First time in the Yambol province
The Yambol province (oblast) was one of the last ones to tick off. Not to say I've seen everything, there's far more in each province I'm yet to see. Still, I am still proud to say I'll soon have visited each and every of the 28 provinces. This visit to Yambol was part of a weekend trip to Asenovgrad, Asen's Fortress, Bachkovo Monastery, the Chudnite Mostove, Arapovo Monastery, Dimitrovgrad and Sliven. Quite a journey!
I slept in the Tundzha Hotel right near the main street. An excellent location and a good, renovated room. I walked into the center in the morning, past the many coffee places that were just opening. I directly got to the Eski Mosque, built in 1337 and reconstructed in the 1970's. Then, I walked around a bit and thought of how Yambol had to be very historical. What else I noticed is how the pedestrian had been renovated; it looked quite nice. On a sunny day, this would be a lovely city to stroll around and sip a drink on a terrace. Likewise, there's a very large park named 'Central Park', that includes a Rose Garden (Rozarium). The city nowadays has about 86.000 inhabitants, the number has quickly decreased after the fall of communism. Sadly, the economy did not offer good future prospects. I hope this is improving; either way I see some good possibilities for tourism. There's many historical sights around, such as the Ancient City of Kabile.
History and future
Yambol is located on the Thracian plains. In the center, I saw some references to Yambol's old name, Diospolis (City of Zeus). The name evolved to Diamboli and eventually Yambol. The city was founded by Diocletan, a Roman emperor. He was born in Dalmatia, in modern-day Croatia. Along the entire length of the Danube river, he established forts, walled towns and bridges. The Eurasian nomads Avars came from Central Asia and got to Yambol too. They destroyed Yambol in 583. Then, in 630, a civil war broke out between the Bulgars and Avars. The Bulgars had arrived a bit earlier and then battled against the Avars and even though they lost, the Avar troops were severely weakened. Eventually, the Franks beat the Avars in 802 and the Avars spread through Europe to be absorbed by other tribes.
During the reign of Khan Tervel (First Bulgarian Empire), the city grew to be a Bulgarian center. Then, it expanded under Khan Omurtag and got a new fortress. Later, during the Ottoman era, the city got a large muslim population as well. Centuries forward, Yambol even played a role in World War I. The German Luftstreitkräfte chose Yambol as one of its bases, due to its excellent geographic location. Nowadays, the city is the economic and cultural center of the Yambol province. Combined with other sights in the area, there's a future ahead for tourism purposes. Likewise, the rich agricultural lands around will keep Yambol alive as an agricultural center. This might attract large companies and investors as well. Thousands of years ago, there were already battles over Yambol and its excellent location. This means that nowadays, now the infrastructure improved massively, Yambol is very attractive for large companies seeking to settle on the Balkans. The Technical University in Sliven and Trakia University in Stara Zagora offer several types of education and hopefully, employment opportunities in the Thrace region will convince people to build a career in the area.
What to see and where to stay
Just like all Bulgarian cities, there's a wide array of places to sleep. I stayed in the Tundzha Hotel right near the main street and had a good night of sleep. If you search through Booking.com, you'll find there to be some excellent places to stay. For places to eat; it was surprising to see many pizza places in town. Then there's Mehana Trakiisko Selo, even though it's outside the center. I walked by Restaurant Alpineum as well, which looked great. Kafana Tsaribrod is a good option as well!