Kyustendil, Bulgaria

History : Middle Ages | Ottoman era | History : Modern | Ethnic composition | Religion | Economy | Geography

🇧🇬 Kyustendil is a town in the far west of Bulgaria, the capital of the Kyustendil Province, a former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see. The town is situated in the southern part of the Kyustendil Valley, near the borders of Serbia and North Macedonia; 90 km south-west of Sofia, 130 km north-east of Skopje and 243 km north of Thessaloniki. During the Iron Age, a Thracian settlement was located within the town, later known as Roman in the 1st century AD. In the Middle Ages, the town switched hands between the Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria and Serbia, prior to Ottoman annexation in 1395. After centuries of Ottoman rule, the town became part of an independent Bulgarian state in 1878.


History A Thracian settlement was founded at the place of the modern town in the 5th-4th centuries BC and was known for its asclepion, a shrine dedicated to medicine god Asclepius.

Under the name Pautalia (Ancient Greek: Παυταλία or Πανταλία) it was a town in the district of Dentheletica. Its position in the Peutinger Table places Pautalia at Kyustendil; and the situation of this town at the sources of the Strymon agrees remarkably with the figure of a river-god, accompanied by the "legend" Στρύμων ("Strymon"), on some of the autonomous coins of Pautalia, as well as with the letters ΕΝ. ΠΑΙΩ. ("En. Paio"), which, on other coins, show that the inhabitants considered themselves to be Paeonians, like the other inhabitants of the banks of that river. On another coin of Pautalia, the productions of its territory are alluded to, namely, gold, silver, wine, and corn. In the reign of Hadrian, the people both of Pautalia and Serdica added Ulpia to the name of their town, probably in consequence of some benefit received from that emperor. Stephanus of Byzantium has a district called Paetalia (Παιταλία), which he assigns to Thrace, probably a false reading.

In the 1st century AD, it was administratively part of Macedonia. Later the city was part of the province of Dacia Mediterranea and the third largest city in the province.

The Roman fortress of Pautalia of the 2nd to 4th century had an area of over 29 hectares (appr. 72 acres). The fortress wall was built mainly of granite blocks and unusually its façade was supported with pillars and arches behind. The wall was 2.5m wide allowing small catapults to be mounted atop.

A second, smaller fortress of area 2 hectares was built in the town in the 4th century (known by its later Ottoman name Hisarlaka).

Many Thracian and Roman objects are exhibited in the town's Regional History Museum, most notably an impressive numismatic collection.

Recent excavations have revealed an early Christian, late Roman monumental bishop's palace.


History: Middle Ages The town was mentioned under the Slavic name of Velbazhd (Велбъжд, meaning "camel") in a 1019 charter by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. It became a major religious and administrative centre of the Byzantine Empire, and subsequently the Second Bulgarian Empire after Kaloyan conquered the area between 1201 and 1203.

In 1282, Serbian king Stefan Milutin defeated the Byzantine Empire and conquered Velbazhd.

In 1330, the Serbs defeated the Bulgarians in the vicinity, effectively keeping the region to the Serbian Kingdom. Serbian magnate Dejan, one of the prominent figures of the Serbian Empire and its subsequent fall, had initially held a large province in the Kumanovo region under Dušan, and was later as despot under Uroš V assigned the Upper Struma river with Velbuzhd. Upon Dejan's death, his possessions in Žegligovo and Upper Struma were given to his two sons, Jovan Dragaš (d. 1378) and Konstantin (d. 1395). The Dejanović brothers ruled a spacious province in eastern Macedonia, in the southern lands of the Empire, and remained loyal to Uroš V, until 1373, when Orhan Gazi's Ottoman army compelled Jovan to recognize Ottoman vassalage.


Ottoman era The city was a sanjak centre initially in Rumelia governorate-general, after that in the Bitola and Niš vilayets (province). It was a kaza centre in the Sofia sanjak of Danube Province until the creation of the Principality of Bulgaria in 1878.


History: Modern The residents of Kyustendil took an active part in the Bulgarian National Revival and crafts and trade flourished. The town was liberated from Ottoman rule on 29 January 1878.


Ethnic composition According to the 2011 census data, people who chose to declare their ethnic identity were distributed as follows: • Bulgarians: (82.5%) • Roma: (11.6%) • Turks: (0.0%) • Others: (0.3%) • Indefinable: (0.7%) ◦ Undeclared: (4.9%).

Roma people are mainly concentrated within the town limits. In the meantime, about a fourth of Bulgarians live in the surrounding villages, also part of the Municipality of Kyustendil.


Religion Kyustendil today belongs to the Sofia diocese in regards of Orthodox church-administrative structure. The city is the centre of the vicarage and the Kyustendil Eparchy; in the past, Kyustendil was the seat of the diocese, that latter was closed in 1884. The majority of the urban population profess the Orthodox faith today.

There are several Christian denominations associated with Protestantism and a small Jewish community. During Ottoman rule Kyustendil had a population mostly professing Islam, but of the many mosques of the time, now only two remain. Today the city has only Christian churches operating.

In Antiquity, Pautalia was a bishopric in the Roman province of Dacia Mediterranea, suffragan to the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Sardica, in the sway of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Its only recorded residential bishop was • Evangelius, who was summoned to Constantinople by Byzantine emperor Anastasius I Dicorus in 516 during the controversy against Monophysitism.

During the brief Late Medieval period, when the Bulgarian Church entered in full communion with Rome (instead of Orthodox Constantinople), one of its three 'Uniate Catholic' (equivalent to modern Eastern Catholic) sees was Velebusdus, which was even raised to a Metropolitan Latin Archbishopric as Pope Innocent III sent its incumbent Athanasius the archiepiscopal pallium on 25 February 1204.


Economy The city is the centre of light and manufacturing industry: logging, footwear, knitwear, ready-made clothes, toys, packaging, alcohol producers, bakery, printing and canning industries. There are companies for the production of condensers, power transformers, household and kitchen furniture and joinery. Hotels and tourism have evolved in recent years. The region has traditions in fruit growing and trade in fresh and dried fruits.

Kyustendil is a centre of an agricultural area with centuries-old traditions in the field of fruit growing, which is why the town and its surroundings are known as the "Orchard Garden of Bulgaria".


Geography Kyustendil is a national balneological resort at an altitude of 600 metres. There are more than 40 mineral springs in the town. The waters have a high content of sulfite compounds. These are used for the treatment of the locomotory system, gynecological and other kinds of diseases. The resort region includes several baths, balneological complexes and others.

Kyustendil is located at the foot of the Osogovo mountain, on both banks of the Banshtica River and is a well-known centre of balneology and fruit growing. The town is 90 km south-west of Sofia, 69 km north-west of Blagoevgrad and 22 km from the border with North Macedonia and Serbia. The fortress was built by the Romans. Thermae, basilicas, floor mosaics have been uncovered.

Sofia Time 
Sofia Time
Image: Adobe Stock dudlajzov #414700052

Kyustendil has a population of over 44,530 people. Kyustendil also forms the centre of the wider Kyustendil Province which has a population of over 163,889 people.

To set up a UBI Lab for Kyustendil see: Twitter:

Twin Towns - Sister Cities Kyustendil has links with:

🇷🇸 Leskovac, Serbia
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license

Antipodal to Kyustendil is: -157.317,-42.283

Locations Near: Kyustendil 22.683,42.283

🇧🇬 Pernik 23.038,42.61 d: 46.6  

🇧🇬 Blagoevgrad 23.095,42.017 d: 45  

🇲🇰 Štip 22.193,41.747 d: 72  

🇷🇺 Dimitrovgrad 22.778,43.015 d: 81.8  

🇧🇬 Sofia 23.324,42.697 d: 69.9  

🇷🇸 Vranje 21.898,42.553 d: 71.1  

🇲🇰 Strumica 22.66,41.425 d: 95.4  

🇷🇸 Pirot 22.588,43.158 d: 97.7  

🇲🇰 Kumanovo 21.716,42.136 d: 81.3  

🇷🇸 Leskovac 21.95,43 d: 99.8  

Antipodal to: Kyustendil -157.317,-42.283

🇵🇫 Papeete -149.566,-17.537 d: 17167  

🇹🇴 Nuku'alofa -175.216,-21.136 d: 17130.8  

🇦🇸 Pago Pago -170.701,-14.279 d: 16646.5  

🇼🇸 Apia -171.76,-13.833 d: 16560.1  

🇺🇸 Hilo -155.089,19.725 d: 13116.3  

🇺🇸 Maui -156.446,20.72 d: 13008.9  

🇺🇸 Maui County -156.617,20.868 d: 12992.7  

🇺🇸 Kahului -156.466,20.891 d: 12989.9  

🇺🇸 Wailuku -156.505,20.894 d: 12989.7  

🇺🇸 Honolulu -157.85,21.3 d: 12944.8  

Bing Map

Option 1