Sightseeing in Hisarya
The town of Hisarya is a favorite place for relaxation for many Bulgarians and foreigners, due to its unique natural features and rich cultural and historical heritage, combined with the authentic traditions and hospitality of the locals. The healing mineral springs in Hisarya for thousands of years have been a center of attraction for many peoples and civilizations, leaving valuable examples of their culture here.
The ancient city is declared an archaeological reserve, where you can see the remains of Roman baths and administrative buildings, basilicas, amphitheater, Roman tomb and others. Apart from the lovers of balneology and history, the city has a lot to offer to the connoisseurs of active recreation and sports. Hisarya is situated in a picturesque wooded area, with many rare species of plants and birds, as well as a variety of routes for mountain hikes, riding, cycling, off-road and others.
The Roman Baths of Emperor Diocletian, the fortification wall and the Roman tomb
The baths of Roman Emperor Diocletian are the most preserved antique balneology complex on the Balkans and are undoubtedly among the sights worth seeing. The guests of AUGUSTA SPA HOTEL will have the opportunity to take an exciting journey back in time while walking in the nearby beautiful park where the archeological reserve of over 300 decares is located.
In Diocletianopolis there were two main streets: Cardo Maximus, which connected the northern and southern gates, and Decumanus Maximus, which connected the eastern and western gates. The city was surrounded by a fortress wall, 2327m long, preserved in its original state in some places up to 10,50m height. The South Fortress Gate – The Camels, remains a symbol of the city even today. The well-preserved remains of the thermal baths complex where mineral water flows, the imperial residence, early Christian basilicas, the Roman tomb and the arena – the place of entertainment, are located in the center.
Detailed information about the Roman baths can be found on the site of the Archaeological Museum in Hisarya (http://museum.hisar.bg/arheologicheski-rezervat-rimska-grobnica.html), as well as if you decide to visit it. The museum is included in the 100 national tourist sites of Bulgaria and presents interesting artifacts from different historical eras.
Saint Pantaleimon church in the center of the town
We recommend you to visit the Eastern Orthodox Church Saint Pantaleimon in the center of the town, famous for its beautiful frescoes that recreate many of the Biblical stories. The church was built in 1889; in the period 1999-2004 it has been completely renewed and painted from the inside and outside. The well maintained garden is also worth seeing.
Hisarya – a beautiful garden town
The many well-kept parks in the town of Hisarya are full of old, protected trees, where the songs of rare bird species and the rumble of the spring mineral water can be heard.
In the park with the Roman ruins near the AUGUSTA SPA HOTEL you will have the opportunity to see and hear: nightingale, big titmouse and colorful titmouse, green woodpecker and big spotted woodpecker, black thrush, jay and owl, goldfinch, etc. There are several fountains in the city where local people and visitors of the city gather to drink from the healing mineral water. Next to Diocletian’s thermal baths is the “Momina Salza” water drinking pavilion. In the center of the city the beautiful colonnade can be seen, where you will also have the opportunity to drink from the sparkling mineral water. In Momina Banya Park, next to the royal bath there is another water drinking pavilion, as well as a smaller, beautiful fountain. The magical atmosphere in the city is complemented by the two attractive fountains in the central park with ruins, the most preferred place for walking and relaxation in Hisarya.
In the footsteps of the Apostle of Freedom in Verigovo neighborhood
In the pretty setting of Verigovo neighborhood you can take a walk in the footsteps of Vasil Levski. The Apostle of Freedom has gathered the local revolutionary committee in the church of St. Dimitar, built between 1845-1882 and currently declared a monument of culture. On the floor of the church there is a marble slab from the time of the April Uprising, when the church was burned. Today it is completely restored and can be viewed from the outside. In order to see inside, a visit is recommended during one of the great Christian holidays, such as Dimitrovden (Day of St.Dimitar – October 26th), when boiled mutton soup is served – a sacrificial rite (kurban) and there is a liturgy. Another exciting event is the historical live event of the April Uprising, which is organized at the school. The Verigovo neighborhood is dotted with old-timbered houses with high stone walls and wooden gates, fruit and vegetable gardens, mushroom farms and farm animals can be seen in the yards.
A walk in Momina banya neighborhood and Krasta locality
In the Momina Banya neighborhood you can see the Orthodox church Uspenie Bogorodichno, a monument of culture as well. It was built in 1883 and has an interesting feature – the church has no domes, it has altar obsidian and a throne. Next to this neighborhood is the Dulite area. In the summer you can visit Haydut Gencho fair – an attractive folklore event with a rich program, a competition for authentic costumes, pehlivan wrestling and live events. There is also a motorcycle track, suitable for off-road. If you would like to have a walk in nature, you will have the opportunity to continue to the Krasta locality, about 30 minutes of moderate climb on the nearby hill. You will reach a place with a gazebo and tables suitable for a picnic or barbecue and a delightful panoramic view over the ancient city and Sredna Gora. From there you can go to another neighboring hill, Odzhovitsa, and the monument of Nayden Stoyanov – fighter for freedom.
A walk in Miromir neighborhood and Vodan kamak locality
An interesting place to be seen in the Miromir neighborhood is the Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul, built in 1882. It is famous for its beautiful frescoes, painted by the artist Stoyan Izov. Another attraction is Bancheto – an old bathroom with large washing troughs, which the locals use to this day. About 5km away from “Miromir”, where you can go by car, is located Pette Partisani hut, in Voden kamak locality, which reveals an incredible view of the Thracian field. The area is suitable for lovers of photography and is an ideal place for complete recreation close to nature, in the cool mountain air.
Sightseeing around the town
The Thracian cult temple in the village of Starosel
Twenty kilometers away from the town of Hisarya the village of Starosel is located, where in the year 2000 one of the largest Thracian royal complexes on the Balkans was found. It dates back to the end of the Vth and beginning of the IVth century BC. It covers several temples under the mounds; two of them can be visited – in Chetinova mound and Horizont mound.
The temple under the Horizont mound is a rectangular chamber, there is a U-shaped room with 10 columns in an early Doric order around it. In the middle of IVth century BC, a deified Thracian ruler is buried in the temple, making it a mausoleum. Chetinya mound is 20m high, surrounded by a stone wall with a length of 241m and a height of 3.5m. The façade of the Thracian cult temple is decorated with colorful ornaments. The rectangular chamber has a semi-cylindrical vault and the round chamber is domed and has 10 semi-columns ending with Doric capitals and a frieze stained with mineral paints in black, blue and red. Religious rituals were celebrated in the temple, praising the Great Mother Goddess. On the northern side of the mound there is a wine and water repository.
Palace residence of King Cotys under Mount Kozi Gramadi
In 2005, the highest archeological expedition in Bulgaria took place in the area below the peak of Kozi Gramadi, where sensational discoveries were made – over 400 finds, including whole votive tablets depicting Zeus and Hera, found in an ancient sanctuary built in the 8th century BC and surrounded by a fortress wall. Today you can see the remains of the palace residence of the Thracian king Cotys I from IV century BC. Scientists believe that this was the capital of the Odrysian kingdom. Ancient Greek historian Theopomp describes the meeting of King Cotys I with Philip II of Macedonia in 359 BC, emphasizing the beauty of the place, nestled among dense, cool forests, having a lot of water. The residence has an area of about 5 acres. In the middle is the palace building with the party hall of the ruler, who was famous for his love of pleasures and luxury. The area is located in Sashtinska Sredna Gora at an altitude of 1100 m and it is accessible by offroad jeeps and on foot. Upon a preliminary request, a group or individual trip can be organized.
Rock sanctuary in the Kamenitsa area near the village of Starosel
North of the village of Starosel the Kamenitza area is located – a rocky massif with various shapes (cave, rock arch and cuttings). The biggest attraction is the rock arch, which is supposed to be part of an ancient observatory. According to another tradition, the Thracians believed that through the gap between the stones, where the rays of the sun set, passed the path of the soul to the hereafter. The Rock Megalith is also known as the Solar Gate.
House of traditions and modern drawings in the village of Staro Zhelezare
On the way to the Thracian cult temple in Starosel, do not miss to stop in the village of Staro Zhelezare and see the portraits on the walls of the houses. Every summer for almost a month the festival of wall painting “Village of the peculiarities” is held, when Polish artists draw portraits of the locals with celebrities, selected by them. So Staro Zhelezare will become soon the first Bulgarian village, painted entirely with graffiti, a modern work of art. This idea is also depicted on the walls of the House of Traditions in the village, where visitors can chop red pepper and spices on their own to prepare old-style colorful salt, to spin wool with a distaff and a spindle in the corner for chores, to see authentic Thracian costumes and the rituals, characteristic of the region.