Hisarya – Hissar – Diocletianopolis in Thracia was an ancient Thracian and Roman town in the region of Thrace, nowadays in southern Bulgaria, 40 km to the north of Plovdiv, at 170 km to the east of Sofia.

Archeological research shows that the present Hisarya was inhabited 6000 years BCE by the ancient tribe of Bessi who developed a Thracian settlement here. In the 1st century CE Thrace was conquered by the Roman Empire when a large Roman settlement appeared around the springs. The first documented name for the town during these times was Augusta after Emperor Augustus. In 293 CE the Roman Emperor Diocletian came here because of the healing mineral springs and the town was named after him — Diocletianopolis, when the settlement gained the status of a city. Between the 4th and the 6th century the Hisarya was the Episcopal seat, when a number of religious Christian buildings were erected – the remains of 10 basilicas with frescoes, marble floors, crypts, chapels, baptisteries, necropolises were discovered, as well as various ritual objects testify on the rich history of Hisarya. At the beginning of the 6th century the town was encircled by fortification walls. During the early Middle Ages, around the 9th century the present town – the SPA center of Hissar was founded.

Hisarya – Hissar is a small resort town in central Bulgaria located in the Plovdiv province, at an elevation of 368 meters, at the outskirts of the Sredna Gora mountain range. Hisarya features a very mild climate and over two dozen mineral and curative springs, which are visited by Bulgarian and foreign tourists. Hisarya has 22 hot water springs actively used since ancient times. Depending on the spring, the temperatures range from 44-55˚C. You can find public warm mineral water spouts where locals and visitors alike are lined up to enjoy the water and even take a bottle or two home with them. The chemical composition of the waters in Hisar are known to have various positive health effects. Along with the mild climate with lots of sunny days /280/, Hisarya has turned into one of the most well-known SPA & health resorts in Bulgaria and a very obvious option for international medical tourism. The mineral waters contain hydro-carbonate, sulphate, sodium, flourine, silicon, radon and hydro-sulphide. The waters of Hisarya – Hissar are suitable for drinking, inhalation and for external therapeutic usage. They provide relief for many medical disorders such as urological problems, gastrointestinal diseases, muscoloskeletal diseases, peripheral nervous system diseases, metabolic diseases and gynecological disorders. Additionally, many hotels in Hisarya offer SPA facilities such as sauna, steambaths, jacuzzi, indoor thermal pools, fitness rooms and SPA treatments such as massage, hydrotherapy, kinetotherapy, mineral water baths, mud applications etc.

The favourable climate and abundance of thermal springs were the reasons why people settled the site in the antiquity. The first settlers were Thracians and later the Romans conquered these lands and transformed the town. Today, the archaeological remains bear the unmistakable evidence of palaces, wide stone streets, marble baths, an amphitheater in circus style, and monumental fortification walls. The walls have been preserved in some places up to 14 meters in height and the south gate rises to 13 meters.  The architecture and fortifying system of the Roman town Diocletianopolis are among the most original and well preserved in Europe. A lot of buildings are concentrated in the central park of the modern town “Maiden’s tears”. Ruins from the Roman period are still well-preserved in the modern city of Hisarya. Wide streets, stunning courtyards, villas, marble baths, aquaducts, sewage systems and an amphitheater. The cherry on the top must be the impressive fortified wall around the town that is still quite well-preserved to this day. After the Christianity was accepted as an official religion in the Roman Empire in the first decades of the 4th century AD, Diocietianopolis became an important Christian center – a bishop’s seat. So far ten Early Christian basilicas dating from the period between the 4th and the 6th centuries have been excavated within and outside the Hisarya fortress walls. They are indicative for the characteristics of the Early Christian architecture development – earliest featuring either elongated or shortened naves with single porches and altars, and a huge semi-circular apse in the eastern side. This could be seen even today in the Early Christian churches, which are well preserved and exhibited. The remains of an unique by now two-aisled basilica have been discovered here. It had been built in the middle of the 5th century in the barrack complex of the ancient town. In the historical sources Diocletianopolis is mentioned as the third biggest town in the province of Thrace after Philippopol (Plovdiv) and Beroe (Stara Zagora).The modern name, Hissar, means fortress in Arabic. This name showed up in the 17th century when the Ottomans renamed the city and remains to this day.

Thanks to its location in central-southern Bulgaria, Hisarya benefits from a mild and pleasant climate with an average of 280 sun days a year. Visitors must visit the fortified Roman wall, the Roman baths, the central parks, the early Christian basilicas, the Roman tomb and many more interesting things to see. Visitors are warmly recommended to take a walk around the town and maybe outside of town to witness the amazing nature in this region. Mountains, small villages, churches, sheep, goats, horses, meadows, fields…there is no shortage of exciting things to discover in rural Bulgaria. Hisarya’s numerous parks and gardens full of venerable trees and thousands of plants and flowers invite to long and relaxing strolls. Its region is famous for the tasteful grapes and wines – a culinary invitation wanting to be enjoyed with all senses. Almost every hotel in Hisar have a few bicycles available for rent at the reception. There is a very nice bicycle lane that follows the ancient Roman fortification. The Sredna Gora region is actually quite famous for horseback riding due to the terrain. Hisarya has a few riding centres and any hotel will be able to help you make a reservation for horseback riding.

Not exactly in Hisarya but a short drive away, you will find excellent wineries that invite you to taste their wines, dine in their restaurants, walk around the property and learn about wine-making. Hisarya is situated in the wine region known as the Rose Valley wine region. In close proximity to Hisarya, visitors will find the Starosel Wine & SPA complex – a winery, hotel, restaurant and SPA all-in-one. Starosel Winery is the perfect excursion from Hisarya. Another famous winery located very close by is Chateau Copsa – a winery with excellent wines and a fantastic restaurant, boldly experimenting with the local grape variety of Red Misket /Misket Cherven/, which is well-known from time immemorial as the pearl of the region and features pinkish-red to violet color and provides excellent dry wine.  There are regular buses from Plovdiv South Bus Station, which take you to Hisarya in about an hour. There is also a bus from Sofia to Hisarya, and the bus ride takes approximately 3 hours.