Ancient Thrace: Myth And Reality
13th INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF THRACOLOGY
September 3-7, 2017, Kazanlak, Bulgaria


 

Kazanlak (Bulgarian: Казанлъ̀к, Kazanlǎk, Thracian and Greek Σευθόπολις (Seuthopolis) is 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 centre of the homonymous Kazanlak Municipality.

The town is among the 15 biggest industrial centres in Bulgaria, with a population of 47,325 people as of Feb 2011.[1][2][3]

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.

 

History

 
Fresco in the 4th century BCEThracian Tomb of Kazanlak, anUNESCO World Heritage Site.

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 (Σευθόπολις) 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.

In the Middle Ages the valley became an administrative center of the Krun region where the Bulgarian boyar Aldimir (Eltimir) ruled. After 1370 Kazanlak was under Ottoman dominion.

 
The pedestrianized centre of modern Kazanlak off Seuthopolis Square.

The modern city dates back to the beginning of the 15th century. It was founded as a military fortress to protect the Shipka Pass and later developed as a city of craftsmen. More than 50 handcrafts developed such as tanning, coppersmithing, goldsmithing, frieze weaving, shoemaking, cooperage and, of course, rose cultivation. The oil-producing rose, imported from India via Persia, Syria and Turkey, found all the necessary conditions to thrive — proper temperature, high moisture and light, sandy, cinnamon-forest soils. Kazanlak rose oil has won gold medals at expositions in Paris, London,Philadelphia, Antwerp, Laet, and Milan. After Bulgarian independence the handcrafts declined due to the loss of the markets in the huge Ottoman Empire. The textile, aerospace and military industries were developed.