The Roman remains of Durostorum, in Silistra, the last Bulgarian city on the Danube, are worthy of special attention.
Durostorum was the seat of the Legio XI Claudia, and was promoted to a municipium by either Marcus Aurelius or Caracalla. In the following centuries Durostorum became the major imperial outpost in this part of the Danube. The city's remains are a national archaeological reserve which effectively covers about two-thirds of the area of the modern town.
The massive fortifications of the ancient town are partially exhibited in the city park. In 2015 major repairs led to the discovery of fragments of murals which decorated a 2nd-Century official building, and parts of the early-6th-Century fortifications. Sadly, some of the city's archaeological heritage was lost recently, when a flashy hotel was built over it. The citadel of Durostorum has also fallen prey to new construction – a shopping centre was built over it, leaving visible only bits of the ancient structure. Long before Christianity became the official religion in the Roman Empire, it had a strong following in Durostorum. During the anti-Christian persecutions which marked the reign of Emperor Diocletian at the end of the 3rd Century, 12 Durostorum citizens were martyred because of their faith. In the 5th and 6th centuries the city became the centre of a bishopric and a large basilica was built in it to correspond to the newly acquired status. Its ruins can be seen in the city garden.
Ancient Durostorum's most astonishing Roman site is far from the riverbank. It is a lavishly painted tomb from the 4th or 5th Century. An array of birds covers the ceiling, and on the central wall is the portrait a man, probably a high-ranking magistrate, and his wife. To the left and right of the couple, several servants carry clothes and expensive objects, giving us an idea of the everyday life in the Balkans in the Late Antiquity.
Besides the owners in the main scene, two of the persons depicted in the tomb are of particular interest. A man carrying a pair of trousers for his master sports the typical hairstyle of the Goths, a clear indication that a man from this Germanic people was living in Roman Silistra at the time. The other is a beautiful girl, thought by some to have been the master's mistress, holding a heavy incense burner.
The owner of Silistra Tomb was depicted along with his family, servants and symbols of bliss in the afterlife
The man who commissioned this beautiful tomb never used it – the sepulchre was found empty in 1942. Whether the owners were killed before their times during a Barbarian invasion or were forced to leave Durostorum for good remains a mystery – one of the many concerning the Roman history of the Bulgarian Danube.