The administrative centre of a district with the same name is positioned 97 kIn away south of Sofia in a wide valley, descending to the small Blagoevgradska kettle plain, watered by the Strouma River. With a population of 71,144 and 41’0 m above sea level, the town is a descendant of the old Trhacian settlement of Skaptopara. The present – day town sprang up in the beginning of the Ottoman dominance as an important marketplace under the name of Yukar Dzhoumaya (later known as Gorna Dzhoumaya, up to the year 1950).
Being a comparatively small in size and population Blagevgrad, by right, could be labelled an academic town with its two significant establishments of higher education as the Yugozapaden Universitet, YuZU (Neofit Rilski Southwest University), 66 Ivan Mikhaylov Str., and the Amerikanski Universitet v Balgaria (American University in Bulgaria), Gueorgy IzmirlievvMakedoncheto Square.
Local culture resides in the Theatre of Drama, Gueorgy Izmirliev-Makedoncheto Sq., and the Puppet Theatre in the Varosha quarter; small and demanding audiences can enjoy classical music at the local Opera di Camera, 2 Ivan Vazov Str., while lovers of painting arts are invited to call on the Stanislav Art Gallery, 8 Krali Marko Str. Sounds and rhythms of authentic folk songs could be heard during performances of the world-famous Pirin Ensemble of Folk Songs and Dances, not to miss out the Chitalishte Nikola Vaptsarov (House and auditorium of the amateur troupe of theatre and music), Macedonia Sq.
Sightseeings and Places of Tourist Interest
An amazing variety of places to awaken special interest in visitors have been concentrated on the territory of Blagoevgrad, for example:
• In the old town area or Varosha quarter (now an Ethnographic Commplex), flanking the southeast bank of Bistritsa and stretching uphill the river valley, places to visit include the Museum of History (much of it already restored), the native House-Museum of Gueorgy IzmirlievvMakedoncheto (an ardent local fighter against the Ottoman bondage), Tsarkvata Vavedenie Bogorodichno (the Church of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin), built in 1844, featuring unique architectural design and a highly valuable wood-carved iconostasis.
• Downtown and around: the monuments to SS Cyril and Methodius; Vassil Levski; Gueorgy Izmirliev-Makedoncheto; Gotse Delchev (another outstanding revolutionary and fighter against Ottoman dominance); the poet Peyo Yavorov; the heroes of the Macedono-Odrin (Edirne) voluntary unit fallen in the Balkan War of 1912-1913, etc.
Throughout the year, local and foreign visitors have an entire disposal of the Hydropathical resort in the area, featuring mineral water of temperature on the order of 55°C, highly efficient in the cure of diseases of the bones and joints, neuropathies, dermal, gynaecological, gastric-intestinal, renal-and-urethral diseases, etc.
Close at hand are the Shooting Lodge Park with local astronomic observatory, the Skaptopara Park and the Zoo.
Blagoevgrad is a middle station on the Sofia – Koulata (Petrich) railway line; bus services operate to connect the town with the capital city and the neighbouring towns down the river valleys of Strouma and Mesta. The railway station and the bus station occupy an area side-by-side in the western fringe of the town. The Riltsi Motel with a camping site is within two kilometres distance from town northward.
Tourist information is provided by the Pirinski Touristicheski Forum (Pirin Tourist Forum Information Centre) in Varosha quarter, the Comprehensive Tourist Services Bureau, I SS Cyril and Methodius Blvd., the Council of Tourism, I Gueorgy Izmirliev-Makedoncheto Sq., Orbita Youth Tourism Chain of Hotels, 6 Trakiya Str.
Three-star A/en M ak Hotel, 1 SS Cyril and Methodius Blvd., Bor Hotel on the territory of the Game-preserve.
Worthwhile visiting is the Parangalitsa Biosphere Reserve, some 35 kilometers east of Blagoevrad, a certain distance upstream the river of Bistritsa.