Карлово (Karlovo, also Karlowo).
Before the occupation by the Ottomans, the same town was known as
Sushitsa. During the 14th 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 sprawls along the southern foot of the
(Stara Planina aka 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 →Plovdid.
The railway from →Sofia to →Burgas 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: slightly less than 30,000. A small town by all means.
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 19th century during the fight against the Ottomans - remained in a remarkably good state
and mix with some less interesting buildings erected in the 1950ies. 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.
Eversince, 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 →Burgas
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
Казанлък (Kazanlak). This town is around 35 km away
and with its 60,000 inhabitants it's the biggest town in the valley (for further information see below).