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History of Bansko Municipality

Bansko has long earned its fame as a town with a rich and varied heritage that played an important role in promoting Bulgarian values ​​and has left a deep trace in our overall development as a country.There is indisputable evidence of its active participation in the powerful upsurge of the nation during the National Revival, but its history goes far back to ancient times and its beginning is lost in the centuries.

The archeological excavations and surveys give us information of the development of the region from earlier times. There are more than 100 sites in the vicinityincluded in the archaeological map of Bulgaria.Among them is the "Kale Sita"- a castle inhabited by the Thracians that reached its apogee in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages and continued its existence until its fall under Ottoman rule.

On the territory of the Bansko Municipality, the following archeological sites have been fully excavated: the areas of “Shipotzko” and “St. Ivan”. There are currently ongoing excavations in areas of “Karagonsko” and “St. Nicola”.

There’s a common notion that Bansko was formed as a settlement after the unification of several neighborhoods. The first documentary evidence we have of Bansko is an Ottoman registry from the sheepherders dating back to 1576.

By the eighteenth century the people of Bansko were mainly livestock farmers and artisans who relied on vast pastures and rich forests. During the National Revival, Bansko evolve as an urban, commercial and crafts center. Many mills, sawmills, fulling-mills, leather workshops and tanneries were built by the Glezne river. Its entrepreneurial inhabitants maintained trade links with communities of the Aegean coast and those from Central and Western Europe.Caravans with wood, leather and ironware products headed to the Aegean coast, to Serres and Drama and bring back cotton, fish, tobacco, opium, olives, and raw leather.In many European cities - Budapest, Vienna, Leipzig, Marseilles, London – were found trade facilities worked owned by Bansko people. Many of the children of the wealthier families were educated abroad.Ever since the eighteenth century the extended contacts with the outside world were a good stimulus for developing a national identity and turning Bansko and the region into one of the centers of the Bulgarian Revival.Bansko is the birthplace of the founder and author of "Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya" Paisii Hilendarski (1722-1773).During that period many famous Bulgarian enlighteners lived in Bansko. Among them were Neofit Rilski(1793-1881) - a monk, teacher, architect, musicologist, poet and artist, a man of encyclopedic interests and activities, described as "the patriarch of Bulgarian teachers and scholars".Toma Vishanov Hadzhiikonomov-Molera (1750), who is the founder of the arts school and had a huge contribution to the development of national traditions in the religious arts. Marco Teodorovich Vezyov (1760-1840) was a merchant, publisher and educational activist.Bansko is also the birthplace of Nikola Vaptsarov (1909-1942) - a brilliant world-class Bulgarian poet.

The economic and spiritual revival during the eighteenth century and especially during the nineteenth century, manifests itself in the acts of local government in the, back then still, village of Bansko.Around 1850 was founded the Bansko Bulgarian Municipality, as a continuation to the previously formed in 1833- Village Community Council for the construction and painting of the church "Sv. Trinity" (built in 1835 and consecrated in 1837). Тhe management of the municipality includes influential representatives of trade and crafts communities.In 1835 the church council bought the house of Pande Hadzhistenovwhere the first secular teachers were appointed to teach in the new modern educational system, by the example of the first Bulgarian secular school in Bulgaria founded in Gabrovo the very same year. Later on Neofit Rilski’s work in Bansko was continued by the teacherNikola Popfilipov.At the initiative of the Bulgarian Bansko Municipality and with a generous charity intervention by Marco Georgiyevich in 1857 a new school building was built, the mutual school where children of all ages studied together was reformed into classes, distribution began of the first newspapers and Renaissance literature.The municipality organized the construction of the bell tower of the church "Sv. Trinity"in 1850 and the installation of a clock mechanism in 1866.In the 60s and 70s of the XIX century the Bansko Municipality headed the fight against the Greek Church authorities for the independence of the Bulgarian church and the development of the education in the village.The municipality supports the families that suffered during suppression of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising and the Ilinden Uprising and undertakes a number of other community initiatives after the liberation from the Ottoman presence in 1912.

The economic welfare is reflected in the characteristics of the residential folk architecture from XVIII and XIX century. Built from stone, the wealthy houses look like small castles. That is their main difference from the residential architecture in other villages in the Razlog region.To these qualities must be added the remarkable carvings and murals, which indicate not only the material capabilities, but also the high artistic culture of Bansko. Typical examples of the early local building traditions are the Hadjivalcho, Hadjirusko, Velyanova houses.With their architectural merits and rich artistic decoration they differ from the Velianova, Sirleshtova, Todeva, Zagorchinata, Djidjev Zlatev, Koyuv, Stefanov houses and others.

In the context of the theme of spiritual development during this period, it should be mentioned that Bansko is the first Bulgarian city where during the second half of the nineteenth century a Protestant community is formed.Ever since the 1860's, before the arrival of Protestant missionaries in these lands, there was an evangelical community formed by the Orthodox priest Dimitar Mladenov and local teacher Nicola Popfilipov.On 06.08.1868 in Bansko was established the Bulgarian evangelical church community which is also accepted to be the birth date of the first Protestant church in Bulgaria.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Bansko was the biggest settlement in the Razlog region. According to data in 1900 there were 6500 Christian Bulgarians living in there.

During this period Bansko became the center of national liberation struggles.The Kresna-Razlog Uprising (1878 - 1879) was an attempt to liberate the Kresna-Razlog Valley, which remained in the Ottoman Empire under the decisions of the Berlin Congress (1878).Almost the entire local population took part in the uprising, which achieved a temporary success and is known by the name of the “Seven-day kingdom” with Bansko as its center.Its suppression was accompanied by terror against the population.

In 1896, during the teachings of Gotse Delchev in Bansko, the town became a regional center of the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and an important link in the conspiracy committee network.

The culmination of the national liberation movement in the region is the Ilinden - Preobrajensko Uprising (1903). Bansko actively participated in the emancipation process.The heroism of the local teacher Radon Todev and his group, who during the uprising are killed in Godlevska Mountain, really stands out.

The territory of this municipality was included within the borders of Bulgaria in 1912.Bansko was liberated on the 5th of October that year, by the detachment of Hristo Chernopeev and the other combined bands of nine voivodes. Peyo Yavorov, the voivode-poet also took part in the national liberation struggles.The selected five-member municipal administration of the first mayor of Bansko, Assen Todev, was included in the state-administrative system structure established in the country.

After World War I the main livelihood in Bansko was agriculture, livestock, harvesting of timber construction and carpentry for the manufacture of furniture and other household articles.Along the river Glazne were many lathes, innards, carding machines, watermills and one windmill. At that time the town had 4550 inhabitants

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