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Silistra Bulgaria, the Port Town on the Danube

Silistra,Bulgaria is a bustling port on the River Danube in the north east of Bulgaria. It is an attractive, peaceful town located on a series of terraces close to the point where the river joins Romanian territory. Silistra is surrounded by green hills, which provide some picturesque views over the town and the river islands and across to Romania’s enormous Wallachian Plain. The town lies in one of the country’s most fertile areas thanks to its warm climate and in spring the area is full of delicious, ripe cherry and apricot orchards.

Getting There

Silistra is one of the border towns with Romania. It lies 85 km from Varna, 122km from Rousse and 356 km from the capital, Sofia. It lies on the Rousse-Varna railway line giving it easy access to the coast.  The nearest international airport is Varna although many people also use Bucharest and then connect by train to the town. 

A Dip Back in Time

In 29 AD, the Romans decided to build an impressive fortress on what had previously been a Celtic colony known as Durostorum. It’s importance as a was legendary and by the time Marcus Aurelius came to power it was already a city. It was the regional centre for Christianity and the seat of the Christian bishop. In 396, Flavius Aetius, the renowned Roman Byzantine Empire and was known by its Greek name Durostolon. The town became part of the First Bulgarian Empire at the end of the 7th century and its bishop was declared its first patriarch. The formation of the Bulgarian Empire did not mean that the town was free of invasion and strife; in 969 it was captured by Kiev’s Sviatoslav I and then two years later by the Byzantines again at the Battle of Dorostolon. It was renamed Theodoropolis, after Theodore Stratelates a military leader who played a key role in the battle. This to-ing and fro-ing between Empires continued until 1186 when it was incorporated into the Second Bulgarian Empire after the Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion. In 1396, the Ottoman army marched into Silistra and it became part of the Province of Rumelia. Silistra’s location on the border with Romania meant that the Russians entered the town many times before liberating it from the Turks. In 1878, it became part of the Principality of Bulgaria and in 1908 a town in the Kingdom of Bulgaria. However, its nationality was still not secured and in May 1913, following the St Petersburg Conference, it was handed over to Romania. It was passed back and forth between Romania and Bulgaria until finally in 1940, the Treaty of Craiova assigned it to Bulgaria.

Today, the town has a population of around 35, 300 people, The town centre combines modern and traditional architecture and its economy is reliant on  textiles, furniture, brick, tile and packaging industries as well as agriculture and viticulture. Its port has successful grain traffic and plays a key role on the Danube.

Must See

There are several interesting sites in and around the town including a 4th century Thracian burial chamber, which has been exceptionally well preserved and contains some amazing frescoes inspired by the Hellenistic designs of that time; the murals contain many geometrical patterns along with hunting scenes and a wealthy family depicted with their servants. There is also another incredible Thracian artifact nearby; the Badjaliyata, a Thracian rock complex is set in a scenic canyon and gives an insight into life during the era of the famous Thracian Spartacus. There are also remains of the old Roman wall, which once surrounded and fortified the city along with the Ottoman fortress known as Medjidi Tabiya.

Culturally, the town has a good theatre and its Historical and Ethnographic Museum, which details Silistran life through the ages, is also worth visiting. A short distance from the town (16 km), there is a UNESCO nature reserve known as Srebarna. It has a rich population of birdlife, which you can observe.

There are also numerous boat trips, which will take you down the River Danube past some incredibly beautiful scenery. The 19th century Church of Saints Peter and Paul also houses an an archaeological exhibition.

Entertainment


There is plenty of accommodation to choose from in the town with the Hotel Drustar affording some superb views across the Danube and some uniquely decorated rooms. There are also some great cafes and restaurants in Silistra, Bulgaria where you can sample local dishes and some of the great wines from this area.

Pictures courtesy of www.bulgariaphotos.net