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Settlements: Kyustendil

Kyustendil - Pictures Of Bulgaria
The town of Kyustendil (50 243 inhabitants, 525 m above sea level) is situated in the most western parts of Bulgaria, only 27 km in the air from the three borders - Bulgarian-Macedonian, Bulgarian-Serbian and Serbian-Macedonian. The town lies in the most southern part of the fertile valley of Kyustendil, on both banks of the not large River Banshtitsa, leaning on the most northern slopes of the more than 2000 m high Ossogovo Mountain bordering with Macedonia. Quite close to the south of the town flows the big Bulgarian River Strouma. It is 90 km from Sofia to the south-west, 70 km to the north-west of Blagoevgrad, at 40 km to the west of Doupnitsa and at 22 km north-east of the border point with Macedonia - Gyueshevo. The town is a spa resort of national significance. A regional administrative centre.

History: Kyustendil is one of the most ancient towns in Bulgaria. Fertility and the warm mineral springs attracted the Thracian tribes of danteleti and peontsi, which founded here a settlement far back in 5th-4th century BC. During the 1st century the Romans turned it into an important fortress, trade venue and renowned spa resort, calling it Pautalia. In 4th century the fortress Hissarlaka was built later reconstructed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (572-565). After 553 the name Pautalia is not accounted any more. In 1019, in the Charter of the Byzantine Emperor Vassilii II, the town was mentioned by the name Velbuzhd, probably after the name of a leader. It was integrated to the Bulgarian State during the reign of King Kaloyan (1197-1207). From 1379 to 1395 feudal ruler had been Konstantin Dragash and by his name, later in the 16th century, the town was renamed Kyustendil (the land of Konstantin).

From the middle of the 15th century the Turks began to colonise massively the town and subjected the Bulgarian population to assimilation. In the end of the Ottoman domination and after the Liberation, in particular, the ethnic make up changed due to the numerous Bulgarian emigrants from the lands remaining under Ottoman rule and from the neighbouring settlements. During the Revival the town rapidly grew and developed. A church school was opened (1821), its inhabitants took active part in the ecclesiastical and national struggles. The detachments of haidouts (armed volunteers), lead by Ilyo Voivoda and Roumena Voivoda, one of the few women leaders in Bulgarian history, were very active in the surrounding mountains. Kyustendil was liberated on 29th January 1878. After the liberation some of the crafts depending on Turkish markets declined, but tobacco production developed, as well as spa resort activity.

Landmarks: The Municipal Museum of History (tel.: 078 23534) was founded back in 1897. Each of its departments is accommodated in various cultural and historic monuments: The Department of Archaeology - in a house built in 1575 and notable for its architecture. The Revival and National Liberation Struggle Department - in the house of Ilyo Voivoda, and Ethnography Department and Post-liberation Development Department - in the Emfiedzhievs House, where the commander of the Russian troops was accommodated during the Russian-Turkish War.
The Vladimir Dimitrov - Maistora Art Gallery is a sight of a particular interest. (tel.: 078 24469, working hours: 9.30 a.m. - 11.30 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. 6.00 p.m., Tuesdays through Sunday). It occupies a separate building marked by an original architecture and a modern interior design. The main part of the exposition consists of over 200 masterpieces of the national painter Vladimir DimitrovMaistora (the Master). Works of some of the most outstanding artists like Kiril Tsonev, Assen Vassilev, Stoyan Venev, Nikola Mirchev, Boris Kolev and others, who were born or lived in the region are preserved and exhibited in the gallery. An impressive monument to the Maistora is erected in front of the gallery.

The Asclepion of Pautalia is an impressive Roman spa and shrine, dedicated to the god of health Asclepius, built in 2nd-3rd century. The whole building occupied an area of 3500 square metres. Large premises with a heating system, water pipes, architectural fragments and etc. have been discovered. It is located in the foundations of todays buildings of Chifte Banya and the Ahmed Bei Mosque. Other remarkable sights of the town are the following: St. Georgi Church (12th-13th century) in Kolusha Quarter, The Holy Virgin Church (1816) and St. Dimitur Church (1866), Pirkovs Tower (16th-17th centuory), the wall of the Devehani Inn (1606), Lekarska House, Prokopievs House, the old school (from 1849). There are monuments dedicated to the Russian soldiers who perished for the liberation of the town from Ottoman domination, other monuments, commemorating the heroes in the wars (1912-1918), to Ilyo Voivoda, to P. K. Yavorov.

One of the most valuable treasures of the town is the mineral water which springs out of 40 springs in the foot of Hissarlaka with temperature up to 73.4oC. There are several spas, 3 open-air swimming pools, sanatorium, recreation facilities in Kyustendil. The town and its surrounding areas are well-known as the Orchard of Bulgaria - mostly cherries, plums, apples, etc. are grown there.

Accommodation: In addition to the resort facilities, there are several hotels in Kyustendil: Velbuzhd Hotel (opposite the railway station and the bus station, 46, Bulgaria Blvd.), Pautalia Hotel (near the central square, 1, Bulgaria Blvd), Sport Palace Hotel (15, Kalossiya Str.), Hissarluka (in park Hissarluka). As regards catering - there are no problems. The town offers a large agricultural market, shops, nice catering facilities, etc.

Tourist information: Ossogovo Tourist Association (in the centre, 5, Tsar Mihail Str., tel.: 078 22154, 24232, 22622). Accommodation Bureau (tel.: 078 22090).

Transport: Kyustendil is connected with the other parts of the country by bus and railway transport. The town maintains regular every hour bus line with the capital city, as well as with all neighbouring larger towns - Pernik, Doupnitsa, Blagoevgrad and etc. There are regular bus lines to all villages in the region. Due to its closeness to Macedonia, there are enough lines to this neighbouring country. The bus station (tel.: 078 22626) and the railway station (tel.: 078 29164) are next to each other in the northern part of the town. The town is a main station on the Sofia-Kyustendil-Gyueshevo railway line, and in near future it will be linked with the railway network of Republic of Macedonia. Town bus transport functions within Kyustendil.

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Bulgaria Regions: Kyustendil