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Silistra ( , , historically ) is a port city of northeastern Bulgariamarker, lying on the southern bank of the lower Danube at the country's border with Romaniamarker. Silistra is the administrative centre of Silistra Provincemarker and one of the important cities of the historical region of Southern Dobrudzha.

Silistra is a major cultural, industrial, transportation and educational center of north-eastern Bulgaria. There are many historical landmarks including a Roman tomb, remains of the Medieval fortress, an Ottoman fort, the Art Gallery.


Silistra is situated in the north-eastern part of Bulgaria on the southern banks of the Danube river. It is located in the Bulgarian part of Dobrudzha.

The municipality of Silistra covers an area of 516 km2 and includes the city and 18 villages. The area of the city-proper is 27.159 km2. The total population is 68,359 of which 49,166 live in the city.


The Romans built a fortress in 29 AD on the site of an earlier Celtic settlement and kept its name, Durostorum (or Dorostorum). It became an important military centre of Moesia and grew into a city at the time of Marcus Aurelius. In 388, Durostorum became the seat of a Christian bishopric and a centre of Christianity in the region, and Roman general Flavius Aëtius was born in the town in 396. After the Roman Empire was split, the town (known as Δουρόστολον, Durostolon in Byzantine Greek) became part of the Byzantine Empire. Durostolon also was source of Drastar — the Medieval Bulgarian name of the city and Dârstor which was former Romanian name of one during Medieval period. Romanians calls it "Silistra" today.

Silistra Art Gallery building.

Around the end of the 7th century, the town was incorporated in the First Bulgarian Empire and the bishop of Drastar was proclaimed the first patriarch of Bulgaria. In 895 during the Bulgarian-Hungarian War of (894-896), the Hungarians who acted as Byzantine allies besieged the Bulgarian army under the personal command of Simeon I the Great in the fortress of the town but were repulsed. On the next year the Hungarians were decisively defeated in the battle of Southern Buh.

The town was captured by the forces of Sviatoslav I of Kiev in 969, but two years later it was besieged by the Byzantines during the Battle of Dorostolon. Having been ceded to the Byzantines, it was renamed Theodoropolis, after military saint Theodore Stratelates, who is said to have come to Emperor John I Tzimiskes' aid during the battle. In 976, Tsar Samuil restored Bulgarian rule in the region until 1001, when it was once again incorporated within the bounds of the Byzantine Empire.

In 1186, after the Rebellion of Asen and Peter, the town became part of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

In 1279 Emperor Ivailo was besieged by the Mongols in Drastar but after three-month siege the Bulgarians managed to break through. The town remained part of the Empire until the Ottoman conquest of Bulgaria in 1396. Throughout the Middle Ages, Drastar was among Bulgaria's largest and most important cities. Silistra was also briefly held by the Principality of Wallachia, in the late 14th and early 15th century.

During Ottoman rule, Silistra (Silistre in Ottoman Turkish) was part of Rumelia Province and was the administrative centre of the Silistra district (sanjak). This district was later upgraded to become the Silistra Province that stretched over most of the western Black Seamarker littoral.

The town was captured by Russianmarker forces numerous times during several Russo-Turkish Wars and was besieged between 14 April and 23 June in 1854 during the Crimean War. Around that time Namık Kemal wrote his most famous play, Vatan Yahut Silistre ("Fatherland; or, Silistra"), a drama evolving around the siege of Silistra in 1854, in which he expounded on the ideas of patriotism and liberalism. It was staged first staged on 1 April 1873 and led to his exile to Famagustamarker.

The Ottoman Silistra Province was reduced in size, as the districts of Ochakovmarker and Odessamarker and the region of Bessarabiamarker were ceded to the Russian Empire between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, and the Edirne Province was established from its south regions in 1830. Finally, Silistra Province merged with the provinces of Vidinmarker and Nišmarker in 1864 and became Danube Provincemarker in 1864. Silistra was downgraded to a kaza centre in Rusemarker district in this province in the same year.

Between 1819 and 1826, Eliezer Papo — a renowned Jewish scholar — was the rabbi of the community of Silistra, making this town famous among observant Jews. (Up to the present, his grave is a focus of pilgrimage, some pilgrims flying especially from Israelmarker and even from Latin America to Bulgaria for that purpose.)

In 1878, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, Silistra was included in the newly autonomous Principality of Bulgaria, which became the Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1908.

In May 1913, after unsuccessful Bulgarian-Romanian negotiations in Londonmarker, the two countries accepted the mediation of the Great Powers, who awarded Silistra and the area in a 3 km radius around it to Romania at the Saint Petersburgmarker Conference. Following the Second Balkan War, the Treaty of Bucharest (1913) granted Silistra and the whole of Southern Dobruja to Romaniamarker. Although Bulgaria regained the town during World War I with the Treaty of Bucharest (1918), in which Romania surrendered to the Central Powers (including Bulgaria), the Treaty of Neuilly (1919) following World War I returned it to Romania. Silistra remained a part of Romania until the Axis-sponsored Treaty of Craiova of 1940, when the town once again became part of Bulgaria, a transfer confirmed by the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947. Silistra was center of Durostor County between 1913-1938, except Bulgarian rule between 1916-1918, and part of Ţinutul Mării between 1938-1940 during Romanian rule.

Historical population


Silistra Knoll on Livingston Islandmarker in the South Shetland Islandsmarker, Antarcticamarker is named after Silistra, as is the Dristormarker neighbourhood of Bucharestmarker.

"Silistra" is also the name of a fictional planet in Janet Morris' bookHigh Couch of Silistra (1977).


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