Just came back from a week full of excursions in the Pirin mountains around Bansko. A great place for hiking and excursions with the family. We booked an all-in-one package and the hotel took care of everything, the tranfers, the accomodation, the food. It was a week and everyday a different trip and a different experience. We visited various villages of the region and ate at traditional restaurants. Totally reccomended for those who seek some out of the ordinary.
Bansko is surrounded by mountains - not only Pirin Mountains, where the big ski area is located, but also Rila and Rhodope Mountains. They are all reachable for a day walks and the snow shoes allow us to do a numerous hikes in the wild country in winter. It is a good way to escape the busy ski resort for a day and enjoy the snow, nature, rural life and severe mountain landscapes, especially for those who love mountains and are attempted to try different activities during their holiday. Also for people, who discovered they are not really into skiing and would like to do something technically easy - you simply put the snowshoes on your feet and start walking in the deep snow.
pro: less people
contra: it's scary!!!
have a coach before !!!
first time I nearly cried when looked down, then - enjoyed the downhill (note: I am a northern girl, so cross-country skiing was part of my school life)
If you don't fancy the big white stuff but still want a taste of winter sports here in Bansko then visit the 1200 square metre ice-skating rink for a whirl. This is located on Pirin Street (I think) heading out towards the ski area. It's open until 10 pm (floodlit at night) and charges 16 leva including skates or 8 leva if you have your own. When it first opened it was free for children but I don't know if that has since changed (will update when I find out).
Whilst most of the recent investment in Bansko has been towards its development as a ski resort it is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty and the town is naturally (of course) keen to encourage year-round tourism.
The Pirin Mountains are the centrepiece of the UNESCO listed 42,000 hectare Pirin National Park. This certainly does look worth a visit and considering that the town now has over 150 hotels with 10,000 or so beds between them I'm sure that there must be some very good deals around!
On my list of things to do when I next manage to get some summer vacation time.
Since the turn of the millenium it is estimated that over 100 million Euros has been invested in Bansko's ski facilities and accompanying infrastructure with the goal of establishing the area as Bulgaria's premier winter resort.
I'm not a downhill skier and so can't comment on that side of the experience but it does look like a pretty slick set up. There's a gondola lift to take skiers up to the ski base (about 25 minutes) and from there a system of chairs and drags on to the pistes themselves. There seems to be something for all abilities, from beginners to Black runs and even a floodlit 7 km night slope.
The season usually begins on the 1st of December (with the official opening towards the middle of the month) and runs until the end of April. To cope with the vagaries of Bulgaria's winter the main pistes are equipped with snow-making cannon and the resort reckons it can pretty much guarantee skiing every day except for during especially capricous weather.
Ski passes start at 50 leva a day (about 25 euros) and there's a large ski rental centre next to the gondola station with prices starting from about 25 leva per day. There's also plenty of smaller, perhaps more competitive, hire places on the main Pirin street also close by.
There is some controversy regarding the gondola capacity being insufficient for the demand but the consensus seems to be that if you are keen to get the most out of the day then get out early.
I've also noted a few people griping on forums about the gondola station being out of town - well, my observation is that to get from the furthest part of town to the lifts is, at most, a 15 minute walk and if you can't manage a 15 minute walk then I don't think you should bother visiting for the skiing.
Apres-ski is well catered for with bars, clubs and restaurants to suit most tastes and there's even a 24 hour pub with Sky Sports just in case you're missing the footie.
Velian Ognev was a painter, studied in the Deber’s art school and came to Bansko to make the drawings of the St. Trinity church. He was accommodated with his 2 sons in that house which had belonged to a rich family but they had moved because of a tragedy. Velian started paint the house and made it much more colorful and interesting of the other typical houses. He married Heofit Rilski’s sister and he made a great gesture to her- he gave her one of the room and called her the Ladies room. In this period no woman has her own room to meet her guests. The room was painted in blue and later it was called the Blue room
Just behind the Holy Trinity church is the birthplace of Neofit Rilski, (1793-1881).He’s been a monk and a scholar who controlled the development of primary education in nineteenth-century Bulgaria. There’s plenty to be seen in the period rooms of the house itself. His father used one room in the house to teach reading, writing and bible study to the local kids. Students wrote in wooden boxes filled with sand, examples of which can still be seen today. The family’s main living room features an open hearth on which meals were cooked, and a low central table –in XIX century people were used to eat sitting on the floor.
St. Trinity Church of Bansko and the clock bell tower are like a symbol of Bansko. The amazing artwork of the church interior, made by Velian Ognev catch the interest of everybody that see it. The icons were drawn by Dimitar and Simeon Mollerov – the notorious masters from Bansko Iconographic School .It is a great part of the spiritual heritage, preserved from the past till nowadays.
This is the first museum in the Pirin region ,it was opened in 1952.
Nikola Vaptsarov was a Bulgarian poet and revolutionary.Because of his underground communist activity against the government of Boris III and the German troops in Bulgaria, he was arrested and executed in 1942 at the age of 32.Now in the museum are shown his poems.
This tree is around 1300 years old, the oldest one in Bulgaria and one of the oldest in the World. It was found in 1897 by Kostadin Baikushev who described it, that’s why it has its name. It is 26 m high and the girt is 7.8m
Take a walk south up Pirin Street and soon you are beyond the apartment blocks and deep into the pine forest. There are plenty of marked paths and a few pinic areas, within a very short distance of the town. It is very quiet and pictuesreque. There are some great views. You can even walk to the edge of the slopes and watch the skiers rush by. It is also a place to cool off on a hot summers day.
St. Trinity Church is the landmark of Bansko. Unfortunately because of the intensive building these days it is no longer possible to see the church from all over Bansko, as it used to be.
St. Trinity Church was built in 1835 and it is one of the biggest churches built during the Revival period. At the time of Ottoman Yoke Bulgarians weren't allowed to build churches higher the Konak (the administrative building of the Ottoman Turks). The whole dick walls were supposed to hide the size of the church. And there is a very strange 'decoration' on the church entry (see picture No. 3) that does not fit the Christian norm. The reason was to make Turks to 'close their eyes' regarding the church. The courtyard has a triangle form (as seen on picture 4). There is a monument of Bulgarian poet Peyo Yavorov, who proclaimed the independence of Bansko from the church 7.10.1912. The nearly 30 m high clock-tower was built in the period 1862-1865, and it is unique of its art - a combination of clock tower and bells-tower. Unfortunately the clock wasn't working at the time I visited Bansko.
I highly recommend you attending Sunday morning service at the church. It is a unique experience.
(more to come, eventually)
Velyanova House was a gift by the people of Bansko to Velyan Ognev in order to thank him for his work on St. Trinity Church. The house was the most beautiful one for its time. Velyan Ognev then decorated the house inspired by his wife. The most impressive room is the Blue Room with decorative ceiling and the painting of imaginary places on the wall. The picture of a wolfs symbolizes the unity of the family.
The house has a secret tunnel leading to the church. The tunnel was meant to be used in case of an attack by Ottoman Turks.
The house also illustrates the everyday life in the end of the 18th and in the beginning of the 19th century.
Bansko Jazz Festival is an annual event that celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. The Jazz Festival was exactly what attracted us to visit Bansko for the weekend.
The program and additional information about Bansko Jazz Festival may be found on the web site below.
On the pictures you see:
1) Pavel Ryba & Mind the Steps, Czech Republic
2) Vasil Petrov, Maria Taneva-Mery and Angel Zaberski quartet, Bulgaria
3) El Macareno sextet, Spain
4) Lucas Van Merwijk and Drums United
El Macareno Sextet really had a great success.
Unfortunatey it began raining when Lucas Van Merwijk and Drums United started playing, so I missed them.