Fortifications

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On Atanas Krastev Square, in the old Plovdiv, you see Roman fortifications overbuilt with medieval walls and Revival Period mansionsOn Atanas Krastev Square, in the old Plovdiv, you see Roman fortifications overbuilt with medieval walls and Revival Period mansions

Philippopolis survived unconquered the Avar thrust of 578. It is not clear what happened to the city the previous year, when 100,000 Slavs stormed the Balkans. This coincides with the destruction of the Bishop's Basilica, an ominous evidence that the new wall was not strong enough.

Parts of the Roman defense system of Philippopolis are preserved mainly on the Trihalmie. On Nebet Tepe, the highest hill of the ancient acropolis, they overlap with older and newer fortifications, and it is often difficult to say what is what. Things are clearer in the well preserved 3rd Century Round Southern Tower and the near Hisar Kapiya. Hisar Kapiya, one of the main gates of the fortress on the acropolis, is a medieval construction, but there is well-argued evidence that it lays on an ancient predecessor.

The best way to imagine how the ancient fortress walls were built one over another and how later generations used them is to visit Atanas Krastev Square, on the Trihalmie. On the mighty quadrae of the Marcus Aurelius wall stand early-medieval boulders and on top of them are built Revival Period houses.

For more on the Eastern gate of the lower city walls, click here.

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