Republic of
The Late-antique and Roman Town of Nicopolis ad Nestum

Nicopolis ad Nestum (a late-antique settlement) is situated in the territory of the village of Garmen in Markov Chiflik and Hisarlaka areas, 7 km away from the town of Gotse Delchev. It site is founded in the year 106 by the Roman emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus in honour of his victory over the Daci tribe. It was named “The city of the victory near Mesta”. The town experienced its cultural peak in the 2nd - 6th centuries and was destroyed by Avars and Slavs at the end of the 6nd century. In the Middle Ages there arose a settlement on the ruins which existed in the 10th - 13th centuries.

During the Roman and the early Byzantine eras (1st – 4th centuries), in the place of a large Thracian settlement of the tribe of the Bessi, was founded the most significant town between Struma and Middle Mesta, a centre of a bishopric after the conversion to Christianity and one of the seven towns in the Rhodope province. Nicopolis ad Nestum is situated on the road that connects the Aegean coast to the main road Via Egnatia through the Rhodope Mountains, the Thracian Valley and Philippopolis (present-day Plovdiv). That contributed to its becoming a centre of economic, political and cultural significance in its peak period. After its destruction in the 6th century, the town was re-born in the 9th – 10th centuries under the name of Nicopol and persisted as late as the 13th century, when it perished during the crusades. During the late Middle Ages there was a Bulgarian settlement in a part of the place and later a Turkish grange – in the south-east part of the fortified town.

The late-antique and Roman town of Nicopolis ad Nestum is organized similarly to the Asia Minor agrarian towns – two central streets intersecting at a right angle in the centre of the town. It is surrounded on all sides by high and thick fortified walls of 2.40 – 2.80 meters, built of river stones joined by white mortar mixed with large pieces of crushed bricks, alternating with horizontal rows, each consisting of 4 rows of bricks (opus mixtum).

Coins were minted in the town from the reign of the emperor Commodus (180 – 192) until the reign of the emperor Caracalla (211 - 217). The found coins and votive reliefs are a testimony of the worshipping of deities such as Zeus, Pluto, Hermes, the Thracian Horseman, Asclepius and Hygia, as well as the river god Mesta and the gods Ares and Dionysus worshipped by the Thracians.

As a result of the archeological excavations that have taken place in 1980 – 1984 and in 2007 the south wall with the gate and a large part of the east and west walls have been entirely revealed. 4 round towers on the south wall, 2 nearly square towers in front of the wide-open semi-circular exedra on the south gate, 1 V-shaped tower on the west wall and 1 rectangular town on the east wall have been uncovered. A bath house (thermae) provided with a spacious changing room (apodyterium), a cold pool (frigidarium) and a hot pool (caldarium) have been uncovered right next to the inside of the south wall. A rich peristyle building with a patio, a marble colonnade and a covered portico has also been researched in the south-east corner of the fortified town. A find of 137 coins of the Byzantine emperor Justin and his wife Sophia (518 – 527), which also dates the perishing of the town, has been discovered in a clay vessel on the brick wall of the largest room in the peristyle dwelling. Fragments from a votive relief of the Thracian Horseman, a statuette of Hermes, an old-Christian gravestone, glass, bronze and ceramic vessels, a gold ring and other objects have also been found in the excavations.

Nicopolis ad Nestum is one of the few preserved ancient towns in Bulgaria and the only one in the Rhodope Mountains from the Roman period on the Balkans. It has been pronounced an archeological and architectural monument from the Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

The Site is co-financed by the European Union and Republic of Bulgaria.
Garmen Municipality has the responsibility for the stated in this Site.
The Site does not reflect in any manner the official position of EU.
actualisation: 11.11.2008