The former power of Nikopolis Ad Istrum today is somehow forgotten and even unknown. Called the “Bulgarian Rome”, Nikopolis Ad Istrum seems to lie in the shadow of Tsarevets Hill, and only the ancient stones are reminiscent of its existence.
The Roman and early Byzantine city of Nikopolis ad Istrum is located 20 km north of Veliko Turnovo. It is located on a low plateau on the left bank of the Rositsa River. The city was founded by Roman Emperor Mark Ulpius Traian (98 – 117 AD) in honor of his victory over the Dacians (106 AD). Its strategic importance is determined by the fact that two of the important roads in Lower Moesia intersect at its location. In the beginning of 193 the city was transferred to the province of Lower Moesia. In its urban area there are settlements, villas, market places.
Nicopolis ad Istrum is organized along the lines of the cities in Asia Minor – Ephesus, Nicaea and Nicomedia, and has a diverse ethnic expat community from Asia Minor, Thracians, Roman veterans.
Nicopolis ad Istrum experienced its greatest economic boom during the reign of the North Dynasty (mid-II – first third of III century).
The fortress walls were 8 meters high and the towers reached 12 m. There were well protected gates on each of the fortress walls. The main gate of the city is located to the west, in the direction of Rome and was called the “gate of the novel.” From the gates to the town square, there are streets lined with large limestone slabs and bounded by curbs. Wastewater canals have been built under the street. Four streets form one neighborhood (insula), usually measuring 30 x 70 m. Nicopolis ad Istrum was well supplied with water. The main water supply system is the West, 26 km long. The water reached a specially built reservoir along the western fortress wall.
The Nikopolis ad Istrum water reservoir is the tallest and best preserved ruin of the Roman city, reaching up to seven meters in height the two preserved walls of the reservoir, which otherwise had a capacity of 400 cubic meters of water, which came from a drainage with an underground channel at The Musina Cave was extremely clean and suitable for drinking. The reservoir fed the entire city, which was home to about 3,500 people. From there, the city’s water supply system diverted water to private and public buildings, bathrooms and toilets. Two smaller pipelines coming from the northwest and wells provided additional water.
The town has typical for Hellenic architecture ensembles and buildings, as well. the predominant population is from Asia Minor: the square (the agora), the areata (the square), surrounded on three sides by a monumental Ionian colonnade. Between the columns were placed bronze and marble statues of emperors, members of their families, prominent citizens. The civilian three-nave basilica was located on the north side of the arena. It was used for public needs – commercial transactions, justice, etc. There were shops to the east and south of the arena. In the western part of the agora was the building of the Boulevard (city council). South of the Boulevard there is a small theater (Odeon). Outside the agora complex, on the east side, is a large public building, which, according to an open inscription, bears the name “thermoperipatos”. It had shops, and a heated walk-in hall. In the northern part of the city there was a public bathroom. Hippocaust.
Today, visitors walking through the streets of this incredible Roman monument can see all this slender and amazing construction in the form of ruins, preserved and silently waiting for someone to tell their glorious history. .
Several villas, settlements and centers for ceramic production have been explored in the urban area of Nikopolis ad Istrum.
In 102, with the construction of Nikopolis ad Istrum (near Veliko Turnovo), the territorial consolidation of the Roman Empire ended, and the “model” of the idea of a United Europe has existed for nearly two millennia. Here in the 4th century Bishop Wulfila created the first German alphabet (From the History of the Goths, Jordanes, 6th century).
In 2014, the life of the Archaeological Reserve Nicopolis ad Istrum gave the Roman Day organized there, a unique large-scale scene for ancient restorations from the time of the Roman Empire. Among the ruins of the ancient city were “lively” ancient rituals, crafts, vestals, legionnaires, patricians and noble Romans.