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Settlements: Kurdzhali

Kurdzhali - Pictures Of Bulgaria
Kurdzhali (45 729 inhabitants, 240 meters above sea level) is located in the very heart of the Eastern Rhodopes, along the two banks of the Arda River, on both sides of which are the two big dams - Studen Kla-denez Dam to the east and Kurdzhali Dam to the south. The town on the Arda River is situated at the distance of 250 km, 100 km and 81 km south-east of Sofia, Plovdiv and Asenovgrad, respectively, 66 um and 50 km south-west of Dimitrovgrad and Haskovo, respectively, and only 15 km north of Momchilgrad. Kurdzhali is a regional administrative centre.

History: This place had been a settlement as early as 6 000 years ago. Prehistoric remains of human life as well as ample examples of the presence of Thracian, Roman and Byzantine culture have been found plus medieval Bulgarian and late-Ottoman remains. The first historical finds are associated with the Thracian tribe koelaleti, subdued by the Romans during 1st century. Then came the Slavic tribe of Smoleni. During the Middle Ages the settlement frequently shifted under Bulgarian or Byzanitine rule.

Bulgarian presence is proved by the unique 3-navel Bulgarian basilica found in Vesselchane Quarter of the town dated to the 11th - 12th century. This town quarter is heir of medieval Bulgarian town Munyak demonstrating an architectural style, similar to that of Preslav, Me-s-sem-vria and Turnovo. In the 14th century the settlement was conquered by the Turks, and in 1379 it was populated by colonists from Asia Minor. In the middle of the 17th century the town was ruled by Kurdzhi Ali - a noted army leader. It is supposed that accepted the town was named after him. During the 18th century bloodthirsty kurdzhalii gangs (Turkish brigands), which ruined not one and two prospering Bulgarian villages, used to gather in the town. In January 1878 the Don Cossacks of General Chernobouzov liberated the town, which was to remain within the Eastern Rumelia part of the country, as agreed under the Berlin Treaty. In 1886 it is given to Turkey again as a compensation for the Union (1885). On 8th October 1912 the soldiers of colonel Delovs regiment liberated the town for the second and last time. Gradually, Kurdzhali became the tobacco warehouse of the Eastern Rhodopes and later a centre for the development of Bulgarian non-ferrous metallurgy.

Landmarks: The Bulgarian Basilica St. Joan the Precursor (11th - 12th century) is located in the Vesselchane Quarter of the town. At the end of 1998 during continuing excavations a unique find was brought to the surface in it - the burial tomb of a senior Christian bishop (dated back to end of the 12th or the beginning of the 13th century) wearing his gold-knitted clerical attire. There are only three more dresses of this kind in the world but this has proved to be the first find of its kind in a burial tomb.

In the former konak (the Turkish town-hall built around 1870) with its interesting exterior architecture one can visit the Historical Museum (4, Republikanska Str., tel.: 0361 24200, 24300, 26851). The Picture Gallery (Republikanska Str., tel.: 0361 23619, working hours: 9 a.m. 12 a.m. and 2 p.m. 5.30 p.m.) hosts the works of such painters as Vladimir Dimitrov - the Master, Kiril Tsonev, Dechko Uzunov, Svetlin Roussev, V. Decheva, D. Kirov and others, as well as icons, prints and church plates.

Kurdzhali has two theatres - the Dimitur Dimov Theatre of Drama (1, Bulair Str., tel.: 0361 26481) and the Puppet Theatre (17, Trakia Blvd., tel.: 0361 22013). There are several senior schools in the town for teachers, nurses and midwives.

Accommodation: Arpezos Hotel Complex (on the left bank of the river, 46, Re-pub-li-kan-ska Str.). Oustra Hotel (1, Gen Delov Str., not far from the stadium).
Tourist information can be obtained at the hotels and at Mircho Spassov Tourist Association (Otez Paisii Str., Block 2, tel.: 0361 26719, 24859, 25629).

Transport: Bus and railway lines connect Kurdzhali to closer and far-off towns, cities and villages in Bulgaria. There are regular bus lines to Plovdiv, Haskovo, Smolyan, Ardino, Momchilgrad, Kroumovgrad, Ivailovgrad and other smaller towns in the region. Through the Makaza Pass the town is connected Greek Mediterranean. The bus station (94, Bulgaria Blvd., tel.: 0361 24536, 24636) and the railway station (98, Bulgaria Blvd., tel.: 0361 24095) are close by in the south-eastern part of the town. Kurdzhali is a stop along the Rousse Tulovo - Podkova railway line.

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Bulgaria Regions: Kurdzhali