Kyustendil is one of the 28th regions of Bulgaria. It occupies an area of 3,084.3 km2 and has a population of 135,000 people.
It borders the Regions of Sofia, Pernik and Blagoevgrad, while to the west its limits coincide with the state borders between Bulgaria and Macedonia, and Bulgaria and the Republic of Serbia. The Region of Kyustendil includes 9 municipalities: Kyustendil, Dupnitsa, Bobov dol, Sapareva banya, Rila, Kocherinovo, Nevestino, Boboshevo, Treklyano with a total of 182 settlements. The administrative, commercial and cultural center of the Region is Kyustendil situated in its Southwestern part: the Kyustendil lowerland.
From a geo-strategic point of view, the Region falls into the cross-border cooperation area with the Republic of Macedonia, as well as in the contact zone of the cross-border cooperation territory with Greece. Four main transport routes pass through Kyustendil: from the FYROM on the Skopie-Sofia high-way; from the FRY on the Nish-Bosilegrad-Kyustendil high-way; through Dupnitsa and Kyustendil passes the oldest commercial road that for centuries has linked Constantinople and the Adriatic Sea.
The region features diverse surface relief - fertile valleys and canyons, separated by hillocks and mountains. The northern and western parts of the territory form the so-called "Kyustendilsko kraishte" (Kyustendil Cornerland), and include parts of the cross-border mountains Milevska, Chudinska, Zemenska and Konyavska to the east. To the south, the Kyustendilsko kraishte reaches as far as the valleys of the Dragovishtitsa and Bistritsa rivers, as well as the Lisets mountain. The southern part of the region includes massifs of the Osogovo, Vlahina and North-Western Rila mountains, embracing the Kamenitsa, Kyustendil and Dupnitsa lowerlands.
The region abunds with granites, clays, fossils, and ores. Polymetal ores are excavated in Osogovo; brown coals in the famous Bobov dol mines. Clays deposits are located at the villages of Chetirtsi, Yahinovo and Dragovishtitsa. 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 Chetirtsi. A marvel of nature, found in the region are the Stobski piramidi (Stob pyramids).
The climate in the region characterizes with soft winter with comparatively higher temperatures / the average temperature in January is between -1ºC and -0.8ºC/, while the summer is warm with average temperature in July about 24 ºC. The climate in the regions with higher altitude characterizes with longer winter with lasting snow-cover and cool summer.
The main drainage river is the Struma whose subsidiaries are the Treklyanska, Dragovishtitsa, Bistritsa, Slokoshtitsa, Novoselska, Dzherman and Rila rivers. Subterran waters level is relatively high. Near the village of Kamenichka Skakavitsa, the Golemi Dol River forms a 70-meter-high waterfall. The Dyakovo, Bersin, Drenov dol and Bagrentsi artificial lakes (dams) are chiefly used for irrigation purposes. Soil composition is most favorable for the traditionally-developed fruit-growing.
Forest vegetation is mostly deciduous, although coniferous forests are also present. In the Gabra natural reserve (area: 89,5 metric hektars) houses the last remaining black-pine trees.
The town of Kyustendil has managed to preserve is historical, ecological and cultural heritage. It is a contemporary Bulgarian administrative center, whose future is mostly seen in the development of cultural and eco-tourism, and modern rehabilitation resort centers by the hot mineral water springs.
The surrounding region is an untapped National Park. Wonder through green lanes, past medieval houses and barns and discover stunning landscapes. Plenty of fishing, walking, trekking, cross-country trips, hunting with clear air and a fantastic climate are among the available tourist attractions.
The Region enjoys rich cultural and historical heritage from the ancient past, through the Middle Ages to the epoch of Renaissance.
Natural Park Rila Monastery
Natural Park Rila Monastery was established in June 2000. The Park’s territory covers 13 000ha alpine pastures and 14 370.7ha of forests. It’s purpose is to preserve biodiversity and the beauty of nature, as well as cultural and historical heritage and to provide for the beauty of the places suitable for recreation and tourism.
The area of Kirilova Polyana is very spectacular. there is the beautiful rocky ark, which consists of the peaks Zliya zab, Iglata, Kupenite, Lovnitsa, Orlovets and Eleni Vrah.
There are about 27 glacial lakes in the park. The highest lake is the first of the Dyavolski Lakes (2445 m) and lowest is Suhoto Ezero (1892 m). Here is also the biggest alpine lake in the Balkan Peninsula which occupies an area of 21,2 ha and is 24 m in depth.
Rila Monastery Natural Park is surrounded by thirty-six peaks over 2000 m in altitude.
Many rivers - Rilska, Iliyna, Drushlyavitsa, Otchova, ets. -run trough the park.
Over 1000 plants are found here and 71 are listed in Bulgaria's Red Book. About 150 animal species live in the park and fourteen of these are listed in Bulgaria's Red Book.
The historical complex of Rila Monastery is in the heart of this area. The Monastery was pronounced a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and the part is named after it. The Monastery is the start of the several tourist trails of differing length and difficulty, and is also on the inetrnational E-4 trail which includes the Pyranees, the Alps and Olympus in Greece.