Bansko - The New Major Winter Resort

Located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains and right below the Pirin National Park, which is included in the List of World Natural Heritage. Now it is the new major winter resort with lots of courses for skiing.

Fortified houses made by stone appeared in Bansko during the early National Revival period. By the end of the 17th century they had become two-storey ones, although still adhering to mediaeval building traditions.

The typical Pirin stone house has two faces - one is a stone facade facing the street, the other an open “veranda” leading to the inner yard. The main courtyard is flanked on three sides by the building itself and resembles a town square. Small, almost invisible doors let into the walls link the adjoining houses and enable a quick escape in cases of attack. The hiding place reached only from the upper floor via a corridor, is made of stone blocks.

Both the outside wall and the hiding place have embrasures targeted on all house and yard entrances.

In certain respects architecture of Bansko resembles monastery construction - carefully joined stone masonry, few and small windows with grid, framed with decorative bricks.

The general appearance is quite stern and austere, and only the spacious “veranda” with its carved columns and railings provides some interplay of light and colour. Here one also sees a special corner providing the best view of both the urban and natural landscape, and often of the garden as well. Another feature is a small fireplace, fragrant with the smell of kindling burning merrily away and throwing light and shadows on the wall.

The ground floor houses the animal sheds, kitchen, oven, and pantry and hiding place. The living room, guest room, bedrooms and dining room are located on the upper floor. The largest room in houses in Bansko is the dining room. In-built shelves and cupboards of the same height, touching upon windows, corner niches, copper utensils, etc, flank the doors.

The National Revival period houses of the late 18th and early 19th century are characterized by a greater number of rooms with carved ceilings, murals and medallions in soft pastel shades, in-built cupboards, shelves, settees and iconostases.

The Sirieshtova House (second half of the 18th century) is a fine example of early Bansko architecture.

The Velyanova House (end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century) was built in 1835 by Velin Ognyanov (a master builder, wood carver and painter). He enlarged and reconstructed it, painting the facade and inside walls and adding carved ceilings, columns and railings.

The Bouinova (Todeva) House (1864) has both household premises and shops on its lower floor. The upper floor rooms are richly carved.

The Bansko School of icon painting and woodcarving was famous throughout Bulgaria. The murals and carved iconostasis of the Holy Trinity Church (1832-1835) were made by Velin Ognyanov, while Dimiter and Simeon Molerov - the son and grandson of the founder of the school of painting in Bansko Toma Vishanov-Molera, painted the icons. The latter fashioned the iconostasis, carvings and icons of the Assumption burial church (built in two stages - during the 17th-18th century and at the start of the 19th century).

Bansko is the native place of Neophit Rilski - one of Bulgaria's foremost National Revival figures, Nikola Vaptsarov - a world famous poet and revolutionary who died in the antifascist struggle, and Paisii of Hilendar, the monk whose Slav-Bulgarian History completed in 1762, marked the beginning of the Bulgarian National Revival.