Samokov (29 987 inhabitants, 950 m altitude) is situated at the Northern foot of Rila Mountain, in the field of the same name - the highest in Bulgaria. The longest Bulgarian river Iskar, springing from Rila, flows through it. The town is situated at 60 km to the southeast of Sofia, at 40 km to the east of Dupnitsa, at 36 km to the southwest of Ihtiman and at 12 km to the northwest of Borovets resort. There are six more resorts in the region, and two of them have international significance. The town of Samokov is the biggest potato producer 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 the 14th century as an ore-mining settlement. At that time, Bulgarian craftsmen had direct contact with the West-European miners – Saxons, called Sasi, and in their model, Saxon furnaces were introduced, forgery workshops with blowers and big hammers, set in motion by water power. When the Turks conquered the town (1372), Samoкov was an economical and cultural centre. Initially, it became municipal centre and later regional centre, administering Blagoevgrad, Dupnitsa, Razlog, Ihtiman and many other settlements.
The first printing house of Nikola Karastoyanov was opened here in 1827. It is not a coincidence that in the end of 18th and the beginning of the 19th century here was founded the biggest and the most modern art school in the country. Some of the most famous Bulgarian painters, such as Hristo Dimitrov and his sons Dimitar and Zahary Zograf, Ivan and Nikola Obrazopisov and others, were born and worked in Samokov. Konstantin Fotinov, the founder of the first Bulgarian magazine "Lyuboslovie" (1844) was also born in Samokov. Here was initiated the struggle for independent Bulgarian church. As a result of the decline of crafts at the end of the century the town has lost its economical, cultural and administrative power.
The History Museum in the town keeps materials and documents, related to the most specific for the region and the town industrial branch – iron-mining, which existed until 1908. Another sight of interest in the town is the Assumption Church. It is one of the most remarkable architectural and artistic monuments in our country. Built in 1790-1791, it is a work of talented masters of Samokov. The Convent illustrates the spirit and the atmosphere of Revival Samokov. It is the only preserved authentic complex of buildings and gardens, offering peace and coziness in the town. Nowadays it continues to be an active monastery. Enjoy Bayrakli Mosque, built up in the 17th century. It is one of the masterpieces of the Samokov ornamental painting art. The architectural design and the details of the building are close to Bulgarian revival traditions and prove the authentic Bulgarian origin in its construction.
Samokov is connected with the other parts of the country only by bus transport. Between the town and Sofia there are buses every hour. There are buses to Borovetz at every 30 minutes. The bus station is in the centre of the town.
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 resort village Govedartsi. The spa resort Belchinski Bani is 13 km west of the town along Palakaria River. At 27 km distance, to the northwest of Samokov is located the famous Alino Monastery. 30 km to the east is situated the resort town Dolna Banya.