Getting around in Bansko does not require public transport. Taking the subway in Bansko may spoil your opportunities to see all the beautiful things above the ground. As a matter of fact, the subway stations in Bansko are rather badly organised; though there are metros running underground, there are no exits, so just relaxe and do it all by food. My suggestion to get a good impression of Bansko is a walk including the following streets, starting from the place were the monument of Hilendarski is. From there: turn to the east: you enter Velyan Ogrev street. You will find on your left hand the Velyanov house. After a visit to this place go back the street and take the first little street on your right hand, continue this path on the left hand side and you enter the Rilski street, go to the right and you find the Rilski museum house. Well, now you have seen the two most important streets of towns and, interlinked, the two most important houses in town, to which these streets were named. But, then again it may be time to go back to mere mundane Bansko and head for the restaurants and terraces around Vaptsorov place. Of cource you will not end up here, for you have probably seen all the cosey places along the cobblestone streets in the old town. The authentic taverns and restaurants may look more appealing then.
Most of the tourists who visit Bansko wont end up at the river Glazne. Why should they!? This place is a 150 metres from the Nikolai Vaptsorov place, and not a sight were all tourist operators will stop. Yet, if you have time its nice to walk along the river. There are from the centre two streets that go to the Glazne, that is the Tsar Simeon street and the Garibaldi street. Sitting at the banks of the river you get another view on Bansko. Not the overcrowded tourist place is central in this view, but the way locals are living at the border of Bansko. Also a must see then..
Banskos most impressive street, starting from the second biggest square in town, where the Sveta Troitsa church is situated, longing to the Hotel Bulgaria, the entrance of the national park and the Katerina hotel, is the Pirin Street. This street is not the fifth avenue of Bansko, for that is the main street, rather pedestrian zone between pl. Nicola Vaptsarov and Tsar Simeon street, but it seems as if it is the actual heart of Bansko life. During daytime you find the farmers crossing the streets with their carriages, you see the herders with sheeps passing the street and the street life is lively and, to the standards of a town-village, crowded. At night there the street is a kind of place of traffic of people, mainly locals, who are going and coming from the local pubs and restaurants. But apart from the street being somehow important as a frequented road in some way, is that the street itself is eye-catching. It goes up in the direction to the Pirin mountains and in doing so, it combines all the elements of a picturesque Banskonian site: the houses with that unique architectural style along the ,beginning, of the street, the peaks of the mountains in the background and the rural elements intruding the street at noon. Although the town is formally a town it looks more like a village at Pirin street.
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.
If you are not into house museums and particulars of Bansko history or art, it maybe a good thing just to walk around and see the beautiful buildings from outside. Just walk through the small streets of the old town and enjoy the street-scenery and the striking architecture. Here and there, you may take a look inside the old houses, which are now taverns or restaurants. The owners of these places are proud and eager to show you some of the beauties of their houses interiors. They tell you about the interesting details about the place, also when you are not going to have diner there…they just like it when people are interested. To have a clear image of the area where buildings are becoming more interesting, I can say that the area next to the Sveta Troistsa Church is the place: this area is between the Pirin (street), Rilski street, Sandanski (street). When you stroll the streets in this area, you find all the important and beautifull sights. There, where the cobblestone paths and roads end, the area is ending. A beautiful spot just outside this area is however the end of the Rilski street, here you find a little round square with a fantastic view on the Pirin mountains.
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.
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.
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
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
Dobrinishte is the best ski and spa resort in Bulgaria. The name of the villages came with its first inhabitants. “Dobri neshta” (means "Good things") said the people, charmed by the beauty of the nature, the mineral springs and the fresh air, and thus they gave it the name. Honestly Dobrinishte is perfect for recreation and tourism. It used to be the most famous resort, both ski and spa, in the Pirin Mountain. But recently, after a lot of investments in the town of Bansko, which has turned into the best winter resort in Pirin, Dobrinishte went in to a shadow. We are sure it will become a popular place again soon, mainly because compared to Bansko the mountain around the village is much easily accessible and far from alpine, and because of the hot mineral springs.
The most striking feature of Bansko is the Sveta Troista Church. This outstanding paece of architecture is dominated by the 30 meter high clock tower, which is, according to the postcards I saw, Bansko’s major landmark. The church is build in the 19 th. Century and is surrounded by 1 meter tick walls, which are some 5 meter high! The buildings interior is impressive, there is furniture from the 19 th. Century, wooden floors and the place breathes out some mystic atmosphere. The place is open till 7 pm, and there is no fee.
At the second largest place of the town, the place where you can also find the Sveta Troitsa Church, the Paissi Hilendarski monument is situated. This man is the author of the famous Slav-Bulgarian History (18 th. Century). It is however, in my opinion not a monument the good man deserves, it’s a bid awkward, a concrete, large brick on a Stalistic like place. Another thing to see is the house museum of Rilski, a celbrated man of letters and enlightment. The building is a schoolroom and it contains scripts written by the man and some photos of him. Rilski lived in the 19 th. Century and is most known for him being the founder of secular schools
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.
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)