Kyustendil, Bulgaria

Travel Guide to Kyustendil

Kyustendil is famous for its many hot mineral springs. Located in the southwestern portion of Bulgaria, Kyustendil's population is almost 47,000. To reach Kyustendil, you must travel on the oldest portion of road that connects Constantinople with the Adriatic Sea. The road is rich with amazing scenery.

The town is surrounded by both the Osogovo Mountain range and the Konyavo Mountain range. Nestled nicely between the two mountains, Kyustendil offers many breathtaking views of both the town's historic buildings and the distant mountain peaks.

History

Settled many centuries ago by Thracians, it is proven that Kyustendil covers the former ancient town of Pautalius. Pautalius was conquered by the Romans who turned it into an extremely successful administrative centre. As many cultures passed through Pautalius on their way to other areas, mining and crafts became the area's most successful businesses. To ward off intruders, the city was walled off and the Hissarluka Fortress was built on the hillside.

No one is certain who invaded and pushed the Romans out, though it is believed it was Slavic armies. During the sixth century, the name Pautalius vanishes from record books. Five centuries pass before the town's new name appears Velbuzhd. During this new era, Kyustendil became a thriving religious centre.

In the 17th century, Austrian troops entered the area and many battles were waged for control. It appears that the Turkish government ended up with control of the area until the late 1800s. It is during this period that Kyustendil receives its independence.

Site Seeing

Kyustendil is one of Bulgaria's largest centres for a medical practice known as Balneotherapy. In this practice, rich mineral waters are used to purify the body. There are hot springs in Kyustendil that offer high fluorine, sodium, and sulphur contents. These minerals are easily absorbed through the skin and are believed to help cure or lessen many ailments.

History buffs will want to visit the Municipal Museum of History. Here many documents and artifacts give an exclusive glimpse into the origins of Kyustendil.

The Artistic Gallery of Vladimir Dimitrov Maistora is home to the famed artist's impressive collection. Vladimir Dimitrov Maistora is a 20th century painter who focused on composition paintings that featured many Bulgarian men and women doing their daily tasks or celebrating at local festivals.

The area also boasts many period churches. Saint George was built in the 12th and 13th century. Saint Dimitar houses a 16th century tower. Saint Bogoroditza is the most recently built church constructed in the 19th century. Be sure to visit the Fetih Sultan Mehmed Mosque, built in 1531.

Accommodation

When staying in Kyustendil, one does not have a ton of options. There are a few extremely good hotels, however.

Hotel Bulgaria is located in the centre of town. Rates. All rooms have satellite television, telephones, private baths, and mini bars. There is internet available within the hotel for an additional charge. Breakfast is included in your stay. The hotel does offer spa this includes airport transfers, a luxury room, medical evaluation, spa treatments, full access to the spa rooms, site seeing tours, and all meals.

Hotel Velbudhz is also located in the town centre. The hotel is divided into two sections. The older area is the original portion of the hotel and is slightly more run down. Rooms in the older section come with phones, private baths, telephones, terraces, and colour cable television. The new section is comfortable and clean. These rooms offer the same amenities as in the older rooms, but add mini bars to all of the rooms in this section. Hotel Velbudhz offers packages that provide guests with access to the famed mineral spas.

Hotel Kyustendil also offers a luxurious spa package. The package includes sightseeing tours, a luxury room, all meals, and the full spa treatment.

Industry

Kyustendil is a small town. The base of the town's industry comes from its impressive hot springs. The area draws in many tourists and tourism money because of the hot springs.

The other key industry lies in the flourishing fruit orchards. Fresh fruit grows abundantly and brings in plenty of income.

Gastronomy

Thanks to the town's fertile, mineral-rich soils, many fruit orchards thrive in the area. Fresh apples, cherries, and plums can be found in copious amounts. Vegetables grow just as well, so many regional dishes focus on fresh produce.

As Bulgaria is the only area known for a special type of yeast, Bulgarian yoghurt is considered some of the world's finest yoghurt. Many dishes utilize the yoghurt in sauces.

The dishes typically served in Bulgaria vary from region to region. In Kyustendil, fresh fruit and vegetables are mainstays. Because the area’s mineral water is unsurpassed in quality, the diet can include a healthy mix of fruit, yoghurt, bread, and mineral water. The bread is usually dense and packed with grains. This helps make the bread crispy on the outside, yet tender and rich on the inside.

If you have the chance, be sure to try Boza. Boza is an extremely thick malt beverage made from various malts that are then fermented. The result is rather like a syrupy beer.

Meals in Bulgaria are different to what some may expect. Breakfast usually includes fruit and yoghurt. At noon, lunch consists of a soup, entre, and vegetable with plenty of bread. Dinner is served late and is usually light consisting only of bread and maybe a piece of fruit or a salad.

Nightlife

Those looking for an active nightlife in Kyustendil will need to head to larger, neighbouring cities. Kyustendil's key attraction is the relaxing spas. The focus in this town is on reenergizing and fixing ailments, not partying. A few bars serve inexpensive beers and local wines.

Summary

If rest and relaxation is what you need, do not delay, head to Kyustendil soon. The area's medicinal hot springs will soothe your ailments and have you feeling young and vibrant in no time.