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town, west-central Bulgaria. The town is located on the banks of the Struma River, 19 miles (31 km) southwest of Sofia. Originally a Bulgarian fortress well-known for repelling the assaults of the Byzantine armies during the early 11th century, Pernik was for five centuries (1396-1878) under Turkish rule. From 1891 Pernik began to experience considerable industrial growth because of the mining of rich veins of coal in the area, and it is now a leading industrial town in Bulgaria. The town's cultural centre is one of the finest in the country. Pernik also has a mining school, a large sports complex with a stadium, a national theatre, a symphony orchestra, a museum, and an attractive park. Pop. (2004 est.) 81,674.