Town of Bansko
Equally attractive in the four seasons of the year, the town offers various conditions for relax, leisure and sport. Here, the balance among ecology, flora, fauna and national race is preserved. The popularity of Bansko in the country and abroad is due to the wonderful conditions for ski tourism in combination with the original folklore and old Bulgarian architecture.
The town of Bansko is situated at the foot of the Rila Mountain to the north, and Pirin Mountain to the south, and the Rhodopes to the east. The town altitude is 925 m. Its mountainous climate preserves snow coverage from December to April, and the alp characteristics of Pirin ensure excellent conditions for professional and amateur skiing. The population of Bansko is about 10,000 people.
The town is also a nationally significant cultural center. 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.
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 well-developed commercial activity even abroad.
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. 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) by Petar Beron and had a school primer issued about 30 years earlier before it. In 1838 a monastery school premises were built in the church yard, which later on developed into a secular school. 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 5th October 1912 with the assistance of some local detachments (this is also the celebration date of the Day of Bansko). Internationally acknowledged poet Nikola Vaptsarov (1909-1942) was born in this town as well.
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 Saint Trinity 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.
The resort of Bansko is an excellent tourist destination all year round. The guests of Dedo Pene and Bansko have an array of opportunities to choose from - eco-tourism, amateur, professional and extreme sports, as well as excellent recreation all year round.
Ski and Snowboard
In 2017, the English newspaper Mirror sets Bansko at position seventh among the best winter resorts in its own chart. This is the best town in Bulgaria and one of the most attractive ski resorts on the Balkan Peninsula. The immediate proximity to awe-inspiring Pirin provides excellent conditions for winter sports fans. The ski season starts in December and, due to the generous nature, finishes in April. The availability of 30 powerful snow canons ensures the flawless function of the ski runs throughout the period. About 60 km of professionally equipped and secured ski tracks have been developed in the mountain approaches. The conditions are suitable for everyone – about 35% of the ski runs are for beginners, 40% for advanced skiers and yet another 25% for professionals. The artificial snow machines are capable of covering about 80% of the track.
The ski center stretches vertically over an altitude of 1000 to 2560 m. Modern lift facilities ensure a fast advance towards the beginning of each ski run. An 8-person cable car is available, as well as five 4-seat chairlifts, one 3-seat chairlift, six ski tows and ten kids’ ski tows. The natural beauties of the region, combined with the modern equipment turn Bansko into a paradise even for the fussiest skiers and snowboarders.
The vicinity of Bansko offers some excellent and various conditions for mountaineering, which places it among Europe’s most desirable tourist destinations. Pirin is the second highest mountain in Bulgaria (its altitude being more than 2500 m). However, the Mediterranean influence reaching those places through the valleys of the rivers Struma and Mesta makes Pirin the mountain with the largest number of sunny days per year. The most suitable time to go hiking is from the beginning of June to the end of September. Pirin National Park has numerous breath-taking views, lots of eco-paths and routes. It also provides longer hikes opportunities for a couple of days in the region of Mount Vihren and the ice lakes around it. The hikes begin and end in some of the mountain chalets in the area which provide accommodation and road connections to Bansko. The town is also a convenient starting point for trips to the Banderitsa river, the Baykusheva white fur, Mount Vihren, Bezbog, Valyavishki Lakes, as well as to a lot of beautiful spots in the region.
The region of Bansko is quite popular with extreme cyclists. Its vast forest areas and numerous mountain paths are just perfect for mountain biking. One of the most popular routes is Belizamata Reserve which is located 3 km southwest of the town. You can rent a bike in Bansko, but the ski stores would also offer you an array of mountain bikes in the summer.
The melting snow masses in late spring ensure extreme sports conditions at the downstream of big rivers such as Struma and Mesta.
The hang-gliding experience at an altitude of 2500 m is one of a kind! The scenery you see when flying down from Mount Todorka is exceptionally beautiful, the slope under you making you feel like a bird!
The central location of Dedo Pene Guest House makes it a suitable starting point for a town cultural sites tour. Saint Trinity church is situated right next to the guest house, and so is the museum complex in the old quarter of Bansko – the museum-houses of Nikola Vaptsarov, Neofit Rilski, Velyanova House (representing some of the 100 Bulgarian national tourist sites), the museum-exposition of the Iconography School of Bansko and many others.
Remnants of some ancient strongholds can be seen near the town – for instance Staroto Gradishte locality (also called Sitankale) situated 4 km southwest of the town, or Yulen locality at the Damyanitsa river stream. You can visit the remnants of the late medieval churches called St. Georgi and St. Iliya southeast of the town.
Dedo Pene recommends
Saint Trinity church
One of the most significant churches in Bulgaria, built in the second half of 19th century and declared to be monument of culture.
Paisiy Hilendarski historical center
The museum is built on the place of Pisiy`s native house and there is authentic reproduction of the hermitage in Hilendarski monastery.
The clock tower
It was built in 1850 and it is among the few bell towers in Bulgaria that function as clock tower as well.
St. Petar and Pavel chapel
On the second day of Easter usually there is a procession led by the Bishop who comes here for a special mess.
St. Georgi church
A new church, built from remnants of a medieval church, southeast of Bansko, on your way to Dobrinishte.
Sveta Bogoroditsa Church
"The Asumption" or "Saint Virgin Mary" is a church from the second half of 18th century.
Neofit Rilski museum-house
Beninata house is a renaissance building, a native place of Neofit Rilski (Nikola Benin) is turned into a museum in 1981.
Nikola Vaptsarov museum-house
A native place of one of the most popular Bulgarian poets Nikola Vaptsarov (1909-1942) is one of the first musums in region of Pirin.
Built in the 18th century, this Renaissance house is distinguished by its decorative design, a product of the craft Velyan Ognev.
The permanent icon exhibition of the Artistic School of Bansko
The building of the former Hilendasrki/Rilski convent, 3 Yane Sandanski Str.
The ethnographic exhibition – bazaar
In the "House of arts" is situated a permanent ethnographic exhibition bazaar with authentic handmade materials, art souvenirs and artworks.
The Sunday market
The traditional Sunday market is a sustainable part of the manners in Bansko. Situated near the square "Nikola Vaptsarov", as well as the stalls at "Tsar Simeon" Str between the stadium and the town park.
Interesting sites in the region
About 6 km away...
The mineral springs of the settlements of Dobrinishte and Banya are situated about 6 km away.
About 7 km away...
A first-class golf course is located in Beletovo locality (Pirin Golf Club)
About 20 km away...
The village of Dobarsko is nested in Rila outskirts. It is famous for its two churches dating back from 1614
About 30 km away...
In the forest slopes of south Rila, 12 km away from the town of Belitsa, a Dancing Bears Re-adaptation Park has been created under the initiative of the foundation of the famous conservationist Brigitte Bardot. The park encompasses a total area of 12 hectares at an altitude of 1200 – 1345 m.
About 60 km away...
Leshten and Kovachevitsa are the villages where the Rodopi Mountains magic can be sensed. The history here is of mixed origins – different religions, traditions and perceptions.
About 90 km away...
One of the oldest and most famous religious centres in the country – the Rila Monastery – is situated nearby. It was set up in the 10th century and is the largest monastery complex in Bulgaria, being also among the most significant monasteries on the Balkan Peninsula.
About 110 km away...
The famous spa town of Sandanski is situated in the region of Pirin. Yet another town full of mineral springs is located on the borderline of the mountains Rodopi and Pirin – the town of Velingrad.
About 130 km away...
The smallest Bulgarian town of Melnik is situated in the south mountain foot. Melnik has been pronounced a museum-town. Nested between the dreamy Pyramids of Melnik (a natural phenomenon and protected site), for centuries on end Melnik has provided the best environment for growing the famous Melnik grapevine which, when ripe, is used for producing one-of-a-kind red wine. Eastwards of Melnik, the Rozhen Monastery, a cradle for the Bulgarian spirituality, is situated.
Traditional Kuker Carnival
The carnival is traditionally held on New Year’s Day as the citizens and guests of Bansko gather to see the "scary" masks, to enjoy the national arts from the region, to try the original Bulgarian food and dance a traditional Bulgarian horo (national folk dance) in the center of the town.
Ski season opening
Traditionally the ski season in Bansko opens in January, but this could happen in December, according the ski conditions. A number of guest musicians, artists from Bulgaria and abroad, and world-famous ski stars take part in the opening celebrations and fun.
Bansko traditions fests
Bansko traditions fests have been organized for three decades now, being held from 17th to 24th May. You can visit some ethnographic and cuisine expositions, as well as some fine and applied arts exhibitions. You can also attend some thematic evenings of authentic Bansko humour, songs, national folk dances and customs. The summer season is opened likewise.
Music fests under the stars
Someone could say that Bansko has turned into a town of the fests. Having been held more than ten times, Bansko Jazz Fest has started getting its popularity. The "Nikola Vaptsarov" square is often a scene for cultural performance, traditionally without an entrance fee. The visitors of the town have a choice of festival programs almost through all year round; cinema panorama, ballet festival, the festival of opera and classical music, theatre festival, folklore festival and many others.
Day of Bansko Fest
The Day of Bansko is celebrated on October 5th. On the same date in 1912 in Saint Trinity church the Bulgarian poet Yavorov, together with the detachment of the voivode (leader) Hristo Chernopeev, pronounced Bansko free saying "Bulgarian brothers, throw away your fez (Turkish hats), you shall be free from now on." The fest is famous for its concerts and celebrations and the various program is held for a couple of days.
Christmas and New Year’s celebrations
Bansko is among the most desirable destinations for the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations and Dedo Pene Inn is one of the best celebration and party places. The culmination of the celebrations is the traditional mummers fiesta eagerly performed on the square on 1st January.
The magnificent Pirin Mountain is the second highest mountain range in Bulgaria and the third one on the Balkan Peninsula. Pirin takes up the whole space between the valleys of the rivers Mesta and Struma, as well as the Predela hollow which separates Pirin and Rila. The mountain has more than 100 peaks whose altitude is higher than 2000 m, 23 peaks which are higher than 2500 m, and yet another 7 peaks over 2800 m high. The highest peak is Mount Vihren – 2914 m. 186 high-mountain lakes are located in Pirin. Many of them are of ice origin. The ice activity of more than 18 000 years ago has formed the present-day landscape of the mountain – its jagged granite peaks and beautiful ridge (Strazhite, Koncheto).
In 1962 Pirin was pronounced a national park. The park encompasses over 42 000 hectares of unique nature – peaks, centuries-old forests, clear lakes and rivers inhabited by lots of game – wild goats, deer, bears, wild cats, wolves, etc. Pirin National Park is part of the UNESCO Convention for world natural and cultural heritage preservation. It is also a part of the “A Man and Biosphere” Program. Furthermore, some reserves have been isolated on the park territory: Bayuvi Dupki – Dzhindzhiritsa and Yulen. Pirin is extremely abounding in plant and animal diversity.
Pirin National Park provides exceptionally beautiful views, lots of eco-paths and routes. The main traces have been marked in the respective colours. They are connected both to the chalets and the starting points. Bansko is one of them – Banderitsa and Vihren chalets are accessible either by an asphalt road or a path. Damyanitsa chalet on the other hand is accessible both by an asphalt or off-road trace. In winter, the mountain attracts a number of winter sports fans by offering them lots of various ski runs.
One of the world’s oldest trees can be seen in Pirin – the Baykusheva black fir. It was named after the forester Kostadin Baykushev, who found this specimen of black fir in 1897. The tree grows at an altitude of 1930 m, close to Banderitsa chalet, near the road from Bansko to Vihren chalet. It is more than 1300 years old and it is the oldest conifer in Bulgaria. It is 26 metres tall, its diameter reaches 2.2 m, and its girt – 7.8 m.