Svishtov, Eagle on the Danube

Eagle on the Danube – Festival of Ancient Heritage
Орел на Дунава - фестивал на античното наследство
Kaleto Amphitheater and Roman Legionary Camp Novae
Svishtov (Veliko Tarnovo province)

A major international historical event in the legionary fortress of Novae, the best preserved Roman military camp in the northeastern border provinces of the Roman Empire, along the frontier once known as the Limes Moesiae. The heritage of the Ancient Rome and Thrace relives through a quite rich cultural programme, archaeological forums, heritage tourism initiatives, and historical reenactments devoted to recreate the lifestyle, customs, culture, and warfare of the Roman Empire and its enemies...

Geographical, cultural and historical context

Svishtov is a town located on the right bank of the Danube river opposite the Romanian town of Zimnicea, about 237 km north-east of Sofia, and 251 km west of the major Black Sea port of Varna, in the Veliko Tarnovo province of Bulgaria. Although the very first settlers came to this area during the middle Neolithic age (3000-2600 BC), Svishtov is universally identified with the ancient Roman colony of Novae, located 4 km east of the today Svishtov and founded around 45 AD as a castrum (a fortified camp of the Roman legionaries) by Legio VIII Augusta which was replaced in 69 AD by the glorious Legio I Italica. Initially the military camp covered an area of 17 hectares with wooden walls and towers soon substituted by stony fortifications.

Between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD Novae was enlarged by 10 hectares and hosted the legion headquarters, the military hospital, the officer houses, the bath, the soldiers’ sheds, the commanders house, while outside the walls arose a civil settlement inhabited by war veterans, traders, craftsmen and their families. Novae became quickly a strategic key point of the Roman defence line of watch-towers and fortresses protecting the Empire borders along the banks of the Danube and the Black Sea.

Event description and programme

Every year in June the former Novae fortress and the modern Svishtov become the set of a great international historical event to recreate the military and civil daily life at the time of the Roman Empire and the wars between the Romans and the barbarian tribes thanks to hundreds of reenactors coming from all over Europe and accurately portraying Roman legionaries, Thracian horsemen, Dacian warriors and nymphs, Roman senators, patricians and Vestals priestesses.

The very rich and extensive programme includes an international conference, triumphal torchlight parades, religious ceremonies, gladiatorial games, dances and rituals, demonstrations of Roman artillery, martial arts, horse-riding and archery, experimental archaeology and living history displays about everyday habits and customs and ancient crafts, theatrical plays, guided tours at the historical camps and at the museum, leisure and educational activities for children, exhibitions of ancient artefacts, roman cuisine and marketplace, an open-air stage opera, and of course great battle reenactments of Roman legions and barbarians.

The festival’s first edition held in the end of June 2008 recorded more than 25,000 spectators, and 200 reenactors from 8 different countries (Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Russia, and Bulgaria). And since then the festival and its number have been growing on. Besides its ancient historical heritage, Svishtov offers the great infrastructure needed for such an event with the archaeological site of Novae serving as a natural stage background thanks also to a modern Visitor Center, a wooden castrum and an open-air stage which hosts the gladiator fights and most of the cultural events.

Please contact the Organizers for confirmation and further details.

You can download the detailed 2018 edition programme at the bottom of this page.

Info & Contact

Event official website:
Event Facebook page:

Svishtov Town Council
Address: Tsanko Tserkovski Street, 2, Svishtov 5250, Bulgaria
Tel.: +35 963160854, +35 963160688 | Fax: +35 963160504

Visit Svishtov Tourism Information
Address: Dimitar Hadjivasilev Street 2, 5250 Svishtov, Bulgaria
Tel.: +35 963160371 - +35 963160373 | Fax: +35 963160768

Image: Eagle on the Danube
Text sources: Eagle on the Danube, Svishtov Town Council and Tourism, Wikipedia, Archaeology in Bulgaria


Svishtov and the legionary fortress of Novae on Google Maps:



Promos and video reportages of the event: 





Exploring Svishtov and Novae:




A visit to Svishtov (in Bulgarian language):



Download here the detailed programme of the 2018 edition of the festival:



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