"When I left the sky, a drop of my sweat fell on the earth and from it the first rose budded. Who wants therefore to breathe me and to feel my perfume, need not do other than to smell a rose". (Mohammed)
Throughout the middle east the rose has always been considered the most perfect of all flowers. In various stylized forms it is one of the elements that appears most often in Moslem decorations and symbolises perfection and fidelity.
Persia has always been the country of roses. Pierre Loti wrote: "Roses roses everywhere. All the dames hold a bunch of roses. All the small sellers of tea or candy, along the road, have some roses that fill their trays and roses attached to their belts and even the lousy mendicant, crouched under the domes, twists some roses through his fingers".
One of the best known and most beautiful roses is the rose of Damask. It is a double flower, with very perfumed petals and was originally selected by the Syrians who wanted to increase the number of flowers, the frequency of the flowering and the relative perfume.
The pink damask rose has a very long history. It was present and admired in the hanging gardens of Babylon; the Romans knew and appreciated it; the Arabs cultivated it for the pleasure of the caliphs. In fact caliph Mutawakkil (847 - 61) said: "I am the king of the Sultans and the rose is the king of flowers due to its delicious perfume; each of us is therefore worthy of the other".
It seems the first European to import the rose was a Crusader, Robert de La Brie, who brought it to France in 1254.
The Ottoman domination brought the cultivation of this flower to the Balkans: Bulgaria, together with Turkey, is in fact still one of today’s greatest producers of the pink damask rose.
The pink damask rose is treated through vapour distillation and one of the by-products of this process of transformation is rosewater.