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SILISTRA

Silistra is situated on a low terrace on the Danube River, at the spot where the land border with Romania begins.

Few are the Bulgarian towns that have undergone so many radical changes in their historical fate. Silistra is the successor to the Roman fortress Durostoru, built by Emperor Trajanus in 106 A.D. It emerged as a small trade and crafts settlement outside of the fortified camp of the Roman legion. Durostorum became a self-ruling municipium (the second highest class of a Roman town) in 169, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor-Philosopher. This was the time of its zenith. Slavs from the Severi tribe moved here around 590 and gave the town a new name - Drastar. It was converted into an important Bulgarian fortress and Bishopric. During the next centuries this attractive town changed rulers several times. Svetoslav, the Prince of Kiev conquered it in 969. Three years later, the Byzantine Emperor Tzimiskis conquered the town and called it Theodorupolis. Tsar Samuil liberated it once again in 976. After its repeated capture Emperor Vasilius II the Slayer of Bulgarians made it the main town in the district of Podunavie. In 1070, Drastar became the de facto capital of an independent state with the Pecheneg leader Tatush at the head, as he did not recognize the authority of Constantinople. Only in 1091 did Emperor Alexius Komninus succeed in routing the Pechenegs, moving them into Macedonia and reconquering Drastar. After the successful uprising of the brothers Asen and Petar against the Byzantines in 1185, Drastar was annexed to the territory of the Second Bulgarian State. From 1413, it was within the territory of the Ottoman Empire. The name Silistra was used for the first time during the negotiations between Tsar Ivan Shishman and Sultan Murad. After the First Balkan War (1912), the Second Balkan War (1913) and the First World War (1914-1918) came a period of continual abrupt changes caused by the claims of the Romanians, unsuccessful negotiations and transgression of peace treaties. The Bulgarian state received Southern Dobrudzha back only in 1940 by force of the Crayova Treaty with Romania.

LANDMARKS
• Archaeological Museum.
• Ethnographic Museum.
• Historical Museum with 4 departments.
• Museum of Natural History in the village of Srebarna.
• The Sava Dobroplodni Drama Theater - a drama department and a puppet department.
• The Art Gallery.
A Thracian arched tomb.
• The Durostorum-Drastar-Silistra Architectural and Archaeological Reserve, which includes more than 2/3 of the present-day town and contains unique, restored monuments from the Roman period and medieval Buglaria.
• The Srebarna Biospheric Reserve 16 km (10 miles) from Silistra, including the Lake Srebarna - the most important stop on the seasonal migration route of the migratory birds of Northeast Bulgaria (Via Pontica) - and its surroundings. The area of the reserve is 600 hectares (nearly 1500 acres) plus another 543-hectare buffer zone. The depth of the lake is 1-3 m (3-10 ft). Its flora consists of 67 species, some of which are rare European species. The fauna includes 39 species of mammals, 21 species of reptiles and amphibians and 10 species offish (pike, seabream and rudd among others). More than 100 species of birds nest here - Pygmy Cormorant, herons, Glossy Ibis, spoonbill, Mute Swan, Ruddy Shelduck, Gray Goose, ducks, geese, divers, Marsh Harrier, fishers, Bluethroat and Bearded Tit among others. The sole colony of the Dalmatian Pelican in the country is at Srebarna. In 1975 the reserve was included in the Ramsar Convention for the Protection of Wetlands of international significance and in 1977 it was declared a biospheric reserve on the UNESCO's list. In 1983 it was included in the UNESCO's list of monuments of world cultural heritage and natural landmarks.

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