Inherited from the Romans

The fortress of Storgozia is the gem of present-day Kailaka park in Pleven

Mighty wall have surrounded the fortress of Storgozia in Antiquity. Part of them are restored now.

Storgozia is a late-antique and early-Byzantine fortress and settlement. Today, its remnants can be seen in the present-day Kailaka park in the city of Pleven, northern Bulgaria. According to historical data, the ancient settlement had its origin as a roadside station along Via Trajana and was most probably built on the site of an old Thracian settlement. A garrison of the 1st Italic legion deployed in Nove, near the present-day town of Svishtov, was stationed here.

The site offered a favourable economic climate and the inhabitants of nearby settlements gradually began to gravitate around it. Circa the 3rd century, the raids of barbarian tribes forced the Roman authorities to undertake measures for protection of the population and to set up defences. In the beginning of the 4th century, a massive 2.2 metres wide fortification wall, made of rubble stones bound with white mortar, was built around the settlement.

The defensive measures included reorganisation of urban agglomeration and of the infrastructure of provinces. The population of the roadside station started migrating to the south - to a naturally fortified area, the gorge of the Tuchenitsa River, part of which belongs to the present-day park.

The archaeological excavations uncovered two gates and three towers which reinforced the defensive line. Inside the fortress, apart from the residential buildings, archaeologists found a communal grain storage barn and a big basilica-like Christian church, 45 metres long and 22 metres wide. It was built during the 4th-5th centuries and reconstructed in the 6th century. It is a three-nave, three-apsis church with a spacious narthex on its western side. Judging by the uncovered archaeological material, this religious building was richly decorated both on the outside and the inside. In the Middle Ages, a new church was built on top of it, along with residential facilities and a necropolis. Another church dated to the same period was discovered at the foot of the hill. The archaeological finds unearthed in Storgozia, such as ceramics, weapons and coins, testify to the fact that the settlement existed till late 6th century. The migration of Slavic tribes to the Balkan Peninsula, which started in the 6th century and ended in the middle of the 7th century, brought the final destruction of the antique city.

Today, Kailaka park is one of the favourite recreation places for the citizens of Pleven and tourists. The walkways are lined with old trees and birds sing to a pleasant accompaniment of river's murmur. Some of the plant and animal species that found their ecological niche here are entered into Bulgaria's Red Data Book as they are unique for the country and the Balkan Peninsula. There are several bridges over the river, which are a magnet for anglers. The cliffs tower up to a height of 40-50 metres and are perfect for rock climbing. They abound in interesting caves and rock formations.

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