The Camels - Hisarya's symbol
My dear friends, what is the first image that comes to your mind when you hear "Hisarya"?
These are the "The Camels" – the majestic and impressive ruins of the main southern gate of the ancient city of Diocletianopol (Diocletianopolis) and currently the brightest symbol of the city of Hisarya!
Of the former four grand, massive main gates through which ancient Diocletianopol was entered, the western and southern are the best preserved today.
My dear friends, I will introduce you to the "The Camels" - the excellently preserved southern gate.
When it was erected some 1,700 years ago, this huge gate towered an impressive 20 meters high. It represented a complex defense facility, ending in its upper part with battle platforms spread over three levels. The gate consisted of two imposing arches, which can still be seen today, and above them it is said that there was a third smaller arch, probably with a purely decorative purpose. The gate was probably erected on this site after the substantial work of erecting the ramparts surrounding the ancient fortress-city had been completed. It is believed that at one time this impressive structure represented a kind of triumph of Roman fortification*!
*Fortification is the military science of artificial enclosures and barriers strengthening the disposition of one's own troops during hostilities.
The word originates from the French verb fortifier – to strength, strengthen.
A 1:150 scale model of the city of Emperor Diocletian can be seen today in the Tourist Information Center of the city of Hisarya. The model was made by Mr. Tono Mekikov - a resident of the city.
The entrances to the fortresses have always been the weakest part of the defense. In order to prevent a breach through precisely these places, tall and massive buildings were erected around the gates, allowing the defenders inside the fortress to control the flow of people entering and leaving.
The front of the gate is a blind spot for defenders, so tall defensive towers projecting forward are added on either side of it as shown on the mock-up.
The main southern gate is depicted extremely correctly - on both sides of it there were large rectangular defensive towers, between which it was possible to quickly pass.
The shaped passages along the length of the fortress wall were probably also built over the gate itself, allowing the defenders to fire on the enemies below. The teeth and battlements provided additional protection. There were probably embrasures (also battlements) on the gate and towers, as depicted on the model. These are narrow vertical openings in fortress walls and towers that allow defenders to shoot through them with a bow or crossbow. They are made narrow to protect against external fire, but not too narrow because they will interfere with the archers and block their view of what is happening beyond the walls. A small horizontal opening is also usually added, thanks to which the gunners can be more successfully aimed, and which is why the embrasures often have the shape of a cross.
The two fortress towers flanking the gate allowed lateral fire along the continuation of the walls on both sides of the massive structure.
The foundations of the eastern tower are particularly well preserved today and can be examined in detail.
The name "The Camels" was given at the beginning of the 20th century, when the central arch was destroyed, the pile was divided and from afar it resembled two camels standing against each other.
The creator of the city historical museum in the city of Hisarya - Major General Todor Markov, personally financed, organized and carried out the strengthening of the central arch, as we see it today.
How to get to "The Camels"?
Today, right under the big arch of the main southern gate of the ancient city of Diocletianopol passes "Ivan Vazov" boulevard.
And now I suggest you stand on the southern side of the "The Camels", i.e. outside the outline of the ancient city.
A modest bas-relief is placed in this place.
On it you will find the following inscription:
Dear Fatherland, how beautiful you are!
The place is marked and the date is given:
Hisarya - The Camels 1882
Young Vazov, like many others of his time, dared to climb the crumbling brick staircase inside the wall of the southern gate to its highest point.
The panorama from the top of the "The Camels" touched the poet's heart deeply!
The elegant slopes of Sredna gora mountain surround the expanding horizon to the north, and behind
above them rises the old and proud Balkan with its fluffy white coat. The golden field of Thrace in the south spreads its fertile green meadows and gardens with fruit-laden trees, and behind them lies the blue and strong bearing of the Rhodopes!
You can see the beauty and wealth of Bulgaria at a glance!
It is said that it was the paintings, revealed from the top of this ancient and so majestic ruin, that inspired the poet to exclaim: "Fatherland kindly, how beautiful you are!" and to write this work of his, bowing before the wonderful beauty of the Fatherland!
Vazov loved Hisarya and often visited here. At the time, the Hisarya's hot mineral springs were the most preferred place for rest and relaxation of the then Plovdiv intelligentsia.
The writer loved to walk along the fortress walls, especially at sunset.
The August sun hung rather low over the mid-mountain hills. It illumined the ancient walls with its crimson rays, and gave them a peculiar color, expression, and effect. Their colossal remains, viewed from the unlit side, took on an even larger size and a darker brooding against the luminous background of the circular vision.
The South Gate is an iconic place that will always be associated with this city, its history and destiny.
This symbol is found today wherever Hisarya is spoken, written or mentioned!
The upper part of the Hisarya's logo is precisely the main southern gate. In the lower part of the logo-emblem of Hisarya we see its warm healing mineral springs.
This symbol is even on the garbage cans in the city - have you noticed?
And now we too will try to follow the footsteps of the vases and walk around the Two Sphinxes, both during the day and at dusk, to touch that magic that inspired the writer!
In 1976, with Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 199, the area surrounded by the fortress walls of the Roman city of Diocletianopol was declared a National Archaeological Reserve!
I wish you an exceptional and impressive walk!