Blagoevgrad: 10 Places You Shouldn’t Miss
Situated between the Rila and Pirin mountains, the small Southwestern town of Blagoevgrad has a lot to offer. With its population of about 70,000 people and an area of 28 909 square kilometers, Blagoevgrad is not among Bulgaria’s largest cities. But it is certainly one of the most peaceful -- yet lively – places in the country.
There are two universities in Blagoevgrad – the American University in Bulgaria and the South-West University -- and every fifth resident is a student. While there are many restaurants, cafes and bars for the young people to choose from, that’s not all that Blagoevgrad has to offer. We compiled a list of ten places in the city you should visit with your friends.
Park Bachinovo is one of Blagoevgrad’s landmarks and the perfect place to relax, go for a walk or practice sports in nature. You can get to the park on a 5-minute car ride, or choose to walk on a three-kilometer-long picturesque alley on the side of Bistritsa River. Once you’ve reached Bachinovo, you will see a lake that you can sail through on a swan-shaped paddleboat, or you can go for a walk, buy ice cream or corn from one of the many kiosks around, sit in one of the restaurants or walk further ahead. There’s a great diversity of trees in Bachinovo and the further you go, the stronger the feeling you get that you are walking in a forest. Spending a few hours on the weekend in Park Bachinovo will recharge you with positive energy and help you face any academic challenges during the week.
The Renaissance Quarter “Varosha”
Blagoevgrad is rich in history and the Renaissance quarter “Varosha” is there to prove it. Walking on the cobblestone streets and among white stone dwellings, you’ll feel like a character in a history film. In “Varosha,” you will find Blagoevgrad’s largest church, “Vyzkresenie Bogorodichno,” a typical three-nave basilica built in 1844. Another tourist attraction located in this quarter is the Memorial House of revolutionary Georgi Izmirliev – Makedonscheto – “The Little Macedonian”. When you visit the place, which became a memorial house in 1976, you can see a diversity of instruments used in the past – fire-irons, candlestick, table – “sofra”, gas lamp, and clay bows. There are also authentic albums with pictures of Gerogi Izmirliev’s family, cups and knifes as well as a horizontal weaving loom and a few traditional costumes.
The Orthodox Memorial Cross “Memory and Faith”
The Orthodox Memorial Cross “Memory and Faith” has become a symbol of Blagoevgrad. It is located on the hill above the Renaissance quarter “Varosha” and you can reach it on a short hike on a newly established eco-trail. With a weight of 35 tons and a height of 33 meters, the cross, which is lighted at night, can be seen from every part of town and even the villages nearby.
The Carting Track
The Carting track is the perfect place for youngsters who’d like to practice their driving skills and have some fun at the same time. Situated just outside of town, you can reach the track by taking a taxi from the city center for about EUR 3. The carting track is 720 meters long and 7 meters wide and the route is safe enough even for people who do not have driving licenses.
Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov”
The Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov,” established in 1919, is where many famous Bulgarian actors started their career. The theater offers a diversity of Bulgarian and international plays to satisfy the audiences’ different tastes.
Regional History Museum Blagoevgrad
The Regional History Museum in Blagoevgrad is a place you can explore the historical, cultural, natural and art heritage of the Southwest region of Bulgaria. One of the 100 recommended national tourist destinations in Bulgaria, the museum has been functioning for more than 65 years – since 1952. At the museum, visitors will learn about Prehistory, Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Revolutionary Movement in the region.
The “Hunting Lodge” Park
A secluded area that’s not that popular with tourists, the “Hunting Lodge” Park is now renovated and the perfect place for a quiet walk alone with your thoughts.
The “Cinemax” Cinema
Blagoevgrad’s cinema is located at the city center, right across from AUBG’s Main Building. Screening all the latest blockbusters, the cinema is there for all the movie lovers who don’t want to miss out on what’s happening in the world of film. The price for one ticket? Between 6 and 3 BGN, or EUR 3 to 1.5.
The City Art Gallery Blagoevgrad
The City Art Gallery in Blagoevgrad mainly shows the works of local artists but has also held exhibitions displaying the art of some the most famous Bulgarian painters as well as several international artists.
The Blagoevgrad Chamber Opera
Situated in the liveliest part of the city and surrounded by cafes, restaurants and bars, the Blagoevgrad Chamber Opera is the only institute staging music in the region. There, you can attend Baroque, Classical and even Contemporary performances. In the recent years, the famous violinist Vesko Panteleev – Eshkenazi and the renowned tenor Kaludi Kaludov have been guests of the Chamber Opera in town.
To sum it up, Blagoevgrad is a place that offers enough cafes, restaurants and bars for its young residents. But beyond that, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy arts and culture, learn more about Bulgaria’s history and explore the Southwest city’s stunning nature.