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History of Kostenets

The past of this region is related to many historical events. Todays village of Kostenets (7 km to the south of the town and the railway station) is proud with its longest history. It emerged in the early Middle Ages and existed from 7th to 14th centuries under the name of Konstanzia. It is mentioned in a Turkish register from 1576. According to the Turkish traveller Evliya Chelebi, Kostenets was an old Wallachian town which long resisted the Turkish oppressors.  It is presumed that Kostenets is the birthplace of the man of letters Konstantin Kostenechki. The first school was opened in 1856 and the community cultural centre in 1880. At the Cherkovishte Hill, to the west of the village there are the remains of a basilica (5th-6th century) and of a medieval fortress. A church from 1857 is still preserved.

Trayanovi Vrata is a historical place at the saddle between the Mt. Eledzhik and Mt. Golak of Sredna Gora. There, close to the Thracian settlement, was constructed a Roman road station, called Sineum. From it the Trayan Pass begins, also called Souki narrow valley. Trayanovi Vrata (Trayans Gates) was 15 steps wide and 24 steps high. In these area in 986 Samuils soldiers won an important victory over the Byzantines, led by Emperor Vasilii II, delaying by this the fall of Bulgaria under Byzantine domination with 22 years. A small memorial plate commemorates this event.

During the Turkish occupation the functions of Trayanovi Vrata as a keeper of the pass declined. Unused and unkept, it started to ruin. To the south of the great gate remains of old buildings are still preserved, probably parts of a fortress with a diametre of 30 metres and thickness of the wall 2 metres. Greatest interest arises Markova Mehana (Kaleto) where a large building has been discovered - a garrison with a spacious inner yard, open ground floor, 6 entrances and three inner turrets made of stone and 5 layers of flat bricks. The fortress (there are preserved parts of it 2-5 metres high) had unique water equipment and an underground passage. Archaeologists definitely prove the usage of this location during the Middle Ages (9th-10th century), which made it an important Bulgarian stronghold. Since antiquity, this old pass has continued to serve the people. The new Trakiya motorway passes under it. The distance between the eastern entrance of the two parallel tunnels to Trayanovi Vrata and the fortress is 500-600 metres. This historic location can be reached fastest along the motorway (from Sofia - 64 km and from Plovdiv - 72 km). The road from Kostenets or from Ihtiman to Mirovo station is convenient, and from there to the pass it takes 1.20 hours along a marked route.

Spas. From times immemorial the present Kostenets quarter, called Momin Prohod has been renowned for its spas which were used in Roman times. Now the mineral water of the 9 natural springs is collected in one catchment with a temperature of 65oC. The output is 920 l/min, and in radioactivity it rates second in Bulgaria (after the water from Narechen), third in Europe and 25th in the world. It cures illnesses of the bones and joints and the locomotion system, the peripheral nervous system, the respiratory system, the lungs and etc. The resort is famous abroad with its good results in healing of poliomyelitis and spasmic childrens paresis. There are many sanatorium, recreational facilities, and villas.

Kostenets Recreation Camp is situated 9 km south of the town and the station of Kostenets and at 2 km above the village of Kostenets, right in the northern foots of the Belmeken sub-part of Eastern Rila. Three mineral springs with total capacity of 300 l/min and temperature about 47oC have been in catchment. The water has similar curative properties with the one of Momin Prohod. There is a large spa complex, recreation homes, open-air swimming pool, villas, a pond, wonderful surrounding areas (the Kostenets Waterfall of Stara River, glorified by Ivan Vazov, etc.) The combination of curative mineral water, mild mountainous climate and beautiful environment makes it attractive throughout the year.

Pchelinski Bani is a spa resort 8 km to the noth-west of the town of Kostenets and 2 km from the village of Pchelin. It is situated on the southern slopes of Ihtimanska Sredna Gora. The mineral water is 73oC hot at the spring. In curative properties it is similar to the others. There is a recreational childrens home, recreational facilities, numerous villas, etc.

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