|Abritus, just 1km from the
Bulgarian town of Razgrad, is an ancient Roman military
town located in north-eastern Bulgaria, once a key
stronghold in the region known as Lower Moesia, bounded
to the south by Stara Planina, to the west by the river
Drina, in Serbia, to the east by the Black Sea and to
the north by the Danube.
One of the strategic fortresses that defended the Roman
Empire from invasions from the north, Abritus was
built in the 1st century on the site of an ancient
Thracian settlement. Until the 6th c., the town
flourished thanks to its military and trade activities,
which explains the large amount of gold and silver
objects recovered from the ground during excavations.
Among them are 835 gold coins (4 kg) minted by 10 Roman
emperors - the largest antique monetary treasure
ever discovered in Bulgaria - as well as the Golden
Pegasus, which is now the emblem of the town of Razgrad.
Before its fall at the end of the 6th century, the total
built-up area of Abritus reached 300 decares,
half of which was behind the thick city walls that had
35 towers (29 recovered) and 4 gates (3 recovered). Just
like any developed Roman settlement, Abritus had
a clay pipeline to carry water to the settlement. In its
centre was a huge private building of a slave-owner that
had an inside court, 22 marble columns to the east and
15 to the south, a covered sidewalk and a small temple.
Many of the smaller items discovered during excavations,
including a replica of the golden treasure, can
now be seen in the archeological museum located nearby.
The site is open for visitors, and there is also a guide
who can talk for hours about the greatness of this town.
Explorations of the site began in 1887, when a
Razgrad teacher and high school principal, Ananie
Javashov, discovered a domed church dated to the 6th
century, but it wasn't until 1954 that archeologists
realized that this is the famous Abritus many
ancient authors had written about. Excavations stopped
in 1972 when the city walls reached the modern
antibiotics factory built on top. Rumours have been
spreading since then, that under the factory lay the
golden chariot of a Roman emperor, but the then
socialist government of Bulgaria would not dare destroy
the biggest medical production centre on the Balkans
because of these. Since the 1990s, archeological work
has been renewed on the areas further away from the
factory. In 2002, a lapidary of 60 monuments was exposed
near the museum. Today, Abritus is one of the
best studied and exhibited ancient towns in Bulgaria,
making it a place really worth seeing.