Blagoevgrad is a city in southwestern Bulgaria with a population of around 70 thousand people. It is situated in the valley of Struma River and it rests in the footsteps of the Bulgaria’s highest mountains – Rila and Pirin. The city lies 31 km away from the Macedonian border, 83 km from the Greek one, and 96 km from the capital of Bulgaria – Sofia.
Thanks to the hot springs and the mild climate in the region, the Thracian village Skaptopara was established at the territory of nowadays Blagoevgrad around 300 BC. The history of the city since the arrival of the Slavs on the territory until the beginning of the Ottoman rule is unknown.
During the presence of the Ottoman Empire, the city flourished and was populated mainly by Muslims. The name of the city changed throughout time, the last one being Gorna Djumaya (Upper Juma). Djumaya is the Turkish word for “Friday”, or the Friday market. The name was kept after the Liberation from the Ottoman rule and was not changed until the 1950s. It is then named Blagoevgrad, after the Bulgarian politician, founder of the Bulgarian communist party, Dimitar Blagoev.
An interesting site for the tourists and pride for the citizens is the neighborhood Varosha. It was established during the Bulgarian Revival Period. Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Varosha was the part of the city, populated by Bulgarians. This neighborhood hosts the Orthodox Church and architecture typical for the Bulgarian Revival Period.