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Bansko
Банско
The Bulgarian National Revival-style Church of the Holy Trinity in Bansko, built in 1835

Coat of arms
Bansko is located in Bulgaria
Bansko
Location of Bansko
Coordinates: 41°50′N 23°30′E / 41.833°N 23.5°E / 41.833; 23.5
Country  Bulgaria
Province
(Oblast)
Blagoevgrad
Government
 - Mayor Aleksandar Kravarov
Elevation 925 m (3,035 ft)
Population (15.12.2004)
 - Total 9,212
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal Code 2770
Area code(s) 07443
Website http://www.bansko.bg/ (Bulgarian)

Bansko (Bulgarian: Банско) is a town and ski resort in southwestern Bulgaria, located at the foot of Pirin at an altitude of 925 m above sea level.

Bansko is the birthplace of 20th century Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsarov and Bulgarian enlighteners Paisiy Hilendarski (sometimes disputed) and Neofit Rilski.

Contents

Legends

There are several legends about who founded Bansko. According to one of them, Bansko was founded by people who lived in Dobarsko, a village in Rila, itself according to a legend founded by the blinded army of Tsar Samuil. Another legend claims that Bansko was founded by an Italian painter by the name of Ciociolino, hence the existence of the name Chucholin in Bansko.

Still according to another version it was a Slavic tribe called the Peruns, who lived in Pirin and worshiped Perun, that founded the village later to become a town. There are a number of ethnographic texts, legends, prayers and oratories, which lend credence to this legend.

History

The archeological traces of the inhabitants of Bansko and the Razlog Valley in general date to the early periods of the Roman Empire. There are several housing structures at the outskirts of the town, which date to 100 BC. However, there is no consensus nor credible theory on who these people were.

The Bulgarian Evangelical Church Community, the first Protestant church in Bulgaria, was founded in Bansko on 6 August 1868.[1]

Until 5 October 1912, Baniçka (Bansko's former name) was a part of the Ottoman Empire, but enjoyed a quasi self-rule autonomy granted by the sultan. The town was ruled by an assembly of the elders, while justice was administered by the Ottoman judge in Razlog. It was incorporated in Bulgaria in 1912 as a result of the First Balkan War.

Bansko today

Bansko, once mainly a stockbreeding and travelling merchant community, has nowadays become a centre of winter and summer tourism. The mountain peaks near the town, the numerous lakes and the old pine woods make it a popular site for recreation. In recent years, the town has gained international popularity after the start of the annual Bansko Jazz Festival and consequently the annual Bansko pop-star concert featuring top pop stars. The nearby village of Banya, located only 5 km from the town, is known for its 27 thermal mineral springs.

A new gondola lift was built in 2003 to replace a minibus ride up to the ski slopes of Todorka. Several other gondolas and ski lifts are in the process of being built.The slopes are suitable for all level skiers - from the very beginners to ones who love extreme slopes. The town is developing very well by organising different competitions (alpine ski disciplines and also biathlon competitions).In Bansko will take part - the women's world cup for the alpine ski discplines. It is expected that the world cup for summer biathlon will also take part in the resort of Bansko. These developments, along with the construction of extensive housing and recreational facilities around the gondola (which is on the southwest end of the town by the river), have made Bansko a popular and growing destination.

The town is served by a scenic narrow gauge railway from Septemvri to Dobrinishte.

Since the 2008–2009 season, Bansko has been hosting ladies' races from the Alpine Skiing World Cup.[2]

Honour

Bansko Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after the town of Bansko.

Gallery

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Bansko[1] is in Bulgaria. It is the birthplace of the Bulgarian revival movement.

Get in

By plane

Currently 2 main airports serve Bansko, Sofia (around 160 km away) and Plovdiv (around 180 km away). A proposal for Bansko's own airport is currently well advanced, but no construction has yet started.

By train (From Greece)

Night trains leave from Athens and arrive to Blagoevgrad in the morning, via Thessaloniki. You can catch the train at Thessaloniki or any other station. The round trip ticket from Athens costs ~40€ (Christmas 2008), plus ~10€ for a bed in a 6-bed room for each trip. (60€ for the round trip with a bed in both trips). You should book tickets and beds in advance, especially during holiday seasons. From Blagoevgrad there is frequent bus service (every 30-60 minutes) to Bansko, the ticket costs 3-4 Leva. The bus station is very close to the train station, around 5 minutes on foot. From Bansko bus station you can call a taxi to your hotel, ask at the ticket office. You should agree on the price when you get in to avoid surprises (10-15 Leva should be enough). Some hotels may suggest a bus ride from Blagoevgrad to Bansko, at a much higher price though.

Get around

Getting around in Bansko is relatively easy. The town is not large, and walking around is nice. Taxis are relatively cheap (5-10 leva), though you should arrange the price beforehand. Have your hotel reception call you a taxi if you can. If you get to Bansko with your car, bear in mind that few roads get cleaned from the snow and ice, so snow chains may be required even in the city. Don't be fooled by local cars not using chains, as they use winter tyres which make a lot of difference! Renting a car from Sofia for most tourists is considerably beneficial because of the flexibility. Taxi rides can cost anywhere from 1-5 Euro per kilometer and are not recommended when traveling outside the city of Bankso. Buses run from Sofia and Blagoevgrad frequently during the winter (high season) and are the preferred method of travel for backpackers. The СОФИЯ - БАНСКО (Sofia - Bankso) is listed here in cryllic: [2] Transfer from Sofia to Bansko:80 euros. http://www.elit54.com/

See

In a nice day, with good visibility the view of the mountains is beautiful, especially if you take the lift to the ski tracks. (You should get to the ski tracks at least once even if you do not ski yourself)

Do

Skiing

Bansko is a good place for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Skiiers and Snowboarders could find BanskoSki, [3] useful. You can rent ski gear at the first station and get a discount at the lift ticket, though if you want to leave your skis there overnight there is an extra charge. A lot of ski rental shops can be found around the first station, where you can probably rent gear in better condition and get a good price if you book for more than 1 day (recommended) . (full ski gear for 4 days cost 100 leva - 50€). You can probably arrange to leave the gear at the shop overnight for free. The weather in Bansko is obviously colder than some Greek ski resorts, so warmer clothes and a full face hood is nice to have.

You can get a multiday ticket for the lifts, although the discount is negligible. There is also a half day ticket after 12:30 or 13:00 each day, but you can also buy tickets at a better price from people leaving the ski centre before the end of the day, around the ticket offices.

Most hotels offer a bus service to the ski lift station in the morning and afternoon. Try to get to the lift station not later than 9:00 to avoid long queues. It is also advisable to buy the tickets from the previous afternoon for the same reason.

  • In the beginning of August an annual jazz festival is held in the town.

Buy

The hot thing to buy in Bansko at the moment is property. Several real estate agencies line the main road to the mountain, many of them aimed at English investors. Note, however, that prices are even higher then in the centre of Sofia.

There are some fashionable clothing retailers, as well as ski shops in the town. The prices for ski and sports gear are quite good, but usually not exceptional. You should be able to lower the initial price if you negotiate.

On a smaller budget, there are also numerous souvenir shops selling a range of generic Bulgarian items, as well as Bansko specific ones.

Eat

Bansco is rife with traditional Bulgarian taverns ('Mehana'; plural 'Mehani'), as well as cafes and modern bars along the main roads. Price should be around 10€ per person in most places. There are also a lot of places where you can get a slice of pizza or a sandwich. The "Friends Pub" near the first ski lift station is really nice, you can get a slice of pizza in the kiosk outside, or a full meal inside.

  • Harry's Bar, Kandahar apartments (Close to bottom of gondola), [4]. Comfortable and modern lounge bar. Quiz and theme nights, cocktails and food served daily.  edit

Sleep

You can find nice 3-4 star hotels for ~40€ per night for a double room. Most hotels have sauna (free) and spa (extra charge). Belle vue is on of them, located near the ski lift station.

  • Chalet Jora, 13 Garibaldi Street, Bansko (Between the Glazne and the Church), 0044 7967750592, [5]. Catered ski chalet in the heart of Bansko. Sleeps up to 14 guests with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Large lounge with log fire, honesty bar, plasma TV, cable, large movie library, Nintendo Wii, wifi internet with chalet computer, Ipod docking station, CD player. English hosts will do all they can to make your holiday enjoyable and relaxing. £225 per person per week, fully catered.  edit

Get out

If you want a true mountain village experience, there are a few other villages nearby from which to choose.

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