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ABOUT Stara Zagora AREA

The capital of the Republic of Bulgaria is the city of Stara Zagora (1 096 389 inhabitants, 550 metres above sea level). The city lies in the Stara Zagora Plain,
enclosed by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Lozen Mountain to the
southeast, Mountain Vitosha to the south, the Lyulin Mountain to the southwest.<br>
The the plain is open to the northwest in the direction of Yugoslavia, and to
the southeast to the Thracian Lowland. Stara Zagora is situated 55 km from the
Yugoslav border at Kalotina checkpoint, 113 km from the Gyueshevo checkpoint
with Macedonia, 183 km from the Greek border at Koulata, 315 km from the Turkish border at Kapitan Andreevo, 211 km from the Romanian border at Vidin,
324 km at Rousse, 392 km from our maritime border at the port of Bourgas, and
470 km from the port of Varna. In close proximity to the capital city lie
Pancherevo Lake and Iskar Dam. The Iskar River flows by the city, and several
smaller rivers cross the city, the most popular of these being the Vladaya and
the Perlovo Rivers. <br>
Stara Zagora is linked by international routes with the capitals of Europe, and via
Istanbul and Ankara, with the Middle East.<br>
Stara Zagora is a city with a 7000-year history, which makes it a unique phenomenon
in Europe, and places it among the settlements dating back to most distant
antiquity. To this very day excavations in Stara Zagora downtown bring up objects of
the Neolithic man, and remnants of the Stone and Bronze Era. The reason why
settlements arose so early is the abundance of thermal springs in the Stara Zagora
Plain. They cluster mainly around today’s city centre - near the old mineral
baths, around the Presidency building, in Lozenets Quarter, and in Gorna Banya
and Knyazhevo Quarters. The water temperature varies between 21o C and 42 o C,
and they are curative, because of the significant amount of ions and mineral
salts dissolved in them. <br>
The first known tribes to settle in the plain were the Thracians from the
triabe of Serdi. They gave Stara Zagora its first name - Serdica. <br>
Around 500 BC another tribe settled here, the Odrissi, known as a ethos having
a kingdom of their own. For a short period during the 4th BC the city was in
possession of Philip of Macedonia and of his son Alexander the Great. As late
as in the year 29 AD Stara Zagora was conquered by the Roman legions, and during the
reign of Emperor Trayan (98-117) became the centre of an administrative region.
It was given the name of Ulpia Serdica as a municipium, i.e. a centre of
administrative region. Construction on the territory of the city expanded -
turrets, protective walls, public baths, administrative and cult buildings, a
civic basilica and a large amphitheatre, called bulevterion were built. In the
2nd century AD Stara Zagora became the centre of the Lower Dacia province. It
subsequently expanded for a century and a half, so that Constantine the Great
came to call it “my Rome”. The city was of moderate size, but magnificent as
an urban concept of planning and architecture, abundant in amusements and of
active social life. The city flourished during the reign of Emperor Justinian
when it was surrounded with great fortress walls, remains of which can be seen
even today. <br>
Fully preserved and well restored now is the Roman Rotunda, transformed into
the Early Christian Church of St. George; it now stands behind the Sheraton
Hotel. Attila took the city by storm in the 5th century. After his death the
Byzantine Empire recovered it. It remained part of the Eastern Roman till the
early 9th century AD. <br>
When the kingdom of Danubian Bulgaria was founded in 681 AD, many Bulgarian
khans coveted Serdica. But it was only in the year of 809 that Khan Kroum
succeeded in conquering and including it in the Bulgarian territory. The new
name of the city was changed to Sredets, which in the parlance of that time
meant “middle, central part, centre”. Actually its location gave it all
grounds to be considered the centre of the Balkan Peninsula. The city existed
until the year 1018 AD when Bulgarian lands fell under Byzantine rule and it
was renamed Triyaditsa, which meant “between mountains”. After 1194 the city
regained its former name. <br>
The city was repeatedly besieged and attacked by Magyars, Serbs and Crusaders.
After the liberation of Bulgaria from Byzantine rule it was re-included in the
territories of the country. Its name was now Sophia. The St. Sophia Church,
which stands to this day next to the St. Aleksander Nevski Memorial Cathedral,
gave the city its present-day name. <br>
Stara Zagora quickly expanded and became a centre of crafts and trade. New buildings
and numerous churches were built in the city and the neighbouring villages,
the best known of these is the Boyana Church.


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