Bulgaria’s Svishtov Starts Clean-up of Archaeological Preserve of Ancient Roman City Novae
The local authorities in the Danube town of Svishtov in Northern Bulgaria have staged a full-scale clean-up of the territory of the Archaeological Preserve of the Ancient Roman military camp and city of Novae.
The Ancient Roman fortress and city of Novae was the headquarters of the Roman First Italian Legion (Legio I Italica) from 69 AD until at least the 430s, i.e. for almost four hundred years it was one of the major Roman and later Byzantine strongholds defending the so called Limes Moesiae, the Danubian frontier of the Roman Empire.
Svishtov Municipality has had its employees clean up the long alley leading up to the Novae Archaeology Preserve, and has now started the cleaning of the entire Preserve, it has announced.
The municipal authorities point out that the cleaning effort has paid off, and with the removal of bushes, fallen trees, etc., both the Danube River and its Romanian (northern) bank have become visible from the road leading up to the Roman city.
The area that has been cleaned up contains a large number of monuments to the fighters for Bulgaria’s National Liberation from the Ottoman Empire, and is known as “The Monuments”.
“Both the Monuments and the Novae Archaeological Preserve are emblematic for our town, and we are going to invest a lot of efforts and funds in order to improve the tourism conditions there,” Svishtov Municipality says in a statement.
It plans to install new benches, plant flowers and trees, place information signs, and set up camping sites turning the entire alley from the town to the archaeological preserve into a nice place for recreational activities.
“By taking care of these site, we express our attitude for ourselves as residents of our municipality but also for our visitors and the tourists that we hope will be satisfied with their trips to Svishtov, and would like to come back,” Svishtov Mayor Gencho Genchev states.
The Ancient Roman city of Novae near Svishtov is one of Bulgaria’s most well-known and best researched archaeological sites which nonetheless has not been fully excavated yet, and keeps yielding intriguing finds every year. Learn more in the Background Infonotes below.
Also check out our stories about the recent archaeological excavations and discoveries as well as historical reenactments in the Ancient Roman city of Novae in Bulgaria’s Svishtov:
The Roman Military Camp and Late Antiquity City of Novae is located 4 km east of the Bulgarian Danube city of Svishtov in an area called Staklen (meaning “made of glass” – because of the Ancient Roman glass fragments on the site).
It was a legionary base and a Late Roman city which formed around its canabae, a civilian settlement near a Roman military camp, housing dependents, in the Roman province Moesia Inferior, later Moesia II, set up after the Roman Empire conquered Ancient Thrace south of the Danube in 46 AD. It had a total area of 44 hectares (108 acres), according to a decree of Roman Emperor Vespasian (r. 69-79 AD).
Novae is located near the southernmost point of the Danube where in 48 AD the 8th August Legion (Legio VIII Augusta) was stationed after participating in the suppression of a Thracian uprising.
In 69 AD, it was replaced by the First Italian Legion (Legio I Italica), which was headquartered there for the next almost 4 centuries, at least until the 430s AD, and was a major force in the defense of the so called Lower Danube limes (frontier) against barbarian invasions together with other Roman strongholds such as Sexaginta Prista (today’s Ruse), Durostorum (today’s Silistra), and Ratiaria (today’s Archar).
A testimony to the importance of Novae was that it was visited by three Roman Emperors: Trajan (r. 98-117 AD), Hadrian (r. 117-138 AD), and Caracalla (r. 198-217 AD). The most prosperous times for Novae was during the Severan Dynasty (r. 193-235 AD).
In 250 AD, about 70,000 Goths led by Gothic chieftain Cniva invaded the Roman Empire by crossing the Danube at Novae; regardless of the siege, however, the fortress of Novea did not fall into the hands of the Goths.
With the continuing Goth invasions and settlement in the Balkan provinces of the Roman Empire and East Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the 4th and the 5th century AD, in 418-451 AD Novae became the residence of Ostrogoth Chieftain Theodoric Strabo who was a rival of his kinsman, Theodoric the Great, King of the Germanic Ostrogoths (r. 475-526 AD).
The last traces of major construction at Novae date to the rule of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I the Great (r. 527-565 AD). At the end of the 6th and the early 7th century Novae was attacked by the Avars and the Slavs which led the Ancient Roman and Byzantine city to decline.
In the late 5th and 6th centuries Novae was the center of a bishopric. Novae was last mentioned as a city in written sources in the 7th century AD.
In 2014, the local authorities in Svishtov unveiled the partial restoration of the ruins of Novae with almost BGN 6 million (app. EUR 3.1 million) of EU funding.