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Kyustendil

 
     The town of Kyustendil (population 56 500 inhabitants) is situated in the most Western parts of Bulgaria, in the fertile valley of Kyustendil, on both sides of Banska River. It lies at the most Northern slopes of Ossogovo Mountain, 525 m above the sea level. The town is located 90 km southwest of Sofia, 70 km northwest of Blagoevgrad, and 22 km northeast of the border point with Macedonia. Kyustendil and its surrounding areas are well known as the orchard of Bulgaria, where mostly cherries, plums, apples, etc. are grown. It is a spa resort of national significance and a regional centre. The region, however, is most famous for its numerous mineral water springs: hot mineral water springs in Kyustendil, Sapareva Banya, the villages of Nevestino and Chetirtzi. A marvel of the nature, found in the region, is the Stob pyramids.
 
     History

     Kyustendil is one of the most ancient towns in Bulgaria. The mineral springs of the region attracted the Thracian tribes, which in the 5th-4th century BC founded a settlement here. During the 1st century the Romans turned it into an important fortress, trade venue, and renowned spa resort. They called it Pautalia. In the 4th century the fortress Hissarlaka was built. In 1019 in the Charter of the Byzantine emperor Vasilii II the town was mentioned by the name Velbajd. It was integrated to the Bulgarian State during the reign of king Kaloian (1197-1207). Later, in the 16th century, the town was renamed Kyustendil, by the name of the feudal ruler Konstantin Dragash. In the middle of the 15th century the Turks began to colonize the town. During the Renaissance it rapidly developed and grew. Its inhabitants took active part in the ecclesiastical and national struggles. Kyustendil was liberated on January 29, 1878. After the liberation some of the crafts related to the Turkish markets declined, but tobacco production developed, as well as spa resort activity. 
 
     Landmarks

     In the town of Kyustendil the Municipal Museum of History is situated. Each of its departments is accommodated in various cultural and historic monuments. The  Artistic Gallery of Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master is a sight of a particular interest. The Asclepion of Pautalia is an impressive Roman spa and shrine dedicated to the god of health Asclepius, built in the 2nd-3rd century. Other remarkable sights of the town are: churches St. George (12th-13th century) in Kolusha district, St. Dimitar, the  Tower of Pirgov (16th-17th century), Fatih Sultan Mehmed Mosque (1531), the wall of the hotel Devehani (1606), Lekarska House, the House of Prokopiev, the Old school (1849). In the town many monuments are erected: monuments dedicated to the Russian soldiers, who died for the liberation of the town from Ottoman domination, to Ilijo Voivoda, to P. K. Javorov. But one of the most valuable treasures of the town is the mineral waters. 
 
     Climate and Mineral Waters

     The climate is traditionally continental with Mediterranean influence. The mild weather is largely due to the beneficial effect of the mountains that surround the plain from the north, east and west. The average annual temperature is 11 degrees C. The mineral waters of the numerous fountains (natural springs and wells) have an almost uniform chemical composition, temperature (71-73 C) and sulphide content. The waters are clear, colorless, with a pleasant taste and a slight smell of hydrogen sulphide. They are mildly mineralized, hyperthermal and contain sulphides, silicon, fluorine and sulphates of sodium with a strong alkaline reaction. The total flow is about 2,400 l/min. Their curative and preventive properties are mainly due to the sulphides, the high metasilicic acid content, the high temperature, the hypotonic effect, the mild mineralization and the relatively high fluorine content. The curative properties of Kyustendil's mineral waters have been known since ancient times. Another important curative agent, used for the systematic treatment of a wide range of diseases, is the peat mined near the village of Baikal which is reach in humic acids and organic substances. The favourable climate, the curative peat from Baikal, the mineral waters and the possibilities of specific fruit-diet therapy attract many Bulgarian and foreign visitors to Kyustendil. 
 
     Transport

     Kyustendil is connected with the other parts of the country by bus and railway transport. There is regular bus line with the capital Sofia, as well as with all neighboring towns, etc. The bus station and the railway station are next to each other in the Northern Park of the town. The town is a main stop on the line Sofia – Kyustendil – Gyueshevo. 
 
    


     Surrounding Areas

     In close proximity to the Southern part of the town is situated Hissarlaka Park. Kyustendil is the outgoing point to the beautiful Ossogovo Mountain with many sights of interests. At 13 km to the southeast of the town, in Nevestino village is located Kadin (Nevestin) Bridge over Struma River. 10 km north of the town is situated the village of Shishkovtzi one can find a collection of pictures of Vladimir Dimitrov Maistora. 39 km to the north is situated the historic Zemen monastery, which frescoes are the most interesting monument from XIV century. Along 22 km distance from the town of Zemen to the village of Rajdavitza, Struma River has created a marvelous and picturesque gorge, called Zemeni Gorge. It is a miniature copy of Iskar Gorge.