Kyustendil is a town in southwestern Bulgaria. Regional center of Kyustendil region and administrative center of Kyustendil Municipality.
Kyustendil is a town in the very west of Bulgaria, and the capital of Kyustendil Province, with a population of 47,196. Kyustendil is situated in the southern part of the Kyustendil Valley, at the foot of the Osogovo mountain on both banks of the Banska River. The town is 80 km southwest of Sofia, 69 km northwest of Blagoevgrad and 22 km from the border with the Republic of Macedonia.
The town is 1795 feet above sea level. The climate is traditionally continental with Mediterranean influence with snow in winter - local skiing is available just above the town. 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 11C.
Kyustendil is a national balneological resort at an altitude of 500 m. The ancient name of the town Pautalia - "a town of springs" - is Thracian. There are more than 40 mineral springs in the town. These are used for treatment of the locomotory system, gynecological and other kinds of diseases. The resort region includes several baths, balneological complexes and others. The mineral waters of the numerous fountains (natural springs and wells) have an almost uniform chemical composition, temperature(71-73C) and sulphide content. Their curative properties 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.
The climate characterizes with warm and long summer, short and not very cold winter. The autumn is long, warm and sunny while the spring starts early.
A Thracian settlement emerged at the place of the modern town in the 5th-4th century BC, which was turned into an important stronghold, balneological resort and trade junction called Pautalia by the Romans in the 1st century AD, from a Thracian word meaning "source", "spring".
The Hisarlaka fortress was built in the 4th century and the town was mentioned under the Slavic name of Velbazhd in a 1019 charter by Byzantine emperor Basil II.
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.
During the reign of Kaloyan, the town became part of the Second Bulgarian Empire, acquiring its modern name after the local feudal lord Konstantin Dragash in the 16th century.
The residents of Kyustendil took an active part in the Bulgarian National Revival. The town was liberated from Ottoman rule on 29 January 1878. After the liberation some of the crafts related to the Turkish markets declined, but tobacco production developed, as well as spa resort activity.
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 Maistora 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 2nd - 3rd century.
Other remarkable sights of the town are: churches St. George (12th - 13th century) in Kolusha district, Sveta Bogoroditza (1816), and St. Dimitar, the Tower of Pirgov (16th - 17th century), the Fetih Sultan Mehmed Mosque (1531), the wall of the hotel Devehani (1606), Lekarska House, the House of Prokopiev, the old school (1849). In the town there are many monuments erected - dedicated to the Russian soldiers, who died for the liberation of the town from Ottoman domination, to Iliyo Voyvoda, to the poet P. K. Yavorov.
Rila Monastery Natural park, covering 13 000ha alpine pastures and 14 370.7ha of forests was stablished in 2000 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 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.
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 Strouma River. 10 km north of the town is situated the village of Shishkovtzi. There is a rich 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 Razhdavitza, the Strouma River has created a marvelous and picturesque gorge, called Zemenski gorge. It is a miniature copy of the Iskar gorge.
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 Pernik, Dupnitsa, Blagoevgrad and etc. The bus station and the railway station next to each other in the Northern park of the town. The town is a main stop on the line Sofia - Kyustendil - Gyueshevo.