Stara Zagora and Environs

Stara Zagora and Environs   

Stara Zagora (170,000 inhabitants) is located in the central part of Southern Bulgaria (Upper Thracia). It is situated in the fertile Thracian plain at the foothills of the Sredna Gora Mountain, 197 m above sea level. The climate of the town is temperate but under Mediterranean influence with hot summers and mild winters.

Major roads pass across the town:

  • from Sofia and Plovdiv to Burgas;
  • from Bucharest (Romania) - Ruse (Bulgaria) – Veliko Tarnovo to Alexandroupolis (Greece) and Istanbul (Turkey);
  • Eurocorridor 8: Italy– Albania– Macedonia – Bulgaria – Caucasian countries;
  • Eurocorridor 9: Finland – Russia – Ukraine – Moldova – Romania – Bulgaria – Greece.

You may reach Stara Zagora from:

  • Sofia (220 km) - the capital of Bulgaria and an international airport by bus, train or car (app. 3 hrs);
  • Plovdiv (90 km), the second largest Bulgarian city and the nearest international airport by bus, train or car (app. 1 hour);
  • Varna (290 km), the largest city on the Black Sea Coast, an international airport and a sea harbour by bus, train or car (app. 4 hrs);
  • Burgas (200 km), the second largest city on the Black Sea Coast, an international airport and a sea harbour by bus, train or car (app. 2 ½ hrs);
  • Russe (235 km), the largest Bulgarian city and an international river port on the Danube by bus, train or car (app. 4 ½ hrs).

The first inhabitants (seventh-sixth millennia BC) established five prehistoric settlements in the modern town area. Two dwellings from that period are preserved and may be visited in the Neolithic Dwellings’ Museum (in UNESCO’s heritage tentative list) – they are considered to be the best preserved dwellings from the New stone age in Europe. In addition, Bereketska mogila, one of Europe’s biggest prehistoric tells, is located here. One of the World’s earliest copper mines exploited in the fifth millennium BC is situated some 5 km. away from the town. In this region between the fifth and the fourth centuries BC and the second century AD, there was also a large Thracian town called Beroia. In AD 107, not far from Beroia, the Roman emperor Marcus Ulpius Trajan established the splendid city of Ulpia Augusta Traiana (nowadays under the Stara Zagora town center). Much of the Roman city's remains can be seen in the very centre of Stara Zagora: the forum of the antique city with the remains of an amphitheatre, city baths, fortification walls and gates, part of the main trading streets, aristocratic residential buildings with preserved floor mosaics, an early Christian martyrion and an Episcopal residence. The town survived the turbulence of the Migration Period but lost its Roman name and revived the Thracian one – Bero(i)e(a) (written also as Veroia, Vereia etc.). In AD 708 it was conquered by Bulgarians and in the Middle Ages, it frequently changed its position from one side to another of the shifting Bulgarian-Byzantine border. Its medieval Bulgarian name was Borui. Around the 1360s the town became part of Ottoman Empire and remained a part of the empire until the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878. During the Ottoman period, it was known under the Turkish name of Eski Zaara and the Bulgarian name Zheleznik. In 1871 the contemporary name of Stara Zagora was officially recognized. During the Russian-Turkish war of liberation (1877-1878) the town was set on fire by the Ottoman troops and was completely destroyed. Only half of the 30,000 inhabitants and 1 building (the Old mosque, built in 1409) survived this tragedy. The heroism of the town’s defenders is commemorated by the Samara’s Flag Memorial (the defenders’ major flag from 1877), which was built in the 1970s and is a large expression of “communist” contemporary art.

On the 5th of October 1879 the first foundation stone of the large-scale Stara Zagora restoration project was placed. With its completely new Hippodamic plan the town resembles the Hellenistic cities of antiquity. The Museum of the Nineteenth Century Town Life is a house that exhibits a rich collection of household belongings from this period. Although Stara Zagora lost its economic primacy in comparison with other towns at the beginning of the 20th century, it kept its position as a major cultural center with several theatres, a radio station (est.1932) and several active cultural institutions and associations such as the Historical Society and Museum (est. 1907).

The second half of the 20th century gave Stara Zagora stable industrial growth and cultural development due to Hi-Tech and power production. The town became a university center in the 1960s. The image of Stara Zagora is associated with shadowy summer streets covered by linden-trees, with a rich cultural life thanks to generations of famous artists and poets who were born or lived here, as well as the Cypress Hill of Ayazmoto.

The town offers all connections and services required for your pleasant stay as well as nice shopping areas, crowded streets with town cafes and attractive opportunities for nightlife and sports. You may find detailed tourist information about the town and region at:

The Starozagorski Bani - thermal bath resort is located in the vicinity of the town, among nice oaks, hazel bush and pine forests. The ruins around the public bath date back to Prehistoric (6th-4th millennia BC), Roman (3-4 century AD) and Ottoman (16-17 century AD) times. The town is also close to:   

  • Veliko Tarnovo (120 km) - an architectural jewel and the last medieval capital of Bulgaria (12-14 century AD).
  • World famous Valley of Roses and Thracian Kings (30 km). UNESCO heritage site.
  • Recently discovered great temples of Dionysus and Orpheus in the Rhodopi Mountains (90 km).      


Field Schools in this Region:         

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