Did you know that Bulgaria is one of the largest producers of rose oil in the world and the largest in Europe? Our small country is the main supplier for France, the United States, Japan, and others. Bulgarian essential rose oil is a base ingredient for countless cosmetic and skincare products we use every day. Bulgarian tradition in roses production dates three centuries back, and the Rose Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the country. That is where rose Damascena was cultivated best in Europe.
There are many theories about the origins of the Rose Damascena. Some historians believe that crusader Robert de Brie has imported the oil-bearing rose in Europe from Syria sometime between 1254 and 1276. Supporters say that is the story behind her name: the rose from Damascus, Syria.
Some believe that the Romans have brought the rose from England, and others say that Henry VIII’s physician treated him with rose oil around 1540. Since then, Rose oil is widely used in the treatment of wounds, cough, throat, nervous tension, insomnia, and stress.
With more than 350 years of history in roses production, the country has proven to be the best to grow the aromatic flowers. A traditional region for growing roses is the Valley of Roses in central Bulgaria. There you can see more than 4, 000 rose gardens, all kinds of rose products and of course factories for rose oil production. The essential oil contains over 280 different components and distinctive features which are prompted by the specific local climate, that distinguishes it from the oils distilled in other parts of the world.
Highly valued Bulgarian rose oil is a key ingredient of the products of many perfumeries and cosmetics leaders, such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, and Chanel. The name “Bulgarian rose oil” is patent-protected since 2014. Bulgarian small economy has very few things to be proud of; rose production is one of them.
Kazanlak Smells Like… Roses
That is why Bulgarians celebrate the significance of Rose Damascena in our culture. For over a century towns in Valley of Roses are organizing the Festival of Roses. This is an acknowledgment for flowers’ beneficial qualities that are known to our predecessors for hundreds of years, and they are used in cosmetics, food, and medicine.
Each year the first weekend of June is the time for oil producers and local manufacturers to show their roses and rose products to the public. Venues included in the Festival of Roses include traditional Rose picking, Carnaval, Rose-food and wine tasting and of course the beauty contest Queen Rose. The three-day celebration is the main event for the season. Even the state railroad company makes a special discount for tickets to Kazanlak- the largest town in the Valley.
For the past few years, the Festival of Roses gathers international visitors from all over the world. Japan tourists and state officials appreciate Bulgarian rose oil to the point that offered Kazanlak “cultural friendship” which binds them economically in rose oil trade. In an expression of this friendship Japanese town, Fukuyama celebrates the Day of the Rose every 2nd of June. While Kazanlak sculptоrs built the Japanese statue of a young woman named Fukuyama and the art piece is placed in the city center next to the city hall.