Kyustendil - piece of paradise

  • 03 август 2017, 12:10
  • Default profile Автор Kmeta.bg
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Kyustendil is situated in Southwestern Bulgaria, in the most fertile part of the Kyustendil Valley. This is one of the most ancient Bulgarian cities with 8000 years of settlement life and over 1900 years of urban traditions. It is called “The Town of Artists”, “The Orchard of Bulgaria”, and mostly “The Place Blessed by the Gods.“The numerous mineral springs in combination with the mild climate, beautiful nature and rich cultural and historical heritage are beneficial preconditions for excellent development of tourism - balneologycal, cultural and cognitive, ecotourism, agritourism,etc. The city is an important spa and tourist center of national and international importance, and a starting point for hiking and ski sports. Kyustendil is situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, at the foot of the Osogovo Mountain.It is located 86 km southwest of Sofia (90 minutes drive from/to the Sofia Airport) on road №6/E870/, 23 km east of the Republic of Macedonia and 30 km away of the Republic of Serbia. Its area is 979 square kilometers and is 525 meters above sea level. The population is about 62,000 citizens, and the number of settlements is 71.

CULTURE

The cultural heritage of Kyustendil Municipality is diverse and complex, and includes cultural treasures from the Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the past,Kyustendil was and nowadays is an important cultural center of the country. Along with the official celebration of New Year, Easter, Christmas, the national holiday - Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman Domination (March, 3th), and a number of other holidays celebrated throughout the country, in the cultural and festive calendar of the citizens of Kyustendil there are other important dates: 29th January - Liberation of the City from Ottoman Dominion, 20th April - The Day of the April Uprising, 2nd August - the Ilinden Uprising, etc. An integral component of the multi-layered local traditions is the emblematic city holidays: Kyustendil Spring - 20-21st March, The Cherry Festival - in June,Panagia -Praising of Bread Cultural Forum- 14-15th August, Festival of Fertility - performed in late September - early October. Ever since ancient times,the spring mood in Kyustendil is “poured” into a folk festival. Kyustendil Spring Festival is held with the aim to choose one girl as a symbol of the gentle step of the coming spring, of youth and of new hope. This custom is associated with ancient pagan religious celebrations for praising the Sun, the warm mineral springs and the health-giving divinities - Asclepius, Hygia, Telesphorus, The Haritas (The Three Graces), Apollo. Christianity associates it with St. Forty Martyrs (9th March), the closest date to the spring equinox. Celebrations are organized for the holiday, but according to the old tradition the Holly Hillof Hisarlaka, where 40 thermal mineral springs gush out,should also be visited.The church holiday - The Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, on 15th August, is celebrated in a special and unique way. The festive events are completed by the performance of Panagia-a ritual of praise and break of the Mother of God’s bread. This is when a variety of ritual breads - real masterpieces of art, are presented. The Cherry Festival is held on two consecutive days in June. Citizens and tourists can enjoy the variety of cherries and delicious gourmet cherry products. The holiday is also celebrated with a rich folklore program, including a concert named “Chereshnitsa Rod Rodila”.The Festival of Fertility is held on two consecutive days in October. It is a display of the autumn abundance of fruits and vegetables in Kyustendil and the region. Except for the traditional rituals, the celebration includes a rich cultural program. These two festivals combine grace, elegance, beauty, diversity, abundance and creativity in one.

PRIORITIES OF KYUSTENDIL MUNICIPALITY

The priorities of this municipal management are promoting and coordinating activities which favour the development of tourism in Kyustendil. Within this context, the development of sustainable and reliable tourism would inevitably lead to improving the quality of life for residents and also to diversification of experiences for guests of Kyustendil. In turn, this would provide the involvement of entities from the tourism industry for inclusion in the development process of a unified tourism model in the city.The geographical location of Kyustendil is one that combines the most beneficial health factors- temperate climate, clean air and mineral waters - one of the hottest in the country.

• Spa and wellness tourism - determined by the presence of thermal springs with healing properties that affect traumas, orthopedic, neurological and musculoskeletal system diseases, skin problems, helps for the treatment of reproductive problems;

• Weekend tourism - recreational tourism, aiming at goingaway from the atmosphere of the big city for a short period. Thanks to Kyustendil’s geographical location and its proximity to Sofia - the capital of Bulgaria (with a population of 1.5 million) and also to Skopje (population about 700,000), Kyustendil is a favorite place for recreation and tourism. The tourists’ choice is influenced by the good road infrastructure, accessibility of the location and its proximity to the abovementioned cities - about one hour.

• Mountain and eco-tourism - determined by the availability of natural resources, preconditioning activities such as hiking along mountain trails, visiting natural parks, ecologically clean and restoration areas;

• Cultural and historical tourism - because of the millennial history of settlement life in the region,there are many cultural and historic sites, including:

- Regional Historical Museum, preserving archaeological artifacts dated back to VII - VI B.C.;

- Vladimir Dimitrov - the Master Art Gallery - with the largest collection of paintings by the remarkable world-famous artist from Kyustendil;

- St. George Church, X-XI, - the oldest preserved medieval church in Kyustendil and the whole Southwest Bulgaria;

- Ancient architecture - Roman Baths (II-III c.);

- Acropolis of Pautalia, IV-V c.;

- Medieval facilities - Pirgov’sTower, belonging to the type of defense towers, one of its kind in Bulgaria.

• Alternative forms of tourism - the modern tourist makes his/herown programme for a complete and relaxing holiday. This is the reason why the alternative forms of tourism include other types of tourism and thusits uniqueness is highlighted. Alternative tourism gathers people in groups according to their interests, and this is what differentiates the various directions, in which it can be developed. The main accent here is the contact with preserved Nature, hobby and sport, authentic atmosphere and cuisine, preserved traditions, and mostly - lack of the disfiguring interference of the urbanization.

• Adventuretourism - in this group are included the sports and extreme tourism. Various sports activities which amateurs and professionals prefer to practice in Kyustendilare available, due to the presence of a number of factors - the relief peculiarities, the temperate climate and the proximity.

• Mountain and Road Bicycle - Kyustendil is part of the international Iron Curtain Trail (Euro Velo 13). Due to its geographical location, favourable temperate climate and the diverse relief with numerous panoramic views, Kyustendil is extremely suitable for practicing adventurous and sports tourism.

Every year in Kyustendil two events are organized: Osogovo Run - Mountain Running and Biking Raceand Osogovo Downhill -National Downhill Race, which gather professionals and amateurs in these disciplines. On local level, including Kyustendil and the region, are developed tourist routes with different continuance and level of difficulty. The moderately stressful relief makes them pleasant, and the cultural and historic landmarks found along the way make the tour interesting to the more curious tourists.

• Winter sports - ski and snowboard

In Osogovo Mountain there is a fun park with two ski and snowboard pistes and all the necessary facilities for practicing winter sports.

• Paragliding and hang gliding

Konyavska Mountain is a preferred place for people who love the extreme sports paragliding and hang gliding, due to the warm air currents. The best time to fly is in June, July, August, and October. The direction of the wind is west-southwest-south. The height is 750 m; the altitude is about 1,470 m. The flights start at a stony and grassy meadow near the TV tower, on the top of the Konyavska Mountain, and the landing place are the meadows at its foot.The place can be reached by car; there is an asphalt road to the TV tower which is a turn-off of the road Sofia-Kyustendil.

• Climbing

There are three places in Kyustendil Municipality that are suitable for that kind of sport. These are: Matsakov Stone, suitable for traditional and alpine climbing; Eagle Rocks - boulder, sport and traditional climbing; Garlyano - traditional and alpine climbing.

• Horse riding

About 15 westof Kyustendil city, in the mountain village of Ranentsi, and 20 km away from the city, in Osogovo Mountain, are located horsebases with purebred horses. The places are suitable for equestrian sport for advanced and beginners.

• Karting

The karting track in Kyustendil is located at the foot of Hisarlaka Hill, about 3 km away from the city center. The length of the track is 930 meters. This is the only place where professional competitions in karting, supermoto and scooters take place.

• Motocross

The relief in Kyustendil region favours the construction of a motocross track and the designation of routes for off-road activities.

• Travels with elements of adventure, which can be religious oriented or discovering the traditional calendar of the region and its cuisine.

Example: Walk to the cave in Garbino village, which is believed to be inhabited by St. Johnof Rila. Traditionally, the walk takes place on 19th October - the day of St. John of Rila, the Wonderworker.

• Rural tourism

On one hand, as an alternative form of tourism, the rural tourism is a low-cost one, on the other hand, it stimulates the initiative of the local population to develop small family businesses underfavourable economic conditions.

Photo by Maria Lepopelska: Kadin bridge