The Rose Valley, Discovery Of World Worlwide Known Rose Oil

Rose Kazanlak

Bulgaria’s tradition of producing essential rose oils in the Rose Valley dates back to the 17th century and is a source of national pride for the country, recognized worldwide. What more about this Bulgarian select product coveted by the most prestigious creators of perfume and beauty. 


As a trademark of the country, the Bulgarian rose is celebrated every year, the first week of June, in a very special ceremony, the Rose Festival. This year, it takes place the 3-4 June. The Rose Valley comes alive with the songs, dances of the rose-pickers and International folklore demonstration on the main square. They come at early dawn dressed in careful national costumes. A beautiful girl is elected “Queen Rose » and the valley is celebrating. 

Rose Valley Source :

The Valley of Roses (or Rose Valley) is a beautiful region with impressive landscapes in central Bulgaria, offering the best climatic conditions for the cultivation of rose. The mild climate, particularly the spring weather, with its frequent rainfalls in June, soft sunshine, humid winds, cool nights and cloudiness, provides the perfect conditions for oil-bearing plants, especially roses, and for distillation of high-quality oils.

Rose Valley

Rose Valley Source : Jenny Ivanova for Madame Bulgaria Magazine

This region mainly refers to the rose fields around the cities of Kazanlak and Karlovo, located 40 km apart, and a part of the Nova Zagora Fields. Bulgaria is actually one of the largest producers of rose oil in the world.

Rose Picking Instant

On the occasion of the Rose Festival in Karlovo on Saturday 27th May, we crossed the fields of roses and went to meet professionals of roses. We absolutely wanted to participate in a picking morning roses despite the rain. So we were invited to a field and were greatly welcomed by the roses pickers.

Rose Valley

Rose Valley

Actually, the rose picking (only the fully opened flowers are picked) starts around 5:00 am and finishes no later than 10:00 am, when the flowers are still moist. To detach the flower from its stem, store it in a plastic bag : the pickers repeat these gestures tirelessly in May and June to collect 25 to 30 kg of petals each morning, from which only 7 to 8 grams of essential oil Called rose essence. During 2 months, the fields are pink, full of morning pickers. And it feels super nice.

Rose Valley Source : Jenny Ivanov for Madame Bulgaria Magazine 

When they dry up, it is time to stop the rose picking. If you are not a morning person or really have difficulties getting up this early this is probably not the right place for you, as us this Saturday morning. Fortunately, it was raining this day, and the picking was prolonged after 10:00 am. We found a friendly team of pickers, very welcome and smiling.

Rose Oil Distillation

Once harvested, the roses are brought to the distilleries of the Rose Valley, where they are boiled. We were expected in a rose oil family distillery, Lema, which are been working in the area of ethereal-oil production more than 40 years, having their own plantations since the start and production facilities since 10 years. It produces mainly rose oil (otto), rose water, lavender oil, other ethereal oils, different types of perfume essences, embroidered traditional cloths.

Rose Valley Source : Jenny Ivanov for Madame Bulgaria Magazine 

We were very well welcomed by the owner of the place M. Marin Todorov and his grand son, the little boy Emil, 13 years old. Very passionated, and really implicated, Emil explained us the whole process of rose distillery (in a very a good english). And we learned a lot. After being picked, the roses are immediately brought to the rose oil Factories where they are boiled. The vapor is then condensed and then distilled again to obtain the essential oil.

Rose Valley

Rose Valley Source : Jenny Ivanov for Madame Bulgaria Magazine

Not less than 3,500 kg of petals to result in 1 kilo of oil. Bulgarian annual production of 1,500 kg of petrol comes from 5.25 tons of petroleum grown on 3,800 hectares, not mostly in the Kazanlak region, nicknamed the Rose Valley.

roseSource : Jenny Ivanova for Madame Bulgaria Magazine

After some searching, we known that Fragrance manufacturers pay 6,000 euros, or even more, for one kilo of this thick liquid of amber color. The main customers of Bulgarian rose essence are fragrance houses in France, the United States and Japan. There is growing interest from Asian customers, particularly in China.

Rose Valley

Rose Valley Source : Jenny Ivanov for Madame Bulgaria Magazine

Rancon of success, this treasure interest many forgers. To combat them, Bulgaria obtained a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) label issued by the European Commission in October 2014 after nine years of the procedure. The certificate guarantees that the producer has used petals from a traditional Bulgarian roses cultivation area, that he strictly respected the distillation technique and that the product has the chemical and physical characteristics of Bulgarian rose essential oil. 

Oil rose Kazanlak Bulgaria Source : Jenny Ivanov for Madame Bulgaria Magazine

Some history with the Museum of Roses

Then, it is not possible to leave the Rose Valley without visit the New Museum of Roses, opened in June 2016 and located Voynishka Str. 1 | Rosarium ParkKazanlakVery design and bright, it is the only museum in the world dedicated to the rose. The exposition of the museum presents the history of Bulgarian rose oil and includes original pictures and documents of the development of rose production, instruments for processing of the rose gardens, vessels for storing and exporting rose oil and rose water. A courtyard gives you the opportunity to feel different roses just as nice of each other. More : Entrance price : adult, 6 levas; Student, 2 levas; Camera, 5 levas.

Rose Valley

Rose valleySource : Jenny Ivanov for Madame Bulgaria Magazine

Special many thank to Petia Whitmore, a Bulgarian woman living in Boston who created her own activity, to help people to organize their own trip in Bulgaria. She helped us to get the contact and visit on the Distillery Lema and gave us some helpful information to optimize our discovery of the Valley of Roses.


Marie Pietrzak

Founder & Editorial Director

Marie is the founder of Madame Bulgaria. She fell in love with Bulgaria when she came for the first time for a weekend in 2012.

1 Comment
  1. Hi, I was directed to your article from your friend at flyingraconteur, I enjoyed your article, I’m always happy to see foreigners discover the Rose Valley. I was born and raised in Kazanlak and decided to make a website to help foreigners plan and enjoy their trip to the valley, hope you’d find it interesting, although I bet you know most of the things that I write 🙂 If there is something you think I should add, feel free to tell me, thanks
    Have a good day!

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