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History of Toutrakan

It was built in Roman times as a fortress under the name of Transmariska by emperor Diocletian after a victory over the enemys tribes. There was housed part of the 11th Legion of Claudius. This information was drawn from a stone inscription dating back to 18 October 294. The name means a settlement beyond the moors signifying the opposite flat plane around todays Romanian town of Oltenitsa. During the reign of emperor Valent a raft-bridge was installed over the  Danube River at the time of the war with the Goths (366). At the end of 10th century south Russian colonists settled here and called the town Toutarakan. Medieval Arabic geographers registered the town by the following names Rekran, Zakatra, Trakan, Taraka. Other mentioned it as Tukvant, Torkan, Dourakam, and Tatkrakam. In 15th-16th centuries the town had a lot of water-mills (at the Danube Rriver) and wind-mills (on the hills of the bank), which existed till late and the last water-mill lasted till 1942.

The history of Toutrakan registers the names of two renowned Russian army leaders. On 10th May 1773 General Souvorov conquered the town. After the Russian armies retracted the Turks extended and fortified the fortress but this was no obstacle for General Koutouzov to conquer it on 11th October 1810.

In 19th century Toutrakan was a poor fishermens, craftsmens and vine-growing town; yet in its dockyards a lot of boats, small sailing vessels and water-mills were built.  In 1862 there were built a big church and a secular school, and in 1873 the communal cultural centre called Vuzrazhdane was founded. In 1867 near Toutrakan Panayot Hitovs detachment with Vassil Levski as a colour-bearer crossed the Danube from Romania into enslaved Bulgaria; in 1876 Tanyo Voivodas detachment did the same.

At the beginning of 20th century Toutrakans population was about 10 000 inhabitants and the town rivaled other towns like Vidin, Lom, Tarnovo, Svishtov, Lovech and as far as trade was concerned it excelled them. At that time and in later days Toutrakan was the biggest fishing centre in the country on the Danube River. In 1913 the town was included in the territories of Romania under the name of Tourtoukai. However, the town fell into decay and its population reduced. In 1940 according the Krayova Agreement South Dobroudzha (including Toutrakan) was given back to Bulgaria. Because of its picturesque location on the hills by the Danube River, Toutrakan is known as the Danubian Tarnovo.

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