Kyustendil is a town in southwestern Bulgaria, situated in the Struma River valley at the foot of the Osogov Mountains. It is one of the oldest settlements in the country, with a history that spans over eight millennia. Kyustendil is also known for its mineral springs, orchards, and cultural monuments, which make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The history of Kyustendil is rich and diverse, as it reflects the influences of various civilizations and empires that ruled the region. The town was founded by the Thracians as a fortified settlement, and later became an important Roman town called Pautalia, or Ulpia Pautalia. During the Middle Ages, Kyustendil was part of the Bulgarian, Byzantine, and Serbian states, and was known as Velbuzhd. In the 14th century, it became the capital of a short-lived independent principality under Constantine Dragash. After the Ottoman conquest, the town was renamed Kyustendil, and remained under Turkish rule until the 19th century. Kyustendil played a significant role in the Bulgarian National Revival and the liberation struggles against the Ottoman Empire.
The culture of Kyustendil is a blend of traditions, customs, and arts from different periods and peoples. The town has a rich architectural and artistic heritage, which includes ancient Roman baths, medieval churches and fortresses, Ottoman mosques and baths, and neoclassical buildings. The town is also the birthplace or residence of many famous Bulgarian figures, such as the painter Vladimir Dimitrov – The Master, the revolutionary Ilyo Voyvoda, and the politician Dimitar Peshev. Kyustendil is a center of education, trade, and crafts, and hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year.