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Surrounding areas of Petrich

The most significant sight near Petrich is the Samouil Fortress - National Museum (18 km west of the town and 6 km north of the village of Klyuch, on the right bank of the Stroumeshnitsa River). At the beginning of 11th century the Bulgarian Tsar Samouil built a defencive system against the Byzantine invasion in the Klyuch Saddle (between Belasitsa and Ograzhden Mountains). In the summer of 1014 the Byzantine Emperor Vasilius II and numerous army entered the saddle. After a series of futile attacks to the Bulgarian defence he sent part of the army to march round the Belasitsa Mountain and turn up in the rear of the Bulgarians. The defenders of the fortification were taken by surprise and 15 000 of them were taken prisoners. The infuriated Byzantine Emperor ordered that all the captives were blinded, to every 100 soldiers he left one with one eye to lead them. All this broke Tsar Samouil and on 6th October 1014 he died desperate. Ever since the Byzantine Emperor has been called Vasilius the Murderer of Bulgarians. Four years after this crucial battle Bulgaria fell under Byzantine rule for nearly two centuries. The imposing bronze statue of Samouil is a remarkable sight; he is in full height with legs bent in the knees under the burden of severe anguish. On either side of the statue there are stone plates with embossed figures of the blinded soldiers. There is a museum exhibition offering significant historical information about the Bulgarian State. The biggest dwelling-place in the settlement is preserved under a glass dome. The whole of the Klyuch Saddle can be viewed from a 25 m high panoramic platform. Working hours: 08.00 a.m. - 05.00 p.m. One can use the regular bus lines from Petrich to Zlatarevo frontier checkpoint.

Five kilometres north-east of Petrich one can find remains dating back to the Hellenic epoch (most probably of the ancient town of Petra) - parts of a fortress wall, foundations of public buildings, architectural fragments. Coins dating back to 4-3th centuries BC were discovered. The Roupite Nature Reserve - 10 km north-east of the town. There is a railway station on the General Todorov - Petrich line. One can see the hot steaming mineral springs at the bottom of the dead vulcano of Kozhouh. This is an extremely beautiful and impressive place. The Bulgarian prophet Vanga lived here and helped the people in her last years. Her house and the St. Petka Church remind us of her. She herself was the initiator and donator for the construction of the church.

The village of Marikostinovo - a spa 13 km east of Petrich. There are a lot of hot mineral springs with water temperature of 58o-62oC. The water is good for various illnesses. An ancient necropolis of 7th-10th century is situated nearby.

The mountain of Belasitsa - it rises steep south above the town and in fact is its biggest natural park. The biggest area of edible chestnut trees can be found on the northern slopes. The mountain spreads in the territories of three countries - Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia, and the crossing point of their borders is  Mt. Toumba (1881 m), which can be climbed up for 6-7 hours starting at the village of Gabrene (only upon permission of the border authorities, there are no markings). Nine kilometres away from the town (there is an asphalt road), 720 m above sea level is the Belasitsa Chalet. One can walk the distance for 2 hours following a direct marked track. The chalet is a massive three-storied building with 80 beds in separate rooms. Tel.: 0745 22449 (Kalabak Tourist Association, Petrich). The chalet is the starting point of several marked tracks to Vodopada (the Waterfall) (0.30 min), Zaslona (the Shelter) (1 hour). Tourists can climb up the highest peak of the mountain, Mt. Radomir (2029 m) for about 6 hours but only upon permission of the border authorities at the piquet. There are no markings above the piquet.

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