Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia, with a population of about 400,000. It is the administrative center of Plovdiv Province in southern Bulgaria and three municipalities (Plovdiv, Maritsa and Rodopi), as well as the largest and most important city in Northern Thrace and the wider international historical region of Thrace. The city is an important economic, transport, cultural and educational center.
Plovdiv is host to economic and cultural events such as the International Fair Plovdiv, the international theatrical festival “A scene on a crossroad”, the TV festival “The golden chest”. There are many remains preserved from Antiquity such as the Ancient amphitheatre, Roman odeon, Roman Stadium, the archaeological complex Eirene and others.
The Rose Valley near Plovdiv is a region in Bulgaria located just south of the Balkan Mountains, between them and the eastern part of the lower Sredna Gora chain to the south.
The valley is famous for its rose growing industry which have been cultivated here for centuries, and which produces 85% of the world’s rose oil. The extracts are used by perfumeries all over the world. The centre of the rose oil industry is Kazanlak, while other towns of importance include Karlovo, Sopot and Kalofer. Each year, festivals are held celebrating roses and rose oil.
The picking season lasts from May to June. During this period, the area gives off a pleasant scent and is covered with multi-coloured flowers. The gathering process, traditionally a woman’s task, requires great dexterity and patience. The flowers are carefully cut one by one and laid in willow-baskets which are then sent to the distilleries.