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History of Samokov

The past of the town is related to iron mining. Once there was a Roman settlement and the present town originated much later - at the beginning of 14th century as an ore mining settlement. At that time, Bulgarian craftsmen had direct contacts with the West-European miners - Saxons, called Sassi, and after their model Saxon furnaces (vidni) were introduced, as well as forgery workshops (madani) with blowers and big hammers (samokovi- from where originates the name of the town) set in motion by water power. When the Turks conquered the town (1372), Samokov was an economic and cultural centre.

Initially, it became municipal and later regional centre, administering todays Blagoevgrad, Doupnitsa, Razlog, Ihtiman and many other settlements. The first Bulgarian printing house of Nikola Karastoyanov was opened here (1827). It is not occasional that in the end of 18th and the beginning of 19th century the most numerous and renowned art (icon-painting, landscape and wood-carving) school of art in our country was founded here - the Samokov School of Art.

Some of the most famous Bulgarian painters were born or worked in Samokov, such as Hristo Dimitrov and his sons Dimitar and Zahari Zograf, Stanislav Dospevski, the son of Dimitar Zograf, Ivan and Nikola Obrazopisovi and others. Konstantin Fotinov, the founder of the first Bulgarian magazine, Lyuboslovie (1844) is also from Samokov. Here was initiated the struggle for independent Bulgarian church, and 50 citizens of Samokov fought as volunteers in the Russian-Turkish War for Liberation. The decline of crafts at the end of the century ruined the town and it lost its economic, cultural and administrative power.

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