The history of the Trajan’s Gate fortress and its inhabitants will live in the eyes of the visitors of the Trajan’s Gate – Greatness and Memory Festival on 18th and 19th August. The Festival of the Late Antique and Medieval Heritage is organized as a tribute to the triumphant battle of the Bulgarian Tsar Samuil over the Byzantine Emperor Basil II on August 17, 986. After that, Bulgaria expands its borders to one of the largest territories in its history.
The entrance to the festival will be free of charge. Visitors will be able to trace moments of life and life in the Stenos fortress at the Trajan’s Gate, between the 4th and the 15th century. The program includes demonstrations of armaments and combat practices. The Trajan’s Gate near Kostenets today stands nearly 5 meters above the rock on which it was built in the 3rd century. Most of the solid remain of ancient times, but the fortress has been restored and upgraded. The height of the fortress walls, however, was about 10 meters in the past, and the three towers – two at the entrance and one on the south – were two to three meters higher. The walls were more than 2 meters thick.
Interestingly, the fortress was built according to the peculiarities of the terrain. Because of the rock that rises highest in the region and gives a strategic advantage for observing approaching enemies, the Trajan’s Door has almost rectangular shape and its three towers are pentagonal. In addition to the central gate, the fortress also had five smaller ones that were used to allow soldiers to go out in the siege and do special tasks like destroying enemy’s siege guns.
In addition, the fortress also had a secret tunnel that led from its almost central entrance to the nearby river to be able to buy the precious drink in the event of a siege. Its beginning is evident today, but the underground road is almost entirely buried with earth. The fortress was, in fact, extremely important strategically, because it was on the ancient Roman Via Militaris and guarded the road between East and West. Even though only about 120 soldiers lived there, they were sufficient to guard the passage because of the strategic location of the fortress. Near it, there was a huge arch with a height of about 18 meters, which, unfortunately, was not spared by the time. We know how it looked from the drawings of 18th-century travellers.