Bulgarian essential oil, especially rose oil history goes far back in the past, somewhere in the darkness of 17th Century. The spoken people’s memory and found out evidences claim it is around and/or above 400 years long history.

Roses (essential oil bearing rose – botanical species Rosa Damascena Mill) was first introduced in what is today known as Kazanlak region. Iran (Persia) is said to be the Motherland of the first rose plants brought in Bulgaria and successfully planted in Kazanlak.

Bulgarian rose Bulgarian white rose

Roses found a very good soil and mild climatic conditions, in between the piece of land of Balkan mountains on North and Sredna gora mountain on South. Village people very soon understood that growing roses is a good opportunity to earn extra money for their living.
So very soon newly planted pieces of land with roses spread all over the neighbourhood.

Rose field Rose field

Followed a long period of natural selection and adaptation of roses until we get present day Rosa Damascena, variety Kazanlak charactirised with the gentle at the same time powerfull and exceptionally long lasting aroma of Bulgarian rose oil.

Bulgarian selected rose Bulgarian selected lavender

First markets of the exceptionally aromatic liquid obtained in the so called “gullapani” – a very primitive way of distilling rose oil was the big then Turkish empire and of course - EUROPE.

old-rosovarna1  old-rosovarna2  old-rosovarna3  old-rosovarna4  old-rosovarna5

The success was so great that in 19th Century in Bulgaria were planted already 9 500 - 10 000 ha of roses with annual production of around 4000kgs of rose oil.
Roses were mainly of Rosa Damascena species but a good portion (around 20%)of Rosa ALBA were planted, too.

Thumbnail image Bulgarian rose plantation

At that time there were formed four major rose regions: KAZANLAK, KARLOVO, STRELCHA (PLOVDIV) AND CHIRPAN (STARA ZAGORA), later on to become the backbone of what is very famous nowadays: BULGARIAN ROSE VALLEY.

map Bulgaria Stara Zagora District

During the years of centralized economy in Bulgaria (1944-1989) production of rose oil and related products was under the total control of the state.

Four main state enterprises were to keep up the rose business in Bulgaria: Bulgarian rose “Kazanlak” Bulgarian rose “Karlovo”, Bulgarian rose “Plovdiv” and State Laboratory “Bulgarian Rose”.

Rose plantations were to be cared for by the newly formed agricultural cooperatives. In this way the Bulgarian state succeeded to stabilize the production and control of rose oil within the frames of 2000kgs annually.

Bulgarian rose oil Bulgarian rose oil

In 1989 and the next few years to follow the State monopoly over roses was successfully broken: the first three entirely private companies in that sector appeared: NatureBase JSC to be one of them. Several years has to pass and then another group of companies appeared.

Nowadays about 18 companies are more or less successfully operating in processing essential oils (rose oil) in this way totally replacing the old state controlled enterprises which were either privatized but preserved their business (Bulgarian rose “Karlovo”) or changed totally their subject matter (Bulgarian rose “Kazanlak” – involved in medicine and drugs or were fianacially broken and disappeared (Bulgarian rose “Plovdiv”).

After a period of negligence towards rose plantations (1989 – 1994) now plantations are also 100% in the hands of private companies- rose growers and small land owners.
Gradually rose plantations were increased, old gardens were replaced by newly planted ones to recover in full in 2006 the maximum of roses during the period of state controlled economy.

Rose plantations Bulgarian rose plantations