Bansko – Resort for All Seasons
Bansko – Resort for All SeasonsPLACES TO SEE Bansko has been declared a unique town of international importance to commercial tourism (1979). Apart from the beautiful Pirin and the numerous spots of natural beauty the town also boasts its many historic sites. Remains of ancient fortresses have been preserved in the Staroto Gradishte (Stankale) locality about 4 km southwest of the town and also in the Yulen locality (downstream Demyanitsa river). Thracian tumuli have been uncovered in the vicinity of Staroto Gradishte. Archaeological works have unearthed a 2nd century B.C. burial site containing a set of bronze surgical instruments, remains of medicinal preparations etc. in the centuries-old Dobrokyovitsa locality (west of Bansko). Scientists assume that a medieval settlement used to exist in the Sveta Troitsa (Holy Trinity) locality (northeast of town). Southeast of Bansko are remains of the late-medieval single-nave churches “St George” and “St Elijah”. Bansko is the birthplace of famous Bulgarian enlighteners, poets, writers, painters, iconographers and revolutionaries: Mile Bizev, Y. Vaptsarov, Nikola Vaptsarov, M. Vezyov, Lazar German, B. Golev, hadji K. Dagaradin, Lazar Konchagov, M. Kolchagov, Toma Vishanov, Dimitar Molerov , Simeon Molerov, Neofit Rilski, Paisii Hilendarski, Ivan Popstefanov, Mile Rahov, Terzi Nikola, Asen Todev, Blago Todev, Nikola Furnadjiev etc. Monuments commemorating Nikola Vaptsarov (1956, sculpture by Iliya Iliev) and Paisii Hilendarski (1976, sculpture by StoichoTodorov) have been erected in the town. Bansko is famous for its well-preserved traditions and culture, its original Revival-period architecture and its local culinary specialities (Banski shashlik, Banska kapama). Visitors to this mountain town have always left it captivated by the spirit of Banskalii (Bansko residents) wishing they could once again return to the heart of Pirin; to one with nature is something everyone craves for in their hurried everyday lives. CULTURE Bansko is an important cultural centre for the region. According to historic records, the settlement was first established about 9th -10th century A.D. on the site where ancient Thracian settlements had existed. In the 18th century it was mentioned as a large and prosperous village of thriving crafts and trade reaching as far as the Aegean and Europe. Bansko is the centre of a historically important arts school. In the 18th and early 19th century talented painters and woodcarvers created works of art in the houses and churches of Bansko, the Rila Monastery, the monasteries on Mount Athos, Serbia and Macedonia. The most famous painters belonged to the Molerovi clan, starting from its founder Toma Vishanov. During the second half of the 19th century another group of painters lead by Usta (Master) Ognyan Ognev made the decorative elements in the “Sveta Troitsa” church, Velyanova Kashta etc. Also famed were other craftsmen and painters such as Angel Velyanov, Mihalko Golev, Dimitar Sirleshtov , Ivan Terziev, Nikola Benin. Bansko gained renown for its woodcarving and local masters. A monastery school was opened in Bansko in 1817 or 1838 and in 1848 a “mutual school” was founded. Bansko is the birthplace of nationally admired enlighteners, revolutionaries and poets such as Paisii Hilendarski - the author of “Istoriya Slavenobolgarskaya” (History of Slavo-Bulgars)(1762), Neofit Rilski - the founder of secular education and the first Bulgarian encyclopaedist, Nikola Vaptsarov - a remarkable Bulgarian poet of international renown. Original fortified and artistically decorated houses have been preserved from the 18th and 19th century, built almost entirely of stone, with small barred windows, tall walls, heavy metal-plated gates and interconnected by narrow and winding cobble-stone streets. Remarkable as architectural monuments and examples of fine art are the Velyanova, Benina, Sirleshtova, Todeva, Molerova, Dragostinova, Sharkova houses. The Sveta Troitsa church, the bell tower with the big clock, the midlevel church “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” with its remarkable wood-carved iconostasis make for fine accents in Bansko’s atmosphere. Also noteworthy are the museum houses and collections, souvenir shops and romantic holiday residences, hotels and taverns cuddled in the narrow and picturesque streets. SUMMERTIME TOURISM The thing that attracts hundreds of tourists to Bansko is the unique combination of natural beauty, climate and mineral waters of the town, as well as its atmosphere, typical of the Bulgarian National Revival. Unique are also the numerous mountain massifs and reserves. The town is the gateway to the most attractive part of Pirin with its symbols – the wild goat and the edelweiss. The incredible relief formations that attract Bulgarian and foreign tourists are: the Koncheto, the Banski Suhodol circus with one of the few snow-patches in Bulgaria, the Bunderitsa and Kazana caves, which are among the deepest in Bulgaria, the Yulen nature reserve and the crystal lakes – more than 100 in number. Thirteen major mountain routes and seventeen secondary ones have been developed within the territory of the Pirin National Park to serve the purposes of summer-time tourism. Rock scramble is allowed on six sites. In the high alpine part of the mountain summer-time accommodation for tourists is offered in eight mountain chalets and five shelters. Bansko has specific climate. The Aegean-Sea waft combined with the crystal clear water of Pirin attract lots of tourists during the hot summer days. The warm mineral water springs in the villages of Dobrinishte and Banya are with proven healing properties. They are a good precondition for development of spa treatment in the municipality. The exceptional architectural style typical of the Bulgarian national-revival period and the historical and cultural heritage of the town create favourable conditions for development of congress and cultural tourism in Bansko. MODERN SKI ZONE The town nestling in the most beautiful alpine part of the ???mountain of gods’, Pirin, offers excellent conditions for mountain sports and tourism. Unlike the other winter resorts, Bansko offers tourist accommodation in the town only, where there are 4200 beds. The local people’s hospitality is well known. They mostly meet tourists in their small family hotels and guesthouses, which are now 34, but their number has been on the increase recently. The resort has seven three-star and eight four-star hotels; a five-star hotel is under construction, too. In winter a modern cabin lift takes skiers from the town to the Bunderishka Polyana area. There is a way station at Chalin Valog. A cabin capacity is 2400 people per hour. Apart from the cabin lift, there is also an asphalt-covered road from Bansko to the Vihren chalet, which connects the ski-zone in the alpine part of the mountain with the town. The road was repaired this summer. A ski path has been made from the first lift station to the Bunderishka Polyana area and skiers use it to race downhill to the resort. The ski path will be covered with snow with artificial snow machines throughout the winter season. A quad-chair lift equipped with transparent plastic helmets started operating for the first time in Bulgaria last season in Bansko. The helmets protect skiers from the wind in the higher parts of the mountain. The Austrian company Doppelmayer is the manufacturer of all new ski facilities in Pirin: a cabin lift, three quad-chair lifts, two ski tows of the anchor type with capacity of 900 persons per hour, children’s facilities. The concessionaire Yulen JSC has projected a mobile revolving path for the youngest skiers, as well as new amusement trains and a kindergarten. The facilities servicing the ski runs in the Shiligarnika area, on the plateau of the Todorka peak and the Chalin Valog area have been repaired and are in good condition for the forthcoming tourist season. In the ski-zone whose centre is Bankso there are 14 ski runs of different levels of difficulty at the disposal of skiers. Two more ski runs are to be added to them this year, with two new ski lifts, which are being set up. The ski runs are clean and ready. They have markings and are foolproof. 24-hour servicing of ski runs has been provided, using snow tamping machines and the ten snow groomers available. New possibilities are opened up for snowboarders with the special half-pipe facility. The most modern chip card system provides access to the cabin lift and the other ski facilities in the zone through automatic opening of the entranceway when the card is regularly validated. A deposit is paid for every card, which is refunded at the end of the day, on returning the card. Large-scale construction is going on in the resort. In 2004 alone the municipal authorities have given permission for building of 70 hotels. Most of them are in the new rest and recreation zone in the Gramadeto area in the town environs. For this reason the municipal authorities’ priorities are: building of the necessary roads and infrastructure, water and electricity supply for the new buildings, providing of car parks and good road traffic organisation. Today’s construction contains elements of the typical architectural style of Bansko. The new hotels and complexes are built with materials that are traditional for the town – wood and round stone, which helps preserve the architectural styles of the town; and its central part built in a style typical of the national-revival period remains unchanged and is kept as a monument of culture. A lot of old recipes have been preserved and the present-day inhabitants of Bansko prepare delicious specialities. Guests can taste the culinary specialities typical of the season and Bansko in the famous taverns. They are more than 150 and are with antique furniture in the old style of Bansko – another traditions from the past, which has been revitalised nowadays. THE MAGNETISM OF BANSKO Sports and cultural calendar of Bansko The sports events and the long list of cultural happenings in Bansko ensure pleasant experiences for the guests of the town throughout the year. The small town of the Bulgarian national revival hosts a number of big sports competitions in both summer and winter. Some of the traditional annual sports competitions are: the International Arm Wrestling Tournament carried out in May every year, the International Football Tournament for the Tanne Cup, again in May, the Republican Orienteering Championship, the high cross-country capability car racing and others. The sports calendar of Bansko for the 2004-2005 winter season includes the traditional ski alpine discipline starts for the PIRIN and KAPI national cups – in February for children and in April for men and women. Bansko will host again the prestigious biathlon events, the alpine starts for the BALKAN OPEN CUP, the international extreme skiing and snowboarding competition, the republican snowboard championship, the white-sport veterans’ championship and others. Bansko has an extremely rich catalogue of cultural events. A part of them have preserved the traditions in folklore, customs, woodcarving, painting and are of regional importance. These are the holidays of Bansko’s tradition celebrated in May every year and on the Day of Bansko, 5th October. Tourists accept with great interest the annual culinary exhibition of Bansko’s dishes and specialities, the Easter and Christmas celebrations, the New-Year kukeri (mummers) competition, the numerous folk concerts and Bansko national costume reviews, the religious and everyday traditions preserved up till now… With its centuries-old culture inherited from the past and with its various cultural forums carried out here, the mountain resort may freely call itself a FESTIVAL TOWN. The festivals hosted by Bansko are quite different in nature and themes. In Between Three Mountains is a folklore festival for authentic Macedonian songs. Both Bulgarian and foreign singers, mostly from the neighbouring countries Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey perform in it. The festival is with over ten-year history and is carried out like a competition. So far, performers from over 20 countries have appeared on the stage of the prestigious international jazz festival. The big rock concert of stars of the 70s and 80s organised by TANNE Hotel, which continues for 8 hours, has established itself as an annual event. The children’s festival under the auspices of TANNE Hotel gives an opportunity to young talents from the municipality of Bansko to perform and make their talent known. Everything the visitor discovers here – history, culture, traditions and customs, specific cuisine, ancient architectural style, authentic folklore, unbelievable humour and rich literature, makes the small mountain town from the national revival a peculiar symbol of the Bulgarian spirit and arouses interest in it. This is where its magnetism lies. No other town offers possibilities for mountain tourism and winter sports and competitions, for congress, eco and country tourism, for alpinism and spa treatment, angling, mountain cycling, summer and winter walking tours in the mountain… And the mountain is rich in crystal clear lakes and natural sites, and offers fascinating routes. This is why thousands of tourists pass through this place to rediscover Bansko and Pirin – two names associated forever with the unique magnetic power of genuine beauty.
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