Imperial Temple and hospital
from book "Osogovo Mountain", 2002, Yordan Kotev
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Translator: Mariya Koteva
The city of Pautaliya, which name comes from the Thracian word "pote" - "wellspring", used to be in antiquity the bottom of a warm lake. Today, the hot and healing mineral water in Kyustendil spring mainly in the very bottom of the peak, known with the Turkish name "Asarlak" /fortress/, mainly in the neighborhood "Kainarlak". Nowadays, in the whole valley the mineral water springs are 36 and two of them (at the city market place) are in full use. Their flow rate, which ranks them first in Bulgaria, is 1980-2100 liters per minute, with an average temperature of about 74 degrees. In many Pautalia coins can be seen the healing symbol of healing springs, which speaks of the understanding and beneficial use of antiquity.
A image of snake - a symbol of the blessed water, magic sign to protect the village, patron of the city and an emblem of prudence, the god of medicine - Asclepius, the Telesphorus - small medical clairvoyant, the goddess Hygeia - are intimate, emotional, powerful, concentrates various information about the natural resources of the city springs.
Asclepius was the son of Apollo and the God of medicine. Confident in his own abilities, he wanted to raise the dead too, but this angered Zeus who struck him with thunder, at the request of Pluto - the god of hell, whose kingdom was threatened to be deserted and this would violate God's balance. Since then snake is the symbol of prudence and cock - of guarding the Asclepius' students.
In Pautalia, the God of medicine is presented as an old man with a beard and mustache, half-naked, wrapped with chlamys wrapped, in one hand holding orphic egg, and in the other - a truncheon or scepter with a wrapped snake. On the fore side of the first made Pautalia coins at the time of emperor Antonius Pius /138-161/, there was the city patron instead of an image of the emperor. Asclepius was an insider into the secrets of of healing by the wise centaur Chiron and his father. In Pautalia, the legends about him are mixed with the Thracian Heros - god of fertility, life and death. On a bronze coin of Emperor Caracalla's times /196-217/ is featured Hisarlaka, covered with plants. At its foot is a spectacular temple with a statue of Asclepius. At the top is situated the most important temple of the god of medicine with pediment supported by four columns, of which the sacred fire of Asclepius had spreading the glory of blessings city. Temples of Hygia, Telesphorus, three / Graces / Heri, Apollo, aedicule and altars decorate the sides of the hills. Over the hot springs, in the foot of the hill, there was the sacred save - church and hospital centre - Asklepion.
It consisted of a real temple - "abode of God" - a building with a rectangular plan and two-sided roof. In the front hall of the temple, sick people would spend the night, expecting to be visited by Asclepuis. The temple was surrounded by hospitals, recreation rooms and baths. This cult hospital site in the region "Kraklak" is the second largest, (second at Epidaurus), one of 38 such in ancient Greece, visited by the sick seeking healing and relaxation, and bored rich imperial royalty - entertainment. Sanctuary at Epidauros was in rich cultural, scientific - medical and theological relations to the sanctuary of the healing gods at Pautalia. Facilities of Asklepion - bathrooms were surrounded by stadium for games, gymnasium, meeting places, theater. Music still from ancient Thracians had a festive ritual and healing function. Widely spread was folklore, highly developed Thracian folk medicine among the rich markets. For the ancient Greeks, Thrace was an exotic land, shrouded in the secrets of wizards, witches and healers. In the bathrooms the most important places: apoditerium /changing room/, tepidarium /moderately warm room/, Caldarium /hot room/, Frigidarium /cold room/, lakonikum /laundry/, palaestra /gym/, etc. Methods of treatment were developed in the system of psychotherapy. The settlement was quite good, with requirements that are imposed by nowadays' prime resorts. In one of the sacred baths, at the market place is maintained and taken out the mosaic floor with images of the healing symbol - the snake.
Another sacred pool was located next to today's "Chifte" bath, next to Indzily / Ahmed Bey / Mosque 1575, which is lying upon the Christian Church "St. Nedelya " and over some parts of Asklepion.
All rooms are located in the southeast-northwest direction, indicating that none of the rooms is sunless. With its sizes of 3600 sqr. m, thickness of the outer brick walls 120-180 cm, distribution, marble tiling, heating system with dry air /hipokaus/, we can sense the importance of Pautalia as a main therapeutic recreation place in the Roman Empire. This suggests a growing wealth of high society class. A legend tells that emperor Trayan (97-117), who validated the urban framework of Pautalia as an administrative, economic and cultural center, had incurable wounds, and after the curative effect of the Pautalia mineral waters, he was cured. In gratitude, he commanded building magnificent palaces, baths, stadiums, temples of Asclepius, so the city becomes a cultural, recreational and rehabilitation facility for the princes of the empire. Even greater sparkle Pautalia achieved under Emperor Marcus Aurelius /160-189/, who was among the beauties and fruitfulness of the area, and in the city - in subtle, suitable environment, he wrote his best works. Forum - agora with Bouleuterion /town hall/ is a multipurpose civic basilica, with grand solutions of the local pantheon, in utilization of state requirements for public buildings, is an architectural ensemble where ancient people gathered for justice, trade, debate on public issues, consolation and celebration. The Forum, oriented towards the periphery, full with architectural achievements of the Empire, was decorated with statues and reliefs of gods and emperor. Peripheral view of town settlements was oriented towards the Forum and the temple healing places.
In the IV century was built the Acropolis of Pautalia - fortress on the hill Hissarluka that during the First and Second Bulgarian Kingdom was used as a feudal castle, the last stronghold by Kostadin - destroyed in the XV century. At the same time, on the ancient altars began to rise high places and churches of the Christian religion, spreading around the Old World, and the local Christian cult to water is mainly taken from the town of Colossae - in Asia Minor. In Christian times, around the springs was built temple of St. Archangel Michael. According to Christianity, he is the leader of celestial forces and fighter against the spirits of darkness, hence the disease, patron saint of all spiritual, military and police ranks, public and state security authorities, health and order. Old citizens of Kyustendil, Muslims and Christians worshiped the local hot thermal springs and personified them in different saints.
In 1635, a strong earthquake shook the underground of Kyustendil Valley and the town was flooded with hot water and plague was all around at the same time. So especially worshiped was the water in market "hammams", where the saint Dovlet-grandmother had kept the city from powerful random underground caverns that kept /maintained/ the waters of hell. They concentrated in themselves the anguish of Doom from the underground city and transformed it into devastating abilities that, if released, would flood and destroy the city of blessing. Flowing hot water has been drawn at home bathrooms, which were located near mosques and it served for ritual washing /ablution/ of praying Turks. Knight Horf, in 1499 reported about the city "part of seraglio's women are living in Kyustendil" /others in Istanbul and Plovdiv/. In Renaissance neighborhood "Izvor" or "Sarai" bounded by streets nowadays streets "Hristo Botev", "Tsar Simeon", "Dimitri Daskal" and "Evlogi Georgiev", were housed the women of the Sultan. In the silence were planned military campaigns to Western Europe. For the purposes of the intimate facility was built palace tower with size 7*7m and height of 10 m /nowadays "Pencho Slaveykov" No 12/, for security reasons - rectangular stone pool /lined with granite slabs/ to the east of the tower, which can be seen in the engraving of Yakobus Horevayn /in around 1690/. At this point today is my home house. In fact, groundwater in the neighborhood was about 60-70 cm deep until the drawing of the urban piping, as a result the water level dropped to the one of the drainage facility, with about 2.50 m. Of high importance for the life in the whole architectural ensemble in this Medieval private residence was the thermal spring or bath, located around 20 m to the south of street "Tsar Simeon", between the streets "Pencho Slaveykov" and "Daskal Dimitri", to the north-east of the tower. Somewhere to the south, the Saray neighborhood is located over a necropolis, under which there is huge space, covered with stone slabs of thickness exceeding 40 cm /may be assumed that this is the bottom of the Serail pool/ to No 9 on "Pencho Slaveykov" and between No 7 and No 5 to the south lies a huge antique /according to the author/ pre-Roman building with hewn stone pieces with dimensions 2.00 x 1.00 x 0.50 m. All this suggests about the honor, ancient fame and cultural identity of Kyustendil, with its ideal climate, natural and traditional conditions for rest and treatment. In this rich environment, the Christian cult of Saint Mina is gradually replacing the old and forms the new ordinary spiritual projection of time, being impressive in Southwestern Bulgaria.
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