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BANSKO

Bansko is situated in the foothills of the Pirin Mountain, in the southwestern section of the Razlog Plain, at 936 m (3070 feet) above sea level. It is situated on an enormous alluvial cone, formed by the Glazne River - a tributary to the Mesta River. The town literally made a name for itself as a settlement around the 9-10th century after the nearby neighbourhoods decided to group together. Until the 18th century the inhabitants of Bansko were predominantly stockbreeders and craftsmen. At the time of the National Revival the town solidified its place as a significant crafts and trade centre with an expansive market in the largest cities in Europe. It reached its economic and cultural zenith at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century when Toma Vishanov (Molera) founded the famous Bansko Art School - one of the brightest scenes in the history of Bulgarian culture during this period. Its representatives - icon painters, woodcarvers and builders - had a great influence on the upsurge in the spiritual life of Bulgaria during the National Revival era. After the Congress which wrote the Treaty of Berlin, Bansko remained in the territories of the Ottoman Empire, which put an end to its rise. It was liberated in 1912. The last few decades have turned the town into the largest Bulgarian winter resort after Borovets and Pamporovo, which offers ideal conditions for skiing and tourism: distance to Sofia - 160 km (100 miles), to Blagoevgrad - 50 km (30 miles); highest point of piste- 2500 m (8200 feet); marked ski runs - 14 km; longest ski run - 2.6 km (1.6 miles); thickness of the snow cover - more than 2 m (78 in.); accommodation capacity - more than 100 hotels, and a large tourist complex in the centre of the town. This is a starting point for tourist outings to the highest points in the Pirin range, the Banderitsa, Demyanitsa and Vihren tourist bases. Three kilometers from the Banderitsa Base is a locale named Shiligarnika, above which one finds the largest ski centre in Pirin.

LANDMARKS
• Museums which preserve the cultural and historic legacy of the town, among which are the childhood homes of: Paisiy of Hilendar, the author of Slavo-Bulgarian History, which is the embodiment of the passage from Bulgarian Middle Ages to the National Revival era; Neofit Rilski, one of the greatest National-Revival scholar-and-reformers (a.k.a. the Benina House); the poet Nikola Vaptsarov; and the exquisite icon painter Toma Vishanov.
• The unique Bansko National-Revival Houses (Velyanova, Sirleshtova, Todeva, etc.) - two-layered stone fortresses with high walls and massive, heavy gates; they have spacious rooms, decorated with multi-colored drawings with secular and religious themes and carved ceilings.
• Beautifully mural-decorated churches, among which is the architectural masterpiece the Holy Trinity's (1835) with a clock tower (1833-1850).
• The comfortable restaurants and taverns in which one can sample the traditional Bansko dishes.

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