The town of Sliven is the district center with a population of 97 500 inhabitants. It is situated at a distance of 276 km from Sofia at the southern foot of the eastern part of Stara Planina at an altitude of 275 m. The town is the municipal administrative center of 48 settlements.
The site of the present-day town has been populated for centuries. The first inhabitants of the town were the Thracians. The name of the town at that time was Tuida and was found inscribed on a stone finding from that period.
The Romans had a garrison on the spot guarding the passes of Stara Planina. During the great movement of the nations the fortress was demolished. In the VII c. many Avar, Slav and Thracian tribes pass through this site. The lands of the settlement entered the limits of Bulgaria in 705.
The name of Sliven was mentioned for the first time by the Arabian traveller Al Idrisi in 1153 when he described the town as very big and beautiful. In 1388 the town was conquered by the Turks and 24 monasteries from the Small Sveta Gora complex in the vicinity of the town were burned down. The town gradually turned into a craftsman's center. In 1834 the first textile factory was established by Dobri Zhelyazkov. Sliven was a center of a strong rebellious movement during the Ottoman yoke and was known as the town of the 100 rebellion leaders.
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The tourist sights of the town are: the churches "St. Dimiter" (1831), "St. Nikola" (1834), "St. Sofia" (1836), the clock tower from 1808, the History Museum, the Art Gallery, the house-museum of Hadzhi Dimiter, the house-museum of Dobri Chintulov.
The Sliven mineral baths are situated at a distance of 12 km southwest of Sliven along the Tundzha River. The mineral water has a capacity of 17 liters per second and a temperature of 44-45oC. The mineral water is suitable for healing diseases of the locomotory system, the peripheral nervous system, liver and gastro-enteric diseases.
The following natural landmarks are situated in Sliven District: The "Sinite Kamani" /The Blue stones/ Natural Park, The "Orlitza" Reserve, the "Ardachlaka" Reserve, the "Sini Bryag" Reserve; the natural phenomena - "Halkata", "Bachvata", "Urushki Skali" and the caves "Lednika", "Orlovi Dupki", "Zmeevi dupki", "Dolnata maaza", "Prikaznata".
The most popular wineries in the region are: Sliven, Nova Zagora, Shivachevo, Padarevo and Korten.
The town of Kotel has a population of 6 800 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 72 km northeast of Sliven. It is located at a small picturesque valley in the eastern part of Stara Planina at an altitude of 500-550 m. Kotel is the center of a municipality with 26 component settlements.
The settlement developed around the biggest spring in the valley. In 1573 the settlement was mentioned in the Ottoman documents with the name of Kazan binar. Kotel was established in the first years of the Ottoman yoke by Bulgarians from the adjacent settlements looking for salvation from the Turks. During the Revival period Kotel was the center of the Bulgarian education and culture. It is the home town of Dr. Peter Beron/the author of the first Bulgarian student's book/, Georgi Rakovski /ideologist of the National liberation movement/, the literary men Sofronii Vrachanski, Neofit Bozveli, the public figures Gavril Krastevich, Aleko and Stefan Bogoridi and captain Georgi Mamarchev. During the Russian-Turkish liberation war a lot of battles were waged in the vicinity of the town. The headquarters of the Russian general Stoletov and that of the son of the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin were located in the very town of Kotel.
The tourist sighs of the town are: the old part of the town, proclaimed for an architectural-museum reserve, the Galatansko School, the ethnographic museum, the churches "Sveta Troitza" /Holy Trinity/ (1871) and "St. Peter and Pavel" (1834).
In the region of Kotel are also located the architectural reserve Zheravna (14km), the village of Medven (12 km), the village of Katunishte (15 km), the village of Gradetz with architectural monuments from the Revival period (17 km).
The architectural reserve "Zheravna" - the village of Zheravna in the Municipality of Kotel is situated in a small valley in the eastern part of Stara Planina at an altitude of 640 m. It lies at a distance of 14 km south of Kotel. The village was established in XI-XIV c. and has preserved its Revival period outlook with its narrow cobble-stone streets, single or double-floor wooden houses surrounded by stone walls. Some of the houses are more than 300 years old.
The architectural reserve "Katunishte" - the village of Katunishte has preserved its authentic Revival period houses. It lies at a distance of 15 km southeast of Kotel.
The Galatansko School in Kotel was built in 1869. Here are displayed samples of traditional Kotel carpets, canvasses with religious scenes and original wood carving.
The Ethnographic Museum in Kotel is located in the Kyorpeev's house. The museum displays exhibits reproducing the atmosphere of the Revival period of this region of Bulgaria.
The town of Tvarditza has a population of 6 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 46 km northwest of Sliven. Tvarditza is a municipal center with 9 component settlements. The Balkan coal pool, occupying the central part of the Stara Planina Mountains between Gabrovo and Sliven, is located in the region of Tvarditza. There are remains from the Neolith, an ancient settlement and a medieval fortress in the region of Tvarditza. The town is mentioned in the Ottoman documents from 1472 under the name of Ferdidzhi Kyuberan.
The town of Nova Zagora has a population of 24 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 38 km southwest of Sliven. The town is a municipal center with 33 component settlements. In the vicinity of the town was discovered settlement mounds from the Neolith, the Halcolith and the Bronze Age.
The Karanovo mound is located at the northwestern part of the village of Karanovo at a distance of 10 km from the town of Nova Zagora. The mound is 13 m high, 250 x 150 m long and with a thickness of the cultural layers of 12,40 m. The mound was populated for over 3 000 years and 7 consequent archaeological cultural layers were discovered. The Karanovo settlement mound is the biggest settlement mound on the territory of whole Europe. The Karanovo chronological system was created which was used as a standard for the synchronization of the European prehistoric cultures. One kilometer away from the Karanovo mound is situated a medieval settlement along the slopes of Sredna Gora. Early-Christian basilicas, a medieval church, fortified walls and other archaeological findings have been discovered in the region.
2 km away from the Karanovo mound after the medieval settlement is situated the Long mound, which is part of a mound necropolis. Here were buried Thracian doctors with rich collection of glass and bronze vessels, surgical tools and chariots.
Dyadovo settlement mound lies southwest of the village of Dyadovo. It is 18 m high with findings from the Neolith, the Copper-stone, the Bronze and the Iron ages. A small fortified settlement with a well-preserved fortified wall with towers was established on the site during the early Byzantine period. During the Bulgarian Middle Ages here existed a settlement with a church. The mound has been studied by an international team of Bulgarian, Dutch and Japanese archaeologists.
The town of Shivachevo lies at a distance of 11 km from the town of Tvarditza. It has a population of 4 000 inhabitants. In the vicinity of the town were discovered the remains of a late-ancient-times fortress and Thracian mounds. A tourist sight of the town is the church dating back to 1858. The region specializes in coal mining and wine production.
The town of Kermen has a population of 2 000 inhabitants and lies at a distance of 25 km southeast of the district town. In the vicinity of the town were discovered a prehistoric settlement mound, tomb mounds and the remains of a medieval settlement. There is evidence of the existence of the settlement in the Ottoman documents from 1488. The town specializes in the textile production and the vine-growing.