A bit rough around the edges, Kazanlâk is nevertheless a fascinating town where Bulgaria’s various ethnic and religious groups commingle amicably. Life revolves around the loud central square, pl Sevtopolis (good accommodation, eating and drinking are there or nearby). Most famous, however, are the archaeological remains from the area’s ancient Thracian civilisation. The major site, the Thracian Tomb, is a 15-minute walk northeast of the central square, across the small Stara Reka (Old River).
Kazanlâk is also the jumping-off point for journeys across the Valley of Roses (Rozovata Dolina), a wide plain blooming with roses, responsible for over 60% of the world’s supply of fragrant rose oil. Crossing the plain, one ascends to Shipka village and Shipka Pass, site of a decisive showdown in the 1877–78 Russo-Turkish War. Today, the town retains considerable Ottoman spirit, with a working mosque and notable Turkish and Pomak Muslim minorities.