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Nikopolis ad Nestum Archaeological Site


Ruins of Nikopolis ad Nestum Archaeological Site (Nikopolis ad Mestum) are all that remains from a ancient Roman border fortifications.



Location: 20 km (12 mi) North of Veliko Tirnovo  Map







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 artifacts.

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 Nestum

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 owner.





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