Immovable Cultural Heritage

External fortress walls, identifier: Roman stadium and Small Basilica of Philippopolis

In modern Plovdiv, like in most of the Ancient towns, there are lots of places where ruins of the fortification system of Philippopolis can be seen. There were five periods of construction, fortifying and expanding of the fortification walls of the town until 7th century AD . It is assumed that the first fortified wall in Philippopolis was built in 4th century BC. Nowadays, fragments of the fortification system - defence wall and towers - can be seen at the northern and northwestern slopes of Nebet tepe. It is assumed that the first wall Philippopolis was built in 4th century BC. Fragments of this defence system can be seen today along the northern and northwestern slopes of Nebet tepe. In this area the city wall was fitted with small holes - posterns - that led to passages - tunnels inside the rock, by which through stairs people reached the northern foot of the hill. In the 1st century AD Philippopolis was included in the Roman Empire as the main town of the province of Thrace. For some time there were no needs for strengthening or expansion of the existing walls. In the 2nd century, however, during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the existing fortified walls had to be strengthened and new ones had to be built, especially around the town in the plain. According to an inscription found near the East Gate, this development happened in 172 AD. In the area of ​​the three hills (Trimontium) the fortification system used the old Hellenistic wall. But in areas located to the east and to the west of the three hills, it was necessary to build a new wall to defend the new Roman quarters of the city. Ruins of this fortification wall can be seen today at Dzhumaya Sq. near the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis. Various fragments of the wall, found around the city during archaeological surveys, help for defining its route in the ancient town. After the invasions of the Goths the fortification system of Philippopolis was recovered once again. In most places it followed the route of the wall from the time of Marcus Aurelius. But the new conditions required changes - this is seen in the complex of the East Gate. The gate of the previous period was abandoned by the expansion of the new route of the wall, and it was associated to the existing arch from the 2nd century AD. For the construction of new walls were used fragments (stone blocks) from the previous construction periods. New fortification system was built in Philippopolis during the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. In this period the city "shrinked" again - the new fort was built only around the three hills and followed the Hellenistic track. The most well-preserved fragments of this time can be seen today near the church of Saints Constantine and Helena. Part of the wall is preserved in height above the ground level together with a round corner tower. The rest of the towers were triangular. There was also a second (additional) fortification wall built in front of this, called proteichisma. In the beginning of the 7th century another wall appeared at the three hills (Trimontium). This wall was not an entire ring around the area, it just fortified the eastern, southern and southwestern parts of the existing wall. For its construction were reused architectural fragments of various ancient buildings of Philippopolis - parts of columns, friezes, capitals, etc.
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