Municipality of Sandanski includes a big part of Sandanski-Petrich valley, along themiddle course of the Strouma River. The town of Sandanski is the main administrative, cultural and economic centre of the Municipality. A significant advantage of the town is its unique transitional-Mediterranean microclimate. It has attracted people ever since ancient times. This is the reason for its 3200 years of rich history and the unique archeological wealth. There are traces of prehistoric, Thracian, Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Bulgarian Revival heritage. There are around 80 mineral springs in the area and over 50 hotels providing SPA and balneological services. The mineral water in Sandanski is famous for its proved healing characteristics. Sandanski is also famous for its wine production and for its well preserved intangible heritage – diverse folklore, arts, and cuisine (there are several traditional festivals dedicated to music, wine, arts, folklore, etc.).
Municipality of Sandanski is located in Southwestern Bulgaria and is the largest in Blagoevgrad district (1002 sq. km.). It consists of 54 settlements – the towns of Sandanski and Melnik and 52 villages. Its total population is 46113 people. It is located at the foothills of the magnificent Pirin Mountains, the bordering with Greece – Slavyanka Mountain, with Macedonia – Ograzhden and Maleshevska Mountains. Its territory covers a big part of the vast Sandanski – Petrich Valley and part of the picturesque valley of the Strouma River.
The resort of Sandanski (29 149 people) is the main administrative, cultural and economic center of the municipality. It is situated 220-240 m above sea level in the valley and at the two banks of Sandanska Bistritsa River.
Melnik Architectural Reserve is the smallest town in Bulgaria, found 22 km southeast from the town of Sandanski and at the southwestern foothills of the Pirin Mountains. It is situated at the heart of the Melnik Sand Pyramids, 437 m above sea level. The Melnik River, a left feeder of Strouma, passes through the small town.
The climate in the region is transitional continental with Mediterranean influence and summer minimum of rainfall. The average annual rainfall is about 670 mm. The geographic location of Municipality of Sandanski – at the middle of the Kresna and Rupel Gorges is a precondition for its exceptionally favourable climatic characteristics.
The town of Sandanski is known as the warmest settlement in the Republic of Bulgaria with an average annual temperature of 13.9ºС, the lowest in the country average annual humidity rate – 66%, the longest duration of sunshine – 2506 hours, the least number of foggy days per year – an average of 5. The air in Sandanski has the lowest percentage of allergens in the whole of Bulgaria. It is not by accident that Sandanski is known as the best European natural clinic for chronical deseases of the lungs and the upper respiratory tract – bronchial asthma, chronic and asthmatic bronchitis, conditions after bronchopneumonia, recovery after lung operations, lung emphysema, chronic rhinitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis, hay fever, respiratory neurosis and others.
For thousands of years Sandanski has been known for its healing mineral water. There are 5 mineral springs in the resort with temperature between 33° and 83°С, used for prevention and treatment of deseases of the musculoskeletal, central and peripheral nervous system.
It can be rightly said that today Sandanski has become one of a kind “health factory”. The climatology and balneology here have proven its advantages long time ago and have turned the town into a national and international balneological resort.
The climate in the town of Melnik is transitional continental with summer minimum and winter maximum of rainfall. The average annual rainfall is about 670 mm. It is favourable for treatment of lung, kidney and rheumatic desesases. The level of allergens in the air is among the lowest in Bulgaria.
The specific natural, geographical and climatic characteristics of the town of Sandanski, as well as the presence of mineral springs, are the reasons for its habitation for thousands of years (II millennium BC). The town of today has been built over a number of antient layers.
During the Roman period these lands were inhabited by the Thracian tribe Maedi, which is the tribe of the great warrior Spartacus.
justice he became the leader of the biggest slave rebellion in the Roman Empire.
In the same period Sandanski became the most significant early Christian center in the region. Evidence for that is its rich archeological heritage, preserved by Archeological Museum of Sandanski. The museum is built “in-situ” over the ruins of Bishop John’s Basilica (IV c.) and is one of the few of its kind. On the territory of the town is located and preserved part of the antient town – Early Christian Complex (IV-VI c.) and the Bishop’s Basilica (IV-VI c.) – the most representative and significant monument of early Christian art in the region.
Later on, (VI-VII c.) the silverless saints Kozma and Damian settled in this place and helped the sick with the healing powers of the mineral water, climate and Christian faith. The place of their antient clinic is known today as Miroto spring, and for their home they chose a small monastery, which nowadays bears their names – “St. st. Kozma and Damian the Silverless”. In their honour the settlement was called “Sveti Vrach” – holy healers.
The big movement of the European tribes at the end of 6th and the beginning of 7th century put an end to the heyday of antient Sandanski. It wasn’t before the beginning of 20th century that the small village of Sveti Vrach began its economic and cultural progress, which is evident to us today. In 1929 Sveti Vrach was declared a town and in 1947 was renamed Sandanski – in honour of the Bulgarian revolutionary and leader Yane Sandanski. From then on Sandanski continuous the tradition to use the local natural resources and in combination with the modern technologies and new knowledge to help people, suffering from various deseases.
Municipality of Sandanski has a beautiful and well-preserved natural heritage – from the generous valley of the Strouma River to the high peaks of the Pirin Mountains, everything in these lands opens up our soul to the magnificence of Nature.
31% of the territories of Pirin National Park are located in Municipality of Sandanski. Here you can find the sixth highest mountain in Bulgaria – Slavyanka, including in itself Alibotush Nature Reserve. Pirin National Park and Alibotush are included in the list of biosphere reserves of the Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO as a territory used for preserving the world natural heritage. The Municipality is rich in spring waters. The Bistrets Spring in the village of Petrovo is the biggest karst spring – third of flow rate in the whole of Bulgaria. There are three big waterfalls on the territory of the Municipality – Popina Laka Waterfall(14 m), declated a natural landmark, Skoko (19 m), located near the village of Kashina, close to Melnik, andByala Reka (10 m) – above the village of Pirin. The unique protected area “Melnik Sand Pyramids” is one of the most visited complexes of high sand formations on the territory of Bulgaria.