Bansko - Bulgaria's “Little Switzerland”

четвъртък, 12 март 2009 г.

Local Lions

What to see in Bansko

If you think that Bansko is a Balkan village suddenly catapulted to fame and fortune by its latter-day development as a ski-centre, then think again.Bansko was one of nineteenth-century Bulgaria’s richest towns, and the monuments are still here to prove it.

Bansko owed its wealth to a central position on key inland caravan routes, which lead from the Aegean port of Thessaloniki to the cities of central Europe. As well as providing food and lodging to the caravan drovers, Bansko folk became traders themselves, warehousing rich silks from the east and fine furniture from the west.

The caravan trade died out in the late nineteenth century when it became more convenient to transport goods on steamships and trains rather than on the backs of donkeys. Bansko continued to flourish as an agricultural centre rich in goats, sheep and cattle, and enjoyed a considerable political role in the years before World War I when it was an important centre of the anti-Ottoman Macedonian revolutionary movement.

The nineteenth-century houses lining central Bansko’s cobbled alleyways provide enduring evidence of the town’s historical importance.
Note that Bansko’s museums lack effective central heating and can be extremely chilly in winter - so don’t forget your thermal undies.

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