Stara Zagora

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This article is about the Bulgarian city once known as Beroe. For other uses, see Beroe (disambiguation).
Stara Zagora
Стара Загора
Stara Zagora from the Samarsko Zname Monument
Stara Zagora from the Samarsko Zname Monument
Flag of Stara Zagora
Coat of arms of Stara Zagora
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): The city of the linden-trees
Stara Zagora is located in Bulgaria
Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora
Location of Stara Zagora
Coordinates: 42°26′N 25°39′E / 42.433°N 25.650°E / 42.433; 25.650Coordinates: 42°26′N 25°39′E / 42.433°N 25.650°E / 42.433; 25.650
Country Bulgaria
Province Stara Zagora
Established 342 BC
 • Mayor Zhivko Todorov [GERB]
 • City 85.786 km2 (33.122 sq mi)
Elevation 196 m (643 ft)
Population (Census February 2011)[1]
 • City 149,137
 • Density 1,612/km2 (4,180/sq mi)
 • Urban 220,108
 • Metro 240,444
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal Code 6000
Area code(s) 042

Stara Zagora (Bulgarian: Стара Загора) is a city in Bulgaria, a nationally important economic center. Located in Southern Bulgaria, it is the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province.

As of December 2014, the city has a population of 149,137 inhabitants.[2] According to Operative Program Regional Development of Bulgaria the agglomeration of Stara Zagora is the sixth largest in Bulgaria and has a population of 213,444 inhabitants.[3]

Stara Zagora is known as the city of straight streets, linden trees, and poets.


The Post office of Stara Zagora
The Roman Amphitheatre
Stronghold Ulpia Augusta Traiana over city's modern map

The favourable geographic and climatic conditions of the territory around Stara Zagora contributed to the establishment of several prehistoric settlements in the remote past. More than 100 prehistoric mounds from the 6th to 3rd millennium BC were found in the vicinity of Stara Zagora. One of them, the Bereketska mound, is the largest in Bulgaria, containing traces of people that lived there from the New Stone Age (6th millennium BC) to the Middle Ages (12th century). A prehistoric settlement can be found within the city itself. Two dwellings from the New Stone Age are preserved in the Neolithic Dwellings Museum. These are the best preserved dwellings from the New Stone or Neolithic Age (6th millennium BC) in Europe and contain a rich collection of tools and artefacts. The oldest copper mines in Europe (5th millennium BC) were found 8 km (4.97 mi) east of the city, A considerable amount of copper ore was extracted from the 11 mines by the ancient inhabitants of this land who traded with it throughout the continent.

Located at the cross-roads of multiple civilizations, Stara Zagora is an important piece in the European cultural routes mosaic. Inhabited by ancient Thracians, Romans, Ottomans and Bulgarians, this unique city bears the historical imprint of those past civilizations along with many of their historical treasures. Proof of its longevity can be found in the multiple names of the city, each one connected with a different era of its development.

Roman period[edit]

Founded around 106 AD by the Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus (98-117 AD) and named in his honour Augusta Traiana, it was the second largest city in the Roman province of Thrace during 2nd and 3rd century AD, after Philipopolis (present-day Plovdiv). It occupied an area of 38 hectares and was fortified by strong fortress walls.

Augusta Traiana had the statute of an autonomous city of the polis type (i.e. city-state). From the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) to the Emperor Gallienus (253-268 AD) it had the right to mint its own bronze coins, which were in circulation all over the Balkan Peninsula.

Middle Ages[edit]

Between the 4th and early 9th centuries it was part of the Byzantine Empire, and was named Beroe (Greek: Βερόη). For a short period it was named Irenopolis after the Byzantine Empress Irene of Athens who visited the city in 784.

Beroe was a religious centre of the early Christians and a bishopric. Demophilus of Constantinople was bishop of Beroe before becoming bishop of the imperial capital. Soon after him, the bishop of Beroe Eunomius espoused Apollinarism. A bishop named Sebastianus who was at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 is attributed to this see by Lequien, but by Janin to the see of Berrhoea.[4][5] Beroe is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[6]

In 812, the city became part of the First Bulgarian Empire under the name of Vereya, also found as Bereya, Beroya. The city was recovered by the Byzantines in 970, and remained mostly in Byzantine hands after, until the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire (12th through 14th centuries), when control alternated between the two powers. Some of the most remarkable medieval stone plastic arts date back from this period - fine bas-reliefs featuring animals. One of them, a lioness with its cub, became the symbol of Stara Zagora.

Ottoman period[edit]

In 1364 the medieval city was captured by the Ottoman Turks who called it Eski [Hissar] Zagra (the Old [fortress of] Zagora). During the Bulgarian Revival it evolved into an important centre of crafts and trade. At the end of the 1850s, the Turkish name was replaced by the Bulgarian name Zheleznik. It was a kaza centre in Filibe sanjak initially in Rumelia Eyalet, laterly Silistra Eyalet, finally Edirne Eyalet. In 1878, it was finally sanjak centre in Eastern Rumelia eyalet till unification with Bulgaria in 1885.

Modern Bulgaria[edit]

The city's current name, Stara Zagora, appeared for the first time in documents from the Church Council of Tsarigrad in 1875.

July 31, 1877 is a tragic date in the city's history. On that day, the first major clash between the two belligerent armies of the Russian-Turkish Liberation War took place near Stara Zagora. The 48 000 Turkish army was launched on the town, which was merely defended by a small Russian detachment and a small unit of Bulgarian volunteers. After a six-hour fight for Stara Zagora, the Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers surrendered to the pressure of the larger enemy army. The town then soon experienced its greatest tragedy. The armed Turkish army carried out the Stara Zagora massacre against the weaponless civilians. The city was burned down and razed to the ground during the three days following the battle. Incredibly sadistically were massacred 14,500 Bulgarians from the town and villages south of the town, encompassing all Bulgarian civilians with exceptions. Another 10,000 young women and girls were sold in the slave markets of the Ottoman Empire. All Christian temples were attacked with artillery and burned. The only public building surviving the fire was the mosque, Eski Dzhamiya, remaining even nowadays. This is possibly the largest and worst massacre documented in the Bulgarian history and one of the most tragic moments of the Bulgarians. While the people of Bulgaria lost this particular battle for Stara Zagora, they did ultimately win the war. Today, several monuments witness the gratitude of the Bulgarian people to its liberators.

October 5, 1879. Stara Zagora's restoration from the destruction began immediately after the liberation of Bulgaria. The first symbolic foundation stone was laid on October 5, 1879 by prince Aleko Bogoridi. The city was rebuilt on plans designed by the Czech architect Lyubor Bayer, and became the first modern-looking Bulgarian city after the Liberation with its large straight streets and spacious squares.

Every year October 5 is celebrated as the official day of Stara Zagora with multiple events, concerts, activities for kids and a fair.

Geography and climate[edit]

Stara Zagora is the administrative centre of its municipality and the Stara Zagora Province. It is about 231 kilometres (144 mi) from Sofia, near the Bedechka river in the historic region of Thrace.

The city is in an area of a transitional continental climate with a considerable subtropical influence. The average yearly temperature is about 13 °C (55 °F).

Climate data for Stara Zagora (1931-1970)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.0
Average low °C (°F) −2.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 47
Source: []


Stara Zagora was possibly the biggest town in today's Bulgarian territory before liberation from Ottoman rule. But the town was burned and destroyed by Turkish army during the Liberation war in 1877-1878. During the first decade after the liberation of Bulgaria, in the 1880s the population of Stara Zagora decreased and numbered about 16,000.[7] Since then it started growing decade by decade, mostly because of the migrants from the rural areas and the surrounding smaller towns, reaching its peak in the period 1989-1991 exceeding 160,000.[8] After this time, the population has started decreasing because of the low birth rate. Stara Zagora is one of the richest cities in Bulgaria with much better economic situation than average for the Bulgarian provinces.

Stara Zagora
Year 1887 1910 1934 1946 1956 1965 1975 1985 1992 2001 2005 2009 2011 2013
Population 16,039 22,003 29,825 38,325 55,094 88,857 122,454 151,163 150,451 143,420 141,597 140,710 138,272  ??
Highest number 199,272 in 2014
Sources: National Statistical Institute,[2][8][9] „“,[10] „“,[11] Bulgarian Academy of Sciences[7]

Ethnic linguistic and religious composition[edit]

According to the latest 2011 census data, individuals who declared their ethnic identity were distributed as follows:[12][13]

  • Bulgarians: 117,963 (93.2%)
  • Gypsies: 5,430 (4.3%)
  • Turks: 1,965 (1.6%)
  • Others: 579 (0.5%)
  • Indefinable: 617 (0.5%)
  • Undeclared: 11,718 (8.5%)

Total: 138,272

In Stara Zagora municipality 133,619 declared themselves Bulgarians, 8,531 Gypsies, 2,841 Turks and 14,493 did not declare their ethnic group.

Football club[edit]

PFC Beroe Stara Zagora is a football club in Stara Zagora. It was established in 1916 and plays at Beroe stadium. The team is a member of the "A grupa" league. Players include Georgi Andonov, Vladimir Zafirov, and Ivo Ivanov.[14][15]

Main sights[edit]

A Communist era statue at a park in the center of town.


Districts of Stara Zagora
  • Bedechka - Gradinski (Бедечка - Градински, named at river Bedechka)
  • Central City Part (includes Supercenter, Chayka & Zagorka) (Централна градска част (Суперцентър, Чайка и Загорка) - Chayka - Sea-gull, Zagorka - named after Zagorka brewery)
  • Makedonski (Македонски - Macedonian) know also as Chumleka (Чумлека)
  • Dabrava (Дъбрава - former village of Dabrava)
  • Eastern Industrial Zone (Източна индустриална зона)
  • Geo Milev (Гео Милев - named after the Bulgarian poet)
  • Golesh (Голеш)
  • Industrial Zone (Индустриална Зона)
  • Kazanski (Казански)
  • Kolyo Ganchev (Кольо Ганчев - named after the famous Bulgarian revolutionary)
  • Lozenets (Лозенец - from лозе - vineyard)
  • Mitropolit Metodiy Kusev (Митрополит Методий Кусев - named after a famous Starozagorian bishop)
  • Opalchenski (Опълченски - Volunteer's district named after Bulgarian voluntary army units) also known as Chaika (Чайка - Sea-Gull)
  • Samara 1, 2 & 3- (Самара 1, 2 и 3 - named after the sister city of Samara, Russia)
  • Slaveykov (Славейков - named after the famous Bulgarian poet Petko Slaveykov)
  • Studentski grad - (Студентски град - Student town)
  • Tri Chuchura north, center & south - (Три чучура север, център и юг - "Three spouts")
  • Vasil Levski - (Васил Левски - named after the famous Bulgarian revolutionary)
  • Vazrazhdane - (Възраждане - Renaissance)
  • Zheleznik (small & big) (Железник - like one of the former names of the city)
  • Zora (Зора - Dawn)

Future districts :

  • Atyuren (Атюрен - future district of the city)
  • Bogomilovo (Богомилово - village of Bogomilovo)
  • Hrishteni (Хрищени - village of Hrishteni)
  • Malka Vereya (Малка Верея - Vereya - old name of the city, Malka - small, village of Malka Vereya)

Famous people[edit]


Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Stara Zagora is twinned with:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]