Stara Zagora is a city in Southern Bulgaria, one of the main
economic centers in the country, as well as a major transport hub of
Southern Bulgaria. It is the center of the eponymous municipality,
district and regional association of municipalities RAW Trakia. The
city is the sixth largest in the country with a population of
134,726 people according to NSI data as of 31.12.2019 and forms the
fifth largest urban agglomeration in Bulgaria with a population of
213,444 inhabitants (as of September 2007), as well as the center of
The 5th largest district in Bulgaria with a population as of
December 31, 2016 of 321,377 people. The stable economic development
of the region gives it second place in terms of GDP per capita in
The city is home to the oldest Bulgarian theater in Thrace - Geo Milev Drama Theater, the ancient Forum of Augusta Trayana, and 14 km from the city center is the national spa resort Stara Zagora Mineral Baths. In 1925 the second opera in the country after Sofia was opened - the South Bulgarian Opera (today the State Opera Stara Zagora), and in 1895 - the first city park of European type in Bulgaria - Ayazmoto. The city also houses the Museum of Religions and the Neolithic Dwellings Museum.
The town is located in the Stara Zagora plain - the eastern part
of the Upper Thracian lowland - between Sarnena Sredna gora,
Svetiiliyski hills, Manastirski hills, Sakar mountain and Chirpan
hills, near the river Bedechka with an average altitude of 196 m. It
is located 209 km on an asphalt road and 250 km on a rail road from
The city is divided into separate neighborhoods around its central part. Before the Second World War, neighborhoods of refugees from the Thracian and Macedonian Bulgarian lands were formed on the outskirts of the city. Most of the neighborhoods were built after World War II, after the massive rural population in the region moved to the city to provide labor for the new industrial facilities. Several neighborhoods are joined by villages.
According to the cadastral map, the city's neighborhoods are: Ayazmoto, Bedechka-Gradinski, Vasil Levski, Vazrazhdane, Geo Milev, Golesh, Dabrava, Zheleznik, Zora, Industry, Kazan, Kolyu Ganchev, Lozenets, Makedonski, Metropolitan Metodiy Kusev, Opalchenski, Samara Samara 2, Samara 3, Slaveykov, Studentski grad, Tri chuchura, Tri chuchura-sever, Tri chuchura - south, Aturen, APK and the Central part of Stara Zagora.
The climate of the urban area is transitional continental with influence from the Mediterranean Sea. In winter the weather is milder and warmer compared to the cities in the Thracian lowlands, as Sredna Gora protects from the cold northern and northeastern winds. Rare in Bulgaria exotic exotic tree species of magnolia, cedar, fig, laurel (bay tree), pomegranate, almond, paradise apple, cypress grow. The average annual temperature is 12.9 ° C (average January +1 ° C and average July +23.9 ° C) with an average annual rainfall of 598 mm. Northwest of Stara Zagora, about 16 km away, are the Stara Zagora Mineral Baths, and north of the town, about 15 km away, is another mineral spring in the village of Yagoda.
Stara Zagora is one of the most ancient cities in the world and
during the ages the city had many names, but most often 8 of them
are mentioned: Beroe, Augusta Trayana, Irinopolis, Borui, Vereya,
Eski Zagra, Zheleznik and Stara Zagora.
The earliest traces of civilization in the region of Stara Zagora date back to the end of the 7th millennium BC. Then, almost simultaneously, four prehistoric settlements appeared on the territory of today's Zagora and in its immediate vicinity, one of which was the largest in the Bulgarian lands for 6 thousand years. Some scholars believe that the ancient Thracian Beroe was located there.
In 1968, Neolithic dwellings from the middle of the 6th millennium BC were discovered in the city, which are the best preserved and with the richest fund in Europe and have been turned into a museum.
A high density of settlements during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic, over 120 prehistoric settlements and 5 prehistoric settlement mounds, with many finds, one of which is the largest in Europe. Life here began at the end of the 7th millennium BC. and lasted until the 12th century AD.
A ritual facility nearly 8000 years old was discovered near Stara Zagora.
During large-scale research in the 1970s near Stara Zagora was discovered the largest ore mining center in the world in the V millennium BC. These oldest metal mines in Europe are nearly 7,600 years old. In 2014, archaeologists from the Regional History Museum (Stara Zagora) opened the first honey factory in Europe, over 7,000 years old.
Beroe was founded in the region of today's Stara Zagora about 2500 years ago. In 46 Beroe was annexed to the Roman Empire and became part of the province of Thrace. In 106, Emperor Trajan gave the city the right to self-government and renamed it Augusta Trayana. The city became the second largest economic, administrative and cultural center in the province. The famous Roman historian Amian Marcellinus wrote: "The great cities of Philippopolis and Augusta Trayana, which in ancient times were called Evmolpiada and Beroe, adorn the province of Thrace."
The city has an independent municipal government, city council and national assembly and enjoys a special status. By special order, it was in this city that the veterans of the wars fought by the Roman Empire settled. During the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180) in the city were built straight streets, dozens of residential and public buildings, city walls, enclosing an area of about 50 ha and reinforced with about 40 towers, of which 11 were studied, water supply, sewerage, theater building, temples, markets, odeon, baths, forum. A theater with marble seats was also built, from which the spectacular gladiatorial battles, processions, celebrations, or meetings were observed, where the important affairs of the city were decided. There was a high school in the city, and sports events were held at the stadium. The arts and music developed in the city, as evidenced by the found samples of bronze and stone sculptures, jewelry, pottery, glass objects, statues and inscriptions about Orpheus.
In Augusta Trayana, huge mansions with magnificent villas appeared, such as the well-studied Thracian villa Chatalka, which belonged to Thracian aristocrats.
Augusta Trayana minted her own coins for a century, from the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180) to Gallienus.
In the 3rd - 4th century Augusta Trayana was partially destroyed during the attacks of the Goths, but at the beginning of the 4th century it was fortified again.
During the period of late antiquity (IV-VI century) the city was again named Beroe. The times are connected with the relocation of the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople, the accelerated Christianization of the local population, the Gothic invasions at the end of the 4th century and the devastating raids of the Huns in the middle of the 5th century.
In late antiquity in Beroe began a mass Christianization of the local population, especially after the Edict of Milan. The city is one of the most active centers of early Christianity. Apostle Carp, one of the 70 apostles of Jesus Christ and a disciple of the apostle Paul, was the first to introduce Christianity here. Beroe became the seat of an episcopate that grew into an archbishopric. The Bishop of Beroe Demophilus took part in the Church Council in Serdica. In 355, Pope Liberius was exiled to Beroe, and Demophilus went to Constantinople, where he reached the highest rank - patriarch of the Byzantine Empire.
In the 6th century, the city is mentioned as Beroe in the Gothic
calendar under the date November 19, associated with the famous 40
women martyrs. At the end of the century the city was destroyed
again, but then rebuilt and bears the name Vereya.
The Middle Ages
For the first time the region of Zagore (Zagora) is mentioned in the news of Georgi Amartol, repeated by Leo the Grammarian, George Kedrin and Simeon Metaphrastus, which describes the help that the Bulgarian army of Tervel gave to Emperor Justinian II in his restoration to the throne of Constantinople. On this occasion, in 705, a peace treaty was concluded between the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria, according to which the region of Zagore was ceded to Bulgaria. Three years later, according to other sources, Justinian II tried to regain the area, but was defeated near Anhialo. According to the later reports of Theophanes the Confessor, in 716 a new treaty was concluded between the new emperor Theodosius III Adramitus and Tervel, according to which another part of Thrace, west of Zagora, was ceded to the finally ceded region of Zagora to the Bulgarians. Million in Thrace. In 717, Tervel provided new aid to the empire with a large army and defeated a 30,000-strong Arab army besieging Constantinople. After that, Beroe crossed to Byzantium and Bulgaria several times.
From Beroe to Irinopol
In 784 the city of Beroe was in the possession of the Byzantine Empire, and the Byzantine Empress Irina visited the city with her son Constantine VI and a large retinue of courtiers. The Empress rebuilt the city and called it Irinopol - the city of Irina. The chronicler Theophanes the Confessor describes the Empress's visit to Beroe: “This year, in the month of January, the seventh of Turkey, the said Stavrakius returned from the land of the sklavs and triumphantly celebrated his victory at the hippodrome. And in May, from the same seventh turkey, Empress Irina with her son and a large army went to Thrace, carrying musical instruments, and reached Beroe. She ordered this city to be built and renamed it Irinopol.
Permanent accession to Bulgaria
In 812 Irinopolis was again Bulgarian and was named Beroe, after the victorious war of Krum in 812. Historical sources show that after the peace treaty of 817 the Bulgarian state took large-scale actions to protect and strengthen the region south of Stara Planina from Beroe to the sea and for its permanent accession to Bulgaria. Until 860 Beroe was Bulgarian and during this period its population was already predominantly Bulgarian. For several years the Byzantines took the district of Zagora, but during the christening of Prince Boris I in 864 the district of Zagora and the town of Beroe were returned to Bulgaria. The chronicles for the return of the district also indicate its borders - from Sidera (Iron Gate, now Zmeyovski Prohod) to Debelt. Within Bulgaria, the city is the center of a county and retains its role as one of the largest administrative, economic and religious centers. The emperors lived here for a long time, using Borui as their second capital. Here for two centuries was the residence of the Byzantine emperors of the Comnenus. From here they organized campaigns against the northern invaders - Pechenegs and Cumans.
The stone reliefs from Stara Zagora from the 8th - 9th century have a high cultural and historical value, are recognized as a masterpiece of fine arts and are one of the most interesting archaeological finds in Europe.
By the end of the 10th century the town was in Bulgarian hands and acquired an entirely Bulgarian character. The Bulgarians call the town Borui (a modified form of the Thracian Beroe).
The traveler al-Idrisi, who visited the city, reported that in the XI-XII centuries on the way from the city of Veroi to the now unidentified city of Pacimisk passes through successive sown areas, continuous cultivated fields, large villages, many vineyards, orchards, along numerous flocks of sheep, cattle and sheep. During the Crusades, when the troops of Frederick I Barbarossa passed through the Balkans, the Austrian priest Ansbert, who had access to the imperial office, wrote of the city of Vereya that it was a "big, rich city" that the Crusaders captured, plundered and burned.
Under Ottoman rule
The Ottoman troops attacked Borui and Plovdiv in 1364 during the first campaign of Lala Shahin, but only after his second campaign in 1372 they conquered Borui. The biggest battle took place at the top of Bulgarian Fortress, 5 km west of the city.
The earliest Ottoman document mentioning the city is from 1430.
There it is now called Eski Hisar. The Ottomans, knowing about the
ancient history of the city as the center of the Zagore district,
found in the city a huge amount of cultural and historical heritage
and in the first years christened it with various similar names -
Zagr and Atik (Ancient Zagra), Zagra and Atik Hissar ( The ancient
city of Zagra), Zagra, Zagra and Eski Hisar, Zagrala Eskisi (Stara
Zagra), Eski Zagora (Ancient Zagora), Zagrasi Attic, Zagralie
Eskisi, Eskisi Zagora (Stara Zagora). Later, however, in the
seventeenth century, a single form was required - Eski Zagra.
According to Evliya леelebi, in the 17th century there were 3,000 houses, about 760 roads and 14 neighborhoods in Stara Zagora. At that time there were 5 mosques: Alipasha, Tekke, Nalbey, Noktaji and Hamzabey. There were also 1 madrasa, 42 schools, 5 hammams (named: Aladja, Pasha, Yeni, Chifte and Kyuchuk hammam), 1 bezisten and 855 shops. It is interesting that he does not mention the presence of a Bulgarian population in the city, although there is evidence of tombstones with Bulgarian names. Another proof of this is a preserved Greek inscription in the church of St. Demetrius, which shows the existence of a church on this site long before 1743, serving the Christian population.
In 1738 the population of Stara Zagora was predominantly Turkish.
In 1788 a plague broke out, and in 1792 there was a famine and drought, a plague of cattle, and hail destroyed the entire crop. During this time, military contingents passed through the settlements for criminal purposes, which "took off the shirt from the naked, and from the barefoot worms." The worst years, however, were 1813, 1814, and 1815: the plague years known as the Great Plague or the Great Karen. The next plague epidemic came in 1837 and was called the Little Plague.
In 1841 a class school was founded in the town, which applied the program and methods of the Gabrovo Aprilov High School. In 1863 a girls' school was opened. Neofit Rilski, Ivan Bogorov, Petko Slaveykov and others taught in Stara Zagora. Vasil Levski and Raina Popgeorgieva studied here and graduated with honors. The city is the birthplace of a number of prominent Bulgarian Revival figures such as Zahari Knyazhevski and Alexander the Exarch. Nikolai Pavlovich also worked here for two years, intending to open a drawing school.
In 1858, at the suggestion of the Stara Zagora Revival activist Todor Shishkov, the locals began to call their town Zheleznik. This was a sharp reaction against the Turkish name Eski Zagra. From that moment on, the name Zheleznik is found in a number of documents, in periodicals, in tombstones and building inscriptions. Due to the great vigilance and persistence of the earners, on April 13, 1871 the city received its present name Stara Zagora. The idea came from another prominent Stara Zagora figure at the time - Hadji Mr. Slavov. This happened in 1871 at the People's Church Council held in Constantinople, at which the Zagorje diocese was established. Subsequently, the city adopted the name Stara Zagora and became the first Bulgarian city renamed with a Bulgarian name before the Liberation.
Dr. Ivan Bogorov in his book "A few days walk around the Bulgarian places" (1868) notes that the Eskizaar field is one of the most fertile in all of Rumelia and that Eski Zagra is one of the most populated cities in Bulgaria in Rumelia.
Struggle for national liberation
Stara Zagora Uprising
The uprising in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875 prompted the Bulgarian revolutionaries to take action and they decided to declare an immediate armed uprising in Bulgaria. Stara Zagora was chosen as the center of the uprising, as the Stara Zagora committee was the strongest. Kolyo Ganchev, a wealthy man with a position in society and chairman of the Stara Zagora Revolutionary Committee - one of the largest active units with a membership of over 100 people - was elected leader of the uprising in the city.
Following the failure of the uprising, Turkish authorities arrested about 600 people. The leader of the uprising, Kolyo Ganchev, was also captured, and after his categorical refusal to betray, he was tortured for months, blinded and finally hanged in public in front of Stara Zagora residents. His last words are: "I wanted to fly the Bulgarian flag on the Turkish konak and see my Fatherland freely!" Despite the defeat, the Stara Zagora uprising played a huge role in strengthening the general revolutionary upsurge among the Bulgarian people and ignited the spark for the April Uprising and the Stara Zagora flag. insurgents is the prototype of today's Bulgarian flag.
The battle of Stara Zagora
At the beginning of July the Front Detachment advanced south of
the Balkan Mountains and on July 10/22 its vanguard entered Stara
Zagora. The commanders of the Front Detachment and the Bulgarian
Militia - Gen. Gurko and Gen. Stoletov were solemnly welcomed. The
mayor of the town Petko Slaveykov greeted them in the church "St.
Dimitar" and in front of the gathered thousands of citizens and the
whole clergy a prayer was said.
There are 14 Russian squadrons, 12 cannons and 4 companies of the Bulgarian militia led by Major General Stoletov in the city. General Gurko leaves the city to take part in the battle for Nova Zagora. In Stara Zagora remain 4 volunteer companies, 4 mountain cannons, 3 cavalry regiments, 2 Cossack hundreds and 8 cavalry cannons - a total of about 4,500 people, who occupy a defensive line 4 km long in the form of an arc about 1.5 km south of Stara Zagora. It is divided into a right flank (II Volunteer Company, commander Lieutenant Colonel Kurtyanov), left flank (V Volunteer Company, commander Lieutenant Colonel Nishchenko), and in the center are the emergency Cossack hundreds.
Meanwhile, Suleiman Pasha's Central Ottoman Army continued to advance on Stara Zagora and Nova Zagora. The decisive battle began on the morning of July 31 with a Turkish attack. At about 10 o'clock the main attack on the left flank was repulsed, but by noon Suleiman Pasha deployed all his forces, several times exceeding the Russian and Bulgarian troops, and the position of the defenders became unstoppable after all the reserves entered the battle. The most brutal Ottoman blow was taken by the heroic Third Volunteer Company under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Kalitin. It, together with the First Volunteer Company, must cover the retreat of the other military units and allow the population to leave the city. The tired volunteers retreated on the way to Kazanlak together with the people amid the screams of the victims from the burning city. Colonel Fyodor De Preradovich was the last to leave the city. Three Ottoman stools entered Stara Zagora and carried out a massacre of the non-withdrawn Bulgarian population.
The battle near the town of Stara Zagora is considered the baptism of fire of the Bulgarian militia and the Bulgarian army.
The complete destruction of Stara Zagora
The enormous superiority of the Turkish army forced Gen. Gurko to retreat to Shipka, where the Bulgarian volunteers show unheard of courage and heroism. Upon entering Stara Zagora, the Turks began mass slaughter and destruction - killing 14,500 Bulgarians from the city, another 10,000, mostly young boys, girls and women were abducted in Turkey. The city was completely looted, burned and destroyed. The few survivors fled to Northern Bulgaria. Contemporaries at the time believed that there would never be a city in this place again.
Part of Eastern Rumelia
The reconstruction of Stara Zagora began immediately after the Liberation. For this purpose, in 1878, the famous architect from Austria-Hungary Lubor Bayer arrived in Stara Zagora, who designed the modern rectangular chess plan, typical for today's Stara Zagora. On October 5, 1879, the general governor of Eastern Rumelia, Aleko Bogoridi, laid the symbolic cornerstone for the restoration of the city. In Bulgaria, the only other city with such a development plan is Nova Zagora, which was also burned by the Turks. With a chess layout are some of the most modern and large cities in the world.
After the Second World War, the city's population was 38,325 (1946). In 1956 Stara Zagora reached 56,000 people, in 1965 - 87,000. In 1968 Stara Zagora reached 100,000 people and ranked among the largest Bulgarian cities - hundreds of thousands. At the 1975 census, the city's population was 122,000. In 1985, 157,000 people. In 1992, the population reached 162,768.