Samokov – Soul and Traditions in four seasons
Samokov is an alpine town with a contemporary look, combining in its development the rich historical heritage, refined culture, sports spirit, and the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding nature. The municipality of Samokov consists of the administrative center, the town of Samokov, and the 24 villages. It is located on1209 sq. km. 37 726 people living in the Municipality of Samokov, of which 26 061 people living in the town.
Samokov has a rich history. Recent archaeological excavations in Municipality brought back the calendar to the 4th century AD with churches dating from early Christian times, fortresses from the time of the Byzantine Empire, Thracian tomb. The walk through the centuries passes through the Bulgarian Revival when Samokov was a highly developed economic and cultural center. It was a center of the church and educational struggles, due to its location on an important road connecting Plovdiv with Skopje and the production and trade with iron. The extraction of iron in the famous Madan smeltery, called “Samokovo” gave the name of the town, which remains unchanged nowadays.
One of the greatest points of pride of Samokov from the Bulgarian Revival is the Samokov Art School, which was formed as a school of painting and carving in the late 18th century. The most prominent of the Samokov icon painters – Zachary Zograf, Stanislav Dospevski, Ivan and Nikola Obrazopisovi became the founders of the secular fine arts in Bulgaria.
The preserved and restored cultural monuments tell us about the great past. The Nunnery with its 250-year history, the Metropolitan Church with its unique iconostasis, the Mosque with its architecture and mural painting, the Sarafska House with the authentic look of the Revival town style. In the center is the big drinking fountain, the symbol of the town and you can hear a lot of stories and legends. Just meters from it is the largest military memorial – the only building of its kind in architecture Community Center- monument “Otets Paisii”. Together with the Revival monuments, you can go further back in the time with the archeological monument “Shishmanovo Kale” and the late antique fortress “Tsari Mali grad”.
Samokov gave two of the achievements of modern times – the first Bulgarian printing establishment (1828) and the first Bulgarian magazine “Lyuboslovie” (1844).
The Samokov valley is located between several mountains – Rila, Plana, Vitosha, Verila, Ihtimanska Sredna gora – with an average altitude of 950 m. Here rises the highest peak of the Balkan Peninsula – Mount Musala – 2925 m. The terrain is mostly alpine. From here spring the longest river in Bulgaria – Iskar and the deepest river in Bulgaria – Maritsa. A unique natural treasure on the territory of the municipality is the Rila Lakes – more than 40 in number, scattered in the high parts of Rila mountain. There is a mineral water deposit near the village Belchin in the municipality.
The location of the Samokov valley determines the climate – not very hot summers and cold, long winters. The sunshine is long, with very few exceptions of fog. The climate is defined as moderately continental, but with a strong mountain influence. It is the surrounding mountains that stop the stormy winds and snowstorms.
Good transport communication:
- Samokov is 60 km away from Sofia and Sofia Airport;
- Through Ihtiman, which is 40 km away, a direct connection is made with the Trakia highway;
- Through Dupnitsa, also at a distance of 40 km, is the connection with the Struma highway;
- Regular public bus connection with the resort of Borovets, the capital Sofia and the villages in the municipality.
The favorable geographical position, the diverse mountain relief, the specific bioclimatic conditions, the availability of abundant water resources – drinking and thermal waters make the destination Samokov an attractive place for tourism throughout the year. More than 120 accommodation places with about 9000 beds are registered in Samokov and the region.
The region is an attractive tourist destination that meets visitors throughout the whole year. Only 10 km from Samokov is situated the first on the Balkans resort – Borovets, officially celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2021. Borovets offers vast opportunities for practicing all kinds of snow sports, combined with a higher quality of service, modern facilities, and equipment.
- Three ski areas starting from 1300 m above sea level, highest ski point: 2560 m;
- Marked ski slopes: 58 km;
- Cross-country ski runs: 35 km;
- 8 illuminated tracks for night driving;
- Snow cannons: 175;
- Biathlon facilities;
- Opportunities for freeride and ski touring;
- 12 lifts.
The coolness and freshness of the summer and the quietness of the century-old forest of Rila mountain create perfect conditions for relaxing during the rest of the year.
Samokov is the capital of white sports with world-class achievements, but today many different sports are practiced here thanks to the good sports facilities: stadium, motorcycle range, rollerblading, shooting range, tennis courts, mini football field, mountain bike park, and multifunctional sports hall with an opportunity to practice 25 sports.
- Thermal waters
The thermal waters in the village of Belchin and resort Belchin banya contribute to the development of spa and health tourism in the region. The waters are with proven therapeutic and prophylactic qualities and positive effects on the locomotor system and skin dermatitis. The territory has three swimming pools and special spa facilities.
The rich sports and cultural calendar, the numerous sports events, and traditional local festivals with national and international significance create variety for locals and visitors throughout the year.
- Outdoor activities
On the territory of Samokov municipality, there are numerous eco paths and mountain routes, whereby a great part of the mountain is taken by the National park of Rila, which has unique flora and fauna species. The lovers of safari and hunting may enjoy the hunting reserve services in the region. Dam Iskar and the dam near the village of Alino may devote their time to fishing, water sports, beach activities, and camping. The parks around are perfect for picnics and quiet time out.