An ancient city
Today’s administrative centre of Bansko municipality is in the place of a settlement that was inhabited in succession by Thracians, Romans, Byzantines and Slavs. The remains of ancient fortresses, Thracian tumuli, medieval colonies, consecrated grounds, churches and chapels within the town earthwork testify to several historical epochs. In the Old Town site, about 4 km to the southwest of the city and in the Yulen site (along the river Damianitsa downstream) there are some remains of ancient fortresses. Thracian burial mounds were discovered close to the Old Town site. In the region of Dobrokiovitsa remnants of medicine substances, a set of bronze medical tools, etc. were found in a burial of the 2nd c. The medieval settlement was likely to be in the region of Sveta Troitsa. The remains of the late medieval single-nave St. George and St. Elijah churches, monuments of culture, are to the southeast of Bansko.
In the 9th-10th c. Bansko stood out as a settlement by grouping into several districts. In the middle of the 16th c. it was mentioned in the Ottoman register of sheep-breeders under the name of Baniska. Until the 18th c. the natives of Bansko were predominantly cattle-breeders and craftsmen, who relied on the vast pastures and rich woods. A great number of water mills, sawmills, fulling mills, workshops for hide tanning, etc. were built along the river Glazne.
Manufactured goods of wood, leather and iron had an extensive market along the White Sea, in Arabia and India. Horse caravans brought back cotton, fish, tobacco, olives, and raw and prepared skins. Ambitious natives of Bansko set up merchant offices in Budapest, Vienna, Leipzig, Marseille and London. Bansko was distinguished as an important mercantile and craftsman centre of a new, revival type. Large clans became wealthy; they carried over to their motherland not only the culture of the countries they visited but also they sent their children to study abroad. Coming into contact with the rich European culture had an extraordinary fruitful influence on the spiritual progress of the natives of Bansko.
The lifestyle of people improved; they built strong two-storeyed fortress houses of stone with high walls and heavy solid gates, with long eaves of black fir. This style of architecture reached a full bloom during the Revival. The spacious rooms were painted with variegated designs of worldly and religious subjects, and the ceilings were fretted. The earliest houses of Hadjivalcho, Hadjirusko and Velian were protected by internal coverts and loopholes. A functionally clarified composition and rich artistic ornaments characterize the houses of Sirle, Todi, Buine, Zagorche, Djidje, Zlati, Koyu, Stefan, etc.
Behind the thick walls life of numerous household was running on; occasionally conspiratorial meetings of bearded rebels and leaders disturbed it. In 1896 at such a meeting in the house of Sirle, Gotse Delchev, then a chief teacher in Bansko, founded a revolutionary committee of VMORO (Internal Macedonia-Odrin Revolutionary Organization) under chairman Dimitar Todev. On the 5th of September 1903 in Bansko there was held a congress of functionaries from the Razlog region of the Sersko revolutionary district for preparation of the Ilinden uprising. About 300 persons from Bansko took part in it, who were set up in six detachments under the leadership of Boris Golev, Radon Todev, Tase Furnadjiev, Milush Kolchagov, Kostadin Kolchagov and Save Mehomiyski. After the uprising was defeated a part of the population fled to a liberated Bulgaria.
Bansko was liberated from Ottoman yoke on the 5th (18th) of October 1912, on the day the Balkan war was declared.
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