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A Summer Break In Bansko

Bansko has a diverse arrangement of traditional folklore festivals and cultural events. This is a town, which enjoys a celebration and commemorates events such as the start of the winter and summer tourist seasons, announced with the solemn ringing of the bells and singing of traditional songs. Coinciding with the opening of the summer season in May is the Festival Among Three Mountains, this magnificent display of dance and song and authentic folklore also encompasses an exhibition of local arts and crafts.

 

August Jazz Festival 2011

In August the nationally renowned concert known as Pirin Sings takes place followed by the Summer Jazz Festival.This years'annual International Jazz Festival will take place between the 8th - 13th August 2011.

Places To See

For a town of its size, Bansko is rich in historic buildings and culture. It has over 100 registered archaeological sites alone and Bansko Municipality contains seven monuments of national interest. Its complex of museums provide an insight into the everyday life of a variety of eras with interesting displays of archaeological finds, ethnographic materials, religious icons and woodcarvings as well as a rich source of old photos.

Well worth visiting is the House of Velyanov, which was declared a monument of culture of national significance. The house is a classic example of a fortified house from the National Revival era and contains some unique murals and ornate wooden ceilings carved by renowned master craftsman, Velyan Ognev.

Bansko's religious legacy also leaves a positive impression. The Old Hilendarian Cloister contains a permanent exhibition of iconography by masters of the Iconography School of Bansko. The 19th century Saint Trinity church is a beautiful example of local craftsmanship with its three-nave basilica and stunning belfry; up until the construction of Sofia's Alexander Nevski Cathedral, it was Bulgaria's largest church. The reconstructed chapel of Saints Peter and Paul is also well worth seeing as is the Thracian fortress with its sacrificial altar and 5th century church.

Things To Do

A must see when visiting this region is the Pirin National Park, a UNESCO heritage site and protected reserve. The park is rich in emerald lakes, waterfalls, caves, century old trees and historic places. It provides perfect conditions for a variety of interests from mountaineering, hiking and mountain biking to photography, paragliding and rafting. Much of the area is forest and a habitat for animals including Deer,Wolves and Brown Bears.There is a wide variety of plant life, a number of bird and fish species within the territory making it one of the most interesting areas in the Balkan Peninsula.

One route through the park, which is particularly noteworthy, is the Route of the Five Lakes. This four hour walk passes through gentle terrain suitable for young and old and takes in some of the most stunning scenery in the park.

The oddly named Dancing Bears Rehabilitation Park in Belitsa in the Rila Mountains, 33 kms from Bansko is also worth visiting and is open year round. The park is located in a pine forest with natural water resources. It houses the wild brown bear and is an international project run by the charity known as the Four Paws Foundation. Within the park each bear has its own territory with access to water and plenty of space for climbing. Food for the bears is purposely hidden at different places in the park, encouraging the bears to hunt to feed themselves, just as they would if they were in a natural wild environment.

The area is also famous for its well-preserved Thracian cultural monuments as well as the remains of castles like the medieval Kalyata Castle and monasteries like the remains of the Saint Ilia monastery, which is characteristic of the early-Byzantine era. Another interesting site is the 17th century Saint Theodor Thyron and Saint Theodor Stratilat Church in the village of Dobarsko. The church is beautifully preserved and contains some inimitable wall paintings, which have led to it being under UNESCO's protection.