city in Southern Bulgaria

Pazardzhik (Пазарджик) is a city in Central Southern Bulgaria, on the banks of the Maritsa river in the north-eastern corner of the horn-shaped Upper Thracian Plain, relatively close to the northern slopes of the Rhodope Mountains. With a population of about 55,000 in 2022, it's the administrative centre of Pazardzhik Oblast (Province/District).

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The Old Post Office
House-Museum of Stanislav Dospevski
Map of Pazardzhik

While the region has been inhabited since prehistory, the history of modern Pazardzhik starts in the 15th century, when it shows up as a market town in the registers of the Ottoman Empire. It used to be known as Tatar Pazarcik — "small Tatar market" — in Turkish. The name was shortened to its current form after the Liberation, in 1900.

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By train edit

Pazardzhik is a major station on the main line between the capital Sofia and Plovdiv, and the latter provides connections to the rest of Southern Bulgaria and the Black Sea Coast. There are multiple daily direct trains from Sofia (about 2½ hr) and Plovdiv (25-40 min), as well as a few direct trains from Burgas (5 hr) which also pass through Stara Zagora (about 3 hr) and Dimitrovgrad (about 1½ hr, and close to Haskovo). There are also a couple of direct daily trains from Svilengrad on the border (2½ hr, via Dimitrovgrad and Plovdiv).

The last surviving narrow gauge railway in Bulgaria, which climbs up the Rhodope Mountains, starts at § Septemvri, 10-20 min away on any train in the direction of Sofia (more than a dozen daily).

  • 1 Railway Station. The station has been modernized, but it's in an inconvenient place: on the outskirts, in the industrial zone south of the river. Walking is possible (there's even a bicycle lane), but tedious (40 min to the centre), so using public transport or a taxi is recommended.

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  • 1 Regional History Museum (Регионален исторически музей), ul. "Konstantin Velichkov" 15 (on one of the main pedestrian squares, south-west of the Column), . M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa-Su 10:00-17:00. A Communist-era building (1980) with low relief panes on its stone facade. Prehistoric and medieval archaeological finds from the region, as well as exhibits related to the Bulgarian National Revival and national liberation struggles in the 19th century, and the history of Pazardzhik up to the first half of the 20th century. The museum claims to be accessible to the disabled. The other sites managed by the museum are the Ethnographic Museum and the House-Museum of Konstantin Velichkov, so you can get a package ticket. Adults: 3 лв, students/pensioners: 2 лв, disabled/children under 7: free, various group discounts apply; tour/lecture (in "foreign language"): 15 лв; package ticket (3 sites): adults 6 лв, students/pensioners: 4 лв, etc.
  • Ethnographic Museum (House of Nikolaki Hristovitch)
  • House-Museum and Gallery of Stanislav Dospevski (pseudonym of Zafir Zograf, 1823-1877). Both his father and his uncle (Zahari Zograf) were famous icon-painters of the so-called "Samokov School"; he was one of the first academically trained Bulgarian painters.
  • Old and new clock-towers
  • Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God
  • Grand and Small Synagogues
  • Island Park Svoboda (Liberty): a large island in the river, with fountains, playgrounds and various forms of public art, including statues of children's books characters (The Little Prince, Pippi Longstocking, etc) and dinosaurs.

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Septemvri edit

Map of Septemvri

Septemvri (Септември, lit. 'September') is a small town about 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Pazardzhik, with a population of about 7,000. It's notable mostly for being the starting point of the Rhodopes Narrow Gauge Railway. There are also a few ancient ruins nearby, though they are unimproved and reaching them requires either a car, or hiking along country roads. The unusual name was given to the town by the Communist regime in 1949, in honour of the failed September Uprising of 1923. Like Pazardzhik, it's on the same standard-gauge railway line and National Road 8 that connect Sofia and Plovdiv.

150 m/yd almost directly north (and a bit to the east) of the railway station there's a small pedestrian square with benches, a fountain, and an open-air stage. Exiting the square to the north-west is Bulgaria Blvd, leading to the museum and the Municipality building.

  • 2 Septemvri Railway Station (in the southern outskirts, within walking distance of the bus station - and everything else). Old, utilitarian building. The narrow gauge line has a separate station and ticket office, a small building across the tracks from the main station. It's accessible via the same pedestrian underpass that leads to the platforms.
  • 2 Archaeological Museum Prof. Mecheslav Domaradski (Археологически музей "Проф. Мечеслав Домарадски"), bul. "Bulgaria" 59. Mar-Oct: M-F 08:30–17:00, Sa 10:00-16:00, closed Su; Nov-Feb: same, but closed Sa Su. A small but modern museum showcasing finds from the nearby ancient Roman and Greek sites, including the emporion Pistiros (4th century BCE). It's named after the Polish archaeologist Mieczysław Domaradzki who has lead the international excavations since the late 1980s. Adults: 2 лв, children (7+), students, pensioners: 1 лв; lecture/tour: 5 лв (probably in Bulgarian).  

There's a number of small restaurants and cafés around town. Probably the largest one:

  • 1 Sekvoite (The Sequoias) (Комплекс "Секвоите"), ul. "Eledzhik" 16 (15 min walk from the Museum: follow the same boulevard north-west for 900 metres (980 yd), then at the intersection after the park turn west). 10:00-02:00. Casual restaurant and pub with a sizeable outdoor dining area that features a children's playground and at least one of the eponymous trees, as well as a parking lot at the front.

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