The region is located in the central part of Southern Bulgaria and borders on the regions of Sofia, Plovdiv, Blagoevgrad and Smolyan. Covering more than 4500 sq.km, the lands are mainly forests, and only approximately 30 % agricultural. The population is about 290 000 people. Pazardzhik district includes a total of 11 municipalities – Batak, Belovo, Bratsigovo, Lesichovo, Panagyurishte, Pazardzhik, Peshtera, Rakitovo, Septemvri, Strelcha and Velingrad.
The infrastructure of the province is just as diverse as its land surface – the Trakia highway (part of the E-80 route) and the international CE-70 railway run through the plains of the district. On the other hand, roads to numerous towns and villages become more curved and narrow when entering the mountain ridges. Similar variety can be observed also in regards to the climate can also be made for the climate – mild continental (warm winters and hot summers) in the valleys, and sub-zero winter temperatures in the mountains.
The whole region includes parts of the Western Rhodopes, Rila and Sredna Gora Mountains and benefits of the water resources. Several water dams have been built along the Batak River, the Maritza River crosses the Pazardzhik fields and provides perfect agricultural conditions, the thermal mineral springs of Velingrad, Bratzigovo Banya and Rakitovo make the region one of the best places for spa and balneological treatments. There are 78 mineral water springs in Velingrad and the adjacent area. Also the biggest karst spring and lake are situated within the town limits of Velingrad. This, together with the numerous marble mines, make the Chepino valley (where Velingrad is located) simply an exceptional part of Bulgaria’s natural treasures.
Some 40 km to the east from Velingrad one can visit cave Snezhanka, located only 5 km away from the town of Peshtera. The cave is one of the most picturesque places in Bulgaria. Although it is only 145 m long, there are several chambers in the cave. There is a stone figure reminding of Snow White formed out of the white sinter in the center of one of the chambers. That is why, when it was discovered, cave was named after the fairy-tale character.
The history of Pazardzhik district is just as rich as its natural resources. Proofs that the Rhodope Mountain and especially the land around Batak have been inhabited since the Old Stone Age were found by several archaeologists. It is also a well-known fact that the Rhodope Mounatain was considered sacred by the Thracians.
Remains of Thracian, Roman, Byzantium and Slav fortresses, mines and bridges have been found all across the Western Rhodopes. Several Thracian burial sights have been found in the area around Sredna Gora Mountain. One of Bulgaria’s most important and impressive historical discovery – the Panagyurishte Gold Treasure, was made here in 1449. It is a ceremonial and religiously related set of 4 rhytons (ancient cups, shaped as a bull’s horn), 3 magnificent decanters in the form of a female head, a vial (shallow dish plate) decorated with small human heads and acorns, and an amphora (similar to a vase), decorated with characters of the Greek mythology and handles, shaped as centaurs.
It is believed that this set of gold vessels has been created upon request of a Thracian leader by the craftsmen of Lampsak. That was a Black Sea coastal town, a Hellenic colony (Ancient Greece), which nowadays is part of Turkey. The unique treasure is one of the most important discoveries. It reveals so much about the Thracians and its relations with the rest of the Ancient cultures, and yet it leaves many unresolved issues and even brings more questions to a new level of understanding. Today, an exact replica of the treasure can be seen in the Panagyurishte Historical Museum.
Furthermore, Panagyurishte has also played essential part in the fights for Bulgaria’s liberty. The decision for starting the April Uprising has been made during the Revolutionary Committee’s meeting in the Oborishte area, outside the town Panagyurishte. The very start of the Uprising was also announced on April 20th in Panagyurishte.
Another town in Pazardzhik region is also subject of historical interest. During the Ottoman slavery the Batak village was one of the places which managed to captivate Christians’ faith and traditions. In the past that area was renowned for the wood-processing workshops which even supplied the Ottoman ship construction industry. However, nowadays Batak is associated mainly with the April Uprising of 1876.
In that time Batak gained dark and blooded popularity among the western nationalities because of the defeat which the locals had to bear. What came after the April Uprising was a reckless slaughter of more than 5 thousand people not including the 2000 people killed in the St. Nedelya Church, which was supposed to be their last fortresses of hope and faith, but turned out to be their tomb. Nowadays, the church has been established as a museum where anyone interested can learn more about the April Uprising of 1876.
Another town in Pazardzhik district has also played essential part in the fights for Bulgaria’s liberty. The decision for starting the April Uprising has been made during the Revolutionary Committee’s meeting in the Oborishte area, outside the town Panagyurishte. The very start of the Uprising was also announced on April 20th in Panagyurishte.
In the context of modern understanding, Pazardzhik region has not only historical importance. Although there is not much agricultural land in the province, it is used the best way possible. Most of the towns have well modernized industrial outlets. From the production of spirits in Peshtera through the textile workshops in Panagyurishte to the marble mines in Velingrad, the region has a working economy and supports comprehensive business relations with companies in Bulgaria and abroad.