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Palace of culture
Pernik flag.png
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Location of Pernik
Coordinates: 42°36′N23°02′E / 42.600°N 23.033°E / 42.600; 23.033 Coordinates: 42°36′N23°02′E / 42.600°N 23.033°E / 42.600; 23.033
Country Bulgaria
  MayorStanislav Vladimirov
  Town72.289 km2 (27.911 sq mi)
710 m (2,330 ft)
  Density1,100/km2 (2,700/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal Code
Area code(s) 076
Website Official website

Pernik (Bulgarian : Перник [ˈpɛrnik] ) is a town in western Bulgaria (about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south-west of Sofia) with a population of 120,880 as of 2019. Pernik is the most populated town in western Bulgaria after Sofia. It is the main town of Pernik Province and lies on both banks of the Struma River in the Pernik Valley between the Golo Bardo Mountain, Vitosha Mountain, Lyulin and Viskyar mountains. Pernik is the principal town of Pernik Province – a province in western Bulgaria, which is next to the Serbian border.


Originally the site of a Thracian fortress founded in the 4th century BC, and later a Roman settlement, Pernik became part of the Bulgarian Empire in the early 9th century as an important fortress. The medieval town was a key Bulgarian stronghold during Bulgarian tsar Samuil's wars against the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century, when it was governed by the local noble Krakra of Pernik, withstanding Byzantine sieges a number of times.

From 1396 until 1878 the town was under Ottoman rule. In the 20th century Pernik developed rapidly as a centre for coal mining and heavy industry. During the Communist rule of Bulgaria it was called Dimitrovo between 1949 and 1962 after Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov.

The Surva International Festival of the Masquerade Games (simply called Surva) is held in the town every January. Surva is an International Kukeri Festival in Pernik, Bulgaria and is one of the biggest masquerade festival on the Balkans and Eastern Europe. It is held in the last three days of January each year.

Economically Pernik is an industrial town. Industry is of vital importance for the economy of the province. Pernik is the major manufacturing centre, one of the largest in the country with the Stomana steel complex; heavy machinery (mining and industrial equipment); brown coals, building materials and textiles being the most important. Near Pernik there is an enormous plant for heavy machinery in smaller town Radomir which produces excavators and industrial equipment, but is currently not working at full capacity. Pernik has two football teams, PFC Minyor Pernik and FC Metalurg Pernik.


The name Pernik is thought to have originated from that of Slavic god of thunder and lightning Perun or from a local boyar named Perin [1] + the Slavic placename suffix  –nik (or –ik) added, and was first mentioned in the 9th century.


Pernik is the second largest town in western Bulgaria. The town is located in the Pernik Valley. part of the ethnographic region of Graovo, at an altitude between 700 and 850 metres (2,297 and 2,789 feet), length of 22 kilometres (14 miles) and is surrounded by mountains Vitosha, Lyulin and Golo Bardo. Through the city flows the river Struma, which rises from Cherni Vrah – one of the largest rivers in the country with a total length of 2,290 over sea level. The total area is 28,863 acres (11,680 ha). Pernik is situated 30 kilometres (19 miles) southwest of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. The territory of the town has many major roads, including Pan-European Corridor VIII and Pan-European Corridor IVEuropean route E79 /with Struma motorway and Lyulin motorway/, which connects Central Europe and Greece. Pernik has five railway stations and railway stops. The town lies close to one of the oldest trade routes in the Balkans, which ran from Sofia to Dubrovnik, via Skopje, Pristina, Sarajevo and Mostar. [2]


The medieval Bulgarian fortress of Krakra, overlooking the town Krakra-fortress-Bulgaria-7.jpg
The medieval Bulgarian fortress of Krakra, overlooking the town

Pernik is a successor of a medieval town of an unknown name, falsely named Krakra (after Krakra of Pernik).

In the 4th century, the Thracians built a fortress there. There is a rich collection of archaeological findings that evidence the existence of a settlement in the late Neolithic. The richest collection of pottery in the Central Balkans dates from that time. It is kept in the Historical Museum. The ancient Greek historian Thucydides wrote that in the territory of Pernik lives the Thracian tribe of Agrianes. The author mentions them in describing tells about the march of the Odrysaean King Sitalces against Macedonia in 429 BC. Other Thracian tribes in the area were granite and ileitis. Their main city is called Adeva (Adeβa), on whose ruins was built Pernik.

A wonderful exhibition of reliefs and sculptures is kept there, dedicated to the health-giving gods Asclepius and Hygieia, held in reverence in this region because of the presence of mineral springs.

Bulgarians took advantage of the fortified spot and built one of the mightiest Bulgarian strongholds — Pernik. At the beginning of the 11th century the settlement was a fortress, impenetrable to the Byzantines. It was the seat of the legendary governor Krakra of Pernik, who played an important role in the time of the First Bulgarian Empire. In 1004, he bravely defended their fortress and several times stop the offensive of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II (popularly known as the Bulgar-slayer) to Serdika. After long fighting, Krakra caused severe damage to the Byzantine army and forced them to withdraw from his area. In 1016 Basil II again try to attack Pernik. After 88-day siege and numerous losses Byzantine Emperor was forced to withdraw. The legend remains that the blood from the Byzantine warriors was so much, that the rocks at the foot of the fortress of Pernik become red. From there came the name of the place around – Bloody. In 1017 Krakra gathered a great army combined Pechenegs. Both army forces were preparing to strike at Byzantium to liberate the lands between the Danube and the Stara Planina from Byzantine invaders. The politics of Constantinople bribe Pechenegs and they break up the union with Bulgarians. After the death of Tsar Ivan Vladislav in 1018, who left no apparent heirs to the throne, Krakra successfully negotiated with the Byzantines that the Bulgarians keep their internal independence in the newly formed theme Bulgaria. All Bulgarian nobility remained untouched and Bulgarian forces fully armed. The head of the Bulgarian church also remained Bulgarian. Today Pernik Fortress is one of the largest historic landmarks.

In the time of the Ottoman occupation Pernik lost its significance as a fortress because it was located deep in the interior. In the town had not settled any other ethnic groups, except Bulgarians and the population lives relatively calm in recent centuries. Until after the Liberation of Bulgaria Pernik was a small stockbreeding village, consisting of several scattered hamlets.

Central post office Pernik-central-post-office.jpg
Central post office

The beginning of Pernik's modern history is set in the 20th century with the development of the rich coal-beds of the region. According to some scientists, the existence of coal was already known in the 10th and 11th centuries. Before their industrial exploitation started, the local people dug it up with picks and shovels and transported coal with carts and wheelbarrows. Pernik's rapid development is associated with the large shipments of coal to the capital city, intended for household needs and for the railroad transport. Until then, coal for the railroads and the river and sea steamboats was delivered from as far as Cardiff in the United Kingdom.

As the first miners' quarters were built on the terraces of the Struma River, the beginning of the miners' settlement of Pernik was set, one kilometre (0.62 miles) to the east of the village of the same name. It is a town since 1929, and since 1958 — a regional centre. The coal output reached its apogee at that time. Pernik has been an energy centre of Bulgaria for a few decades.

The Central Mining Office Pernik Mining Administration IFB.JPG
The Central Mining Office


Ethnic, linguistic and religious composition

According to the latest 2011 census data, the individuals who declared their ethnic identity were distributed as follows: [3] [4]

Total: 80,191

There is not very large concentration of Gypsies within the city limits as the Gypsies are 1,709 in the city and 1,781 in the municipality, while the Bulgarians are 73,063 in the city and 88,831 in the municipality. The Eastern Orthodox Christian is the predominant religion.


Pernik is in moderate-continental climate zone. Climatic conditions are influenced by the relatively high altitude – 750 m, but also by the fact that Pernik is in between mountains, which creates a specific micro-climate. Spring comes relatively late – in late March and early April. The average spring temperature is 10 °C (50 °F). Summer seasonal average temperature is about 22 °C (72 °F). The hottest month is July – an average monthly temperature 22.5 °C (73 °F). The absolute maximum temperature is 38.2 °C (101 °F). Autumn is warmer than spring, with seasonal average temperature of 11.2 °C (52 °F).

Climate data for Pernik, Bulgaria
Record high °C (°F)15.2
Average high °C (°F)4.0
Daily mean °C (°F)−0.8
Average low °C (°F)−4.5
Record low °C (°F)−26.8
Average precipitation mm (inches)43
Source: Stringmeteo [5]


Famous natives



The most practiced religion in Pernik and its adjacent territories is Eastern Orthodoxy. The majority of the city's residents (over 95%) declare that they are of Bulgarian origin. There are no mosques, synagogues or Catholic churches in the area. In Pernik region there are over 60 functioning and 20 inactive Orthodox churches.

There is an Evangelical Pentecostal church on the territory of the town, which was founded in 1920. It has been a member of the Union of Evangelical Pentecostal Churches in Bulgaria since 1931. The church is located at 10 Aleko Konstantinov Street.


The largest documentary book depository and the main reference and local history center in the region is the Svetoslav Minkov Library. The library fund is about 292,000 library units. It was established in 1955 as a city public library. She started her activity with her transfer to the Palace of Culture in 1957. In 1983 she was awarded the Order of Cyril and Methodius I degree and named after the great Bulgarian writer Svetoslav Minkov. The library organizes exhibitions and literary meetings with publishers and authors. Since 2007, with Decree № 80 of April 7, 2006 of the Ministry of Culture, the library has changed its status from the UNB to the Republic of Bulgaria and leaves the structure of the Municipal Complex "Palace of Culture".

Drama Theater

The Municipal Drama Theater of Pernik was founded in 1919 and is named after the actor Boyan Danovski. It was once housed in the Palace of Culture, where it has a modern stage, a hall for 500 spectators, very good opportunities for artistic lighting and musical design. Due to a short circuit in 2004, the theater hall was destroyed by fire, but the theater continues to be visited in a smaller hall in the United Children's Complex. Subsequently, the burned hall was completely repaired and modernized. Since 2013, the theater returns to the hall of the Palace of Culture. The theater has been awarded many national prizes, including the prize of the Union of Bulgarian Artists for an overall performance. The most famous directors, artists and performers worked on his stage: Leon Daniel, Krikor Azaryan, Hristo Hristov, Zdravko Mitkov. The director of the theater in the period 1977-1990 was the famous Bulgarian actor Georgi Rusev.


The first Bulgarian private technical university was established in 2010 in Pernik. The university was founded in close cooperation with nationally established industry partners. The European Polytechnical University offers Bachelor, Masters and PhD degrees in architecture, engineering and entrepreneurship among others. The university is aiming internationally and offers all courses bilingually in Bulgarian and English languages. [6] Now the city operates 11 elementary schools and 14 High Schools – High School for learning foreign languages, Economy high school, Mathematics High School, school sports and other.


Surva Festival 2013 Surva, Pernik, Bulgaria 159.JPG
Surva Festival


Surva is an international Kukeri Festival in Pernik, Bulgaria. One of the biggest masquerade festival on the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Conducted in the last three days of January.

Kukeri or Surva Festival (Mummer's games) in the town of Pernik, is the most spectacular "Kukeri" event in Bulgaria. At the end of January thousands of "kukeri" participants from different regions of Bulgaria, as well as from all around the world gather in Pernik for the three-day event. Kukeri is a pagan Bulgarian tradition of Thracian origins – in ancient times the old Thracians held the Kukeri (Mummers’) Ritual Games in honour of god Dionysus. The Kukeri games are performed by men only, dressed in colourful hand-made costumes and wearing scary masks. Each has also a leather belt around the waist with huge copper bells attached to it. The Kuker's masks are decorated with threads, ribbons, laces and usually represent animals like goats, bulls, rams, or even chicken. Some of the masks are double-faced. On one of the sides, the nose is snubbed and the face is good-humored, on the other side, the nose is hooked and the face is ominous. Those masks symbolize the good and the bad which co-exist in the world.

Surva Festival in 2019 Surva 2019 11.jpg
Surva Festival in 2019

A very important thing for the symbolic meaning of the masks are the decoration colors. Red is the most used color – symbolizes fertility of the reviving nature, the sun and the fire; the black color represents Mother Earth and white is a symbol of water and light. The Kukers walk around, jump and dance special magic dances to scare away the evil spirits, to celebrate the beginning of the spring and hopes for a good harvest, health, land fertility, and happiness.

The festival held in Pernik is the oldest festival of the masquerade games in Bulgaria. The first edition was opened on 16 January 1966. In 1995 the International Federation of Carnival Cities accepted the town of Pernik as its full member. In 2009 Pernik was proclaimed as the European capital of Surva's and Mummer's.

The news that the Kukeri tradition and the Surva Festival in Pernik will be included in UNESCO's list of protected non-material cultural heritage, was announced before the inaugural ceremony of the 20th edition of the mummery fest.

Chicho Stoyan
Regional children's folklore festival.

International Student Festival “Green Light

19 October
Saint John of Rila – day of the city


Characteristic of the region is the folkloric dance – "Graovsko horo" and folk clothes – female costumes "Litatsi" /Women are bordered with black litatsi paieti white shirts with belts/. Over the last decade Pernik has become famous in Bulgaria. Mass culture and the popular media often interpret events and people of the city. There are many jokes, movies, literature, TV shows and songs in which the main subject is a citizen of Pernik. According to them, a typical man from Pernik is always ready to get into a fight, speeds with his car, and talks with a specific dialect. His distinguishing features are a miner's hat with a flashlight, T-shirts of the local football team “Minyor” and miner bracket in the hand.

Economy and commerce


Manufacturing companies:

Several companies declared bankruptcy after failure Privatization are: glass factories – "Crystal", for building panels DF "Concrete" /Beton/, for steel profiles "Blagoj Popov" /"Kamet"/ SA, for the production of pectin – "Pectin" AD, first Bulgarian machine-building plant "Struma", the older thermal power plant "TPP – Pernik." and other companies. Because of this, the city has a lot of empty factory buildings and infrastructure areas.


Some of the biggest stores in the town:

Pernik in literature

The collapse of the roof of the newly built “Lenin” metallurgy plant hours before the plant's ribbon cutting ceremony on November 5, 1953 lies behind the storyline of the novel “The Roof” by Bulgarian dissident journalist and writer Georgi Markov. This major industrial incident, one of many during Bulgaria's communist rule between 1944 and 1989, was a result of the deficiencies of the communist economic doctrine of forced industrialization where the regime cut corners during the construction and exploitation of major industrial assets, leading to the death and injuries of thousands of ordinary workers. In the book, Markov, who was murdered in London by the Bulgarian communist security services in 1978, uses the roof as a metaphor to describe the degradation of the Bulgarian communist system.


The town is home to the Minyor Pernik football team, who play in the Bulgarian A Professional Football Group, as of the 2008–09 season. A longtime participant in the group. Also football club Metalurg, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, weightlifting, boxing and other sports clubs. Five kilometers west of the town of Pernik in the village Rudartsi has mineral water and swimming pool. Sports facilities are the following:

Historical events and facts


Pernik is the seat of the eponymous Pernik municipality (part of Pernik Province), which includes the following 24 places (towns in bold):

International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Pernik is twinned with: [8]


Pernik Peninsula in Graham Land, Antarctica is named after the city of Pernik.

Related Research Articles

Tourism in Bulgaria Tourism economy in Bulgaria

Tourism in Bulgaria is a significant contributor to the country's economy. Situated at the crossroads of the East and West, Bulgaria has been home to many civilizations: Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Eastern Romans or Byzantines, Slavs, Bulgars, and Ottomans. The country is rich in tourist sights and historical artifacts, scattered through a relatively small and easily accessible territory. Bulgaria is internationally known for its seaside and winter resorts.

Culture of Bulgaria

A number of ancient civilizations, including the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Scythians, Celts, Ancient Romans, Goths, Slavs, Varangians and the Bulgars have left their mark on the culture, history and heritage of Bulgaria. Due to this great variety of influences, Bulgaria has adopted many unusual traditions. Thracian artifacts include numerous temples, tombs, golden treasures and ancient rites and rituals, while ancient Bulgars have left traces of their heritage in statehood, early architecture, music and dances. Thracian rituals such as the Tryphon Zarezan which is dedicated to Saint Tryphon of Campsada, Kukeri and Martenitza are to this day kept alive in the modern Bulgarian culture. The oldest treasure of worked gold in the world, dating back to the 5th millennium BC, comes from the site of the Varna Necropolis.

Struma (river) River in Bulgaria and Greece

The Struma or Strymónas is a river in Bulgaria and Greece. Its ancient name was Strymṓn. Its drainage area is 17,330 km2 (6,690 sq mi), of which 10,797 km2 (4,169 sq mi) in Bulgaria, 6,295 km2 (2,431 sq mi) in Greece and the rest in North Macedonia. It takes its source from the Vitosha Mountain in Bulgaria, runs first westward, then southward, forming a number of gorges, enters Greek territory at the Kula village. In Greece it is the main waterway feeding and exiting from Lake Kerkini, a significant centre for migratory wildfowl. The river flows into the Strymonian Gulf in Aegean Sea, near Amphipolis in the Serres regional unit. The river's length is 415 kilometres (of which 290 kilometres in Bulgaria, making it the country's fifth-longest and one of the longest rivers that run solely in the interior of the Balkans.

Petrich Place in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

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Simitli Town in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

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Radomir (town) Place in Pernik, Bulgaria

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Bobov Dol Place in Kyustendil, Bulgaria

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Tran, Bulgaria Town in Pernik, Bulgaria

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Kukeri are elaborately costumed Bulgarian men, who perform traditional rituals intended to scare away evil spirits. This Bulgarian tradition has been practiced since Thracian times and is of a Thracian origin.


The ancient Thracian city of Perperikon is located in the Eastern Rhodopes, 15 km northeast of the present-day town of Kardzhali, Bulgaria on a 470 m high rocky hill, which is thought to have been a sacred place. The village of Gorna krepost is located at the foot of the hill and the gold-bearing Perpereshka River flows nearby. Perperikon is the largest megalith ensemble site in the Balkans.

Rakovski (town) Place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

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Struma motorway

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100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria is a Bulgarian national movement established in 1966 to promote tourism among Bulgaria's most significant cultural, historic, and natural landmarks.

FC Minyor Pernik Bulgarian football club

FC Minyor is a football club in Pernik, Bulgaria, that competes in the Second League, the second tier of Bulgarian football. Founded in 1919 as SC Krakra, the club's home ground since 1954 has been Stadion Minyor. The club's name comes from the fact that the area around the city of Pernik has had long traditions with mining and the mining industry.

Vladaya village in Sofia City, Bulgaria

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Chuypetlovo Place in Pernik, Bulgaria

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Kran, Stara Zagora Province Place in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

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Zaldapa was a large Late Roman fortified city in Scythia Minor/Moesia, located near today's Abrit, Bulgaria.

Kosacha Village in Pernik, Bulgaria

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Berende, Pernik Province Village in Pernik, Bulgaria

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  1. Автор: Руми Борисова (2014-10-21). "Събраха в книга всичко за името на Перник - Градски вести Перник". Retrieved 2018-05-05.
  2. Sugar, Peter F (1993). Southeastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule, 1354–1804. University of Washington Press. pp. 72–73. ISBN   0295960337.
  3. (in Bulgarian) Population on 01.02.2011 by provinces, municipalities, settlements and age; National Statistical Institute
  4. Population by province, municipality, settlement and ethnic identification, by 01.02.2011; Bulgarian National Statistical Institute (in Bulgarian)
  5. "Stringmeteo – Pernik Climate". Stringmeteo. 2012. Retrieved on July 9, 2012.
  6. "European Polytechnical University". Archived from the original on 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  7. "Bulgaria". 2010-05-21. Archived from the original on 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
  8. "Побратимени градове". (in Bulgarian). Pernik. Retrieved 2019-10-29.