Blagoevrhgad has a rich history. During the Iron Age the Thracian tribe Dantheletai inhabited the region. They established small settlements scattered across fertile areas near rivers, e.g. in the localities Talkianduk, Dolno Tserovo, Hursovo, Marulevo, Delvino etc. Some of their names have been preserved down to the present day. One such settlement sprang up by the hot mineral sources and was named Scaptopara. The word means “upper market” and suggests that the place was a commercial center. The proximity of Greek colonies and the contacts the Thracians maintained with them gave a boost to trade and handicrafts. They also influenced the Thracian culture and religion. The extant monuments bespeak of highly developed architecture and arts. In 238 AD the inhabitants of Scaptopara sent a petition to the Roman emperor. It becomes clear from the text that two miles from the village fairs were held several times a year. The largest fair took place from October 1 to October 15 when all sales were exempt from taxes.

Circa 1 century AD the Romans conquered the Thracians, including the Dantheletai  tribe. In the 6th-7th century the Slavs came and occupied the territories. At that time the Barbarians destroyed Scaptopara. The surviving inhabitants established a new settlement that became part of the Bulgarian Kingdom under Khan Pressian in the 9th century. After the Ottoman invasion in the 15th century, the town changed its name several times – Dyuma Bazari, Dyuma, Orta,Gorna Cumaya.  It had a large section of Muslim population. The word “cumaya” means Friday. Friday was the day for festive prayer and a market day for the Muslims. During the Ottoman domination the town became an important roadside fortress guarding the roads along the Struma River.

During the National Revival period a Bulgarian quarter was established by the name of Varosha. It was situated on the eastern bank of the Bistritsa River. According to a local legend, a peasant found his sick horse there and it was cured by the mineral waters. Later the inhabitants of Cumaya succeeded in obtaining a Sultan firman to build a church. The church was consecrated in 1844 and built and painted in the course of 50 years. At the turn of the 19th century the town was a vibrant center of trade and handicrafts.

On February 12 1878 the town was temporarily liberated by a Russian military detachment. After the Berlin Congress (1878) Gorna Cumaya remained within the Ottoman Empire and became the center of the movement for national unification. The local citizens took an active part in the Preobrazhensko-Ilindensko uprising in 1903. On October 5, 1912, the town was liberated. After WWI it became a hub of tobacco growing, woodwork and handicrafts and gradually grew into the major industrial and cultural center of the whole of Northwestern Bulgaria.

On May 9 1950 the town was renamed Blagoevgrad to honor the socialist leader Dimiter Blagoev. Towards the end of the 1980s, during the so called diplomatic corps period, Blagoevgrad was renovated: a new downtown was built, city fountains appeared, the American University was opened, etc.

General Information

Blagoevrgad is a district and municipal center of Southwestern Bulgaria. It is situated at the foot of the Rila Mountains,  360 m above sea level, on both banks of Blagoevgradska Bistritsa River. The Blagoevgrad province is the third largest after the provinces of Sofia and Burgas. Passing by the city is the international highway E 79 and a railway linking Central Europe and Greece. Blagoevgrad is 100km from Sofia, 53 km from Razlog and 65 km from Sandanski.

The town is an attractive spa resort with 30 hot mineral sources with water temperature 55 degrees C. The major local industries are: food, wine and tobacco industries, meat, vegetable and fruit processing, production of alcoholic beverages. Foreign investments support ready-to-wear clothes.

The climate is continental-Mediterranean with a mean annual temperature 12, 4 degrees C.

History General Information