Silistra

Location:
Silistra is a picturesque town and an administrative centre on the South bank of the river Danube, 442 km northeast from Sofia.  Built on a low terrace on the Danube River, the town is situated at the spot where the land border between Bulgaria and Romania begins.

History:
Few are the Bulgarian towns that have undergone so many radical changes in their historical fate. Silistra emerged as a small trade and crafts settlement outside of the fortified camp of the Roman legion and quickly grew into a self-ruling “municipium” (the second highest class of a Roman town). The Roman fortress Durostorum that can b visited today, was built by Emperor Trajanus in 106 A.D. The Slavic tribes came around in the end of the 6th century, gave the town a new name - Drustar and converted it into an important Bulgarian fortress. In the end of the 10th  century when the Byzantine Empire took control over these lands, the town changed name again to Theodorupolis.After the successful uprising of the brothers Asen and Petar against the Byzantines in 1185, Drastar was annexed to the territory of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, unfortunately not forever. In the beginning of the 15th century it was incorporated in the territory of the Ottoman Empire, which took control over the whole Balkan Peninsula. The name Silistra was used for the first time in official documents in the end of the 19th century, just before the Liberation of Bulgaria. The years following the First World War (1914-1918) for Siliatra and the region were marked by territorial conflicts and turmoil due to claims on behalf of the Romanians, unsuccessful negotiations and transgression of peace treaties. The region of Southern Dobruja was officially returned to Bulgaria only in 1940.

Things to see:
In the city:

Silistra is a lovely, tranquil and beautiful place to explore. The terraced river bank and the hills around town offer great views towards the Danube river and the Romanian bank just across. In the public park stretching along the river just ten - minute walk from the heart of town, you can find nice picnic areas and idyllic places to observe the beautiful surroundings of the city. Having in mind the long and twisting history of Silistra, a visit of the History museum of the city could be quite interesting.  The early - twentieth century building of the museum features intricate facade and spacious exhibition halls with exhibits thematically divided into periods: Prehistoric Age, Antiquity and Middle Ages. The archaeological museum of Silistra also preserves valuable collections mainly from the National Archaeological Reserve “Durostorum-Drustar-Silistra”. Among the most significant exhibits of the museum is a Roman chariot compounded of more than 300 bronze, iron, silver and golden elements. Another great spot for the history buffs would be the very well preserved Roman tomb of Silistra which is dated back to the 4th century and contains frescoes of great cultural and historical significance. It is one of a kind architectural monument of the late-antique era in Europe.
 As a river town, Silistra is a great place to try some fresh fish dishes prepared with local herbs and spices in one of the many restaurants in the city centre.

Outside the city:
Turkish fort "Abdul Medjidi" (Medjidi Tabia), located south of Silistra is the most preserved fortification from the Turkish defensive system across the Danube. It was built by 300 Bulgarian masters and played an important role in the Russian -Turkish wars from 1853-56 and 1877-78.Its construction was imposed by the need for additional embankment of the Danube cities, where the river itself served as the natural boundary of the Ottoman Empire. The idea to build this system of fortifications belongs to the famous German military engineer Helmut von Moltke, who visited the city in 1837.

The Thracian rock cult complex “Badjaliyata” includes rock sanctuaries, altars and cult platforms along the dry river valley of the Taban River in Silistra region. The ancient river, which ran dry in the end of the 18th  century, cut deeply into the limestone of the valley creating a dramatic canyon, caves and peculiar rock formations. These natural phenomena have challenged the curiosity of the inhabitants of the area from ancient times. The Thracian - Goths, who lived here around the 4th - 5th century B.C., were so inspired by the spectacular canyon of the river that decided to built their religious sanctuaries here.As a centre for their cult rituals they chose a 20 meter - high rock imposingly rising above the village of Strelkovo.

The Srebarna Nature Reserve 18 km west of Silistra and 2 km south of the Danube River comprises the lake Srebarna and its surroundings and is located on the “Via Pontica”, a bird migration route between Europe and Africa.  This is the biggest riverside lake in Bulgaria and is the breeding ground for almost 100 species of birds (many of which rare or endangered). It is also the winter sanctuary for other 80 migrating bird species. Some of the remarkable birds you can spot here are the Dalmatian pelican, the great egret, the night heron, the purple heron, the glossy ibis and the white spoonbill. Due to its exceptionally rich and diverse flora and fauna in 1977 the Srebarna Nature Reserve was included in the UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves list. ” Srebarna” means silver and according to one of the many legends, which is regarded as most plausible, the name comes from the silvery reflections on the lake's surface during full moon.

Photos from Silistra


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