Hisar is an ancient and young city. Ancient as its healing springs and young as its fresh streams. Already in the fifth millennium before the new era, a prehistoric settlement from the late Neolithic emerged near the Hissar mineral springs. Since then the life in him has never died. History has not preserved his name. The first inhabitants of the small hollow where the city is located were the Thracians from the Besi tribe. Later, the Macedonians reached here, but it was not until the Romans that Hissar became a large city and resort, called Diocletianopol, after the emperor Diocletian.
The emblem of the city is the southern fortress gate "The Camels". It is called so because at the beginning of the last century the door was divided and looked like two one-humped camels facing each other.
The first chemical analysis of mineral water in Bulgaria was carried out in Hisar in 1882, which gave the government of Eastern Rumelia a reason to issue "Regulations for the operation of the mineral baths in Hisar". This marks the beginning of organized balneotherapy in the country. Hisar has 22 mineral springs with a temperature of 37-51 degrees. The water is colorless and odorless, with a pleasant taste. It can be used both as a meal and for the prevention of gastrointestinal diseases, kidney-stone disease and kidney-urological diseases, gallstone disease; diseases of the musculoskeletal system; gynecological diseases.
The biggest proof of the healing power of the Hissar mineral water is the museum collection of kidney stones in the specialized rehabilitation hospital. The incredible exhibit dates back to 1981 and contains 12,000 kidney stones that were passed out during and after a spa treatment in Hisar. A part of the concretions are after surgery and were donated by Prof. Pachedzhiev. Among the exhibits is the largest kidney stone in Bulgaria, weighing 560 grams!
The story tells:
The settlement was built according to all the requirements of Roman town planning - with wide and straight streets, decorated with statues of gods and goddesses, with marble baths, with beautiful palaces and villas for the Roman aristocracy. To protect it from enemy attacks, the city was surrounded by a fortress wall, built by the skilled hands of Thracian craftsmen. It is one of the best-preserved monuments of this type not only in Bulgaria, but also on the entire Balkan Peninsula. The numerous archaeological excavations also speak of a rich cultural life.
One of the most visited and favorite public places in Diocletianopol was the amphitheater. It is located in the central city park. Gladiator fights and fights between animals were held there. After the 4th century, with the introduction of Christianity, bloody scenes were forbidden and the amphitheater became a center for sports games.
An important place in social and cultural life during the Roman era was also occupied by music. Thrace was famous for its musical traditions and the mythical Thracian singer Orpheus. A votive tablet of the god Dionysus with his entourage is stored in the collection of the Hisar Archaeological Museum. On it, a maenad beats a tympanum, another a tambourine, and above them, mounted on a tree, Pan plays the syringes. The finding of this monument is proof of the worship of the god Dionysius in Diocletianopolis as it should be - with wine, music and merriment.
Treatment with mineral water in Diocletianopol was closely related to the worship of the he alth-giving deities Asclepius, Hygia, Telesphorus and the three nymphs. In all probability, a nymphaeum - a sanctuary of nymphs - existed in the city. This is confirmed by the numerous monuments found here. Medical care was provided by priest doctors who held important positions in the administration.
The excavations of the ancient Roman baths speak for this unique we alth - mineral water. These were impressive buildings for their time. The floors and walls were made of marble, there were rooms for hot and cold baths, places to rest and talk. There is no doubt that the ancient Romans adored mineral baths, which they used both for healing and for socializing. The pool, built directly on top of the "Toplitsa" spring, was 15 m long, 5 m wide and 1.40 m deep. In special rooms, the priests performed healing procedures after bathing. The hot water was also used for heating. Special clay pipes led the water under the marble slabs on the floor, and the steam was led up between the double walls.
During the 4th and 5th centuries, the Roman and early Byzantine city of Diocletianopol became an important Christian center - the seat of a bishop. At that time, 10 early Christian churches were built.
Centuries of ruin pass. And the small settlement rebuilt near the fortress wall in the second half of the 17th century on the ruins of ancient and medieval buildings was called Hisar. In Arabic, Hissar means "fortress". The territory of the city, located within the fortress wall together with the preserved cultural monuments, has been declared an archaeological reserve.
The Thracian Cult Center Starosel
West of the city is the village of Starosel, where in 2000 an expedition of Dr. Georgi Kitov discovered a Thracian cult temple dating from the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 4th century BC. It is one of the largest Thracian royal temple-mausoleum complexes in Southeastern Europe. With its monumentality and rich royal burial, with gold and silver ornaments, battle armor and painted pottery, the temple is an attraction for tourists.
The assumptions are that the temple is from the time of the Thracian king Sitalkus, even the ruler himself. The rich finds from the masonry tomb date from the end of the 5th century BC. A grand staircase with a monumental corridor, a cult platform and two chambers leads to the temple itself. The entrance is outlined by plates with plastic and colorful decoration. The inner room is a round domed chamber with half-columns and colorful ornaments. Into this room the initiate entered to communicate with the gods. This architectural complex is the key to Thracian culture. The Thracians did not have writing, but the preserved architectural and artistic monuments speak of a highly developed civilization of precise architects, with great artistic, technical and construction skills. They made gold and silver ornaments. They soldered elements of jewelry 2300-2400 years ago. And this technique was patented only at the beginning of the last century.
The royal burial, found 30 m from the temple, is extremely rich. From the sarcophagus, a massive gold ring-seal with the image of a horseman, battle armor, arrows, silver, bronze and painted ceramic vessels were taken out, which are excellently preserved. The brick grave next to the temple, in which no skeleton was found, speaks of a symbolic burial. And around a rock next to this grave, a dismembered skeleton was found - either it was a sacrifice, as practiced by the Thracians, or a ritual burial.
Naked Woman Fountain
There are many legends of battles and treasures from the distant times when the city was inhabited by Thracians, Romans, Slavs and Bulgarians. There are also legends about the mineral springs. The Naked Woman fountain is a local landmark. Legend has it that this beautiful Bulgarian woman refused to become the concubine of a Turkish bey. To humiliate her, he made her serve the goal to the visitors. The girl did so, but when she stood in front of him, she dropped the heavy tray of sweets on his head and killed him. For the act she was punished to burn at the stake. As the flames engulfed the naked body, two warm tears fell from her eyes. That is why one of the mineral springs is called "Lily's Tear".