Historical background of Razgrad

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Historical background of Razgrad

Razgrad is a town in Northeastern Bulgaria in the valley of the Beli Lom river that falls within the historical and geographical area of Ludogorie. It is an administrative center of Razgrad Municipality, Razgrad Region. The town stands some 65 km away from Ruse, 36 km to the north of Targovishte, 49 km to the northwest of Shumen and 129 km to the northwest of Varna. International Europaen road E70 connects it with the nearby ports of Ruse and Varna. Ruse-Varna railway line stands some 7 km away from Razgrad.

The town celebrates its official holiday on January 28th – the date of its liberation from the Ottoman rule. Razgrad has a rich cultural calendar and some of its highlights are: White Nights Above Razgrad, Festival of folk traditions, arts and crafts, Yoghurt Fair as well as the Autumn Fair.

The town has rich cultural and historical heritage. One of the sites of the town is Abritus Archeological Reserve – one of the 100 tourist sites of Bulgaria.

In the 1st century A.D. Roman conquerors set up a military camp on the ruins of a Thracian settlement. That camp later became one of the most significant cities in the province of Lower Moesia – Abritus. Ancient writers mentioned Abritus mostly in connection with the battle that took place in its surroundings in 251 and that ended with the defeat of Roman armies by the invading Goths and the death of Emperor Trajan Decius.

In early 4th century A.D. during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) a large fortress was erected at the height to the bend of the left bank of the Beli Lom river – facing the early Roman settlement. The city was fortified with a thick fortress wall that fenced an area of 14 hectares and had four gates and thirty-five towers. Nevertheless, it was repeatedly destroyed during the attack of barbarian tribes – Goths (376-378), Huns (447), Avars and Slavs (586). In Late Antiquity, after the adoption of Christianity as an official state religion, the city was a seat of a bishop. In mid-6th century Justinian the Great (527-565) performed reconstruction works in the city. It was finally destroyed in the late 6th century A.D. by Avars and Slavs. In late 9th – early 10th century A.D. a Bulgarian fortress was erected over the ruins of Abritus which was destroyed by the Pechenegs in mid-11th century.

One of the earliest monuments of Ottoman architecture located in the town center is the mosque constructed in 1616 during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I in the place of an earlier mosque constructed by Ibrahim Pasha – Grand Vizier of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The mosque is a cultural monument of national significance and is one of the largest on the Balkan Peninsula and the second largest after the one in Shumen – Tombul Mosque.

At the very heart of the city stands one of its symbols – the clock tower constructed in 1864 by the master Todor Donchev of Tryavna.

Another symbol of the town, also located in the central area, is the so called Momina Cheshma (Maiden’s Fountain). It was constructed by Pavel Vaverka and brought from the Czech Republic in 1897. It represents the figure of a young woman in ancient clothing who carries on her shoulder a cast metal hydria. The figure is placed on a stone foundation with three walled-in spouts.

The Mausoleum-Ossuary – one of the first monuments in the country in honour of the ones fallen in the Russo-Turkish war – stands at Nezavisimost Square at the foot of the Varosha Residential District that originated during the Bulgarian National Revival.

Varosha Residential District is in the northeastern part of the town. It consists of original and restored houses in the style of Bulgarian National Revival. This is where visitors can combine cultural entertainment with lunch or dinner in some of the restaurants that are cozily hosted in the restored houses.

Except for the impressive church St. Nikolas the Wonderworker constructed by the people of Razgrad in 1860, visitors will also enjoy the Ethnographic Museum, the Museum House of the composer Dimitar Nenov, the house of the eminent figure of the period of National Revival Nikola Ikonomov whose wife – Stanka Nikolitsa Spaso-Elenina was the first Bulgarian poetess.

The town has two theatres, a philharmonic orchestra and an art gallery.