Friday, 1 July 2011

The 7 day circuit to Bulgaria - The afternoon of day 3 (Kazanlak) - the 14th of June 2011

Part of the afternoon was spent at the Ethnographic Complex of Skobelevo, a rose oil production unit, where we got acquainted with the whole process, which we found to be very interesting.

The Skobelevo Ethnographic complex premises

The visit started with an exhibit of the old distillation machines and containers in an outside patio gallery.

The rose distillation process is very similar to the one used for making brandy, though in this case a double distillation is needed. Following it, the droplets of the pure rose oil are left floating on the surface of the condensed liquid separated from the rose water. To produce 1kg of rose oil 3.5 tons of rose blossoms are needed.

The rose picking season starts in May going through to mid-June (depending on the conditions) and the rose blossom and petals need to be picked up as soon as they open, in order to obtain the maximum quantity of essential oil.

Bags of collected rose petals

Old and modern distillation installations

Kazanlak is the centre of rose-oil extraction and its production for export to international perfumiers of major importance to the local economy. The Bulgarian "Rosa Damascena" oil is famous since the 17th century, making Bulgaria its major supplier in the world.

Many of us had the possibility not only to try the rose liqueur, but also buy some of the various of products made out of this oil. Taking into account the whole time consuming process to get it, we found the final products to be at fairly reasonable prices.

We then got ready for the 1 hour drive which would take us to Hissarya, famous for its mineral water baths, but most important of all where we would be spending the night.

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