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Karlovo

Post code: 4300
Intl dial code: +359 335

Land of Karla

Before the occupation by the Ottomans, the same town was known as Sushitsa. During the 14-th century it was eventually renamed. The owner of the property was the Ottoman nobleman Kaarlazade, and so the name Karla Ova (Land of Karla) was created.

The city Karlovo (also Karlowo) sprawls along the southern foot of the Stara Planina a.k.a Balkan Mountain Range in a long valley, stretching from the east to the west, called Rosovata Dolina (Valley of Roses). The valley starts around 60 km north of Plovdiv. Car hire.

The railway from Sofia to Bourgas runs through the valley and Karlovo. Further to the north, the famous Troyan Pass and mountains as high as 2 300 m can be found. Population is slightly less than 30 000. Wide parts of the old city centre - among the traditional buildings there, many are built in the Bulgarian revival style, referring to the national revival movement in the 19-th century during the fight against the Ottomans - remained in a remarkably good state and mix with some less interesting buildings erected in the 1950-ies. The centre of town is marked by a bazaar-like, quite narrow market (be aware of pickpockets!)

Karlovo has never gained more than just local importance. It's a small town today, and this is what it was in history. Some 2000 years ago, an important Roman trading route connecting Thracia with the Danube area followed the Valley of Roses. Around Karlovo, remainings of ancient Thracian settlements have been excavated.

It should be mentioned, that one of the most important Bulgarian national heroes, Vassil Levski, was born in Karlovo. That was in 1837. He formed one of the most powerful resistance groups against the Ottomans and fought for an independent Bulgaria. However, due to a betrayal he was caught and sentenced to death by the Turkish rulers in 1873.

Ever since, Karlovo has been known as a centre for the production of wine and rose oil - the latter is not less than one of the most famous export goods of the small country. Today, Karlovo is suffering serious economic problems, including a very high unemployment rate.

Karlovo is easily accessible by train, since all trains running from Sofia to Bourgas stop here. To get there from Plovdiv, the bus might be a better option. By bus, it takes slightly more than one hour, by train it will take some more time. Nearby Troyan Pass is the gateway to North Bulgaria direction Pleven. But note that the pass road occassionally becomes impassable in winter.

If you want to see more from the Valley of Roses, it's a good idea to take a train or a bus to the east, direction Kazanlak.


Vassil Levski monument

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