The ruins of the Roman and Early Byzantine town of Nikopolis ad Istrum are situated at about 20 km north of Veliko Tarnovo, on the road for Ruse, and 3 km southeast of the village of Nikyup. They are situated on a low plateau on the bank of Rositsa river.
The town was established in the 2nd century by the Roman emperor Mark Ulpius Trayan (98 – 117) in honor of his victory against the Dacians (106 AD). Namely because of this reason it was called this way – Nikopolis ad Istrum, which means a Town of the Victory on the Danube river. The town was situated at the crossing point of two of the most important roads in Lower Misia – from Odessos (presently Varna) to the west Roman provinces and from Nove (presently Svishtov) to Byzantium (presently Istanbul).
The town was planned according to the so called “orthogonal scheme” – straight streets, oriented as per the directions of the world, which cross one another in straight angle.
The excavations here have established that the town had initially had no fortified wall. They had been constructed later, in the end of the 2nd century, after a devastating raid by Barbarian tribes.
There was a gate at each end of the fortified walls, but the main gate was the one, situated on the west – looking to the capital of the Roman empire. It was called Porta Romana. The town was supplied with water by means of water mains, as the longest of them was 27 km long.
The remains of a cannonade, a small theater, public buildings and shops were found around the central square – the agora. There were also public baths, and the remains of floor heating in some of the buildings had been found. There are suppositions that there was even a heated path for walks during the winter.
The town had been coining its own money. About 1,000 types of bronze coins with various images of Nikopolis ad Istrum had been found. People with varying religions had lived here, which explains the diverse types of funerals found in the region. The town necropolis was situated on both sides of the road leading to Nove and in the west direction. 121 mounds have been preserved from it.
It is supposed that the ancient town was demolished in the beginning of the 7th century during an attack of the Avars. Its remains have been researched since the beginning of the 20th century. The excavations were renewed in 2007. Nowadays the ruins are accessible for tourist visits.
Nicopolis ad Istrum, Veliko Tarnovo Province, 5068, Bulgaria.