country, and Bulgaria is no exception with ample to be found throughout this land. We will present you with a series of articles about the most interesting sites, starting a little unusually – from the middle of the country in the province of Stara Zagora.

Buzludzha Monument
Built in 1981, the Buzludzha monument was meant to be a symbol of communist Bulgaria. Yet along with the fall of communism in the country, the fall of the monument followed. Nowadays, since it has been exposed to elements for years, it can’t be compared to its previous look. However, even in this current ruined state it still attracts people from all around the world who are fascinated by its ufo-like appearance, breath-taking view, and architecture incorporating both ancient and futuristic elements. Currently, entering the monument is prohibited and therefore the interior, decorated with detailed mosaics, stays hidden from the eyes of tourists. Fortunately, an initiative of Dora Ivanova and her Buzludzha project is trying to restore the monument and bring it closer to its previous form. You can learn more from our previous article.

Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak
An incredibly well-preserved masterpiece of Thracian artwork, the Thracian tomb of Kazanlak was discovered by coincidence. When in 1944 soldiers dug a hole, they hit a stone wall, broke it, and found themselves in a corridor and then in a round vaulted room. It was at that moment they realized that they witnessed something unique. Archaeologists found ceramic and ritual vessels, pieces of gold ornaments, silver jugs, and much more. It became famous also because of wall frescoes with murals depicting key parts of life at that time – battle scenes, feasts, horsemen with their characteristic clothing and weapons as well as Thracian burial rituals. Even though the original tomb is closed to the public, visitors can admire the domed burial chamber in a replica just next to the original one.

Rose Museum in Kazanlak
Who would have thought that in the small town of Kazanlak you can find something as unique as the only rose museum in the world! But on the other hand, can you imagine a better place for a museum dedicated to this oil-yielding plant? Kazanlak is not just the center of Rose Valley, it also hosts one of the most attractive festivals in Bulgaria every year. The Rose Festival has been celebrated since 1903, always the first weekend of June, when Kazanlak rose blooms. Regarding the museum, it contains more than 15 000 exhibits related to rose-picking and production, as well as documents detailing its history. It is open daily from 9:00 to 17:30 and visitors can also purchase rose products like cosmetics, rose jam, soaps, and other rose-related souvenirs in the museum shop. For more information about the Rose Museum, and what to see in and around Kazanlak, you can read our previous article where we explore this fascinating area.

Defenders of Stara Zagora Memorial Complex
Also known as Samarsko Zname, the monument depicts the 50-meter structure of the Samara flag – one of the most important military symbols of Bulgaria. Under the flag, sculptures of a Russian officer along with six Bulgarian volunteers stand guard. These six Bulgarians represent six units that joined Russians in the battle of July 31, 1877, during the Russo-Turkish War. Even though the Russian-Bulgarian front could not beat the far superior Turkish force, the complex commemorates those admirable men, who perished for the liberation of the city. If you want to visit this impressive stone and steel monument, you have to climb a hundred stairs, symbolizing exactly a hundred years between the heroic battle and solemn inauguration of the monument in 1977. Today, this symbol of Stara Zagora belongs to one of the largest monuments in Bulgaria.

We hope you enjoyed this little tour of hidden gems in the heart of Bulgaria and stay tuned for more obscure and intriguing Atlas Obscura sites!

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