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PETRICH

The second largest city in the vicinity of the Pirin Mountain, Petrich is situated in the far southwest of Bulgaria, where two of its national borders come together - the west and the south. It is 13 km to the border crossing at Kulata (on the Greek border) and 20 km to the border crossing at Zlatarevo (on the Macedonian border). The town is situated at the foot of the Belasitsa Mountain, on both banks of the Petrich River (a.k.a. Luda Mara) - a tributary to the Strumeshnitsa River.

Petrich is the successor or the ancient Thracian city of Petra (rock in Greek), which emerged at the foot of the Kozhuh Mountain, in the locale of Rupite. During the 1st century B.C., Petra was conquered by the Romans and existed as a Roman settlement until the 6th century A.D. when it was conquered and burned by the Slavs. It is supposed that the surviving inhabitants left the burned out city and moved to the foot of the Belasitsa Mountain, where they laid the foundations for the modern-day town. In 837, during the rule of Khan Presian, Petrich was included in the territories of the First Bulgarian State. During the Middle Ages, it was a strong fortress - part of the fortification system of Southwest Bulgaria, which took on major importance in the battle against the Byzantines. One of the most dramatic battles of our history was fought here in 1014 - the battle for Tsar Samuil's Fortress, in which 14 000 Bulgarian soldiers were captured and blinded by the Byzantine Emperor Vasilius II (for which he earned the name Slayer of Bulgarians). Four years after that defeat, Bulgaria was to spend nearly two centuries under Byzantine rule. In 1321, the feudal ruler of Petrich gave the city to the Russian monastery, St. Panteleimon's, on Greece's holy Mt. Athos. During the Ottoman rule, the settlement became an important Turkish administrative and military centre, while retaining its Bulgarian character. During the 16th century the Christian population amounted to 90% of the inhabitants. The people of Petrich took an active part in the national liberation movement in Macedonia. In 1912 Petrich was freed from the Ottoman yoke, and, the following year, opened its doors with hospitality to thousands of refugees from the Aegean and Vardar regions of Macedonia.

LANDMARKS
• Town Historical Museum.
• Churches: the Holy Virgin's (1857), a cultural monument, St. George's, St. Nicholas' and the Assumption's.
• Village remains from the Hellenistic era 5 km northeast of Petrich.
• The National Samuil's Fortress museum 18 km west of the city including a museum collection and a sculptural complex - a bronze figure of the Bulgarian Tsar Samuil, presented full size with his knees bending under the weight of great suffering, and large stone panels on both sides with relief figures of the blinded soldiers.
• The Kozhuh locale 8 km north of Petrich, which encompasses the cone of a volcano (which has been dormant for six million years). Part of it was declared a protected natural site due to the presence of endemic and relict plant and animal species - a unique find within the territory of Bulgaria. At this locale one can also see the home of the late Vanga, who was known as the "Petrich Prophetess", and St. Petka's Church built by her.
• The village of Marikostinovo - a balneological resort 13 km away from Petrich with warm mineral springs (the temperature of the water is 38° - 62°C or 100° -144°F) and medicinal mud baths. A medieval necropolis from the 7-10th century is situated nearby.
Warm mineral springs in the Rupite locale, which flow from the mouth of the volcanic crater. The temperature of the water is 70°C (158°F). It is not potable, but its high sulfur content makes it extremely appropriate for use in medical procedures, as well as for the production of green algae.

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