The archaeological site of Novae is situated in northern Bulgaria, on the Danube. The ruins are now 4 km to the east from the town of Svishtov, on the road to Rousse. If you travel to Bulgaria, you may choose either Sofia or Rousse as a point on the way to Novae. Another solution is to fly to Bucharest, and than either to Rousse, or to Zimnicea. Svishtov may be reached by bus from Rousse (about 80 km) or from Sofia (240 km). If you travel through Romania, you can cross the Danube on the ferryboat in Svishtov. You can check the connections here:
If you travel by plane, the best connections are from Sofia and Bucharest. The buses from Sofia go every day, and the journey to Svishtov takes ca. 3-4 hours.
When travelling from Bucharest, you may try to go by train to Rousse, and than by bus to Svishtov. Another option is to take the bus from Bucharest to Zimnicea, and then across the Danube to Svishtov.
Travelling by train is more complicated, but cheaper. You may check the connections here:
By car, it is better to travel through Romania, along the Danube and to cross the river in Svishtov. When you pass the Zimnicea and take the direction southwards, you may see the site from the Romanian bank:
The ferryboat in Svishtov is very good and cheap:
The central part of the town is Ploshtad Svoboda with an orthodox church renovated after the large earthquake in 1977. On 4 March 1977, Svishtov suffered severely in the Vrancea earthquake. Three apartment and a main church collapsed killing over 100 people.
From 1393 the town was included into the Ottoman empire. During the Ottoman rule it was called Ziștovi.
Now, Svishtov is a developing town with a high school and some interesting places to visit. The oldest medieval site is located on Kaleto hill, where you can find remains of a Turkish stronghold and very old churches.
A view on the street.
This is what we like the most in Bulgaria.
In hot days there are some cool places :)
Usually in May or June at Novae is held A Festival of Ancient Heritage, where you can see the legionaries from the legio I Italica from… Italy and the Goths from… Poland. This festival known as Eagle on the Danube takes place among others on the stadium in Svishtov, where a Roman camp is reconstructed.
From Svishtov, you can either take a taxi (cost around 5-7 leva), or… just walk (4 km)!
If you decide to take a walk (to the east), you will certainly pass the canabae, which are on both sides of the asphalt road. Then you will see this:
This is a part of the Historical Museum in Svishtov (Istoricheski Muzey Aleko Konstantinov in Svishtov) which keeps an exhibition with some finds from Novae. Just behind the building are the ruins of the villa and early Christian church (basilica) extra muros, that is in the extramural area.
Now, there are excavations led by prof. Pavlina Vladkova-Baicheva from the Regional Museum of History in Veliko Turnovo.
Going forward, you will pass the western gate of the fortress, which was excavated by prof. Stefan Parnicki-Pudełko from the University of Poznań (Poland). The western defensive wall is also marked on the asphalt road.
After passing the gate, you must turn left and right and keep the path. On the left side of the path, in the forest are remains of the northern defensive walls. This place is hidden, but very interesting.
Then you will reach the ruins of the military hospital (valetudinarium) excavated in the past years by the Institute of Archaeology and later by our Polish collegues from the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre headed by prof. Piotr Dyczek.
Passing by the hospital, you must turn to the right and reach the road. Cross the road to the ruins on the other side. On the left side are ruins of the bishopric basilica of Novae from the 6th century, now renovated.
These excavations are led by dr Andrzej Biernacki from University of Poznań.
Now, you can see this point in Google maps:
On the left side there are ruins of the barracks of the first cohort and some late Roman building with portico. These excavations are now conducted by the Centre.
If you go further to the south, just next to the basilica, you will find the heart of the fortress: principia. This is the buildng of the legionary headquarters where the Roman commanders officiated. These excavation were led for years by prof. Tadeusz Sarnowski.
Now the headquarters building is reconstructed in a form of visualisation of its size. The building looks extraordinarily at night:
If you go back to the main road, you can pass the eastern gate on the left side. This part of the fortress was excavated in the past by P. Donevski. Recently some more excavations have been conducted here by prof. Tadeusz Sarnowski, a head of the Expedition of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, within a programme of research on the fortifications of Novae. In the forest you can find some more remains.
Our non-destructive survey team belongs to the same Expedition. Now, when the project of the non-destructive surveys has been finished, the new project is going to be undertaken. Soon, we are going to start excavations in another sector… :)
At this point you may take a break and visit the local fish restaurant, which is placed just on the other side of the road. It is situated in a very nice place where you can see the river.
Just near the restaurant you will see a large concrete monument. It commemorates a very important event in the Bulgarian history. Here in 1877 Russian troops crossed the Danube and invaded the Ottoman Kingdom, starting the Russo-Turkish war and the Bulgarian war for independence. This picture painted by Nikolai Dmitrev-Orenburgsy shows the bank of the Danube during the battle of Svishtov. On the other side of the Danube you can see the mouth of the Dermen dere (river) and on the right side the place where now is the memorial park.
The battle took place just near the ruins of Novae, which is shown on another picture by Orenburgsky, who was a war correspondent.
As a result, Bulgaria reached its independence. This is the reason why this place is called ‘Pametnitsite’ which means ‘Places of memory’.
Going back to the bus stop on the right side of the street, you will see more monuments dedicated to the Russian soldiers who died during this battle. Near the bank of the Danube you will also find two old cannons and a monument-cemetery.
Excavations take place each year from June until September.
Now, the heart of Novae has been reconstructed. The opening ceremony was in May 2014.