Roman heritage

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STARA ZAGORA'  S MUSEUM OF RELIGIONS

The Romans believed that some places are inhabited and protected by their own spirit, a Genius loci, and consequently filled all the corners of their empire with altars and reliefs dedicated to these entities. The belief in Genii loci is no more, but if these spirits were real, one of them would definitely call a certain location in central Stara Zagora its own. For millennia, nations and religious have come and gone, and yet generations of people have continuously used a particular place as a sacred location.

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 14:20
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AUGUSTA TRAIANA

It is the result of a tragedy and a necessity. In the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, Stara Zagora was razed to the ground after a vicious battle. Rebuilding began in 1878 according to a plan by an Austro-Hungarian architect.

But no one was aware then that beneath the debris of houses, churches and mosques lay the remains of an ancient city with meticulous straight-street planning.

It was the Roman city of Augusta Traiana.

Tue, 01/03/2017 - 13:15
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BRINGING ANTIQUITY BACK TO LIFE

In October 2016, a thick layer of soil and debris covering an ancient mosaic for centuries was removed to reveal a stunning mosaic of a peacock with a tail fanned to show all of its majestic colours. But the marvellous bird is only a speck of the archaeology, history and art treasures of the Bishop's Basilica in Plovdiv. For a second year now, they are being surveyed by archaeologists from Plovdiv Archaeological Museum led by Zheni Tankova, with funding by the America for Bulgaria Foundation.

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 16:09
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ROMAN CITY OF ABRITUS

In July 251, the swamps at an all but forgotten corner in the Balkan realms of the Roman Empire were about to become the witness of a devastating event. Two armies stood against one another, in the summer heat. The legions of Emperor Decius (249-251) and his son and co-ruler, Herennius Etruscus, stood against the army of the Goth leader, Cniva, in the final meeting of a long cat-and-mouse game.

Thu, 10/27/2016 - 12:28
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LARGO OF SERDICA, ANNO 2016

In 313, a PR trick helped Constantine to become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire, whence he would go down in history as "The Great." Before a crucial battle he claimed that he had a dream in which he was advised to paint the initials of Jesus Christ, a theretofore forbidden god, on the shields of his soldiers with the promise that this would bring him victory. He did just that. He won, decriminalised Christianity, became a saint, and so on and so forth.

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 15:23
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ROMAN DANUBE

A mountain is a better protection than a river, but in 15 AD, when the Romans took over the Thracian lands between the Danube and the Stara Planina mountain, they had no choice: The mighty river, whose upper course they had already mastered, became the frontier of the expanding empire, setting a clear line between the civility of Pax Romana and the unruliness of the independent people on the other side of the river, the Barbarians, as the Romans called them.

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 14:46
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BULGARIA'S ONLY OBELISK

North-central Bulgaria is not famed for its historical landmarks. It is a region of rolling hills and soft valleys, of small forests and depressed villages and towns where, even on the brightest days, grey is the predominant colour. It is as if generations of people had concluded that the landscape was good enough for farming, but not inspiring enough for the creation of something remarkable – a city, a temple, a legend.

As with most appearances, this one is not true. Indeed, this region is the home of one of Bulgaria's most curious ancient monuments: an obelisk.

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 11:15
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POMORIE TOMB: AN ANCIENT MYSTERY BY THE SEA

Pomorie, a seaside town about 20 kilometres north of Burgas, has now become a concrete labyrinth of high-rise hotels and apartment blocks thronged with Russian tourists and holiday-home owners. It does not sound particularly appealing – but that's only on the surface.

Amidst the dust, sun and crowds of Pomorie, there is a place of eternal silence and an unexplained mystery. To find it, you have to take a sign-posted lane off the congested Burgas-Nesebar road. This lane leads to a lush vineyard and there, hidden inside the cold embrace of a huge mound, is a tomb.

Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:36
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DEULTUM: ROMAN TOWN ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF BURGAS

The bay on whose shore the city stands today was deeper and surrounded by malaria infested swamps.

Living conditions were at least inhospitable. A few people had made their home there from prehistoric to medieval times, in settlements and fortresses away from the coast, moving location as the coastline itself changed. The continuity of usage of the mineral springs in today's Vetren and Banevo neighbourhoods of Burgas is amazing. The healing waters were prized by the ancient Thracians and Romans, by Bulgarian kings, Byzantine emperors and Ottoman sultans.

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 13:59
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ROMAN BULGARIA

Travellers have for centuries been amazed by the size and magnificence of Roman remains in Bulgaria, and though many ancient ruins have been lost to modernisation, much still remains.

The Romans consolidated their power over today's Bulgaria at the beginning of the 1st Century AD, absorbing the local Thracian tribes into the multicultural and multiethnic empire. Life changed, to an enormous extent. New cities were built and older ones were refashioned, with temples, baths and opulent villas in the latest Roman fashion.

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 11:26
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BELOGRADCHIK ROCKS

In the 1870s, while travelling to Belogradchik, a tiny town in Bulgaria's northwest, Austro-Hungarian traveller and scientist Felix Kanitz was in two minds. Kanitz had read the boastful 1841 description of the magnificent beauty of the Belogradchik Rocks by Frenchman Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui, and he could scarcely believe it. It sounded too beautiful to be true and the lack of accounts by other Western travellers added to his suspicions.

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 11:07
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VILLA ARMIRA

Vineyards and ghost villages deserted by those who left because of wars, strict border controls and economic hardship, plus a medieval fortress tucked into the easternmost slopes of the Rhodope: there is not that much to see in and around Ivaylovgrad. Greece, which is just across the border, is even less impressive; a patchwork of fields and tiny villages.

Wed, 07/03/2013 - 12:15
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OESCUS, NEAR GIGEN

The second bridge over the Danube, between Bulgaria's Vidin and Romania's Calafat, is a project which took decades to be conceived and years to be built. Funnily enough, some kilometres downstream there is proof that spanning the Danube with a bridge was not all that difficult.

Fri, 06/07/2013 - 13:03
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ROMAN PLOVDIV

Roaring crowds of spectators cheer on their favourite runner. A gladiator bites the dust in the arena, and falls in a pool of blood. Two wealthy ladies inspect the fine silks at the shop run by a Jewish merchant. In the forum, slaves are busy erecting a statue of the current emperor, while others outside the city are preoccupied with repairs to the aqueduct. The people around the Eastern Gate make way for a chariot carrying a senator from his rural villa to his city mansion.

Wed, 05/29/2013 - 09:42
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THE RED CHURCH

Leaving aside St Sofia in the capital and what has remained of the metropolitan church in Nesebar, traces from the early Byzantine era in Bulgaria are scarce and little known. They do exist, however: forgotten remnants of the time when the Eastern Roman Empire was trying to hold back the invasions of the Barbarians in the Balkans. Most are nothing more than low crumbling walls, almost invisible in the undergrowth and interesting only to archaeologists. Others, however, despite time, neglect and the depredations of those seeking second-hand building materials still pose a striking sight.

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 11:32
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NIKOPOLIS AD ISTRUM

In 106 AD, Emperor Trajan (98-117) was returning from his victorious campaign against the Dacians in what is today Romania. These bellicose tribes had finally been conquered and tamed. Their capital Sarmizegetusa was put under sword and fire, and the defeated King Decebalus (87-106) had killed himself to avoid capture. Trajan had finished what his predecessors ‒ and he himself, in an earlier campaign in 101-102 ‒ had failed to achieve.

Wed, 05/02/2012 - 15:48
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Hisar Kapiya is the most spectacular part of Plovdiv medieval fortress walls still preserved

PLOVDIV PLEASURES

The gentle sun caresses the skin, its beams turning the foliage on the trees into explosions of red, yellow and orange, and the multicoloured Revival Period houses in the city's old quarter look so cheerful that you forget about the cobblestones that are so difficult to walk on. Plovdiv is beautiful 365 days a year, but in autumn it becomes a true pleasure that you would be silly to deny yourself. The mellow autumn weather and the relatively few tourist are only a fraction of the reasons for thinking about an autumn trip to Bulgaria's second-largest city.

Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:56
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