The town of Kostenets (population: 10 400 inhabitants) is situated at the foot of Rila Mountain, about 75 km southeast of Sofia. The upper stream of the Maritsa River crosses the Kostenets municipality's area. The region's terrain is strongly broken, and the adjacent hills pass rapidly into the foothills of the Rila-Rhodope Massif and the Sredna Gora Mountain.
The town has one railway station and one railway stop (Momin Prohod) on the line Sofia-Plovdiv. The railway station is in the centre of the town of Kostenets. There are regular bus lines within the whole municipality and the town has bus connections with Samokov, Dolna Banya, Ihtiman and others. The bus
station is in the centre, close to the railway station.
The municipality is a departure point for marked tourist routes across Eastern Rila, mainly through Kostenets Recreation Campus. The town and resort of Dolna Banya, as well as Borovets Resort are in close proximity to the town. These sites can be reached by the regular bus transport and can add colour to one’s
stay in the municipality of Kostenets.
The climate is Temperate Continental. The average monthly and annual air temperature at daylight varies from minus 4.2oC (January) to 16.1oC (July). The abundance of mineral springs is one of the special characteristics of the region.
The favourable climatic factors, the unique combination of the thermal mineral water resources with the immediate proximity to the ski resort of Borovets and the country's capital, and the natural and historical sights provide a potential for all-the-year-round tourism, recreation and sport.
The region was populated as early as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. It was inhabited by the Thracian tribe Besse during the first millennium BC. At the end of the 1 st century and the beginning of the 2nd century AD, the territory of the present-day Kostenets municipality was part of the Serdica Province of the
The settling into the present-day town of Kostenets started in 1884 with the building of the Belovo - Vakarel railway as a part of the Sofia - Istanbul route. The new settlements' expansion hastened with the building of a factory for safety matches in 1901 and of a paper mill in 1907. In 1964, three settlements - Kostenets Banya, Momin Prohod and Momina Banya - were merged into the town of Kostenets.
In the town of Kostenets there are many Christian temples and chapels of historical and cultural value: the church of St. Georgi, and the chapels St. Illia, St. Petka, St. Pantaleimon.
There are 36 preserved burial mounds, 20 mound necropolises, remains of 11 antique settlements and settlements of the Bronze Age and the early and late Iron Age, 6 Roman settlements and 8 late medieval settlements in the region of Kostenets.
The Trayanovi Vrata Fortress is a valuable monument of the Roman age, and of the First and the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. It is a historical place at the saddle between the Mt. Eledzhik and Mt. Golak of Sredna Gora. There, close to the Thracian settlement, was constructed a Roman road station, called Sineum. From it the Trayan Pass begins, also called Souki narrow valley. Trayanovi Vrata (Trayan’s Gates) was 15 steps wide and 24 steps high. In these area in 986 Samuil’s soldiers won an important victory over the Byzantines, led by Emperor Vasilii II, delaying by this the fall of Bulgaria under Byzantine domination with 22 years. A small memorial plate commemorates this event.During the Turkish occupation the functions of Trayanovi Vrata as a keeper of the pass declined. Unused and unkept, it started to ruin. To the south of the great gate remains of old buildings are still preserved, probably parts of a fortress with a diametre of 30 metres and thickness of the wall 2 metres. Greatest interest arises Markova Mehana (Kaleto) where a large building has been discovered - a garrison with a spacious inner yard, open ground floor, 6 entrances and three inner turrets made of stone and 5 layers of flat bricks. The fortress (there are preserved parts of it 2-5 metres high) had unique water equipment and an underground passage. Archaeologists definitely prove the usage of this location during the Middle Ages (9th-10th century), which made it an important Bulgarian stronghold. Since antiquity, this old pass has continued to serve the people. The new Trakiya motorway passes under it. The distance between the eastern entrance of the two parallel tunnels to Trayanovi Vrata and the fortress is 500-600 metres. This historic location can be reached fastest along the motorway (from Sofia - 64 km and from Plovdiv - 72 km). The road from Kostenets or from Ihtiman to Mirovo station is convenient, and from there to the pass it takes 1.20 hours along a marked route.
From times immemorial the present Kostenets quarter, called Momin Prohod has been renowned for its spas which were used in Roman times. Now the mineral water of the 9 natural springs is collected in one catchment with a temperature of 65oC. The output is 920 l/min, and in radioactivity it rates second in Bulgaria (after the water from Narechen), third in Europe and 25th in the world. It cures illnesses of the bones and joints and the locomotion system, the peripheral nervous system, the respiratory system, the lungs and etc. The resort is famous abroad with its good results in healing of poliomyelitis and spasmic children’s paresis. There are many sanatorium, recreational facilities, and villas.
Kostenets Recreation Camp is situated 9 km south of the town and the station of Kostenets and at 2 km above the village of Kostenets, right in the northern foots of the Belmeken sub-part of Eastern Rila. Three mineral springs with total capacity of 300 l/min and temperature about 47oC have been in catchment. The water has similar curative properties with the one of Momin Prohod. There is a large spa complex, recreation homes, open-air swimming pool, villas, a pond, wonderful surrounding areas (the Kostenets Waterfall of Stara River, glorified by Ivan Vazov, etc.) The combination of curative mineral water, mild mountainous climate and beautiful environment makes it attractive throughout the year.
Pchelinski Bani is a spa resort 8 km to the noth-west of the town of Kostenets and 2 km from the village of Pchelin. It is situated on the southern slopes of Ihtimanska Sredna Gora. The mineral water is 73oC hot at the spring. In curative properties it is similar to the others. There is a recreational children’s home, recreational facilities, numerous villas, etc.
Very beautiful is the Kostenski Waterfall, located near the village of Kostenets and depicted by the eminent Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov.
Only 28 km west of the town of Kostenets, on the northern slopes of the Mousala ridge in the eastern part of Rila, is situated the winter resort of Borovets - the oldest and one of the biggest and most modern Bulgarian winter resort with over 45 kilometers of ski pistes.