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(Bulgarian: Банско) is a town and ski resort in southwestern Bulgaria, located at the foot of Pirin at an altitude of 925 m above sea level. It is considered to be the most developed Ski and Winter Resort in Eastern Europe.
Bansko is the birthplace of 20th century Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsarov and Bulgarian enlighteners Paisiy Hilendarski (sometimes disputed) and Neofit Rilski.
There are several legends about who
founded Bansko. According to one of them, Bansko was founded by people who lived in Dobarsko, a village in Rila, itself according to a legend founded by the blinded army of Tsar Samuil. Another legend claims that Bansko was founded by an Italian painter by the name of Ciociolino, hence the existence of the name Chucholin in Bansko.
Still according to another
version it was a Slavic tribe called the Peruns, who lived in Pirin and worshiped Perun, that founded the village later to become a town. There are a number of ethnographic texts, legends, prayers and oratories,
which lend credence to this legend.
The archeological traces of the inhabitants of Bansko
and the Razlog Valley in general date to the early periods of the Roman Empire. There are several housing structures at the outskirts of the town, which date to 100 BC. However, there is no consensus
nor credible theory on who these people were.
The Bulgarian Evangelical Church Community, the first Protestant church in Bulgaria, was founded in Bansko on 6 August 1868.
Until 5 October 1912, Baniçka (Bansko's former name) was a part of the Ottoman Empire, but enjoyed a quasi self-rule autonomy granted by the sultan. The town was ruled by an assembly of the elders, while justice
was administered by the Ottoman judge in Razlog. It was incorporated in Bulgaria in 1912 as a result of the First Balkan War.
Bansko, once mainly a stockbreeding and travelling merchant
community, has nowadays become a centre of winter and summer tourism. The mountain peaks near the town, the numerous lakes
and the old pine woods make it a popular site for recreation. In recent years, the town has gained international popularity
after the start of the annual Bansko Jazz Festival and consequently the annual Bansko pop-star concert featuring top pop stars. The nearby village of Banya, located only 5 km from the town, is known for its 27 thermal mineral springs.
A new gondola lift was built in 2003 to replace a minibus ride up to the ski slopes of Todorka. Several other gondolas and ski lifts are in
the process of being built.The slopes are suitable for all level skiers - from the very beginners to ones who love extreme
slopes. The town is developing very well by organising different competitions (alpine ski disciplines and also biathlon competitions).In
Bansko will take part - the women's world cup for the alpine ski discplines. It is expected that the world cup for summer
biathlon will also take part in the resort of Bansko. These developments, along with the construction of extensive housing
and recreational facilities around the gondola (which is on the southwest end of the town by the river), have made Bansko
a popular and growing destination.
The town is served by a scenic narrow gauge railway from Septemvri to Dobrinishte.
Since the 2008–2009 season, Bansko has been hosting ladies' races from the Alpine Skiing World Cup.