Panagyurishte, Bulgaria (Things to do and best vegetarian-friendly places to eat)

Sunrise at the Apriltsi Memorial Complex in Panagyurishte, Bulgaria

Updated On: June 05, 2024 by   Aya RadwanAya Radwan

Nestled between the Sredna Gora mountains, 91 kilometres east of Sofia, is the town of Panagyurishte in the province of Pazardzhik. Although the town is usually overshadowed by the nearby historic town of Koprivshtitsa, the map of Panagyurishte shows its fair share of historical sites and places worth visiting.

Brief History of Panagyurishte

The existence of civilization in the area has been recorded since Antiquity, with the testimony of more than 300 monuments, including necropolises, settlements, fortresses, military camps and road construction installations. During the Iron Age, a Thracian tribe named Velikokoylaleti resided there. A part of the Odrysian Kingdom was located in the exact location in the 4th and 5th centuries BC. The famous Panagyurishte Golden Treasure, discovered in 1949, is the most beautifully crafted piece of history representing that era.

There was a mention of a settlement near the modern town during the Middle Ages and the fortress of Krasen south of the current location. The remains of the fortress exist on the south slopes of the Sredna Gora mountains, evidence of the administrative and cultural importance it once held before it was conquered and set on fire by the Ottomans in the 14th century.

Following the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars, a large portion of the population had to relocate, moving to the current location of Panagyurishte. The town witnessed several waves of refugees from surrounding towns during and after the Ottoman reign. Most notably, the refugees came from the village of Asenevtsi near Sliven and the people of several Macedonian cities, such as Debar and Kostur, after rebellions against the Ottomans in the 15th century.

Known as Otlukköy under Ottoman rule, the region of Panagyurishte was a settlement that derived its name from the fair on the banks of the Luda Yana River, which divided the town. Residents had some privileges under Ottoman rule since the area had the status of a voyeur settlement. This significant economic development was reached in the first half of the 19th century.

Panagyurishte is known for being the heart of the rebellion against the Ottomans, as the city was the centre of the April Uprising in 1876. Becoming the capital of the Fourth Revolutionary District paved the way for being the heart of the rebellion. The short-lived period of freedom of 10 days was savagely suppressed by the Ottomans, and the town was destroyed and almost entirely burnt down.

Getting to Panagyurishte

This historic hub east of the Bulgarian capital can be reached through different means of road transport. A very accommodating website to find and compare trips and prices is Rome2rio.

  1. By train: The train from the Sofia Central Station will take you to Plovdiv, from which you can board another train that will take you to Panagyurishte. The two trips are just a bit over 6 hours long. Travelling by train is the most comfortable and convenient means of transportation.

There’s a train from Sofia to Plovdiv every hour. At the same time, the trains from Plovdiv to Panagyurishte run three times a day. Both train tickets cost about 10 Euros.

  1. By bus: There are two routes from Sofia through which you can reach Panagyurishte.

Bus through Plovdiv: The trip takes almost 5 hours and 15 minutes, and you will take two bus rides: from Sofia to Plovdiv and from there to Panagyuristhe. The sum of the two bus tickets is about 15 Euros. It’s worth noting that only one bus leaves from Plovdiv to Panagyurishte a day, while there’s a bus leaving from Sofia to Plovdiv every hour.

Bus through Pazardzhik: A bus leaves from Sofia to Pazardzhik four times a day, while a bus from Pazardzhik leaves for Panagyurishte every hour. The almost 6-hour ride tickets cost around 15 Euros.

  1. By taxi: For about 90 Euros, you can take the trip from Sofia to Panagyurishte in less than two hours. Several taxi rental companies offer trips to take you, such as
  2. By car: If you feel like taking a few hours of a road trip and driving to your destination, there’s no problem. For less than 20 Euros for fuel, you can rent a car from one of the car rental companies near the Sofia Airport for 16 Euros per day. A good site for finding and comparing car prices is Rentalcars.

Where to stay in Panagyurishte?

Time in Panagyurishte is often observed as a one-day trip from Sofia or the closer Plovdiv. Panagyurishte is full of relaxing hotels and guest houses where you can book several days to enjoy the sights better, soak in the atmosphere, and try the local cuisine. Here’s a recommendation of some of the best places to stay in Panagyurishte.

  1. Djudjeva Kyshta Hotel: Rated as exceptional, this hotel offers various services for a mere 36 Euros a night. It also provides an airport transfer service.
  2. Park Hotel Asarel: With a relaxing view outside your window or terrace, you can get a double bedroom with complimentary breakfast for a good deal of 46 Euros a night. Children under three years of age can stay for free. The restaurant at the hotel offers local, European and international cuisine.
  3. Esterra Vini Guest House: A standard double room starts at 32 Euros a night. You can choose the layout that best suits you: a king bed or two single beds. A two-bedroom suite will begin at 49 Euros a night.
  4. Kamengrad Hotel & Spa: This luxurious hotel offers a deluxe double room for 74 Euros per night. During your stay, you can enjoy many services, such as the spa and sauna, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a family room. An airport transfer is also available.

What to see and do in Panagyurishte?

Although parts of the town suffered great damage after the April Uprising, the people of Panagyurishte were survivors and rebuilt their homes. The town is known for the Apriltsi Memorial Complex, among its churches, museums, and old houses, which survived the Ottoman attacks and were renovated.

The Apriltsi Memorial Complex:

Stairs leading up to the Apriltsi Memorial Monument in Panagyurishte
Stairs leading up to the Apriltsi Memorial Monument in Panagyurishte

The complex was built to commemorate the April Uprising of 1876, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1976. It is located above the town’s central square on the Manyovo Bardo hill, which has been known throughout history as one of the main positions of the Bulgarian revolutionaries against the Ottomans.

Granite figures on the Apriltsi Memorial Complex in Panagyurishte
Granite figures on the Apriltsi Memorial Complex in Panagyurishte

The complex that dominates Panagyurishte’s skyline can be seen in almost every neighbourhood in the town. It includes several granite figures encircling the entire building, which can be reached using stairs.

Church of Saint George (St. Georgi):

This Bulgarian National Revival church is located north of the central square of Panagyurishte. When it was built, it was considered one of Bulgaria’s most imposing churches. The church’s style of two bell towers is unique and not found very often in Bulgaria. St. Georgi is now the main church of Panagyurishte.

Named after the patron saint of Bulgaria, the church was built between 1856 and 1860. It is a large edifice with two symmetrical towers. The columns on the western façade used to be covered in frescoes, but the Ottomans destroyed them when they burned the city after the April Uprising.

Restoration works took place between 1878 and 1880.

Church of the Holy Mother of God ( Bogoroditsa):

Church of the Holy Mother of God
Church of the Holy Mother of God

This church is located in the central part of Panagyurishte, separating it from the central square by the town hall and the building of Chitalishte Videlina. Close to the church’s current location, an older church, St. Theodore, was built.

The St. Theodore church was the oldest church in Panagyurishte. It was built in the middle of the 16th century and consisted of a single nave edifice, which is now connected to the new, larger church. The Ottomans destroyed St. Theodore at the beginning of the 19th century, but it was later restored between 1808 and 1809.

Church of the Holy Mother of God in Panagyurishte 2
Church of the Holy Mother of God in Panagyurishte 2

Construction of the Church of the Holy Mother of God began in 1818 near the southern wall of the old building and was finished in 1823. With a larger building than the old church, the new one had a single nave with an arcade. The new church was inaugurated by Bishop Dionysius of Plovdiv, just as he ordered the restoration works on the old church.

The Church of the Holy Mother of God had painters from the famous Samokov school decorate its interior. The beautifully crafted interior was destroyed when the Ottomans burned the town of Panagyurishte during the April Uprising of 1876. After the Liberation of Bulgaria, the church was restored between 1878 and 1880. The latest renovation works on the church in 2003 resulted in the domes getting covered with gold plates.

The Panagyurishte Museum of History:

Panagyurishte Historical Museum
Panagyurishte Historical Museum

Located in the city centre, the museum began as a collection in the Videlina Community Center in 1943. In 1964, it moved to its own building, which included a reconstructed 19th-century marketplace.

In 1986, the museum became a part of a complex that now includes the Dudekov House, the Ethnographic Collection, the Sinya Hadzhidimitrov House, the Ivan Duhovnik House, the Raiyna Knyaginya Residence Museum, the Panagyurishte Golden Treasures Exhibition, the Tutev House, the Lekov House and the Marin Drinov House.

The Museum of History is divided into sections dedicated to Archeology, Ethnography, Bulgaria from the 15th to the 19th centuries, Contemporary Bulgaria and Natural History.

One of the museum’s most important exhibitions is dedicated to the 1876 April Uprising. It is divided into three sections: the Hall of Weapons of the April Revolution, the Hall of the April Revolution, and the Hall of Liberation. The nationally important artefacts in these halls explain the city’s struggle to break free from Ottoman rule and the role and sacrifice the town of Panagyurishte paid as a price for freedom.

Another important exhibition is the one containing the Panagyurishte Golden Treasure. These artefacts, discovered in 1949, consist of 9 vessels weighing 6,164 kilograms of gold. The original golden artefacts are often shown in different museums worldwide and are currently displayed in the National Historical Museum in Sofia.

The reconstruction of the Panagyurishte 19th-century marketplace is an exhibition of regional handicrafts. The exhibitions showed homespun woollen goods, items made from goat’s hair, works of goldsmiths and coppersmiths, and rug making.

The museum also houses a research library with over 6,000 volumes in different fields, such as historical manuscripts, periodical literature, and financial records.

Panagyurishte Treasure:

Golden Treasure of Panagyurishte
Golden Treasure of Panagyurishte

Three brothers, Pavel, Petko and Michail Deikov, came across something shiny as they were processing a new layer of clay at the region of the Merul tile factory near the town’s railway station. The collection consisted of a phial and eight rhytons, one shaped like an amphora and the rest like heads of women or animals. They date back to the end of the 4th century BC and the beginning of the 3rd century BC.

Golden Treasure of Panagyurishte 2
Golden Treasure of Panagyurishte 2
Golden Treasure of Panagyurishte 3
Golden Treasure of Panagyurishte 3

The priceless collection was an extraordinary find due to its originality and the fact that it weighed over 6,146 kilograms of gold. The treasure is the centerpiece of the Thracian Art Collection of the Plovdiv Regional Historical Museum, the National Museum of History in Sofia, and the Panagyurishte History Museum. Three replicas of the treasure go on display in these museums, while the originals are lent to international museums.

House-Museum of Rayna Knyaginya:

Rayna Knyaginya House Museum in Panagyurishte
Rayna Knyaginya House Museum in Panagyurishte

Rayna Knyaginya, the Queen of the Bulgarians, was a Bulgarian teacher and revolutionary born in 1856 in Panagyurishte. Rayna is famous for sewing the flag of the April Uprising of 1876. On the day of the uprising, she waved the flag along with Georgi Benkovski, after which she was captured and imprisoned by the Ottoman forces.

For the 25th commemoration of the uprising, Rayna sewed three copies of the original flag, two of which survived until today, with the third destroyed during the Second World War bombing of Sofia. Rayna Knyaginya died in 1917 at the age of 61.

The House-Museum of Rayna Knyaginya opened its doors in 1950. The house where the national heroine was born takes you back to when she was born and raised. Among the artefacts in the museum is a reproduction of the April Uprising flag, which Rayna reproduced in 1901, the first official celebration of the uprising.

In the courtyard of the house, there’s a marble sculpture of the uprising flag, with its remains stored beneath it. Rayna Knyaginya’s house was donated by her heirs to the Municipality of Panagyurishte in 1992.

Panagyurski Kolonii – The Colony of Panagyurishte:

This mountain resort village is popular among both tourists and locals of Panagyurishte. It is located in the Sredna Gora mountain, about 15 kilometres north of Panagyurishte. The majority of the people of Panagyurishte own summer houses there, which were built in the 1930s, though people from all over Bulgaria also own houses there.

The summer houses were designed to be inhabited during the summer and remain closed during the cold winter season. There’s a tourist hostel, a few restaurants and cafés and a ski resort. The colony is the perfect place for skiing, getting out of the city’s hectic life and for children to explore the different species of berries, mushrooms and wildlife.

Dudekov House Museum:

Dudekov House-Museum in Panagyurishte
Dudekov House-Museum in Panagyurishte

This architectural and historical museum showcases the culture and way of life of the Bulgarian people during the Bulgarian National Revival. The 1856 building is a Plovdiv-style building with symmetric construction. The house was owned by the trader Petar Dudekov, who was killed during the suppression of the April Uprising.

A display in the Dudekov House-Museum in Panagyurishte
A display in the Dudekov House-Museum in Panagyurishte
Luxury display in the Dudekov House-Museum in Panagyurishte
Luxury display in the Dudekov House-Museum in Panagyurishte

The museum consists of two floors. The first floor displays objects from everyday life, such as traditional craft items, fireplace equipment, cooking utensils and traditional costumes. The second floor houses luxurious items and furniture, including formal national clothes.

Oborishte Locality:

Located 7 kilometres northwest of Panagyurishte, this is where delegates from all over the province discussed and approved the plan for the April Uprising. Representatives of the Fourth Revolutionary District took to the woods around the Panagyurishte headquarters to discuss their plans.

The monument at Oborishte Locality was erected in 1923 to honour the First Great National Assembly that sparked the April Uprising.

Panagyurishte, Bulgaria (Visit Bulgaria) – Connolly Cove

Where to eat in Panagyurishte (Vegetarian Friendly restaurants)

When on vacation, it’s always good to opt for local restaurants rather than ordering room service all the time. There are several places in Panagyurishte where you can enjoy the atmosphere, and quality food is guaranteed.

Mehana Starata Kushta (Vegetarian friendly):

This restaurant is ranked the first among tourists visiting Panagyurishte. The steakhouse and barbeque-style restaurant opens at 10 am and closes at 11 pm. It’s great to eat on the outside set tables during the year’s warm seasons.

The traditional restaurant décor will help you immerse yourself in the culture. The waiters are also dressed in traditional Bulgarian costumes. The menu features traditional Bulgarian dishes alongside European ones. The prices range from 2.50 Euros to 8 Euros.

Viaggio in Italia:

This pizza-serving restaurant is where you’ll have the best pizza you can imagine. The service is quick, and all used ingredients are fresh. The restaurant also serves other traditional Italian dishes, such as pasta and lasagna. Prices range from 3 Euros to 10 Euros.

Madrid – Coffee, Cakes and Pizza:

This place is perfect for visiting the family; the service portions are big enough for the whole family. Many dishes are Italian and open from 9 am to 10 pm. You might just walk into a birthday celebration, as it’s the perfect spot for celebrations.

Tavern – The Old House (Vegetarian Friendly):

This barbeque-style restaurant is another vegetarian-friendly option in Panagyurishte. Prices range from 2 Euros to 10 Euros. It’s a must-visit if you’re ever in town. The food is delicious, and the service isn’t late despite the busy tables.

If you fancy getting away from city life, take some time off your vacation in Sofia and come and spend some days in Panagyurishte. You’ll surely relax and enjoy the town views. Most importantly, delicious food and drinks will await you wherever you eat.

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