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History of Silistra

There are very few Bulgarian towns that can compete with Silistra in richness of historical past. The town is the successor of the Roman Durostorum (translated as solid fortress, built by Emperor Trayan). It was first mentioned in 105. In 169 during the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius Durostorum became a municipal an independent town (in 1969 people celebrated 1800th anniversary of the town) that domineered as a centre of the Roman province of Dolna Mizia. The town was one of the early centres, which promoted Christianity. In 303 the soldier Dazius was beheaded, and the local inhabitant Emilian perished on the stake; both of them were partisans of the new Christian faith. They were declared saints and included in the catholic calendar.

The great commander Flavius Aecius was born here; he was the one who defeated Atila, the Huns leader whom the inhabitants of Rome had considered a real horror. The successor of Rome, i.e. Byzantium, restored the ruins of the town during the reign of emperor Justinian in 6th century and gave it the name of Dorostol. Until 600 it had been an episcopal centre.

The Bulgarians called it Drustur and after the adoption of Christianity it became the main religious centre in the country. Under the Byzantine rule it was a main town in the region of Podounavie. In 1074 a rebellion against the Byzantine under the leadership of Nestor broke off. The town was an important fortress of the Bulgarian kingdom in 13th-14th centuries. In 1388 the Romanian leader Mircha Stari conquered the town, and after 1413 it was within the territory of the Ottoman Empire.

The town received its present day name during the Turkish rule as a result of the preceding Diristur and Dristra. The poet Partenius Pavlovich was born in Silistra in 1695. During the Russian-Turkish wars at the end of 18th century and the first half of 19th century the great Russian generals Roumyantsev, Souvorov, Bagration, Koutouzov, Dibich Zabalkanski took part in battles near the fortress of Silistra (in fact there were two fortresses - Medgeditabia and Arabtabia on both hills above the town) which later on became part of the defensive rectangular of the Turkish empire (Rouschouk - Silistra - Varna - Shoumen).

In 1958 the inhabitants of Silistra received as a present the key to the fortress of Silistra which had been seized as a trophy on 12 June 1810 by generals Kamenski and Koutouzov, and kept in Sanct Petersburg. Between 1828 and 1835 Silistra was a free town as a result of its conquest by the Russian army with captain Georgi Mamarchev at the lead (a Bulgarian in Russian service). The great writer Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy took part in the Russian siege in 1854. In 1812 a monastery school was established, and in 1891 - a pedagogical school, in Silistra. The Swiss Louie Aier spent some time teaching physical education (his name was associated with popularising a number of sports in Bulgaria) in the town (as well as in Rousse and Lom) and died as an officer in World War I near Doyran. From 1913 till 1940 the town was within the boundaries of Romania.

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