03 August 2011

The Roses of Bulgaria

Almost as soon as we arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria (Tiho's birthplace), we road-tripped across the country for a week-long resort get-a-way on the Black Sea. I'll share all of those photos soon, but first I wanted to take you on a little tour of the Bulgarian Rose Museum, where we briefly stopped while driving through the Rose Valley.

Did you know that Bulgaria is the world's leading manufacturer of rose oil, producing and exporting to perfumeries all over the globe? The Bulgarian Rose Museum is located in the town of Kazanlak which sits at the foot of the Balkan Mountain range on the eastern end of the Rose Valley. 

The interior of the museum was small, but filled with interesting facts about the industry and the country's rich history of rose oil harvest. I loved the classic, original Bentwood chairs: mad style props to the Bulgarians!

We actually had the place to ourselves, as the season had already passed. The roses are celebrated with a lively, week-long festival in early June (we visited the first week of July). When Tiho's parents inquired about the rose season, a museum staffer scoffed and said, "Expecting to see roses in July is like expecting to find cherries in December!" She might have been grumpy but she let us tour the museum for free, so we didn't mind.

The landscape behind and around the museum took my breath away. These photos are quite indicative of the visual gorgeousness that characterizes the Bulgarian countryside.

The rose growth on the grounds may have been past its seasonal prime, but I still managed to find plenty of life.

Can you even imagine what it looks like when the whole place is in bloom? We didn't make it out to the rose fields, but I know I'll see them one day soon, because trips to Bulgaria will be frequent in our lifetime. I can't wait to take our own children there to learn about their culture. (Hooray for bilingual babies!)

I didn't buy any souvenirs at the museum but ended up purchasing a velvet-lined, hand-carved rose box when we were at the seaside later in the week. Out of all the goodies I brought back with us, this is one of my most treasured, mostly because it feels so authentically Bulgarian.


  1. beautiful, beautiful pics! It is so cool that you were able to combine Bulgaria with France! That rose box is gorgeous--is it for jewelry?


  2. I had no idea, and roses are very special to me, as my grandfather grew them. Lovely!

  3. yes to bilingual babies in such a big way :) a rose museum just seems like the most beautiful thing in the world. cant wait for future visits and images of everything in bloom! persians love rose water more than anything...its in the food, used as perfume, etc. i had no idea bulgaria was such a giant in the industry!

  4. Such an interesting post and supported with such pretty photographs, too.

  5. What a beautiful place to experience.

    I just happened to get a little something special in the mail and am feeling very lucky you included rose oil (how did you know that roses played a special part in our engagement/wedding story?! :) Keep an eye on your mailbox this week...

  6. Your little rose box is so heart-stoppingly sweet, and I love this story, grumpy museum attendant and all. Those bilingual babies are going to be just beautiful!


  7. Oh Bulgaria! I'm ashamed to say I never visited the Rose Valley, although Kazanlak is a mere 30 miles from my hometown. I never really went around my own country until I moved out of it, which is a shame....Some day I'll have the time to take my man and kids around. If I weren't so carsick, the mountains are the best place to explore....Can't wait for your next posts!!

  8. Such an amazing place! I'm always stunned when I wander into a rose garden and see how many different varieties of roses exist. And that landscape is gorgeous. Bulgaria looks like a really special place.

  9. Aw.. love that you're already planning trips with your feature kiddies! :) Sorry I've been MIA.. I'm back, hopefully to stay, ha! Love this photos & I had no idea about Bulgaria being the #1 rose oil producer.

  10. Bulgaria looks beautiful. And how interesting about the rose oil? I love roses, the scent is wonderful, and uplifting.


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