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Surrounding areas of Kotel

Apart from the town itself, there are four more architecture and historical reserves: the villages of Zheravna, Medven, Katounishte and Gradets. The village of Zheravna is 14 km south of Kotel and a regular bus runs to and from. It is one of the pearls of Bulgaria. Every building in the village is in itself a unique cultural monument. It has been preserved almost in its authentic appearance and atmosphere. The most interesting sights are: the House-Mouseum of Roussi Chorbadzhi, the House-Mudeum of Sava Filaretov, the House-Museum of Yordan Yovkov (that is the native home of the great Bulgarian writer), the houses of Dimo Kehaya and Todor Ikonomov, respectively. The village preserves remarkable ensembles of Renaissance town lay-out and architecture like the church complex with St. Nikolai Church built in 1932. It is worth mentioning the remarkable Hilendar Convent where Slavonic and Bulgarian History was copied (this particular copy is the so called Zheravna manuscript). The class school from 1867 houses an art gallery. The village is the native place of many outstanding Bulgarians as Yordan Yovkov, Raiko Popovich, Sava Filaretov, Todor Ikonomov, V. Stoyanov, Dr. V. Sokolski, D. Stoyanov Bradata (the Beard), etc. Accommodation facilities in Zheravna are to be found in the Zlatna Oresha Hotel Complex) offering 50 beds and a restaurant. There are private lodgings as well.

The village of Medven is 12 km south-east of Kotel and there is a regular bus line to it. There are more than 120 cultural monuments dating back to the Revival epoch. The most famous one is the House-Museum of Zahari Stoyanov - the native home of the remarkable Bulgarian revolutionary and writer. Of special interest are the Yurta and Cherni Dol Architectural Ensembles, as well as St. Marina Church built in 1882. There are remains of a big medieval fortress.

The village of Katounishte is 15 km south-east of Kotel. About 80 buildings in the village have been declared cultural monuments. There is a regular bus line from Kotel.

The town of Gradets is situated 17 km south-east of Kotel, regular buses run to the latter and Sliven. It is rich in architectural Revival monuments - houses, a church, a school. There are remains of the medieval fortress of Grameni near the village.

There are more than 30 caves that have already been investigated (non-electrified) in the region of Kotel. Most interesting are Ledenika Cave (1111 m long and 242 m deep), Dryanovska Cave (in the area of Pizdra, one of the most easily accessible and much visited by tourists, with numerous beautiful mineral formations), Kurvavata Lokva Cave (The Bloody Puddle) (134 m deep, the legend tells of the murder of many soldiers of Emperor Nikifors), Rakovski Cave (in 1854 Georgi Sava Rakovski started writing his poem Gorski Putnik (Traveller in the Forest) nearby), etc.

Very interesting are the Skokovete (Jumps) Waterfall (situated on a left tributary of the Medven River; there is a marked tourist route from the town to the waterfalls), Sini Vir Waterfall (at the Medven River just above the village of Medven), and Medven Springs.

Some 7 km south of Kotel is the antique dividing wall at Zhelezni Vrata Pass (Vrantik, Demir Kapiya - Iron Gates) that had once been connected with the Vida Fortress on the peak of the same name. At the foot of the peak is the area called Grutski (Greek) Dol where the Byzantine were defeated by Khan Kroums armies in 811, and by Ivailo on 17 July, 1280. The remains of the medieval fortresses of Kozyak, Haidout Vurban, Ticha, Acheras and other are to be found in the environs of the town. Kotel is the only town in the country that is a point of the longest mountain tourist route in the country, that of Kom - Emine, starting at Mt. Kom (near the border with Serbia) and running along the ridge of the Balkan Mountain to Cape Emine at the Black Sea coast.

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