The town of Bansko is situated at the foot of the Rila Mountains (to the north) and the Pirin Mountains (to the south). The town altitude is 925 m. Its mountainous climate preserves snow coverage from December to April, and the alp characteristics of Pirin ensure excellent professional and amateur ski conditions. The population of Bansko is 10 000 people.

Bansko Bansko and Pirin mountains

Invariably attractive throughout all four seasons, the town provides a number of holiday, recreation and sports activities. The area has preserved the balance between ecology, flora, fauna and national traditions. Bansko is hugely popular both in Bulgaria and abroad due to its wonderful ski tourism conditions combined with its distinctive folklore and Bulgarian architecture of past times.

The town is also a nationally significant cultural centre. The old quarter of Bansko, where Dedo Pene Guest House is located, is full of the traditional atmosphere of the Bulgarian National Revival– narrow cobblestone streets with their typical houses with wooden chardaks (balconies) securely hidden behind thick wooden gates. Lots of 18th and 19th century constructions have been preserved with their authentic decoration.

Bansko

The town was founded in the 9th – 10th c. AD in a locality where ancient Thracian settlements used to exist. Back in the 18th c. Bansko was still a village but it was nevertheless expanding its economic and spiritual progress – it had a progressive crafts school and was developing commercial activity even abroad. A class of wealthy merchants and craftsmen formed.

Bansko Bansko

In the Ottoman Empire period, Bansko had the rights of a limited autonomy, so it naturally turned into a fortress of true Bulgarian essence, significantly participating in the development and establishment of the Bulgarian nation. It is not by accident that the ‘father’ of the Bulgarian National Revival, Paisiy Hilendarski (Paisius of Hilendar), was born here. He wrote the tiny but greatly conceived Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya (Slavonic-Bulgarian History) in the darkest slavery period (1762). Yet another worthy adherent of his was born in Bansko. This was the patriarch of the new Bulgarian education, Neofit Rilski (Neophyt of Rila) who greatly contributed to establishing the Bulgarian identity in hard times. Furthermore, Bansko rendered great services for national literacy development in Pirin Macedonia during the Revival. At the end of the 18th c. Marko Vezyov of Bansko anticipated the appearance of the Riben Bukvar (the Fish Primer) and had a school primer issued about 30 years earlier before it. In 1838 a monastery school premises was built in the church yard, which later on developed into a secular school. It was only natural that the internationally acknowledged poet Nikola Vaptsarov (1909-1942) would be born in this town as well. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th c. an influential artistic school was established. Town masters and artists would decorate and create works of art in houses and churches in Bansko, the Rila Monastry, Aton, Serbia, Macedonia, etc. Today there is a permanent exhibition of the Artistic School of Bansko.

The citizens of Bansko greatly contributed to the national liberation movement. They took part in uprisings, revolutionary committees and a number of them perished fighting for independence or in the Balkan wars. Bansko was liberated on October 5th 1912 with the assistance of some local detachments (this is also the celebration date of the Day of Bansko).

Sveta Troitsa church Bansko

Today Bansko is a municipal centre – an administrative-territorial unit in Sofia District. It encompasses Bansko and 7 villages having the status of town councils: Gostun, Dobrinishte, Kremen, Mesta, Obidim, Osenovo, and Filipovo with their country-yards. The Municipality of Bansko encompasses a part of the Mesta river valley, the northwest region of the Dabrashki Section of the West Rodopi, some parts of north Pirin and the south part of the Razlog hollow, spreading at an overall area of 462 km2.

One of the most distinguishing symbols of Bansko is Sveta Troitsa church, with its unique bell toll and clock tower rising up in the town centre. Its construction began round about 1810, being funded by Bansko citizens. The 30-metre clock tower was erected fifteen years later, its mechanism functioning flawlessly to this day. Despite the Ottoman rule hardship, the church has been preserved throughout the centuries due to the town citizens. Today it is a functioning church with its own chorus, servicing regular and holiday liturgies.

Bansko is a town of eminent past, dignified present and stable future, a town which has preserved the distinctive and ever-searching Bulgarian spirit through the centuries.