Arbanasi, Bulgaria (3)

Roman gold in the surroundings of Arbanassi

Romans had lived in this lovely land before the Bugarians and on the site of today’s Arbanassi there was a settlement inhabited by Roman soldiers. They guarded the ancient road that passed through Kamenets and went down to Tarnovo, thus linking the lands on both sides of the Balkan Mountains. The soldiers guarded something else too – somewhere in the mountains there was a Roman mint. The Emperor Justinian had moved it far away from his capital; he thought that it would be more secure in the inaccessible mountain heights.

Arbanasi, Bulgaria (3)

They say that deep caves far down underground the gold was smelted and great amounts of coins were struck for the pay of the Roman legions. Skilful masters also made valuable weapons, jewellery and utensils. The money and the other valuables were kept in enormous butts and clay jars stored in underground vaults and tunnels, some of which were located in the Arbanassi area. The gold left its hiding-places and traveled to Constantinople only by order of the emperor. When the Romans left these parts they were not able to carry away all their wealth, but they made maps of the hiding-places which were jealously guarded. They were biding their time for the right moment to come and collect the fortunes.

Arbanasi, Bulgaria (3)

The story goes that hundreds of years later papel emissaries appeared before the Turkish sultan and asked for permission to take the Roman gold out of the hiding-places marked on the maps. The sultan agreed, but the haiduks (the Bulgarian rebels against the Ottomans) heard about it and headed by Vulchan voivode and priest Martin captured the emissaries. Then they managed to read the maps and found the imperial mint, where the enormous butts had kept the gold for centuries. Some of it was moved to other places, some was left to stay in a remodeled hiding-place. Tradition has it that a lot of Roman gold still lies hidden around Arbanassi…

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