The town of Samokov, Municipality of Samokov, Sofia Region
When you start your journey towards this nice mountain town, you need to have an already established plan. Where and what are you going to visit – because the options in the region are numerous and one day won’t be enough. In the town itself, it will be interesting to visit the beautiful churches, the historical museum, to take a walk through the city centre, and to eat some delicious dishes in the local restaurants. Aside from its rich cultural and historical heritage, the region will impress with its unique nature and different options for relaxation and tourism. Samokov is located at an elevation of 950m, at the foot of the highest mountain in the country – Rila. It’s only 60km away from Sofia which makes it even more attractive for tourists, especially during the weekends.
Samokov’s name comes from the mechanical hammers used for iron processing – samokovi, run by the energy produced by the wild waters of the Iskar river. Up until the Liberation of Bulgaria /1878/, there was iron ore being extracted and big amounts of iron being produced in the region. Today’s town was formed in the beginning of the 15th century over the remnants of an ancient settlement. Because of the growth of the ore business, the town blossomed and the population lived well. Many crafts were developed – ironworks, pottery, coppersmithing, goldsmithing, etc., as well as trading – the local goods reached far beyond the country’s borders. The cultural and spiritual life blossomed as well. The well-known Samokov School of Art was established in the end of the 18th century, Konstantin Fotinov established the Bulgarian periodical press with his magazine Lyuboslovie, and the educational work progressed as well.
A unique collection of the works of Hristo Dimitrov and his sons, Dimitar Zograf and Zahari Zograf, as well as works of other famous Bulgarian icon-painters from the Samokov School of Art, are kept in the Historical Museum in Samokov. You will see icon-painting tools, paint, brushes, together with the personal belongings of Zahari Zograf, and also other interesting exhibits of the settlement’s history. You will find out more about its past from the remains of the fortresses Shishmanovo Kale and the Alino Kale near Samokov.
You will be left speechless by the architecture, the murals, and the icons if you visit the Bishop Church Uspenie Bogorodichno, the monastery "Protection of the Holy Mother of God”, and the Belyova Chruch, the oldest Christian church in the town, built on the foundations of a late-antique basilica from 4-6th century.
The symbol of Samokov, The Great Fountain /1660/, is located in the central square. It has four spouts, one for the four world directions. Under its roof, there’s a carved stone sculpture, a earring, a birdhouse, and a fountain. The Fountain was built in an imperial Ottoman style by the manager of the sultan kitchen.
In the city centre you can see the beautiful murals of the Bayraki Mosque which is part of the Historical Museum of Samokov.
Tourist destinations in the region. The oldest winter resort in the country, Borovets, is only 10km away from Samokov. It has 27 ski slopes, 5 lifts, and everything necessary for winter sports and recreation. On other hand, during the summer, it attracts people with its mountain coolness, trekking opportunities, mountain biking, etc.
In this region of the Rila mountain, the highest peak is Malyovitsa /2729m/. Close to it is the ski resort Malyovitsa, as well as the Malyvitsa Hut, where a lot of routes cross. Because of their wild beauty, these are some of the most attractive mountain places in the country.
Suitable places for recreation and tourism in the region are also the villages Govedartsi, Mala Tsarkva, and Beli Iskar. A lot of different eco paths and mountain routs start from Govedartsi and Beli Iskar. They lead to the highest peak of the Rila mountain – Musala /2925m/, the famous Urdini Lakes and the circus, surrounded by unique minerals and vegetation, as well as towards other peaks and landmarks. One of the most interesting and picturesque eco paths is the Beli Iskar path. Very often, tourists choose the Samokov Region as a starting point towards the Musala, Malyovitsa, Yastrebets, The Seven Lakes, Shumnatitsa, Chakar Voyvoda, Zavrachitsa, Granchar, Vada, Mechit huts, towards the Tsarska Bistrica Castle, and others. More information about the huts and the routs you can find on the TIC-Samokov website: http://samokov-info.com/tourism/huts/?lang=en
Part of the Rila National Park, the biggest national park in Bulgaria and one of the biggest in Europe, is located on the territory of Samokov Municipality.
Near Samokov is located the Belchin village and the famous fortress Tsari Mali Grad, as well as the SPA resort with mineral water, which cures skin conditions, conditions of the musculoskeletal system, and others, Belchin Bani.
There are a few horse bases in the region and also good conditions for extreme sports like mountain climbing, hang-gliding, paragliding, rafting, etc.
Attractive traditional events. The city holiday is on August 21, when the memory of st. Simeon Samokovski is honoured. The potato holiday in October is also richly celebrated, as well as the Chakar holidays in the end of July, which are celebrated near the town. In July, the Borovets Resort hosts one of the biggest folklore festivals in the country – The Magic of Rila Mountain. In the village of Beli Iskar, during the last Saturday and Sunday of June, thousands of lovers of the holiday of the Rila cabbage pie gather. The Govedartsi village is well-known with the festival Gift from the Nature, in which craftsmen and producers of ecological foods present jams from forest fruits, honey, milk, Bulgarian white cheese, herbs, and also unique woodcarvings and paintings.
Accommodation. In Samokov and the region, you can find many accommodation options – hotels, guest houses, huts. In the restaurants you will be welcomed with Bulgaria cuisine, but if you stay at a guest house, you can ask the hosts to prepare for you some of the delicious local dishes – hotch-potch in an earthenware dish, cabbage pie, etc.
The Tourist Information Center / TIC / - Samokov
Town of Samokov, 34 "Makedonia" Str., in the building of the Municipality of Samokov, to the right of the main entrance
Tel.: +359 885 838 380, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: http://samokov-info.com/
8.30 - 12.00, 13.00 - 17.30, weekends - Saturday and Sunday
Visitor Information Center - Samokov /to Rila National Park /
Samokov, 61 Iskar Str
Tel.: +359 885 282 841
9.00 –17.30, no day off
Here you can get information about the routes in Rila National Park and mountain guides.
Rila Tourist Tourist Association
Samokov, 2 Iskar Blvd.
Tel .: +359 896 715 929, +359 896 715 199