The town of Samokov (950 m above sea level) is situated 60 km south-east of Sofia, 40 km east of Doupnitsa, 36 km south-west of Ihtiman, 37 km west of Kostenets and 12 km north-west of Borovets Resort.
There are 6 more resorts in the region, 2 of them being of international significance. Samokov is the biggest potato producing town in Bulgaria.
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 were introduced, forgery workshops 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.
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, such as Christo Dimitrov and his sons Dimitar and Zahary Zagraf, Ivan I Nikola Obrazopisovi and Konstantin Fotinov, the founder of the first Bulgarian magazine Ljuboslovie (1844), were born and worked in Samokov. Here was initiated the struggle for independent Bulgarian church.
The town is situated in the northern foot of Rila Mountain in the field of the same name, which is the highest in Bulgaria. The longest Bulgarian River Iskar, springing from Rila, flows through it.
As a resort, Samokov is attractive with its favourable climatic conditions, the beautiful coniferous forests around, the River Iskar and mostly with its closeness to Borovets and Malyovitsa.
The town is rich of cultural and historical monuments:
- The Town Museum of History keeps otems and documents, related to the most specific for the region and the town industrial branch - iron mining, which existed until 1908.
- The Assumption of the Holly Virgin Church is one of the most remarkable architectural and artistic monuments in Bulgaria. The most remarkable thing in it is the iconostasis created in 1793 and 1821 - a bright example of the woodcarving school of Samokov.
- The church of Belyo – The Birth of the Holy Virgin Church is a monument of culture from 15-16th century with rich mural decorations. The big rinking-fountain dates before 1662.
- The Convent (the Metoh – maidens’ monastery) was created in 1772. It illustrates the spirit and the atmosphere of the Revival Samokov. Nowadays it continues to be an active monastery.
- The Bairakli Mosque, built up in the 17 th century. It is one of the masterpieces of the Samokov ornamental painting art.
- The Big Fountain in Samokov dates back to 1662.
- The church St.Nikola was built up in 1859-1860, when the Christians in Turkey got some religion rights.
- Very interesting is the Temple Rojdestvo Bogorodichno. It is one of the oldest churches in the town.
- Belyo’s House, Saraf’s House, Otez Paisii Cultural Centre and memorial, a monument to the perished in the wars 1912-1918.
Samokov is connected with the other parts of the country only by bus transport. Between the town and Sofia there are buses at every hour. There are buses to Borovetz at every 30 minutes. The bus station is in the center of the town (0722/26 40).
Council on Tourism, Tourist Society Rilski Tourist (2, Iskar Bvd., tel.: 0722 22205) - in the green area along the right bank of Iskar River.
The town is the outgoing point towards the highest mountain in Bulgaria and the Balkans – Rila. Mostly through the famous resorts Borovets and Malyovitsa any point can be reached by marked tourist routes. 13 km southwest of Samokov, near the road to Malyovitsa is situated the big resort village of Govedartsi.
The spa resort of Belchinski bani is 13 km west of the town along the Palakaria River. At 27 km distance, to the northwest of Samokov is located the famous Alino monastery. At 30 km to the east is situated the resort town of Dolna Bania.