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Nikopolis ad Nestum
Ruins of Nikopolis ad Nestum Archaeological Site
(Nikopolis ad Mestum) are all that remains from a ancient Roman
Location: 20 km (12 mi) North of Veliko
Description of Nikopolis ad Nestum Archaeological Site
Nikopolis ad Nestum Archaeological Site is located seven kilometers to the east of the
town of Gotse Delchev, close to the village of Garmen. It is located in
the ancient Roman province of Thracia (Thrace).
After Emperor Trajan defeated Dacians in 105- 106
AD in a bitter and bloody war, he ordered construction of series of forts to defend the conquered
lands that became known as the province of Thracia (Thrace). The
military camp was established on the left bank of the Mesta River on a
site of an older Thracian town of Alexandroupolis ("city of
Alexander" in Greek).
Its new name Nikopolis ad Nestum or Nikopolis ad Mestum to be
precise can be translated from Latin as "city of victory, situated
at Nestos or Mesta". It stands on a strategic trade route that
connected the Aegean coast with the main military road Via Egnatia
leading to the Rhodopes mountains, Thracian lowlands and
Philippopolis (now Plovdiv).
Central location of Nikopolis ad Nestum favored its formation into a
center of economic, political and cultural significance.
Eventually a town grew around the encampment reaching
25- 30 hectares at its peak during late Antiquity and early Medieval
Period in the 4th- 6th centuries. Nikopolis ad Nestum was mentioned
in the work of the ancient geographer Claudius Ptolemy. The city was
given an important privilige of minting coins from the reign of
Emperor Commodus (180- 192 AD) up to the reign of Emperor Caracalla
(211- 217 AD). During a Christian period Nikopolis ad Nestum became
an Episcopal center until at least 11th century AD.
Slavs and Avars tribes
destroyed the castle in the 6th century around 577 AD, but it was
subsequently restored during the reign of Justinian I. Its was
renamed Nikopol and settlement lasted until the 15th century. In the
13th cenutry Nikopol was besieged and taken by the armies of the
Crusaders. The city never recovered and existed only as a small
village until 15th century when it was finally abandoned.
Ruins of the ancient Roman
settlement were used in the medieval period from around tenth to
fifteenth century. Archaeological digs are still uncovering new
Nikopolis ad Nestum Major Sites
Nikopolis ad Nestum City Walls
Much of Nikopolis ad Nestum Archaeological
Site is enclosed with a wall thickness 2.6 meters. In some parts
they reach a height of 5-6 meters. It was created in a traditional
ancient Roman architectural style known as the opus mixtum. It was
made of cemented stones alternating with layers of four rows of
bricks. This combination allowed the structure to be solid for siege
weapons, yet flexible enough during the earthquakes that are common
in the Balkan peninsula. Four tower on the south city wall are best
preserved and excavated part of the city fortifications. South Gate
was protected by two square towers on each side.
Late Antiquity Bathroom Nikopolis ad
Bathroom of Nikopolis ad Nestum was an
important part of a town hygiene and a place for social interaction.
Its construcion lasted fo 20 years and was completed in the 4th
century. In the late 4th or early 5th century it was burned down and
destroyed, probably during the Second Gothic war. Soom thereafter it
was quickly restored. Evidence for this is served a collection of
golden coins of Emperor Zeno found during excavations. It was
functional until the end of the third quarter of the 6th century.
Urban Housing of Nikopolis ad Nestum
The richest residences of Nikopolis ad Nestum
are located on the South- East corner of the fortified part of the
city. These houses were completed before the walls of the urban
center went up. Most of rich houses have a classic Roman outline.
The living space are arranged around a courtyard with a small pool
(impluviy) for collecting rain water that trickled from the roof
tops. Roof tops are supported by raws of collumns. Some of the
richest residence had marble colonades indicating the status of the