Gigen village, Gulyantsi Municipality, Pleven District



Pleven Regional Museum of History

The ancient city called Colonia Ulpia Oes­cus emerged during the period of 106-109 upon the remains of the military camp of IV Scythian and V Macedonian legions from the beginning of the 1st century. Many roads were then built to serve the army, administration and trade in the Empire and beyond. The military camp was given the status of a colony after the glorious victory of Emperor Marcus Ulpius Trajan (98-117) over the Dacians.
The city became an important crossroads, experiencing a boom in the 2nd-3rd century when the central urban part was built. Monumental civil and religious architec­ture thrived.
Ulpia Oescus had the rectangular shape characteristic of Roman cities, with per­pendicular streets laid out east-west and north-south. The streets were covered with stone slabs under which plumbing and sewerage canals were laid. The city’s entire area was 28 ha.
In the centre was the Forum Complex (97х200 m) which was made of limestone in Corinthian style. In its southeastern part is the Fortuna Temple built around 190. At the northern side of the Forum, the Temple of the Capitoline Triad was built in 125. It glorified the main Roman deities - Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Juno and Minerva. Closeby was the magnificent building of the Civilian Basilica (97x24 m) built in 135. This was where the court proceedings, government and trade in the Colony took place.
The city was in its heyday also during the 4th century under the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). On the bank of the Danube there was a large stone-wooden bridge between Ulpia Oes­cus near the village of Gigen and the Ro­man fortress of Sucidava (Corabia). In the Early Christian era, Oescus was an episco­pal centre.
The period of the Great Migration of the Peoples (4th-6th centuries) posed a new threat to the Roman Empire - barbaric invasions from the north. Their raids did not bypass Oescus which was captured by Attila’s huns in 447 and was finally de­stroyed and burned down by the Avars in 586.
Life in Oescus continued until the Turkish invasions in the 14th century, as there was a medieval settlement existing on the re­mains of the ancient city.
Ulpia Oescus is now an archeological re­serve. Today one can see remnants of streets, temples, a large civilian basilica. Archaeologists have also found a Forum Complex, temples of the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva), public buildings, baths, etc.


The drama “Achaeans” written by the famous Athenian comic playwright Menandar has not been preserved for the generations and is known only by the multicoloured mosaic found in Ulpia Oescus. A theatric scene is depicted in the centre, featuring three actors wearing masks and a man without a mask. On the white background above the figures one can read the inscription MENANPPOY AXAIOI, i.e. „Menander’s Achaeans”