Thracian royal tombs in the Rose Valley in and around Kazanlak (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
The single-day trip to the Thracian tombs in and near Kazanlak in the
Rose Valley and Kazanlak Museum of History.
Kazanlak, a Bulgarian town in Stara Zagora Province, located in the middle of the plain of the same name, at the foot of the Balkan mountain range, at the eastern end of the Rose Valley. It is the administrative center of the homonymous Kazanlak Municipality. It is the center of rose oil extraction in Bulgaria and the oil-producing rose of Kazanlak is one of the most widely recognizable national symbols. The oldest settlement in the area of the modern-day city dates back to the Neolithic era (6th-5th millennium BCE).
During the 4th-3rd centuries BCE the lands on the upper Tundzha river were within the dominion of the Thracian ruler Seuthes III and took an important place in the historical development of Thrace during the Hellenistic era. The Thracian city of Seuthopolis was uncovered near Kazanlak and thoroughly studied at the time of the construction of the Koprinka Reservoir. In the 4th century BCE, near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis and close to the city, a magnificent Thracian tomb was built. Consisting of a vaulted brickwork "beehive" (tholos) tomb, it contains, among other things, painted murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
The Valley of the Thracian Rulers is a popular name which was made public by the archaeologist Georgi Kitov and describes the extremely high concentration and variety of monuments of the Thracian culture in the Kazanlak Valley. It is believed that there are over 1500 funeral mounds in the region, with only 300 being researched so far. The excursion will take you to Ostrusha, Shushmanets and Kosmatka. In the summer of 2004, a team of Bulgarian archaeologists unearthed a large, intact Thracian mausoleum dating back from the 5th century BCE near the Bulgarian town of Shipka, Kazanlak municipality. The temple was buried under the 20-metre (66 ft) high “Golyamata Kosmatka” mound. "This is probably the richest tomb of a Thracian king ever discovered in Bulgaria. Its style and its making are entirely new to us as experts," said Georgi Kitov, the head of the team. The Kosmatka Tomb represents a remarkable Thracian heroon built accordingly to the Orphic traditions of the end of the 5th or beginning of the 4th century BCE. Serving also as a symbolic tomb of Seuthes III, it contained an enormous treasure, exhibited now in the Iskra Museum and Art Gallery. More than 70 silver, gold and bronze objects, which were used as ritual offering to the gods, were discovered during the excavations. The temple was used between the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 3rd century BCE, when a symbolic burial ceremony of Seuthes III took place, the famous founder of the Thracian city of Seuthopolis, located only 10 km (6.2 mi) away. After the symbolic burial ceremony, the temple was closed and the entrance sealed and buried.
The trip includes visits to the Museum of History of Kazanlak and the Thracian tomb (UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Kazanlak, the village of Starosel, as well as the Thracian monumental tombs of Kosmatka, Ostrusha and Shushmanets.