Located in central Bulgaria at the foot of the Sredna Gora mountain range lies the town of Hisarya (also known as Hisar, Hissar or Hissarya). Once upon a time, Hisarya was an active Roman SPA Resort and was at one point used as a rehabilitation centre for wounded Roman soldiers.
Today, the town is a blissfull haven famous for its natural mineral spring waters with healing properties, large SPA resorts, mild climate, impressive Roman ruins and great restaurants. The SPA town of Hisarya is a popular tourism destination. Bulgarians come here on weekends and holidays to escape from the city and relax. Foreign tourists come here to relax, for health reasons or as part of their holiday in Bulgaria.
Hisarya is a small resort town in central Bulgaria located in the Plovdiv province. It sits at an elevation of 368 m. Hisarya has 22 hot water springs actively used since ancient times. Thus, this area has always attracted settlers due to the abundance of water. The first settlers were Thracians. Later, the Romans arrived to these lands and transformed the town. Ruins from the Roman period are still well-preserved in the modern city of Hisarya. Not only are they beautiful, but they lend a touch of charm and elegance to the city. The first documented name for the town during these times was Augusta after Emperor Augustus. Later came the name Dioclesianopol after Emperor Diocletian. It is said that the Emperor himself came to the town in 293 AD because of the healing mineral springs and this is the reason why the town was renamed after him. The Romans built a marvelous city. Wide streets, stunning coutryards, villas, marble baths, aquaducts, sewage systems and an amphitheater. The cherry on the top must be the impressive fortified wall around the town that is still quite well-preserved to this day. The modern name, Hissar, means fortress in Arabic. This name showed up in the 17th century when the Ottomans renamed the city and remains to this day.
The healing power of water
Hisarya has no less that 22 mineral spring waters. All of them are warm water springs. Depending on the spring, the temperatures range from 44-55˚C. You can find public warm mineral water spouts where locals and visitors alike are lined up to enjoy the water and even take a bottle or two home with them. The chemical composition of the waters are known to have various positive health effects. Along with the mild climate with lots of sunny days, Hisarya has turned into one of the most well-known SPA & health resorts in Bulgaria and a very obvious option for international medical tourism. The mineral waters contain hydro-carbonate, sulphate, sodium, flourine, silicon, radon and hydro-sulphide. The waters are suitable for drinking, inhalation and for external therapeutic usage. They provide relief for many medical disorders such as urological problems, gastrointestinal diseases, muscoloskeletal diseases, peripheral nervous system diseases, metabolic diseases and gynecological disorders. Additionally, many hotels in Hisarya offer SPA facilities such as sauna, steambaths, jacuzzi, indoor thermal pools, fitness rooms and SPA treatments such as massage, hydrotherapy, kinetotherapy, mineral water baths, mud applications etc.
What to do in Hisarya
Just because you are in Hisarya does not mean you have to spend the day lazing away at the poolside (but no one will judge you if you do). There are plenty of activities to throw yourself into. Almost every hotel will have a few bicycles available for rent at the reception. Heck, they might even be free! Get on that bike and explore the town. There is a very nice bicycle lane that follows the ancient Roman fortification. Don’t like bikes? Try hiking! Walk around the town and maybe outside of town to witness the amazing nature in this region. Mountains, small villages, churches, sheep, goats, horses, meadows, fields…there is no shortage of exciting things to discover in rural Bulgaria. Horseback riding! The Sredna Gora region is actually quite famous for horseback riding due to the terrain. Hisarya has a few riding centres and any hotel will be able to help you make a reservation for horseback riding. Taste wines! Not exactly in Hisarya but a short drive away, you will find excellent wineries that invite you to taste their wines, dine in their restaurants, walk around the property and learn about winemaking.
What to see in Hisarya (landmarks)
Take the opportunity to walk around the town. You cannot help but come across the fortified Roman wall, the Roman baths, the central parks, the early Christian basilicas, the Roman tomb and many more interesting things to see.
Hisarya and Wine Country
Hisarya is situated in the wine region that we like to call the Rose Valley wine region. In close proximity to Hisarya, you will find the Starosel Wine & SPA complex – a winery, hotel, restaurant and SPA all-in-one. Starosel Winery is the perfect excursion from Hisarya. Another famous winery located very close by is Chateau Copsa – a winery with excellent wines and a fantastic restaurant, boldly experimenting with the local grape variety Red Misket.
How to get there
Hisarya is barely an hour away from Plovdiv – Bulgaria’s second largest city. There are regular buses from Plovdiv South Bus Station, which take you to Hisarya in about an hour. There is also a bus from Sofia to Hisarya. The bus ride takes approximately 3 hours. The train from Sofia to Hisarya is around 4.5 hours.
For the purpose of convenience and comfort, it might make more sense to simply hire a private transfer or make a whole trip itinerary out of it. See our Rose Valley Wine Trail itinerary for inspiration. Accommodation can easily be provided in Hisarya.