Stara Zagora is located in central Bulgaria, about 230 km from the capital. It is the fifth biggest urban agglomeration in the country and is famous for its modern buildings, infrastructure and, of course, beautiful nature – parks and recreation centers. Its name has changed many times throughout history. The first known settlements existed in the times when this territory was part of the Roman empire. At that time, the name of Stara Zagora was Augusta Trayana, which is now the name of the longest street in town. Its name changed after that, as the Slavic tribes came and conquered the territory. Then the Turks changed it again, and its name is now the Slavic one. Exploring Stara Zagora on your own is not difficult, as its streets are straight lines through the town, just like Barcelona, for example. This means that when you are somewhere in the suburbs and want to get to the center, all you need to do is pick a street and walk straight ahead. This type of system is not that common for the Bulgarian towns, but Stara Zagora was built anew after being completely burned down in the course of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. Therefore, it is a modern town, offering many interesting activities not only for those who are used to the comforts of modern civilization but to nature lovers as well.
The Ayazmoto (Аязмото) Park is a part of the neighboring mountain range Sredna gora (Средна гора), as the town is built on this mountain range`s hills. The park is a place for relaxation, sport and for finding inner peace by escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a while. There is also a summer theater stage in the woods of the park. Different concerts and performances take place there, when the weather allows it.
Another great way to spend some time in nature, while surrounded by all modern conveniences of the civilization, is to visit the Lake Zagorka. It is a property of the Zagorka beer factory in the town, and there is a hotel on the shore. Still, all visitors can either take a walk in the "Bedechka" park nearby, rent a boat and do some active pedaling among the swans who live in the lake, or just have coffee at the hotel-restaurant with a great view over the surroundings.
For those who want to get a sense of the authentic ancient Roman atmosphere, there are two places worth visiting in the town center. One of them is the Antique Forum, where you can see the authentic or partially restored Roman ruins, which had once been part of a large amphitheater. The operas and operettas performances take place there in the summer, on the stage of the amphitheater.
The second gem in the Stara Zagora center is near the Antique Forum. This gem is café “Augusta”. The interesting thing about it is that the Regional History Museum adjacent to the café, and if the weather allows it, you could sit outside, just next to the glass walls of the lower floor and experience the ancient atmosphere - on this floor the Roman ruins and statues are exhibited. The walls of the lower floor are made out of glass, so you would literally drink your morning coffee on an ancient Roman street.
While exploring Stara Zagora, one stumbles upon numerous historical monuments, sights and also small pieces of nature – parks and gardens. This wide variety makes the town an attractive place for tourists, and not only – the locals love Stara Zagora because it offers numerous ways to spend your free time and relax. Therefore, it makes a really great place to visit! Even if you do not know any local who could guide you, do not worry, the streets in the town are straight, so you can (almost) never get lost!
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