Gorna Lipnitsa – “Nicopolis ad Istrum”, Archeological reserve


You start in a direction from Gorna Lipnitsa to Veliko Tarnovo city on the road through the villages Paskalevets and Resen – the road is not in very good condition. From the main road in the village, on the road fork near to the “St. Dimitar” Church, you stray out in a direction to Paskalevets village – the distance is 9 km. The road passes through the place Burlovets, where, in the ancient time, there were Thrace settlements. From Paskalevets village you head for Resen village – the distance is 7 km. On the road fork, before Resen, there is a board of Nikyup village – the distance to it is 4 km. A little bit lower, in a direction to Resen village, it is the main road that crosses Rositsa River. You go in Nikyup village, turn right around a little park as you don’t have to head for a direction to the centre. The distance from Nikyup to Nicopolis ad Istrum is 3.8 km.

Equally, Rome and Early Byzantine city, Nicopolis ad Istrum was located over a not high plateau in the left branch of Rositsa River.

The city was established by the Rome Emperor Mark Ulpii Trayan ( 98-117 AD) in honour of his victory over the Dacians( 106 AD).

 Nicopolis ad Istrum was composed as a copy of the cities in Asia Minor – Efes, Nikea and Nikomedia. Under the leadership of the city government was the Archons Council that was governed by the first archon, who exercised the judiciary. A special college of priests took care of the celebrating the cult of the Emperor and the Deities of Rome and East descent; Zeus, Hera, Atina, Herakal, Asklepii, Dionis, Mitra and others.

The city was planned on the base of the so called “orthogonal system”, according to which the streets were straight and oriented in a direction to the world directions and they crossed at right angle. Today you can see how they have looked like: the ancient streets with a flooring of large stone blocks, the paves, the central street canalization with shafts in the flooring and other elements of the ancient town-planning. There were found: the relics of the Odeon (a little theatre for chamber spectacles); the central city square( Agora) with the relics of the circular colonnade; the buildings around the square space ; the Boulevterion ( the city council); a street “latrina” ( toilet); parts of a big public bath ( termi), two of the gates of the fortifying system and other parts of the architecture and the construction of the city.

Nicopolis ad Istrum was very well water-supplied. The main water-conduit was the West one that is 26 km. in length. Its beginning was near the cave to Musina. Its constructual capacity was 16 000 l. for a twenty-four hours. Through it, the water reached a specially constructed reservoir that was located next to the west fortress wall. From there, the city water-conduit system took the water to the private and public buildings, baths and toilets. Additional amount of water was supplied by two smaller water-conduits, which came from North West and draw-wells. It is interesting that except of a water-conduit and a canalization, the fortress had a disposal of warming gas system (parno), even though, there was a found path that was warmed in the winter and around which, probably, were exotic plants.

 In the summer of 1871 the Hungarian traveler Felix Kaniz visited the ruins near “the old Nikyup” and he found a limestone pedestal for a bronze statue of Julia Domna (dated from 198), a wife of an Emperor Septimii Sever. The monument was raised by the “holiest city council and the most powerful assembly”.

In the autumn of 1900 the French epigraph J.Sjor conducted for the first time some monthly researches, which results weren’t published. From 1906 to 1909 the Czech W. Dobruski explored partly the Agora of the city, where Sjor most probably was working before that.

In 1945 and from 1966 to1968, a team, under the guidance of T. Ivanov, who worked in the Archeological Institute and museum of BAS- Sofia, explored the bath in the north part of the city and the small theatre in the south west part of the Agora. Here, from 1970, systematic archeological excavations were conducted under the scientific guidance of Prof. T. Ivanov. The buildings in the Agora’s complex and around it, were explored.

From 1985 to 1992, in Nicopolis ad Istrum, joint Bulgarian-English archeological excavations were conducted. On the Bulgarian part, a team of the Archeological institute and museum to BAS and the Veliko Tarnovo Historical Museum, took part, and on English part – a team of the Nottingham University. The Bulgarian team researched Nicopolis ad Istrum II, i.e. the so called South East enlargement (Anexq Castellum) that represents the city in the early Byzantine era (V-VI centuries). The joint researches were renewed in 1996. The teams investigated the stratigraphycof the city square in Nicopolis ad Istrum ( the chronology of the building periods) and the late ancient fortified settlement near Dichin village, in Veliko Tarnovo region.


“Nicopolis ad Istrum”, Archeological reserve is administrated by a Regional Historical Museum Veliko Tarnovo http://www.museumvt.com/ .

The work time of the Archeological reserve is without a rest day.

The prices of enter tickets, according to the price-table of the museum, are:

  1. For students – 2 leva.
  2. For a family/ up to 3 children/ - 6 leva
  3. For  all of the rest of the visitors – 6 leva


  1. In Bulgarian – 10 leva for a started class
  2. With a translation – 20 leva
  3. In foreign language – 30 leva for a started class

The visits are free of pay every last Thursday of a month.

Totally, the rout from Gorna Lipnitsa to the “Nicopolis ad Istrum”, Archeological reserve, through the villages Paskalevets and Resen is 23.8 km. The whole sightseeing of the archeological reserve will take you about 2 hours.

You can go back to Gorna Lipnitsa village at the same road or through the villages Stefan Stambolovo (Gradina), Obedinenie, Dolna Lipnitsa – where, in the moment, the road is repaired and it is in excellent condition. The distance is…km.

06 Jun, 2009
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