Pernik is regional center in Southwest Bulgaria.
The Pernik municipality is situated in the hollow of the same name. It’s favourable climate and its vast semi-mountain pastures have created suitable conditions for living, so it has been inhabited since ancient times. The results of archaeological findings made in the last few years show that in prehistoric times the Thracians inhabited the Pernik area. It borders the Sofia, Breznik, Kovatchevtsi and Radomir municipalities.
The area of Pernik municipality is about 477.21 square kilometers, which is about 20% of the area of the Pernik District. Nearly 25% of the municipality territory is forested.The percentage of territories where ores and minerals are mined is relatively high - 11.7%. Towns and villages occupy 9.6% of its territory.
The town of Pernik is situated along both banks of the Struma River in the hollow of the same name, between the mountains of Vitosha, and Ljulin and the Golo Bardo Ridge.
Pernik is a successor of the medieval town of Krakra. In the IV 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 neolyth. 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 Asklepius and Hygia, 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 IX century. It is associated with the Slavic god Perun. At the beginning of the XI century the settlement was a fortress, impenetrable to the Byzantians. It was the seat of the legendary chieftain Krakra of Pernik, who played an important role in the time of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. 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. During the Liberation Pernik was a small stock breeding village, consisting of several scattered hamlets.
The beginning of Pernik's most modern history is set in the last 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 X and XI centuries. Before their industrial exploitation started, the local people dug them up with picks and shovels and transported "chernijo kamak" ("the black stone") with carts and wheelbarrows. Pernik's fast 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 Cardiff, Great Britain.
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 kilometer to the east of the village of the same name. It is a town since 1929, and since 1958 - a regional center. The coal output reached its apogee at that time. Pernik's been the energy center of Bulgaria for a few decades.