At about 90 kilometres east of Sofia is a pleasant and laid-back town surrounded by hills. Well, there are many such towns close to Sofia. However, Panagyurishte deserves a story of its own, especially because of its historical relevance for the country. The city’s name derives from the Greek word ‘Panegyri’, which stands for festival or fair. The town gained national recognition as it was the main center of the April Uprising (1876) against the Ottomans who occupied Bulgaria.
As the epicenter of rebellion, Panagyurishte gained the Ottomans’ attention, resulting in a violent crush of the Uprising. The town was then almost completely razed to the ground. Few houses in Bulgaria’s specific Revival style have remained. Koprivshtitsa, nested in the Sredna Gora mountain range as well, has a center that has been very well preserved. This town is also widely known for its resistance against the Ottomans. Even though Panagyurishte carries the same historical relevance, it receives far fewer visitors in comparison. It absolutely deserves to get its recognition though, not only for its national importance but just because it is a really nice town.
Panagyurishte has one obvious sight no one could possibly miss – a place to remember the many lives lost in the battle against the Ottomans and to honour the Uprising’s heroes. Not only that, it marks how the whole city was rebuilt from scratch. Nowadays, the monument fiercely stands above the central square. It certainly adds grandeur to this city and its size will leave you impressed as you walk up the stairs. The memorial complex was constructed a 100 years after the April Uprising, in 1976. The hill on which the monument was built, was the exact spot most revolutionists were located. From here, they had a good overview of the whole city. Directly behind the tall monument is a path that leads to Oborishte. In about 9 kilometres, through a pleasant landscape, you arrive. Oborishte is another such interesting place related to the Uprising. As this whole region is packed with national history, it is absolutely worth exploring. Besides, as it is so close to Sofia and even possible to visit in just a day, Panagyurishte should be in any list of excursions from the capital. Should you stay in town for a while, do visit the Historical Museum to gain a better understanding of this region. One more thing, try the famous Panagyurishte Eggs!
Getting to Panagyurishte is best done by private transport, as it is a bit off the Trakiya highway between Sofia and Plovdiv. Besides, having your own wheels makes it easier to visit nearby towns such as Strelcha, Koprivshtitsa or even Batak. Nonetheless, plenty of buses leave from ‘Avtogaga Yug’, the southern bus station of Sofia. Beneath a large bridge close to metro station Joliot Curie, regular minibuses depart and take you there in two hours. Trains are available, however this requires a switch and takes an enormous amount of time. Furthermore, in Panagyurishte, the bus station is far closer to the center than the train station is. From the bus station, take the main street directly to the central square. Should you like to spend the night, Hotel Kamengrad is your best option. This large hotel is very comfortable and offers excellent possibilities for a spa retreat. A true delight. Obviously, this hotel offers a good restaurant as well. As it is a popular getaway for city folks, make a reservation well in advance through all seasons. Hotel Victoria is another hotel on the central square, that offers comfortable and spacious rooms including a restaurant. Guesthouse Djudeva Kushta outside the center is built in the architectural style of the Bulgarian National Revival, a cosy white house with many wooden details and a nice garden. In case you’re heading back to Sofia by bus – the last one leaves around 18:00 as of November 2015. Check in advance in order not to miss your last bus!