The town of Kyustendil (50 243 residents, 525 m.a.s.l.) is located in the farthest western suburbs of Bulgaria, only 27 km away as the crow flies from the point where the three borders meet – Bulgarian-Macedonian, Bulgarian-Serbian and Serbian-Macedonian.
Situated in the southernmost part of the fertile valley of Kyustendil, along both banks of the small Banshtitsa River, reaching the northern slopes of the bordered by Macedonia Osogovo Mountain, high above 2000 m. Immediately to the east of the town runs the big Bulgarian Struma River.
The town of Kyustendil is situated 90 km southwest of Sofia, 70 km northwest of Blagoevgrad, 40 km west of Dupnitsa and 22 km northeast from the border with Macedonia – Gyueshevo.
It is a spa resort of national importance and a regional center.
TOPOGRAPHY OF KYUSTENDIL
The topography of the county is varied – fertile valley and plains, divided by hilly lands and mountains. Its northern and western parts cover the so-called Kyustendil Region and have very segmented topography, including parts of the border Milevska Mountain, Chudinska Mountain, Zemenska Mountain and to the northeast – Koniavska Mountain.
CLIMATE OF KYUSTENDIL
The climate of the municipality is close to transcontinental. The average temperature is about 10.3C. The temperature is characterized with some differences. During the winter time you can see day and night temperature inversions; during the summer the temperature climbs up to 35-37C. During the winter and spring months, in the town comes the warm and turbulent wind named “Fion”, which is the main reason for warm weather. The rain in Kyustendil is not heavy – only 589 mm. per year.
WATERS OF KYUSTENDIL
The water wealth of Kyustendil Municipalities contains underground, river, dam and mineral waters. The most significance for the water balance has the river`s waters. Through the town flow two rivers: “Banschtitca” and “Koluschka” and along the region – “Struma”, “Sovolska Bistritza”, “Dragovischka” and “Novoselska” /Slokoschka/ rivers. Big importances for the water balance have the dam waters. The largest dams are “Bersin” 4.6 mln.cub.m. “Drenov Dol”- 3.5 mln.cub.m. and “Bagrentzy”- 2.2 mln.cub.m. On the Kyustendil territory flow mineral hot springs with a healing power. The springs /40 in total/ are captured together. The depth is 35 liters per sec. The mineral water by the springs has a temperature of 74C – one of the hottest in the country. It is clear, without color, and with a strong smell of sulphurhydrogen. It contains a tested healing power for some illnesses.
FLORA AND FAUNA OF KYUSTENDIL
The current composition of the natural vegetation up to 800 m above sea level is determined by the phytocenoses of the chestnut oak, blagun, oak, common hornbeam, scabby hornbeam, etc. The vegetation blanket in the Osogovo Mountain consists mainly of beech phytocenoses and less by pitch pine, white pine, spruce and fir-trees. There are artificially created plantations with spruce, white pine, larch, fir and other tree types.
Animal life is varied. In the mountainous areas the typical inhabitants are the rock partridge, the partridge, the quail, the viper, the toad, the wild rabbit, the common field mouse, the weasel, the deer, the fox, the Ethiopian vulture, the meadow lizard. The rivers are full of trout, nase, grey mullet, barbel, crucian, Rana Graecia and others.
The trout breeding facilities of the fish farms at Kyustendil State Forestry – Gorno Uyno produce breeding material for brown trout and Salmo Irideus for stocking the water reservoirs and rivers of the State Forestry Fund.
HISTORY AND CULTURE OF KYUSTENDIL
Man has inhabited the area of Kyustendil since ancient times. In the beginning of the first century A.C. on the land of today`s Kyustendil was built a well functioning city in the name of Pautalia (spring city), which was slowly starting to look a lot like the Roman towns. Pautalia became one of the most important economic centers on the Balkan Peninsula and started to make its own coins.
In the Middle Ages, the town received the name Velbuzhd and became one of the most important administrative centers in the Byzantine Empire.
During the time of the Ottoman Empire the town was still an administrative center with an important role for the development of balneology, fruit-growing, mining of brass, silver, iron and more.
On the territory of Kyustendil there are many exceptionally precious cultural monuments all historical eras. Among them are: “Asklepion” – from old Pautalia, the mosque “Ahmed bay” and “Faith sultan Mehmed”, also “Emfiedziev`s house”, the house of Grandfather llyo Voivoda, Mayorska house, Pirkov`s Tower , the cell school, High school “Neofit Rilski”, the art gallery “Vladimir Dimitrov – The Master”, “Chifte Banya”, the church complex “Saint Mina”, church “Virgin Mary`s Assumption”, church “Saint Demetrius”, church “Saint George”.
Many Bulgarian writers, painters, musical and theatrical people were born in Kyustendil. They all have helped for the enrichment of our national culture.
The work of G. Konstantinov, K. Grigorov, M. Grubeschlieva, V. Paskaleeva, K. Hristov, B. Balabanov, G. Strumsky and others is related to the town. Kyustendil people have contributed a lot to the musical field. The famous musician Professor Marin Goleminov was born in Kyustendil. Other musicians that were born and have worked in the town are: Prof. Stefan Sugarev – the founder of branch “Viola” in Conservatory of Sofia, Kostadin Ramadanov – founder of choir to Opera of Sofia, Dimetar Bliznakov – conductor of the orchestra in Geneva, and many others.
ANCIENT HISTORY OF KYUSTENDIL
Human civilization has been developing since deep antiquity in the picturesque and fertile valley of the Struma River among the ancient woods of the surrounding mountains – Osogovo, Koniavska and Lisets. The first traces of settlers go way back to the sixth millennium B.C. Villages have been localized from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Ages close to today`s villages of Shishkovtsi and Piperkov Chiflik. Evidences about the life of the ancient people we can also find within the limits of the town of Kyustendil. Undoubtedly one of the major factors that have caused the origination of the settlement are the hot and curative mineral water springs located at the foot of the Hisarlaka Hill. At the end of the Bronze Age the region was populated by the Thracian tribes. The Kyustendil County also fostered the villages of the tribe Dentelets, whereas their immediate neighbors were the tribes Agrians, Peons and Medes.
These lands were included in the Roman Empire around the year 45. The growth of the settlement around the mineral water springs beneath the Hisarlaka is believed to have occurred during this first global state. In the beginning of the second century during the reign of Emperor Trayan its status and structure changed significantly. It is believed that at this time the town acquired the status of an urban and county center. The historical sources started referring more and more often to a town called Pautalia. Researchers are inclined to believed that the name comes from the latin word for spring. Pautalia experienced its unique growth during the reign of the Antonines and the Severs. A fortress wall, a number of public and private buildings, streets and canalization were constructed. During this period the town was allowed to mint its own coins. One of the most important complexes is the Balneological Center – Asclepion. Not only because it was the second largest in the Roman Empire after the Epidaver, but also because it was a place for recreation and treatment of the elite, of the Roman citizens and emperors. The legend has it that Emperor Marcus Aurelius suffered an incurable skin disorder. Only after visiting the Pautalian mineral baths the emperor philosopher was successfully cured and as a token of gratitude he built the fortress walls around the city. Even today one can see in the center of Kyustendil the remains of the Pautalian Asclepion and part of the fortress system. Most of the religious beliefs of this period are connected with balneology. Of special worship among the population was the God of Medicine, Health and Art of Curing Asclepius, his daughter Hygieia and the small god-fortune teller Telesphorus. The cult of Zeus and Hera with Dionysius was also developed and related to viticulture whereas the worship of the eastern god Mitra – with the frequent stay of soldiers who worshipped this god as their god of war. The fortress on the Hisarlaka Hill was constructed around the 4th c. and was designated as a supplementary defense against enemy attacks. The fortress was used during the barbarian invasions in the late antiquity (4th-6th c.) and its functioning continued until the end of the Medieval Times.
Its defensive functions are clearly proven by the restored fortress walls that can be seen at the Hisarlaka and enjoyed together with the ancient pine woods and pure mountain air. After Christianity became the only religion within the borders of the Roman Empire Pautalia turned into an Episcopal center. A number of antique temples were erected with outstanding mosaic. The people in the town and throughout the county were involved in agriculture, viticulture, fruit-growing, animal breeding, mining (gold, silver and other non-ferrous metals), trade and crafts. Processing iron, bronze, gold and silver, the production of ceramic vessels, leather working, spinning, bone processing, making mosaics and construction are only some of the crafts that were practiced. Almost the entire upper and middle course of Struma River – the contemporary Pernik, Blagoevgrad and Kyustendil counties were placed under the administrative authority of Pautalia. Important road arteries pass through this region connecting the Adriatic with Black Sea and the Danube with Aegean Sea.
The Great Migration of Peoples caused an irreversible blow to the Roman civilization, including ancient Pautalia. According to the known written sources the town disappeared in approximately six centuries and its last reference is in 553, appearing again in 1019 with the new name Velbuzhd. The archeological sources, however, are an exact proof that even in this historic period the town continued to exist. In the middle of the 9th c. the valley of the Struma River was annexed to the Bulgarian State. This is when the unbreakable bond between Kyustendil county and Bulgarian history and culture started. Medieval Velbuzhd inherited the administrative, religious and cultural functions of the preceding period. Its importance was maintained not only by the secular authority and the Eastern Orthodox Church. During the union of Tsar Kaloyan with the Roman Catholic Church the Velbuzhd Bishop Anastasius received from Pope Inocentius III a palium (symbol of his obsolete ecclesiastic rank) together with just two other spiritual leaders – the Turnovo and Preslav Archbishops. A couple of monuments of the Medieval Ages are preserved within the town limits – the Archbishop Church of St. George in the Kolusha district (12 th c.) and the Pirkov`s Tower (14th c). The name Velbuzhd refers to the battle between Serbians and Bulgarians in 1330 in the field along Struma River. Various legends exist about this battle. Some say that the Bulgarian Tsar Michael Shishman was buried in the St. George Church.
During the second half of the 14th c. the town was the center of the independent principality of Constantine Dragash. The territory of the principality spread in the interfluves of Struma and Vardar rivers and included lands located in four contemporary states – Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia. During the reign of this ruler the region fell under Ottoman vassal dependence. In the beginning of the following century the principality was fully subordinated and turned into the Turkish administrative unit – Sandjak (District). The surrounding territory and the town of Kyustendil itself – Constantine`s Land and Kyustendil respectively, were named after Constantine Dragash, who was the grandfather of the last Byzantine emperor.
The coming of the Ottoman yoke developed the administrative, religious and economic structure of the town to a large extent. Although subjected to fires, earthquakes and plague outbreaks Kyustendil developed predominantly as a Muslim center, which is confirmed by the numerous architectural monuments – mosques, baths and others. The balneological treatment continued to attract the state elite and there are evidences that the Sultan`s harem visited the town every year. In the center one can see the Dervish Bath constructed in 1566. The Bulgarian spirit and the Christian tradition were preserved. The sons of the Velbuzhd boyar Jacob – David, Teofan and Joseph were the initiators of the restoration of the Rila Monastery and returning the relies of St. Ivan from Turnovo to the monastery in 1469. The monastery turned into one of the largest spiritual centers for the Bulgarians during the Ottoman yoke and facilitated the retaining of the national self-awareness. A number of churches from this period have been preserved around the town of Boboshevo, the villages of Vukovo and Pastuh and others. In the Medieval Times the people were mainly engaged in agriculture, trade and crafts but also in mining in the surrounding mountains and the gold-yielding rivers.
The Renaissance in Western Europe and the industrial revolution that followed gave their influence to the development of the Bulgarian lands. The new trends reached Kyustendil and it became one of the centers for educational, church and national freedom movements of the Bulgarians. In 1816 they constructed the Church of the Assumption followed by the churches St. Dimitar and St. Mina. A school was established in 1820, which laid the foundations of the modern enlightenment activities and gradually turned into a secular center of education. Following the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate the Bulgarian Eparchy was restored in the town and the first appointed Bulgarian Exarch llarion was sent as Bishop of the town. After his death he was buried in the Virgin Mary Church in the town. The Bulgarian population participated in the national liberation movement. Fighters from Kyustendil that are nationally famous are Diado llyo Voivoda and Rumena Voyvoda. During the April Epic (1876) a revolt broke out in the village of Razlovtzi in Kyustendil kaaza (district). The fighters from Razlovtzi lead by Dimitar Popgeorgiev Berovski showed the striving of the Kyustendil county people towards national freedom and state. You can become acquainted with the national liberation and church movements in the House – Museum of Ilyo Voivoda.
At the end of the Russo-Turkish War just a couple of days before the truce Kyustendil was liberated and included within the borders of Bulgaria. This was the beginning of a new stage in the development of the town and the county. Kyustendil became a county center – the only one in entire southwestern Bulgaria. This is where the state and municipal services concentrated. A state pedagogical school was opened followed by a pedagogical institute for training teachers. A major place in economy was again attributed to agriculture – fruit-growing and viticulture, and also to the processing industry. An important sector, however, was still balneology.
Some of the baths were reconstructed and later on new medical centers were built. The town and the region took an important role in the national liberation movements in Macedonia, Kresnensko-Razlozhko and Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprisings. They also played an important role in the Wars for National Unification 1912-1913 and 1915-1918. The town fostered the headquarters of different armies and during the First World War this was the location of the Headquarters of the Regular Army. Of special importance to the national and world history are the activities of the Kyustendil people to save the Bulgarian Jews. On March 08. 1943 four eminent citizens – Asen Suychmezov, Vladimir Kurtev, Ivan Momchilov and Peter Mihalev left for the capital with the firm intention of obstructing the planned deportation of local Jews.
In Sofia they met with their town fellow and Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly – Dimitar Peshev. They united their efforts and together managed to force the state factors to annul the deportation order not only of the Kyustendil but of all Jews in the pre-war borders of the Kingdom of Bulgaria to the death camps. This is an event that brings honor to the local community and is worth respect for its human activities. More information about their heroism can be learned by visiting the House-Museum of Dimitar Peshev. The town is an important cultural center. Here a number of eminent scientists worked such as Prof. Yordan Ivanov, Yordan Zahariev, Asen Vasilev, Ivan Kepov and others, the musicians Marin Goleminov and Georgi Goranov, the writers Emanuil Popdimitrov and Georgi Stamatov, the painters Nikola Mirchev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Eliseev, Kiril Tzonev and the most eminent and unique Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master. A large part of his works and the works of other painters are exhibited in the Artistic Gallery in the center of the town.
After the Second World War the county stepped into a new stage of its development. The economy changed and following the intense industrialization and collectivization of the agriculture Kyustendil turned into an industrial and agricultural center. The traditional branches temporarily lost their positions and balneological treatment was pushed to the background. Only in contemporary times more attention began to be paid to the development of this fundamental and vital branch. But just like the revitalization of fruit-growing and the production of industrial commodities, tourism and the entire economy require serious invest-ments and take time.
The past of the town of Kyustendil and the entire county are inseparably related to the abundant natural resources and fertility. Only a couple of hundred meters in the town center one can see Roman therms, Turkish baths of Post-Liberation Bulgaria and modern balneological centers. This is where the cure and the warmth from the heart of the earth concentrate. And what would Bulgarian economy look like without the Kyustendil cherries, the Kyustendil plums and the Kyustendil apples – all children of earth`s bosom and the warmth of the universe. The Kyustendil environment was created for fertility and treatment, a fact that passes through the rich historic tradition and is decorated with the symbols of the past eras. The undoubted symbol that survived through the centuries is the overall worship of the spring equinox, of the constant rebirth of nature which is the current county holiday – March 21, the Spring Day.
HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS IN KYUSTENDIL
THE SPRING WELCOMING IN KYUSTENDIL
The holiday “Kyustendil Spring” is a symbol of the city, patented in the patent department of the Republic of Bulgaria. It is organized by the Municipality of Kyustendil and includes a rich artistic program and the participation of many popular groups and performers. This is the location of the first beauty pagant in Bulgaria where the most beautiful maiden is chosen.
The holiday “Kyustendil Spring” is a modernized, cultural legacy and a reproduction of ancient local traditions; it is a combination of religious practices of the Thracians and the Romans and their reverence to the solar gods and healers Asclepius, Hygeia, Thelesphorus, Apollo and Dionysus. This is supplemented by the semantics of the Christian Middle Ages with interpretations of the legend of the Holy Forty Martyr and their devotion to the consecrated grounds on the hill above the city – Hisarluka.
In ancient times, on the day of the spring equinox, March 21st, which co¬incides with the old celebration of the memory of Saint Forty Martyrs, women knead ritual bread and carry it to the saintly place on Hisarluka and break the bread for health and success at home.
The year 1966 marked the beginning of the tradition of selecting the fairest maiden of “Kyustendil Spring”. The fairest maiden is accompanied by the two additional girls. They symbolize the tender step with which spring arrives; youth and new hope, similar to The Three Nymphs (goddesses of joy, charm and beauty) from the ancient, sacred tablets, found on Hisarluka.
The three beautiful maidens, dressed in white and decorated with spring flowers, are a symbol of Spring. They bring joy and luck to everyone they see. On the town square in the center of Kyustendil the maidens accept their three symbols of fortune: min¬eral water, fruit and bread which God has bestowed upon the city and which are passed down symbolically from the fair maiden of the previous year. All of us deeply appreciate the sym¬bols and are grateful for them, and we know, that it is by no accident that they were given to us, the people of Kyustendil.
Every year during the holiday “Kyustendil Spring”, the chosen maidens, escorted by a festive procession, go back to the hill above the city to wish everyone well. The sacred hill, Hisarluka, opens the south port to the ancient city. In order to enter through the symbolic door, the magic of spring and the ritual of the holi¬day must be woven together to create goodness in life.
On the 21st of March people greet each other with a greeting typical only of the Kyustendil region: “Chestita Prolet” (Happy Spring). Typically they get together with their families and friends for a festive meal; first they have a picnic on the ground of Hisarluka, and later they continue celebrating at home.
THE CHERRY FESTIVAL
Two consecutive days of the month of June are devoted to the celebration of cherries which is associated with Kyustendil`s reputation as the Fruit Garden of Bulgaria.
Celebrating the fruit orchards started in the town of Kyustendil in 1896 when the first national fruit growing exhibition was founded and the city proudly received the title “Mother of the Bulgarian Fruit Gardens”.
The celebration includes exhibitions of various sorts of cherries, which were produced in the Institute of Agriculture in Kyustendil and by the cultivation of agriculture growers in the region.
Cherries, chosen by God, loved by the forest fairies, and marked with the sign of sanctity, are a symbol of good. They are the harbingers of summer, the door which leads to a rich harvest and much success for Kyustendil fruit gardens. Here cherries are planted according to the customs and culture of the population. The cherries have been preserved and cared for with love, with hope for prosperity, surrounded by rituals and native poetic spirit. For the people of Kyustendil a single cherry gives birth to many families and generations of cherries according to the text of a famous Bulgarian folk song “Chereshchitsa rod rodila”…
At the “Cherry Festival” life simply turns into buckets of cherries.
The first stage goes by the title – “The Cherry Crafts”. Dozens of tradesmen from the whole country arrange their products in the City Garden. They exhibit their products as art, devoted to the cherry: dolls, jewelry, sculptures, icons and various authentic products are expertly produced from skilled hands of artists and tradesmen.
Parallel to this is the folklore holiday “A little cherry gives birth to many families of cherries” (“Chereshchitsa rod rodila”). A rich artistic program made up of groups, dance ensembles and individual singers presents the magic of the cherry and its influence on Bulgarian folklore.
The focus of the festival is a competitive exhibition, which involves community centers, NGOs, associations, schools and kindergartens from Kyustendil region. Display tables are arranged and covered with this bright and tasty fruit – arranged and skillfully knitted veshala. The exhibition tables are arranged and covered with this bright and tasty fruit and “veshela” are expertly woven and displayed. “Veshela” are made from weaving cherries and their stems around thin tree branches to form a thick display in the shape of a hook. In the diligent hands of Kyustendil`s culinary experts this fruit finds wide applications – carving art, beautiful cakes, jam, jarred fruit, cherry syrup adorn and the tables which are participating in a competition for the best looking table. Meanwhile the people of Kyustendil and guests walk around in amazement discovering the many varieties that make up the cherry world.
Each year, the Municipality partners with the Institute of Agriculture – Kyustendil, which represents the diversity and novelty in cherry growing in the Kyustendil region. The director of the Institute is Prof. Doctor Dimitar Domozetov, Chairman of the evaluation of participants in the exhibition.
For the second year in a row, part of the festival has included a culinary festival called “Colorful table for guests in my town”. The program includes a culinary exhibition of unique regional cuisine presented by residents of the area involved in the celebration.
PANAGIA – THE RAISING OF THE BREAD
In the middle of August – on August 15th – is „Assumption of the Most Holy Virgin Mary” and Kyustendil celebrates „Panagia” – The Raising of the Bread”.
“Panagia” is the name by which the Holy Virgin Mary is called, the ritual of making and breaking of the bread, of breaking it into two pieces and eating it together.
“Panagia” is the practice of Christ and the apostles of the ancient sacred parish, passed through time and different cultures and preserved by our ancestors and brought to our time through holidays of the Church and national folk traditions.
“Panagia” are medallions with the image of the Virgin Mary which priests carry. Churches, fortresses and even cities are given the name “Panagia”. On the holiday “Panagia the Raising of the Bread”, separate elements and fragments of the concept are gathered and arranged for this thematic holiday, all of which carry the name Panagia: An artistic open air painting session and an iconography exhibition, called “Panagia”; the presentation of the loaves of bread, called “Panagia”, the music is, called “Panagia”, and the ritual is devoted to “Panagia”.
The holiday “Panagia” is conducted in and around churches and chapels devoted to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and is a cul¬tural expression for the presentation of Bul¬garian Orthodox traditions and religious artis¬tic and vocal art.
At the beginning of August an iconography plein air is conducted with the participation of young icon-painters. On the eve of the Virgin Mary holiday the iconography exhibition, Panagia, is revealed.
On the days leading up to the Assumption, the traditions surrounding the kneading of the Virgin Mary bread loaves and the baking of them in flat pottery baking dishes are pre¬sented.
Even the actions happening around the bread resembles the religious sacrament. The wheat is sanctified and objects connect to the knead¬ing are filled with sanctity. The “Woman-Mother” teaches and gives the sacrament to the most prominent girls.
The next day, the Regional Historical Museum in Kyustendil host an exhibition, “The Eve of the As¬sumption”. The alleys of museums are filled with many loaves of bread, kneaded by the skilful hands of Kyustendil`s women. Into this bread is braided faith, mastery and authenticity – those things which are passed down from mother to daughter, from family to family.
On August 15th according to traditions the women of Kyustendil knead bread with prayers for prosperity, and then decorate the loaves with shapes made from the dough itself which express the most meaningful ideas from customs. Once the bread has been baked, they bring these decorated loaves to chapels to give thanks to the Virgin Mary.
THE FESTIVAL OF FRUITS AND FERTILITY
„Festival of Fertility” marks the successful beginning of autumn in the city of Kyustendil and declares again that as a city it is „The mother of fruit-growing”. Ancient autonomous Paultalia coins are witnesses to that with their engraved images.
Konstantin Irechek in “Travels through Bulgaria”, in the beginning of the 1880s described the Kyustendil region as follows:
“… The Kyustendil field is the garden of plums, large yellow pears, massive juicy apples, both sweet and sour cherries, little yellow plums, peaches, medlar trees, mulberry trees, walnut trees and many more. On the hills wonderful vineyards are visible, and the local wine is excellent In the summer months the old walnut bark, the dark green of the gardens and vineyards and the golden fields, together with the meadows and forests and the fields on the mountains, and the character of the famous southern territory is intensified by daily heat and loud singing of crickets on warm, starry nights.
The fruit-growers traditions in the Kyustendil region have lived through every age and have been transferred as experience and culture from generation to generation, from family to family. This autumn holiday of abundance is a legacy from the First National Fruit Growers Competition in 1896, registered by the Municipality of Kyustendil, lead under the patronage of the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture (then), and is the first and only holiday of its kind in the country. The day “Festival of Fertility” is presented over the course of two autumn days in which the abundance and fertility of Kyustendil´s regional fruit is presented.
Artistically arranged tables with fruit and vegetables amuse visitors. The fall days of fertility are pursued by scientific sessions of the Institute of Agriculture, Investment Forums, Carnival of Fertility and Attractions. The Festival of Fertility has a competitive characteristic with awards for the best and most attractive presentation of the participants which encourages the growers. At the end of the festival a rich artistic program is organized by the Municipality of Kyustendil which includes a holiday concert with participants from ensembles from Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia.
Each year the municipality partners with the Institute of Agriculture – Kyustendil. Its director is Prof. Dr. Dimitar Domozetov who, as chairman of the committee, evaluates and awards the winners in the competition.
The epilogue to the rich artistic program was organized by the Municipality of Kyustendil holiday concert featuring bands from Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia.
With „The Festival of Fertility” the cycle of holidays is officially concluded. So after the tender first steps of spring, the fertility of summer and the rich harvest of autumn, the nature in the Kyustendil region is given a well-deserved winter rest …., and afterwards, when the first „Snowdrop” flower appears, nature gets ready for new hope in expectation of the spring, when once again nature comes to life.
The cultural life in the region of Kyustendil combines old Bulgarian traditions and new tendencies from modern society. The unique fusion of them, shaped by the ideology of Kyustendil`s creative guilds, created a local cultural environment.
In the city of Kyustendil there are traditional, annual holidays which are unique to the country and characterize the mentality of the local population. They are an expression of continuity and growth of traditions in the region.
The basic sense and substance of Kyustendil`s four most characteristic holidays are related to light, thermal springs and fertile land. These are also the three elements which have contributed to the rich history of life and prosperity of the people in Kyustendil.