Stara Zagora is region is situated in the southern part of Central Bulgaria. Its administrative center is Stara Zagora, while other towns include Chirpan, Kazanlak, Radnevo, Gurkovo, Maglizh, Nikoaevo, Bratya Daskalovi, Galabovo, Opan, Pavel Banya and Shipka.
Stara Zagora is a cultural centre of particular importance to Bulgaria as it is an ancient Thracian, subsequently Greek, Roman and Byzantine metropolis. The oldest Neolithic remains were found in Stara Zagora. The famous film of BBC The History of Europe starts with the Neolithic museum in Stara Zagora. It shows the remains of the first homes of the people in Europe.
It is believed that it was founded by the Thracians under the name Beroe (meaning iron) about 6th-5th century BCE. Later on, under the Roman Empire, the town was renamed to Augusta Trajana in honour of emperor Trajan. After that, at the time of the Byzantine Empire, it adopted the name Irinopolis after Byzantine empress Irene. The fortifications around the town were reconstructed because of fear of Bulgarian attacks, but Irinopolis and the whole Zagore region were reincorporated into Bulgaria in 717.
The land was bestowed on khan Tervel as a Byzantine gift in acknowledgement of the Bulgarian help to fight back the Arabs besieging Constantinople. The region was the first Bulgarian territorial gain south of Stara Planina. The town acquired the name Boruy. In 1122 and 1028 Stara Zagora (Beroya) was the site of battles between Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian army.
In 1371 the region was conquered by the Ottomans. After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, it became part of autonomous Eastern Rumelia before the two Bulgarian states finally merged in 1886 as a result of the Unification of Bulgaria.
Nowadays, the region is has a well-developed economy, mainly occupied in production industry. The biggest power plant in Bulgaria, the “Maritsa-Iztok”, is located in the province. The biggest brewery is also situated in Stara Zagora. Producing more than 5 different brands of beer, both Bulgarian and foreign, it holds 30% of the beer market in the country.
It is also one of the biggest employers in the area. Furthermore, one of the biggest wineries in Bulgaria is also situated in Stara Zagora. Producing some of the most prominent brands of wine and exporting large quantities every year, the winery is one of the most prosperous at the moment. Stara Zagora’s industrial zone includes also a large number of production outlets of food industry.
The town of Kazanlak is world’s famous for the production of rose oil. It is the center of area with longstanding traditions in producing rose, peppermint, lavender, basil and calendula oil, with the first factory opened in 1820. The town celebrates every year a Rose Festival during the first weekend of June, starting with a crowning ceremony of a Rose Queen on Friday evening, and ending with a grand parade through the main streets on Sunday at lunch.
In October 2004, Stara Zagora Province was claimed to have a great quality of life comparable to that of Greater Zürich (Switzerland) by fDi Magazine, produced by the renowned Financial Times Group, judgment based on the region’s low-cost, newly built accommodation and rich cultural heritage.