It may be hard to believe, but of all the places in the world where roses are cultivated, there are just a handful of regions in only 2 countries that provide just the right conditions to grow this incredible flower in large enough quantities to produce rose otto essential oil! One such area is in Bulgaria, and the others are in Turkey – and both are connected by history.
The origin of the cultivated rose is often quoted as the Gulf of Persia, which is now known as Iran. From the 10th to the 17th century the rose industry was developed and dominated by Persia, and particularly in Shiraz, the famous city of poets and oriental culture.
A nearby valley provided the perfect environment for growing roses, thereby establishing what would in later years become the finest rose oil producing region in the world. This area is now called the ‘Valley of the Roses’, and during 1878 cuttings from the improved stock were returned to Anatolia and planted in Isparta and Burdur, where current rose production still thrives.
Throughout the 19th century, the Bulgarian rose oil industry reigned supreme, almost monopolising the entire world supply of rose oil. This monopoly would not be broken until the industry was nationalised due to dramatic changes in the political and economical climate after World War 2, when production fell into a steady decline. Today, it is believed that Turkey holds the record as the largest producer of rose otto, and only the oil from this country matches the quality and fine fragrance to that of Bulgaria.