Personalities from Bansko

Neofit Rilski (1700 - 1771)

bansko neofit rilski

Neofit Rilski (Bulgarian: Неофит Рилски) or Neophyte of Rila (Bansko, 1793 - January 4, 1881), born Nikola Poppetrov Benin (Bulgarian: Никола Поппетров Бенин) was a 19th-century Bulgarian monk, teacher and artist, and an important figure of the Bulgarian National Revival.

Born in the southwestern town of Bansko (or possibly in the village of Guliyna Banya) of Pirin Macedonia, Benin was educated to become a teacher, initially by his father Petar, and later at the Rila Monastery, where he studied iconography and had access to Greek and Church Slavonic books. He went to Melnik in 1822, where he spent four years as a student of the noted teacher Adam, and perfected his Greek and Greek literature knowledge.

Initially working as a teacher in the Rila Monastery, he also spent time working in Samokov (1827–1831), then back in the monastery, then went to Gabrovo and Koprivshtitsa (1835–1839) and returned to the monastery as a teacher to join the theological school on the island of Halki, where he spent four and a half years only to return to the Rila Monastery in 1852. He spent the remaining part of his life in Rila, and since 1860 was the monastery's hegumen. He stayed in the monastery despite being offered higher positions in the Orthodox hierarchy, such as becoming a bishop or the rector of the projected Tarnovo seminary.

In 1835, Rilski issued his Bolgarska gramatika, the first grammar book of the modern Bulgarian language. His other books include Tablitsi vzaimouchitelni, and the 1852 Greek-Slavic dictionary Slovar greko-slavyanskiy.

Neofit Rilski made the first popular translation of the Bible entirely in the modern Bulgarian language (not a mixture between Church Slavonic and vernacular elements), commissioned, edited and distributed by the American missionary Elias Riggs.

Rilski considered Old Church Slavonic as synonymous with Old Bulgarian and he tried to unify West and Eastern Bulgarian dialects.

Neofit Rilski died in the Rila Monastery on 4 January 1881.

Тома Хаджиикономов Вишанов (Молера)

Тома Хаджиикономов Вишанов (Молера) е български възрожденски зограф и живописец, поставил в края на XVIII и началото на XIX в. началото на Банската резбарско-живописна школа. Нейни най-видни представители са синът му Димитър Молеров и внукът му Симеон Молеров. Сам или съвместно със сина си Тома Вишанов е участвал в изографисването на множество храмове и манастири в родния му град Банско, в Рилския манастир, църквите в Разлог, Добринище, Осеново, Кюстендил, Бобошево и на други места в Югозападна България.

bansko toma vishanov

Saint Paisius of Hilendar (1722-1773) 


bansko paisyi

Saint Paisius of Hilendar or Paisiy Hilendarski(Bulgarian: Свети Паисий Хилендарски) (1722–1773) was a Bulgarian clergyman and a key Bulgarian National Revival figure. He is most famous for being the author of Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya, the second modern Bulgarian history after the work of Petar Bogdan Bakshev from 1667, “History of Bulgaria”. Most Bulgarians think of him as the forefather of the Bulgarian National Revival.


Paisius was born in the Samokov eparchy of the time, probably in the town of Bansko. He established himself in the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos in 1745, where he was later a hieromonk and deputy-abbot. Collecting materials for two years through hard work and even visiting the lands of the Germans, he finished his Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya in 1762 in the Zograf Monastery. The book was the first attempt to write a complete history of Bulgaria and attempted to awake and strengthen Bulgarian national consciousnesses.

The most famous part of the whole book is the sentence:

    "Why are you ashamed to call yourself Bulgarian?"

This more or less signifies the purpose of the author who speaks about the danger of Bulgarians falling victim to the hellenization policies of the mainly Greek clergy. The book's first manual copy was done by Sophronius of Vratsa in 1765. Structurally, Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya consists of two introductions, several chapters that discuss various historic events, a chapter about the "Slavic teachers", the disciples of Cyril and Methodius, a chapter about the Bulgarian saints, and an epilogue. As Paisius toured Bulgaria as a mendicant friar, he brought his work, which was copied and spread among the Bulgarians. He is thought to have died on the way to Mount Athos near Ampelino (modern-day Asenovgrad).


Nikola Vaptsarov (1909-1942)

bansko vaptsarov


Nikola Yonkov Vaptsarov (Bulgarian: Никола Йонков Вапцаров; 7 December 1909 - 23 July 1942) was a Bulgarian poet, communist and revolutionary. Working most of his life as a machinist, he only wrote in his spare time. Despite the fact that he ever published only one poetry book, he is considered one of the most important Bulgarian poets. Because of his underground communist activity against the government of Boris III and the German troops in Bulgaria, Vaptsarov was arrested and executed by a firing squad. He is also considered an ethnic Macedonian writer in the Republic of Macedonia.

He was born in Bansko. Trained as a machine engineer at the Naval Machinery School in Varna, which was later named after him. His first service was on the famous Drazki torpedo boat. In April and May 1932 Vaptsarov visited Istanbul, Famagusta, Alexandria, Beirut, Port Said, and Haifa as a crew member of the Burgas vessel.

Later he went to work in a factory in the village of Kocherinovo - at first as a stoker and eventually as a mechanic. He was elected Chairman of the Association protecting worker rights in the factory. Vaptsarov was devoted to his talent and spent his free time writing and organising amateur theatre pieces. He got fired after a technical failure in 1936. This forced him to move to Sofia, where he worked for the state railway service and the municipal incinerating furnace. He continued writing, and a number of newspapers published poems of his. The "Romatika" poem won him a poetry contest.

With time Vaptsarov absorbed a lot of Communist ideas and started taking an active part in the ideological movement. In 1940 he participated in the so-called "Sobolev action", gathering signatures for a pact of friendship between Bulgaria and the USSR. The illegal activity earned him an arrest and an internment in the village of Godech. After his release in September 1940, Vaptsarov became a leader of a Central Military Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party. His task was to organise the supply of guns and documents for the antifascist resistance. He was arrested in March 1942. On July 23, 1942 he was sentenced to death and shot down on the same evening together with 11 other men.

In 1949, the Bulgarian Naval Academy was renamed Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy. In 1952, he received posthumously the International Peace Award. His Selected Poems were published in London in 1954, by Lawrence & Wishart, translated into English with a foreword by British poet Peter Tempest. His poetry has been translated in 98 languages throughout the world. Vaptsarov Peak in eastern Livingston Island, Antarctica is named after the famous Bulgarian poet.



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