For two consecutive years the “Eagle On The Danube” reenactment festival – the only of its kind in Bulgaria, had been held in the town of Svishtov. The festival recreates the military life and battles between the Roman Empire and its enemy tribes; includes a rich cultural program - and this initiative established itself as a forum that brings together fans and enthusiasts of Antiquity from different ends of Bulgaria and Europe. This reenactment enjoys heavy popularity in Europe, its calendar of activities being full for several years to come.
The festival’s first edition had been held in the end of June 2008, expanding over 4 days. The different sections of the program had been visited by more than 25,000 spectators, the reenactors on the 2 most activity-intense days (Friday and Saturday) had been over 200 people, representatives of 8 different countries – Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Russia, and Bulgaria. The festival received letters of acknowledgements and reviews from foreign organizations and diplomatic missions; the event itself had been covered in more than 50 articles in print and electronic media.
Reenactors in the First edition of the Festival:
from Italy: Legio I Italica, Gruppo Di Danze Antiche Di Villadose, Gruppo Storico La Commenda (Lupanare), Compagnia Del Cardo E Del Brugo, Confederazione Teuta Lingones
from Germany: reenactment group Germanica Ask-Alemannen
from the Czech Republic and Slovakia: LEGIO X GPF, reenactment group Celtica Boiove & Fergunna
from Russia (Moscow and Saint Petersburg): Cohors II Mattiacorum (equitata)
from Romania: Nova Roma Dacia
A similar group was created in Bulgaria, called Cohors I Thracum. This group has already had independent acts around the country.
Reenactment groups in the second edition:
Gruppo Storico Romano, Legio XI Claudia (Italy)
Terra Dacica Aeterna (Romania)
This year's program
- an international conference on history;
- triumphal parades under torchlights;
- battles between Roman legions and Barbarian tribes;
- many reenactments of ceremonies and religious processions of the ancient times;
- gladiator fights;
- authentic Thracian dances and rituals;
- demonstrations of Roman artillery;
- the achievements of ancient science;
- exhibitions of antiques and artifacts;
- culinary recreations and exhibitions;
- a roman market;
- drama and comedy plays by Roman and Greek authors.
The Third edition
While the first edition of the festival had been focused on military reenactments of Ancient Rome, the second one, held in September 2009, was extended to a broader historic period, presenting many new cultural events, traditions, everyday habits and customs. This tendency will go on in the third edition, planned for June 4th to 6th, 2010. The organizers’ intention is to enrich the program by including theatrical plays, a concert using original ancient instruments, as well as a premiere of the Norma opera.
Beside its ancient history, Svishtov also offers the great infrastructure, needed to hold such an event. The Roman legionary camp and early Byzantine town Novae lies two kilometers to the east of the town of Svishtov, and serves as a natural stage background. Several years ago, a modern Tourist Visitor Center was built next to Novae, signs and info plates for tourists were placed, and a number of attractions restored. In 2008, a wooden Castrum (fortress) was built at the town stadium. Since 2006, Svishtov also has this one of a kind open-air stage, situated at the highest point of town, next to the remains of an old fortress and facing the sunset over the Danube River. The stage is some couple of minutes away from downtown, can easily gather almost a 1000 spectators, and during the festival holds the gladiator fights and most of the cultural events.
Organizers of Eagle On The Danube are Municipality Svishtov and Council of Tourism-Svishtov. In the two previous editions, the Festival received support from the Italian and Austrian Embassies in Bulgaria, and the Ministry of Culture. A special prize for protection of the cultural and historical heritage was founded last year. Prof. Bojidar Dimitrov was unanimously chosen for its first winner. This year Prof. Dimitrov is chairman of the commission, that will nominate the next winner.
The Festival receives financial aid from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture and the municipal budget, as well as from various supporters. Among the sponsors and advertisers of the first two editions were Boliarka, Bul Ins JSC, Ustrem 97, Eduardo Miroglio, Bon Apeti, San Benedetto, Barilla, Usit Colours, etc.
Two teams of high-school students, one from Nikolay Katranov High School, and one from Prof. Asen Zlatarov High School, competed in a history TV Quiz