View of the city from the monument "The Defenders of Stara Zagora"
|• Mayor||Jivko Todorov (GERB)|
|Elevation||196 m (643 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
Stara Zagora (Bulgarian: Стара Загора, pronounced [ˈstarɐ zɐˈɡɔrɐ]) is the sixth-largest city in Bulgaria, and the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province located in the historical region of Thrace.
The original name was Beroe, which was changed to Ulpia Augusta Traiana by the Romans. From the 6th century the city was called Vereja and, from 784, Irenopolis in honour of the Byzantine empress Irene of Athens. In the Middle Ages it was called Boruj by the Bulgarians and later, Železnik. The Turks called it Eski Hisar (old fort) and Eski Zagra, from which its current name derives, assigned in 1871.
The original Thracian settlement dates from the 5-4th century BC when it was called Beroe or Beroia.
Under the Roman Empire, the city was renamed Ulpia Augusta Traiana in honour of emperor Trajan. The city grew to its largest extent under Marcus Aurelius (161-180) and became the second most important city in the Roman province of Thrace after Philippopolis (Trimontium). Its status and importance is evidenced by the visits of several emperors including Septimius Severus (193-211), Caracalla (211-217), and Diocletian (294-305).
The Battle of Beroe was fought near the city in 250 resulting in a Gothic Victory. It was probably after this event that the city walls were doubled like other cities in the region (e.g. Diocletianopolis, Serdica).
In the 2nd-3rd century the city had its own coin mint showing its importance.
In 377, in the Gothic War (376-382), the Goths marched on Beroe to attack the Roman general Frigiderus but his scouts detected the invaders and he promptly withdrew to Illyria. The city was destroyed but rebuilt by Justinian.
John's Byzantine army, and many of the captives, were settled as foederati within the Byzantine frontier.
The Ottomans conquered Stara Zagora in 1371. A grade school was built in 1840 and the city's name was changed to Zheleznik (Железник; a Slavic translation of Beroe) in 1854 instead of the Turkish Eskizağra (Also called Zağra-i Atik), but was renamed once again to Stara Zagora in 1870. It was an administrative centre in Edirne Province before 1878 as "Zağra-i Atik". After the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1878, it became part of autonomous Eastern Rumelia as a department centre before the two Bulgarian states finally merged in 1886 as a result of the Unification of Bulgaria.
July 31, 1877 is a tragic date in the city's history: 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.
Many of the monuments from the Roman city have been excavated and are visible in situ today and include:
Overlooking the "antique" forum is an unusual building in the form of a monumental auditorium in the shape of a theatre.
|Climate data for Stara Zagora (2002-2014)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.0
|Average low °C (°F)||−1.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||47
Stara Zagora was possibly the biggest city in today's Bulgarian territory before liberation from Ottoman rule. But the city 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. 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. After this time, the population has started decreasing mostly because of the migration to the capital city of Sofia or abroad.
|Highest number 151,272 in 1985|
|Sources: National Statistical Institute, citypopulation.de, pop-stat.mashke.org, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences|
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 First Professional Football League. Beroe has won the Bulgarian Cup two times (2009-2010 and 2012-2013).
Future districts :
Every year October 5 is celebrated as the official day of Stara Zagora with multiple events, concerts, activities for kids and a fair.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stara Zagora.|