Author: Kamelia Alexandrova
Source: 24 Hours daily, 18.03.2013
First broken ground marked the start of the park’s renewal and the restoration of the ancient fortress in Montana, Castra ad Montanensium. The Mayor Zlatko Zhivkov promises that this relic, which gave the city its current name, will become an attractive center for tourists and acquire the fame of an interesting archeological monument.
The construction activities to be performed cost BGN 1,3 million.
The European project, which is funded by the Operational Program Regional Development envisages development of a parking lot and a road intersection at the foot of the fortress. An asphalt road to the fortress will be laid. An exhibition hall and an info center will be set up at the fortress itself.
The Castra ad Montanensium fortress rises atop the Kaleto hill, southwest of Montana. The ancient stronghold protected the settlements in the area from invaders and guarded the road from the Danube through the Stara Planina mountain onto the Aegean.
The old fortress offers a view to the entire Northwest, from the Balkan to the Danube. The first stronghold, whose walls were more than a meter thick, was constructed as early as 4000 B.C. by the Triballi tribe. The stronghold grew, however, and became strategic in significance at the start of the Common Era. The Romans expanded it when the conquered the Thracians and turned the shrine underneath into their own worship center. Remnants of a marble temple and the surrounding statues and votive tablets of Diana, Apollo, Hermes, Hercules, and Dionysus are now in the district city’s Historical Museum and Lapidarium. Due to the increasing significance of Castra ad Montanensium in 161 C.E. the fortress was granted municipal rights by means of an imperial decree, i.e. it acquired town status, with its citizens gaining all rights of Roman citizens. Between the 2nd and 3rd century C.E. the town experienced great economic and cultural prosperity.
The walls and buildings of the mountain fortress were burnt and destroyed during Gothic invasions during the 3rd-4th centuries. Later, Slavs settled in these places, with the Bulgars following suit.