Blagoevgrad is one of the largest towns in Southwestern Bulgaria. It is located 101km. to the south of Sofia, at 53 km. to the northwest of Razlog, and at 65 km. to the north of Sandanski.
It is situated at the foot of the southwestern slopes of Rila mountain, on both banks of Blagoevgradska Bistritza river, within the river-basin of the big Bulgarian river Struma.
The town is considered to be the main centre of Bulgarian Pirin Macedonia. There are 30 mineral springs with temperature up to 55 C. This makes it a spa resort. It is a regional center as well.
Human presence is detected from the New Stone Age onwards. Remains of a Neolithic settlement were found in 1959 at the nearby village Tserovo. The settlement was within the Macedon Empire under Philip II.
In the past the town was an important roadside forest. In 17 th century monks from Rila monastery opened an ecclesiastical school. During the second half of the 18 th and the beginning of the 19 th century the town developed as a large centre of craftsmanship and commerce.
After the Berlin Treaty, Gorna Djumaja (until 1950 the town has this name) remained within the borders of Turkey and that was the reason to turn into the cradle of resistance and people’s unity. The local population took active part in the uprising that followed. The town was liberated on the 5 th of October 1912 (the Balkan war).
The Museum of History (tel: (073) 29020, 21170, 29173) is situated in Varosha district(the old part of the town). Very interesting and attractive are the museum-house of George Izmirliev – Makedoncheto, Stoyan Sotirov art gallery, Stanislav art gallery, Petit Bijoux art gallery, Vavedenie Bogorodichno (The Assumption) church, as well as the renaissance houses in Varosha district.
In the town of Blagoevgrad there are erected monuments to Illyo Voivoda, Gotse Delchev, to the eminent Bulgarian writer Peyo Javorov, Kiril and Methodius, and to the Macedonian – Odrin volunteers, to those who perished in the Balkan War (1912-1913). The town is famous with its beautiful and functional town centre, all lay out of marble.
As a venue of culture the town has several theatres: the Drama Theatre Nikola Vaptsarov (tel.: 073/23475), Puppet Theatre (tel.: 073/21080, 22210), Chamber Opera (tel.: 073/20703).
Blagoevgrad is a major and important transport centre in this part of Bulgaria. It is the main stop on the international highway and railway line Sofia-Kulata-Athens. It maintains regular bus connection with the capital Sofia and many of the towns in Southwestern Bulgaria, as well as with the villages in the region. The bus station (tel.: 073/22348, 23750) and the railway station (tel.: 073/22286, 23695, 22174) are situated close to each other at the south-west end of the town.
Council of tourism (1, Georgi Izmirliev square, tel.: 073/65459, 23133), Bureau for Complex Tourist Service (1, St. St. Kiril and Methodius square, tel.: 073/23218), Tourist Forum of Pirin (tel.: 073/65458).
30 km. far from the town, in northwest Rila mountain Bodrost resort is situated with many recreation houses, bungalows and villas. At 5 km. distance from the resort is the oldest reserve park for coniferous species of tress in Bulgaria – Parangalitsa.
At 16 km. to the northwest of Blagoevgrad is situated the village of Stob famous for the nearby pyramids of Stob – exceptionally beautiful and elegant earthen pyramids, finished with rounded rocky blocks.
Other interesting sights around Blagoevgrad are:
- the antique fortress by village Klissoura,
- an ancient settlement, a necropolis and a late antique fortress – close to the Bodrost resort, remains of antique fortress near Gabrovo village,
- a medieval fortress between the town and Tserovo village,
- the church of The Ascension of Christ near the village of Pokrovnik,
- the church St. Archangel Michael and remains from a late antique fortress near the village of Leshko,
- the churches St. John the Precursor and St. George in the village of Bistritsa,
- the rock Markov Kamak to the south of Tsarev peak,
- the Black rock over the right bank of Blagoevgradska Bistritsa river.