Nicopolis ad Istrum

The ruins of the Roman and early-Byzantine city of Nicopolis ad Istrum are located about 20 km north of Veliko Turnovo, on the road to Ruse, and 3 km southeast of the village of Nikyup. They are situated on a low plateau next to the banks of the Rositsa River. The city was founded in the 2nd century by the Roman emperor Mark Ulpius Traian (98 – 117 AD) in honor of his victory over the Dacians (106 AD). This is also the reason why it was called so – Nicopolis ad Istrum, meaning “City of the Danube victory” translated from Latin. The city was located at the intersection of two very important roads in Lower Moesia – the first one going from Odessos (present day Varna) to the western Roman provinces and the second – from Nove (present-day Svishtov) to Byzantion (present-day Istanbul). The city was constructed accordingly to the so-called “Orthogonal system” with its streets oriented in the four primary cardinal directions and intersecting at right angles. Excavations there have revealed that the city originally had no fortress walls. They were built later, at the end of the II century, after a devastating barbaric attack. There was a gate on each fortress wall with the main gate being the one on the west wall, facing Rome, the capital of the Empire. It was called the Porta Romana. The city was supplied with water through water pipelines, the longest of which being 27 km long. The remains of a small theater, public buildings and shops were found around the central square – the agora. There was also a public bathroom and remnants of underfloor heating systems in some buildings. It has been suggested that there was even an open heated walkway during winter. The city made its own coins. Nearly 1000 types of bronze coins have been found with different etchings of Nicopolis ad Istrum. People of many different religions lived here, which explains the various burials found in the area. The necropolis of the city was situated on both sides of the road to Nove in a westerly direction. There are 121 mounds that have been preserved from it. It is believed that the ancient city was destroyed at the beginning of the VII century in the attack of the Avars. Its remains have been studied since the beginning of the XX century. Excavations were resumed in 2007. Today, the ruins are accessible for tourist visits.

Accommodation in Veliko Tarnovo

Additional information

April-October: 9:00 – 18:00
November-March: In request on +359 885 144 304
Adults 6.00
Students 2.00
Visits free of charge:
Children under 7
Disabled people accompanied by social assistants
Museum`s contributors (personal card required)
Every last Thursday