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Exploring Around Kotel

Kotel is the only town in Bulgaria on the longest mountain route in the country. The popular Kom – Emine tourist trail starts at Mount Kom near the border with Serbia and runs along the ridge of the Balkan Mountains to Cape Emine on the Black Sea coast. It provides some fantastic walking and hiking routes with some panoramic views.

Kotel is not the only town in this area, which exudes a rich history although it is the largest. The neighbouring villages of Zheravna, Medven, Katounishte and Gradets are also historical reserves and are well worth visiting.

Jeravna is 14 km south of Kotel on a regular bus route. Every building in the village is a unique cultural monument preserved in its authentic appearance and atmosphere. The most interesting sights are the House Museum of Roussi Chorbadzhi, the House Museum of Sava Filaretov, the House-Museum of Yordan Yovkov and the houses of Dimo Kehaya and Todor Ikonomov. The village is a museum to Renaissance architecture and religious shrines - visitors should not miss the St. Nikolai Church built in 1932 and the remarkable Hilendar Convent.

Medven, 12 km south east of Kotel on a regular bus route is home to over 120 cultural monuments from the Revival era. The House Museum of Zahari Stoyanov, the revolutionary and writer is the most famous. Also well worth seeing are the Yurta and Cherni Dol Architectural Ensembles, the 19th century St. Marina Church and the remains of a large medieval fortress.

Katounishte is 15 km south east of Kotel and houses about 80 buildings, which have been declared cultural monuments, a magnificent village bordering the river.

In addition to its entire architectural heritage, the area is rich in natural beauty with more than 30 caves. The most interesting is by far the Ledenika Cave (1111 m long and 242 m deep), but the Dryanovska Cave, one of the most easily accessible, the Kurvavata Lokva Cave, whose legend tells of the murder of many of Emperor Nikifor’s soldiers and the Rakovski Cave, where Georgi Sava Rakovski wrote his poem “Gorski Putnik” (“Traveller in the Forest”) are all well worth exploring. Other incredible natural sights include the magnificent Skokovete Waterfall on a left tributary of the Medven River, the Sini Vir Waterfall and the Medven Springs just above the village of Medven, all are beautiful places for picnics and hiking.

If you have time, take a trip to the ancient wall at Zhelezni Vrata Pass, which was once connected with the Vida Fortress on the peak of the same name. This area was the scene of many brutal battles including crushing defeat of the Byzantine army by Khan Krum in 811. Other ruins of medieval fortresses exist in Kozyak, Haidout Vurban, Ticha and Acheras.