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Bansko is a small Bulgarian town, 925 meters above the sea level, with a population of 15,000 inhabitants. Founded in the 9th-10th centuries, it reached its cultural peak in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the houses still have the appearance thay had some 150 years ago. In recent years Bansko has made a name for itself as an ideal place to spend one's winter vacation.. Bansko has a new tourist infrastructure to cater to the needs of all tourists, and foreigner who have bought property (or properties), especially during the winter (skiing) season.

Bansko is the hometown of the great Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsaroff. You can visit the house where he lived, which is now turned into a museum.

The Rila Monastery

Nestled in a narrow valley in the Rila mountain, the Rila Monastery is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Bulgaria, property of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Extraordinary architectural style and a lot of history - this would be the briefest description of the monastery. It was founded by the Bulgarian hermit Ivan Rilski in the 10th century (927 AD). It had been sacked and burned down many times throughout history, the last of which being in the year 1833. It was rebuilt on a grand scale and still retains that appearance.

The magnificent church, with its three domes, is lined with 1200 frescoes depicting biblical figures and donors. There's also a gilded iconostasis with 36 biblical scenes. The museums house religious art as well as folk costumes and household implements.

The cave where Ivan Rilski lived, and where he is now buried, is situated in the forest near the monastery, and according to a local legend, those who can pass through the hole in the roof of the cave have not sinned. Since one has to be quite chubby to touch the sides, the legend is very popular. There is accommodation in the monastery.

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