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ROMAN RULE ON THE BALKANS

The conquest of the Balkan Peninsula by the Romans started as early as the 2nd c. B.C., but the opposition of the Thracians was crushed only in the beginning of the 2nd c. A.D. During the 1st c. B.C. - 1st c. A.D. Bulgarian territories turned into Roman provinces. The Romans built a well organized and well-kept network of roads. The so-called Diagonal Road from Belgrade, through Serdika (Sofia), Philipopolis (Plovdiv) and Adrianopolis (Ederne) up to Byzantion (Istanbul), which was the shortcut from Europe to Asia, dates back to Roman times. In the south the Romans repaired and fortified the Via Egnatia Road (Drach - Orchid - Thessalonica - Istanbul). North of the Balkan Mountains passed the road from Montana to Odessos (Varna). To protect the frontier along the Danubian Road, many new fortresses were built - Bononia (today's Vidin), Almus (today's Lom) and Dorostorum (today's Silistra).
Enormous quantities of food, cattle and other goods were exported for Rome from the fertile lands of ancient Thrace. Many new towns were built and they became well-known centres of ancient material and spiritual culture: Augusta Trayana (today's Stara Zagora), Serdika (Sofia), Pautalia (Kyustendil) and others. Remains of such towns can still be found all over the country. The old Thracian towns were completely transformed. The streets were covered with stone slates and met in the centre where they formed a large square. Water-conduits and canals for leading off the refuse waters were also built. Many new military buildings, new houses, theatres and shrines were erected. Roman sculpturing as well as mosaics and frescoes were widely known. The mosaics of Eskus (the village of Gigen, Pleven region) and from the Roman villa near Ivailovgrad date back to that period (2nd c. A.D.).
In 395 A.D. the Roman Empire breaks into two - Eastern, with Constantinople as capital, and Western, having Rome as its capital. The latter was destroyed in 476 by the Germanic tribes. The Eastern Roman Empire, called Byzantium, existed for 1000 more years. In the 5th and 6th c. its frontiers reached the Danube in the north and it ruled over almost all of the Balkan Peninsula.

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