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Pernik ( ) is a city in western Bulgariamarker (around 40 km south-west of Sofiamarker) with a population of 91,883 . It is the main city of Pernik Provincemarker and lies on both banks of the Struma Rivermarker in the Pernik Valley between the Viskyar, Vitoshamarker and Golo Bardo mountains.

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 name Pernik is thought to have originated from that of Slavic god Perun with the Slavic placename suffix –nik (or –ik) added, and was first mentioned in the 9th century. 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 city 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 is held in the city every January. Pernik has two football teams, PFC Minyor Pernik and FC Metalurg.

History

The medieval Bulgarian fortress of Krakra, overlooking the city
Pernik is a successor of the medieval town of Krakra. In the 4th century the Thracians built a fortress there. There is a rich collection of archaeological findings that evidence the existence of a Thracian 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.

A wonderful exhibition of relieves 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. This name was first mentioned in the 9th century. It is associated with the Slavic god Perun. 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. The city was occupied by Stefan Nemanja, who was Grand Prince of Raska between 1190-1191.

Today, the fortress is one of the greatest historical sites of the city. In the time of the Ottoman occupation Pernik lost its significance as a fortress because it was located deep in the interior of the Empire. Until after the Liberation of Bulgaria Pernik was a small stockbreeding village, consisting of several scattered hamlets.

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 Cardiffmarker in the United Kingdommarker.

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 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
Palace of Culture in Winter time
The Church of St. Ivan of Rila
Office Building "Elena"


Landmarks



Famous natives



Commerce



Sport

The town is home to the Minyor Pernik football team, who play in the Bulgarian A Professional Football Group, as of 2008-09 season.

Municipality

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



Town twinning

Pernik is twinned with:



Gallery

Image:Pernik-Bulgaria-view-from-Krakra-Fortress.jpg|Overview of the cityImage:Krakra-fortress-Bulgaria-6.jpg|Ruins of the medieval fortress of Krakra near PernikImage:Pernik Mining Administration IFB.JPG|Mining Administration building (built 1929–1932)Image:Pernik Palace of Culture IFB.JPG|Palace of Culture (built 1953–1957)

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