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Spa Resorts: Sandanski

Sandanski - Pictures Of Bulgaria
The town of Sandanski (population: 26 695, 240 m above sea level) is situated in South-Western Bulgaria, immediately to the west of Pirin Mountain, along the banks of the Sandanska Bistritsa River which shortly after passing the town flows into the Strouma River. The town bears the name of the great Bulgarian revolutionary Yane Sandanski who fought for the liberation of Macedonia from the Turkish rule. It is 23 km north-east of Petrich, 22 km north of Koulata (the border checkpoint with Greece), 65 km south of Blagoevgrad and 166 km north of Sofia. The area of Sandanski has the best climate in the whole of Bulgaria and if one adds up the hot mineral springs (33-83C) it becomes evident why the town has turned into a resort of international significance.

History: On the place of the present day town there was an old Thracian settlement that had sprung up near the hot mineral springs. The first inhabitants were the tribe called medi. With the arrival of the Romans the small settlement was extended and improved. The curative springs were impounded and a big public bath was built (asklepion). Most probably the settlement grew into a town during the reign of Emperor Pius (138-161) and was surrounded by fortification walls made of pebble stones from the local river. The town reached cultural and economic boom during the time of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II (527-565). After 6th century the town was destroyed. The Slavonic tribe called strimontsi (stroumentsi) settled here; they named the settlement Sveti Vrach, meaning Saint Healers. According to the legend this name is connected with two folk healers - the brothers Kozma and Damyan. The settlement was included in the territory of the Bulgarian Kingdom during the reign of Khan Pressian (836-852). During the Ottoman domination Sveti Vrach fell into decay and turned into a small village. In the year of its liberation - 1912 (the Balkan War) its population was no more than 500 inhabitants (the nearby town of Melnik had a population of 12 000 inhabitants at the time). A lot of refugees from the Aegean region settled in the area in 1913-1925. Nowadays the town is one of the most significant centres in Europe for treatment of diseases of the upper respiratory track and the lungs.

Landmarks: On entering the town along the road where the main Sofia-Koulata-Athens road forks the visitor faces the architectural and sculptural complex (a monument) among which the white seven-metre high stone statue of the ancient hero Spartacus rises. In the centre of the town is the Museum of Archaeology exibiting remains of the Episcopal Basilica and treasuring material evidence of more than 27 centuries. Particular attention should be paid to the St. Georgi Church from 1861 - it is the only building preserved from the Revival Period, The Town Art Gallery and Likin Art Gallery,.

Accommodation: Sandanski offers great accommodation opportunities. The biggest and most prestigious is the 4-star Sandanski Interhotel situated at the entrance of the Sveti Vrach Park. Here are 2-star hotels: Andoni, Bacheto, Kartalovets, Mramor, Sveti Vrach, in the town centre, Yug, Spartak (2, Macedonia Str.), Garant. The Sports Resort Complex (Base 1 and Base 2) near the Sveti Vrach Park offers excellent opportunities. There are several motels, rest homes with accommodation facilities and a camping site called Chetvurti Kilometre (4th kilometre) on the road to the village of Lilyanovo, and Popina Luka Holiday Resort. There are more than 30 private lodgings in Sandansk.

Transport: Sandanski is an important point on the international road and railway lines Sofia-Koulata-Athens and this in itself determines the type of the transport links. There is bus transport to and from the town, which forms a branched net in the adjacent towns and villages. The bus station is located in the centre of the town on the right bank of the Sandanska Bistritsa River. There is railway transport connecting Sandanski to the big towns of Blagoevgrad, Doupnitsa, Pernik and the capital city Sofia as well as to the rest of the railway system of the country. The railway station is 4 km west of the town and there is a regular bus line in this direction. In the town there are several regular bus lines.

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