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Pazardzhik ( , also spelled as Pazardjik or Pazarjik) is a town situated along the banks of the Maritsamarker river in Bulgariamarker with a population of 95,485. It is the capital of Pazardzhik Provincemarker and centre for the Pazardzhik municipalitymarker.

History

Front Entrance of the Mother of God Church.
Pazardzhik was founded by Tatars from what is today Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyimarker in 1485 on the left bank of the river Maritsamarker, near the market of the region, an important crossroad at the middle of this productive region, and named Tatar Pazardzhik (Turkish Tatar Pazarcιk, "small Tatar market"). Thanks to this favourable location, the settlement quickly developed. While it was very small at the beginning of the 19th century, it became the administrative centre for the region at the end of the century and remained so until the Liberation from Turkish occupation.
The clock tower is one of the landmarks of Pazardzhik.


During the following centuries the town continued to grow and strengthened its position. Trade in iron, leather and rice prospered. The town impressed visitors with its beautiful houses and clean streets. In 1718 Gerard Kornelius Drish visited Pazardzhik and wrote "the buildings here according to construction, size and beauty stand higher than those of Nišmarker, Sofiamarker and all other places".

The Russians under Count Nikolay Kamensky took the city after a brief siege in 1810. By the mid-19th century Pazardzhik was a big, important centre of crafts and trade, with a population of about 25,000 people. It hosted two big annual fairs, and a big market Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There was a post office with a telegraph.

In 1837 the Church of the Mother of God was built — an important national monument, famous for its architecture and woodcarving. In the mid-19th century Pazardzhik became an important cultural centre: a school was opened in 1847, a girls' school in 1848, a community centre in 1868, the women's union "Prosveta" in 1870.

During the Liberation War in 1877-1878, the town was burned by retreating Turkish troops. It was liberated on 2 January 1878 by General Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko's platoon. Pazardzhik grew and spread to the right bank of Maritsa river; barracks and an agricultural school were built.

From the early 20th century on people built factories, stores and houses, and thus the industrial quarter of the town. From 1959 to 1987 Pazardzhik was again an administrative centre for the region, and is again since the 1999 administrative division of Bulgaria.

Culture and pedestrian areas

Pazardzhik History Museum.
The Church of the Theotokos preserves the most impressive icons in Bulgaria by master artists of the Debarmarker School, wood-carvings of New and Old Testament scenes, and icons by Stanislav Dospevski. Among the town's landmarks are also the clock tower, the ethnographic and history museums.

As with most Bulgarian cities, Pazardzhik has developed a significant pedestrian center, in which several central squares typify the European café society and pedestrian culture. In Bulgaria the café culture is particularly prominent, with many downtown squares easily providing up to a half dozen cafés, with ample outside seating.

Pazardzhik has a level of pedestrian streets (or network of carfree areas) even above the relatively high Bulgarian standard. There are several longer pedestrian streets, and at one point there is even an intersection where five different pedestrian streets converge. A few of these do not continue for very long, but most do, or are connected to the rest of the pedestrian areas of the city, and thus could be said to form the pedestrian network of the city.

During the warmer seasons, most afternoons of the week and especially weekends find a large number of people strolling about or sitting in cafés. There are few tourist attractions in this area but there are large supermarkets including Bila and a Lidl which is due to open in summer 2009.

Most people who live in Pazardzhik are proud of their city. Villagers could be often seen at the Pazardzhik Downtown disco "Largo". The town cinema closed in 2008.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Pazardzhik is twinned with:

Gallery

Image:Pazardzhik 002.JPG|Old post buildingImage:Pazardzhik 032.JPG|Street sceneImage:Pazardzhik-street-gruev.JPG|Street sceneImage:Pazardzhik Stanislav Dospevski House.jpg|Stanislav Dospevski's house

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