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:: holyplaces-kn ::


The Eternal City


Kyustendil lies 525 metres above sea level in Southwestern Bulgaria. To the north, the Kyustendil valley borders the labyrinth of the Kraishte region, to the south- the steep slopes of Osogovo Mountain, to the west- the Lisets Mountain, to the northeast- the Konyavo Mountain. The river Struma crosses the plain from the north and flows down to the south and thus shapes the Zemen and Skrino defiles.
The town of Kyustendil is the administrative centre of the Kyustendil region, which includes the following municipalities: Kyustendil, Dupnitza, Bobov dol, Sapareva banya, Rila, Kocherinovo, Nevestino, Boboshevo and Trekljano. The territory of the Kyustendil region is crossed by the International Transport Corridor No.8 and is a major transport and railroad junction. Kyustendil is located 86 km. away from Sofia, 23 km. from the state border with the Republic of Macedonia, and 30 km. from the state border with the Republic of Serbia.

Kyustedil was called Pautalia in ancient times and Velbuzhd in the Middle Ages. The area has been inhabited for seven thousand years and has been a town for two thousand years now. It has existed and survived through the centuries. It has been destroyed but has resurrected from the ashes and the ruins to become glorious and magnificent once again. In the antiquity Kyustendil was an administrative centre of a Roman province, in the Middle Ages- a centre of despotism, while in the Ottoman period- a centre of one the biggest sandzhaks within the Ottoman Empire.
Curative mineral water springs, favourable climate, fertile land, rich ore mines, a crossroads of major transport routes, nature shaped by the hand of the Holy artist- all of these characterize Kyustendil as the eternal town. In the past Kyustendil was known as the Emperors town, the town of Konstantine the Despot, the town of the hamams (Turkish Baths), which brought all sorts of benefits to the body, the town of Ilyo and Rumena Voivoda. Today it is known as the town of artists, the town at the foot of the Hissarluka Hill, the Orchard garden of Bulgaria, the green town or the place touched by Gods.

Because of the favourable conditions that Pautalia offered, i.e. the curative mineral water springs and mild climate people worshipped Asclepius (Roman God of Medicine). In honour of this God, a sanctuary called Asclepion was built, which was second in size after the Epidaurus sanctuary- the biggest one within the Roman Empire.
The archeological excavations recovered not only ancient therms from II- III century, which are restored and exhibited in the town centre, but also the late ancient and medieval fortress in Hissarluka. Other finds include remnants from a city-wall, temples, public buildings decorated with rich mosaics, neighbourhoods, streets with well-preserved pavement, etc. A real masterpiece of the medieval architecture and paintings existing since the time of medieval Velbuzhd is St George Church from XII- XIII century, located in the neighbourhood of Kolusha. The mosques Fatih Mehmed and Ahmed Bey, the Pirgova Tower, Alay, Dervish and Chifte Baths have all been preserved since the Ottoman period. The churches Uspenie Bogorodichno (The Assumption), St Mina, and St Dimitar, the school St. St. Cyril and Methodius and a number of houses date back to the Renaissance period.
The Kyustendil museum has gathered an extremely rich collection of materials for 130 years of work. Parts of these historical artifacts are displayed in the following exhibitions: Archeological exhibition; Fights for National Liberation in the Kyustendil region displayed in the House- Museum Ilio Voivoda; City Life displayed in Enfiedzhieva House; The Saving of Bulgarian Jews in the museum Dimitar Peshev. A rich collection of paintings of Vladimir Dimitrov- The Master as well as works of other famous Kyustendil artists are displayed in the modern building of the Kyustendil art gallery Vladimir Dimitrov- The Master.
One of the most emblematic events that annually takes place in Kyustendil is the contest Miss Kyustendil Spring. This contest combines pagan and Christian elements as well as contemporary drama art.

A major factor for the development of Kyustendil over the centuries has been the hot mineral water springs, whose curative quality has made the town so popular through the centuries. Today people can cure various diseases in the sanatoriums in the town- artery and rheumatic diseases, gynecological, neurological diseases, skin diseases and poisoning, etc. The curative mineral water, the good climatic conditions, the beautiful nature and rich cultural traditions create excellent conditions for recreation.

If you are interested in visiting the sites in the town of Kyustendil, you can call the Regional historical museum for further information at 078/550095 or you can call the Information Tourist Centre on the following telephone: 078/551811.

To reach Kyustendil by public transport (bus or train), you can catch a bus from Ovcha Kupel bus station in Sofia. Buses to Kyustendil leave every half an hour. Or you can catch the train at the central railway station in Sofia. Trains to Kyustendil leave at 7.50 am. 9.10 am, 12.25 pm, 5pm.

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Regional Historical Museum Academician Yordan Ivanov, Kyustendil - 2004-2006