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Lovech Castle, Hisarja or Hisarya Fortres
Lovech Castle or Hisarja Fortress is an
citadel that stands on two terraces of Hisarya Hill that overlooks the city so you won't miss it.
Hisarya Fortress was first erected in 4000- 3000 BC (Chalcolithic
Age) by first Neolithic settlers who recognized strategic
location of this hill. This natural formation has high cliffs
and steep slopes. Additionally river provided first settlers
with water and natural defenses against sudden and unexpected
attacks from an enemy. First people constructed very simple
wooden walls to protect their village, but given natural
landscape it was more than enough for their security.
Archaeologists discovered ruins of houses, pieces of pottery,
golden jewelry and other artifacts.
Description of Hisarya Castle in Lovech
Somewhere between 4th and 3rd
centuries BC Hisarya Castle was probably captured and settled by the
Thracian tribe known as Meldi. They found their capital in below the
hill in the region of modern neighbourhood of Varosha and named it
Melta. Hisarya Castle was too far from the source of water so it was
reserved only for the periods of military conflicts or natural
disasters like floods.
Military fortifications were
greatly increased during occupation by the Roman Empire. Romans
linked Lovech Fortress with other cities in the area and a small
fort in a modern Lovech below that was known as Prezidium. Parts of
ancient Roman roads are visible in parts of the city. First
Christian church in Lovech was constructed here by the Late Roman/
Byzantines in the 5th century. Its ruins are still preserved on the
top of the Hisarya Hill.
Hisarya Fortress plays an
important role in Bulgarian history. It was here that in 1187
Byzantine Empire acknowledged birth of a Bulgarian Empire that came
to be known as the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Lovech eventually
fell to the invasion of the Ottoman Turks in 1445, however it got
some privileges that other Bulgarian cities did not get. Among them
was a prohibition for Turks to settle permanently in the city.
Another law protected Christian children from being taken away to
Turkish army as soldiers known as janissaries.
Today Hisarya Castle of Lovech is
open to the public. It is easily seen by a huge metal cross that is
seen from almost any point from the city of Lovech below.
Archaeological digs still continue to this day. Despite years of
excavations and research Lovech Castle still carries many secrets.
Just recently scientists discovered two caches with treasures that
were probably hidden during one of the sieges or simply at the time
of personal danger. Its former owners were probably killed so they
didn't return to their hidden spots. One of these caches included a
pot with 16 coins, while another cache consisted of an amphorae with
1430 coins inside. Both finds contained coins that depicted Tsar
Ivan Alexander (1301- 71) and his son Michael.