With a population of over 130 000 people Stara Zagora is the 6th largest city in the country and definitely the most significant one in Central Bulgaria. In terms of location it lies just 90 km east of Plovdiv and about 190 km away from Sofia, the capital city. The funniest thing about Stara Zagora is that, just like Plovdiv, it happens to be one of the oldest settlements in Europe. No kidding, most of the archaeological findings discovered in the area around the city are about 8000 years old. Throughout the centuries the place has been governed by Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and Bulgarians, respectively. Each of these civilizations played an important role in the development of the modern-day Bulgarian city and nowadays all of their achievements are put on display for tourists to marvel at.
Let’s take a short walk through Stara Zagora’s most important historical landmarks The starting point is obvious: the Neolithic Dwellings situated in the northwestern end of the city. According to historians they were built sometime in the 6th millennium BC and have managed to preserve intact one of the most impressive sets of artifacts from the New Stone Era ever discovered in Europe. The next stop is the Forum of the 2nd-century AD Roman town of Augusta Traiana in the city centre. After that it is time for a break and a brief history lesson in the Regional Museum of History. The perfect finish to this tour would be Eski Mosque – the Museum of Religions.
But don’t worry, there are many other things to do in Stara Zagora even if you aren’t too fond of history and culture. The neat restaurants and cafes hidden under the thick shades of the sweet-smelling lime trees in the pedestrian zone of the city centre are always open for you while the mineral baths outside the city are just the best place to get a first-class spa treatment in the region.
Photos by D.Alexov