Most of the scholars believe that Nicopolis ad Nestum was founded in 106 by Emperor Trajan, who also established in the same time the similarly named cityр Nicopolis ad Istrum, near the Danube. Both were built to commemorate his victory over the Dacians.
Between its founding and its decline, in the 6th Century, Nicopolis ad Istrum thrived. For several decades it minted its own coins and grew rich on its strategic location and the surrounding farmlands. There were mineral springs too – now in the modern villages Garmen and Ognyanovo.
Fortified with a wall which at some places is still visible and rises to up to 5-6 m, Nicopolis ad Nestum was the home of people who venerated the Thracian God Rider and Hermes, Asclepius and Hygiea, Dionysus and Zeus. The wealthy inhabited spacious mansions with pools and marble porticos, and everyone enjoyed gossiping and the hot water in the public baths. With the arrival of Christianity, two basilicas were build near Nicopolis ad Nestum. The city suffered heavily under the Slav and Avar attack of 577, and was eventually abandoned.
Its memory obviously haunted the locals. The mediaeval town which existed on its ruins in the 9th-13th centuries was called Nicopolis, and in the 15th Century the name, slightly altered, passed to a new settlement some kilometres to the west: Nevrokop. In 1951 Nevrokop was renamed Gotse Delchev, after a Bulgarian revolutionary who fought for independence from the Ottomans at the turn of the 20th Century.