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Razlog Valley

The peaceful Razlog valley lies 800 m above sea level and is home to a population of 12,465 people. Razlog valley was first mentioned during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II, was once known as Razlik and its citizens actively participated in two major uprisings. Razlog is a small town in the southwestern region of Bulgaria, in Blagoevgrad Province, also known as Pirin Macedonia. The province borders four other Bulgarian provinces, as well as Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.

 

 

 

Getting There

The town is easily accessible from the capital lying only 155 km to the south and is a mere 53 km to the south-west of Blagoevgrad, 141 km south-west of Plovdiv and 6 km north of the international ski resort Bansko. Sofia and Plovdiv are the nearest international airports and there is a regular bus service linking the town with the neighbouring towns and villages as well as the cities of Blagoevgrad and Sofia.

The Town

Razlog is an administrative, cultural and economic centre of the Municipality of Razlog and is an up-and-coming town with some key characteristics notably its different architectural styles. The town has a strong renaissance feel, which sits well with the modern architecture, which has recently been constructed here. There is an impressive 41 residential buildings built in the Razlog-Chepino architectural style recognised as typical of the Bulgarian National Revival period. The finest examples are located around Vuzrazhdane Street and Macedonia Square.

Another noteworthy site is the 19th century church of St. Georgi, which at first glance does not look particularly interesting with its plain, austere exterior, however, inside there are numerous elaborate iconostasis, rich murals and intricate woodcarvings. The Holy Annunciation Church nearby was built in 1939 and is also worth a visit.

Razlog is rich in traditional crafts and has its own tourist industry based around workshops and houses of master artisans, weavers, knitters and creative artists, all of which can be seen at work. Even the water mill on the River Yazo, which was used for processing woollen cloth, is still in use employing all of the traditional methods used in its heyday. Razlog is also particularly noted for its Kukeri parade that takes place on January 1. (Read more in New Year Masquerades) This amazing event sees a large procession of costumed merrymakers’ parade through the town centre performing traditional songs and dances.

Year Round Tourism

Razlog valley offers the best of both worlds to anyone who chooses to invest here. It has its own fantastic ski pistes, which are rapidly developing from investment to expand the ski area and facilities. There are regular transport links to the huge ski pistes of Bansko, Blagoevgrad, plus the capital Sofia, Gotse Delchev, Velingrad and many other villages.

There are first class golf courses in the area and are meant for marketing as a year round tourist resort. Razlog Municipality maintains that their ultimate goal is attracting wealthy lovers of this aristocratic sport from all over Europe. This way it will be able to profit from tourism around the year. The golf resorts are also offering further leisure facilities such as spas, horse riding and tennis and all this in addition to what the region already offers; many cultural and natural sites plus terrain ideal for walking, mountain biking and climbing.

 

Eating, Drinking and Where to Stay

There are many options for accommodation in Razlog including absolute luxury and many appealing family-run hotels and self-catering apartments with cozy setting, as well as an elegant hotel, set close to the centre of the town. Most hotels in particular the new luxury hotels are full of stylish facilities and many have their own good in-house restaurant. Some of the best hotels include the Hotel Razlog, which has a stylish lobby bar, restaurant with open barbecue and live music. It is also noted for its excellent wine cellar. The Pirin Residence is a massive development covering 10,000 sq m. It offers guests a first class restaurant, a lobby bar, a spa and fitness centre, entertainment facilities, landscaped gardens and much more. On top of this it overlooks the entrance to the imposing 18-hole golf course designed by Ian Woosnam. The Katarino Spa Hotel offers its guests 139 rooms and apartments and family houses. Much of the accommodation is self-catering, but on-site there is a restaurant with a barbecue and live music every evening, a traditional Bulgarian Mehana restaurant, a lobby bar with terrace, which offers traditional pastry and sweets and an indoor pool, White Fir Resort accommodation is a mix of  luxurious self catering apartments with a spa centre and indoor swimming pool.

Razlog valley has developed at a rapid pace into a lively town, which offers an excellent range of shops and restaurants including a pizzeria, bars and several good cafes. There is also a beer garden in the park, which is ideal for those who want a leisurely drink al fresco.

pictures courtesy of www.bulgariaphotos.net

REad more about the area around razlog in our articles about Bansko