If you are in Bansko for the first time and ask local people where you can get more information about the cultural events and the interesting places to visit in the town, they will tell you that you have to go to Bansko Old Cinema.
Do not be surprised that they are directing you to this building because nowadays it houses the Visitor Information Center of the resort town.
History of the Old cinema
The idea of building the building, which the local residents today call “The Old Cinema”, arises in the beginning of the last century, when the awesome Bansko people decided that Bansko needed a place to gather all generations in the town, giving every generation an individual way of entertainment and relaxation.
Thus, in 1929, a new building was built in the heart of Bansko, just a stone’s throw away from the “Saint Trinity” Church and the Beninata House (the home of Neofit Rilski), in which was created the „Development” community center.
For its time the building was extremely modern and spacious and it accomodated only the town hall, but it also became a home of a number of amateur groups, which conducted their rehearsals in a community center “Development”.
In the Community center, besides a library and rehearsal halls, there was room for a spacious theater hall, which could accomodate more than 200 people.
Thus, with its construction, the building became the main cultural center of Bansko. Behind its walls the amateurs held their rehearsals, there were important meetings connected with the problems of the municipality, as well as a series of performances of the amateur theater, and the dances and singing groups performed concerts and performances with which they brought happiness to their fellow citizens.
By the end of the 1930s the „Development” community center had found its new, more spacious home and moved. Then the Bansko people decided to take advantage of the modern theater salon and rebuild it in a movie hall.
People from all over the town rolled up their sleeves, renovated the room, put on a large cinema screen, hired a cashier, an administrator, and they only had to put a projector and find a operator who could handle the equipment. In 1937, modern projection equipment was imported from Germany and the cinema began to work at full speed.
The older residents of Bansko still remember the first employees in the cinema – the screening operators Petar Granchev (who “turned” the tape of the first film projected at the Old Cinema in Bansko), Georgi Eryni, Tsane Kadiev and Ivan Ulevinov, the ticket offices Georgi Yovkin and Kostadin Popstefanov and of course the man who helped to receive the films – Ivan Hadjiruskov.
Over the years of its existence on the big screen in the cinema there have been an extremely large number of Russian films, some of the most memorable of which are “Swineherd and Pastor”, “The Seven Brave” and many others.
From the European tapes that were screened in the Old Cinema in Bansko, the most popular were the films with Romy Schneider, who at that time was an idol of the younger generation.
That was how the years passed, and the glory of the cinema began to fall. The cinema was crowded with Bansko people and had to be moved, and its loyal building was left for a few years without an administrator.
But the people of Bansko are people who care very much about their town and traditions and always find a way to preserve not only their cultural, but also architectural heritage. To save the building, in 2013 they renovated it, returning its former shine.
Today, Bansko Old Cinema works as a Visitor Information Center and revives for a new life. And although the main function that the building performs is not related to cinema, for the people in the town the building remains their favorite Old cinema.
They know this building, they call it that way, and so they will continue to call it. Because for Bansko people this building is much more than walls, doors and a roof. It is the place where the pulse of the town can be measured, it is the place that keeps the traditions and the culture of the Bansko people even today.
What can you see and learn if you visit the Information Center?
The truth is, this is where you can get the most detailed and complete information about everything you care about as a tourist. Do you want to find out what are the town‘s biggest attractions and working hours? The information center will give you this information!
Or do you want to know where are the best places to eat, the most popular places to stay, the most interesting tourist routes, the most suitable picnic spots or the best ski runs on the territory of Bansko and the surrounding area? All this, plus a lot of other information, will be provided to you by the Visitor Information Center or as the people from Bansko call it – “the Old Cinema”.
But the center is not just a place where you can easily get the information you need, no! This is a place where a number of events are carried out throughout the year, included in the cultural program of the town.
It does not matter at what time of the year you decide to visit the Old Cinema in Bansko, you will find an event that is organized. In the cinema hall there are various theatrical groups, many concerts and Balkan artists, as well as many concerts, exhibitions, culinary competitions, and so on.
If you are lucky to visit Bansko in the summer and decide to visit Old Cinema, you can get acquainted with local traditions and customs.
For several years now, the Visitor Information Center has been transformed for two months in the summer and has become a place where local craftsmen meet. There are also courses that can involve all those who want to get to know better the world of the old traditions of Bansko.
If you are a fan of art, you can enjoy art works made by local and international masters of the brush and chisel again in the halls of Old Cinema.
During the various cultural events, the movie theater is not empty and gathers fans of documentaries, short films and feature films from near and far.
If you visit Bansko and the Information Center in winter, you will not be disappointed, as during the cold months VIC hosts many cultural events, the biggest of which is “Winter Cinemania”. Within the festival in the renovated movie hall are projected documentary films about snowboarding, skiing and other winter sports.
Where is the Visitor Information Center?
If you decide to go to the information center, you will find the building very easy. You just have to reach the Vazrazhdane Square and you can not miss it.
The Visitor Information Center is located on “Bulgaria” Street and is open to visitors from Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 18.00, on Saturdays from 10.00 to 18.00 and on Sundays from 10.00 to 14.00.
Sights that are close to the Old cinema in Bansko
Monument of Paisii Hilendarski
The monument rises in the square of Vazrazhdane, literally a few steps away from the Information Center. It was built in 1976 at the site where the home of the great Bulgarian was supposed to be.
This is one of the emblematic places in the town and an a sight that is necessarily visited by all the tourists who have chosen to visit Bansko
House – museum Nikola Vaptsarov
The native home of the poet is located in the very center of the town, very close to the building of the municipality of Bansko and is one of the most popular places to visit the town. There is hardly a local resident or foreign tourist who has not visited the museum house of Nikola Vaptsarov at least once. The house where Vaptsarov was born is open for visits since the middle of the last century (1952) and in the arrangement of the exhibition took part the closest relatives of the poet – his mother and sister.
This is the first museum that was opened in Bansko and it is the beginning of the museum work in the city. The exposition is arranged in several halls and traces the life of Vaptsarov from his birth to his death.
One tip: Do not miss the short documentary about the poet’s life before starting the tour of the museum.
Museum house of Neofit Rilski
The house of Neofit Rislki, which is now a museum, is just a short walk from the old cinema in Bansko, and you can not miss to spend some of your time exploring it. The house opens doors as a museum in 1981 and bears the spirit of Bansko in the Revival Period.
Built in the 18th century, Neofit Rilski’s home has all the typical features of the houses in Bansko – high walls, a well-built hiding place, a spacious yard and spacious and well-arranged living rooms. In the expositions of the museum you will be acquainted with the life of Neofit Rilski and his family as well as with his educational activity.
“Saint Trinity” church
The Orthodox church is the emblem of Bansko and is remarkable architectural, historical and cultural heritage. Its construction started in 1810 and after several years of delays the construction was completed in 1835. The Saint Trinity is not just another Christian temple you can visit, but a place that keeps the spirit of Bulgarians. Built in difficult historical times, all people from Bansko (both poor and rich) took part in its construction, and to this day this temple is one of the most special places for every Bulgarian.
This is only a small part of the sights near the Old Cinema in Bansko, which you can visit if you decide to take a short walk to the VIC.