Tzar’s Towers fortress
Erected on a dominant position of the town, the thick bulwarks and fortresses above the town, called “Tzar’s Towers” witness of the antiquity, history through which Strumica lived and raised. In any part of the town one can not help but notice this grandeur tower, which deep inside conceals endless number of stories, myths, and facts about our town from ancient to present times. This fortress is situated on the south side of the town, on a plateau on the top of the hill, which rises steeply over the town. This plateau is 445 meters above sea level with a clear view and control of the entire Strumica valley. It was easily defended even without the fortification because it is surrounded by steepness from each side. This position of the fortress allowed the guards to have control over the three entrances in the town.
On the edges of the plateau, there are remains of bulwark, of which the west bulwark, 40 meters long, is clearly visible today. This bulwark follows the configuration of the terrain in the same contour line. Apart from this bulwark, there are several other bulwarks on the top of the hill, which stretch on the north side in several zones and probably reach the town itself.
The main entrance was on the south side. It was flanked with two rectangle towers, of which the southwest is still preserved although a bit impaired. As for the southeast tower, it was intact until the earthquake from the 1930s. We can only assume that there were towers like these on the northwest and northeast side as well, due to the quadrangular shape of the fortress.
Inside the fortress, there are well-kept remains of multi-leveled polygonal tower, which used to represent a type of command center from where the defense was managed, so called “keep”. This tower is well-kept today and it stretches from north to south.
Outside, it has an irregular lengthened hexagonal shape with two sharp vertices to the north and south. The inside of the tower is organized in a quadrilateral shape and it had two or more levels. Fifty meters north from the tower there is a quadrilateral room in the ground – tank. It is surmised that this room was used as a water tank or food, wheat, etc. storage.
On the west and east side there is a plateau where trade and housing buildings for the troop of the fortress are noted.
The new archaeological researches gradually write the pages of history about the fate of this fortress closely connected to the fate of the town Strumica. In the beginning, the researches were aimed towards the central tower or pirg-tower as the archaeologists call it. Many interesting evidence and findings were discovered here.
The researches continue towards establishing of the remains of the bulwarks of the fortress. Here you also discover rich archaeological findings from many historic periods, objects such as pithoi for food storage, coins of the second to last king Philip V from the second century BC.
The north as well as the south entrance of the fortress hide rich archaeological findings from different periods. Verify
The rich cultural past of the “Tzar’s Towers” is also confirmed by the wealthy archaeological treasure trove, which dates back from prehistoric times. The discovered female figures 10 to 15 centimeters high, the graphite painting on ceramics are real rarities on the Balkan region. The discovered lucerne (oil lamp) with an image of Alexander the Great from the IV century AD and the golden jewellery from the II century BC especially pleased the archaeologists. With a continuous research, many interesting findings have been discovered from the period of the reign of Philip II of Macedon. Coins with his image are found, but also Venetian coins, then amphorae, containers, cantharis, jewellery, fragments of painted vases, black-polished ceramics, figures of an Asia Minor type and other.
The discovering of the medieval church from the end of XII and the beginning of XIII century is also notable. An interesting finding is the altar where a cross with a saint and an inscription GEORGIO was discovered, which may indicate on the church St. George.
With this, it is evident that the history, which the fortress carries, can be connected to the history of Strumica. Whether it is the glorified Astraion, Tiebiopolis, Estreon or Ustrumce, the “Tzar’s Towers” always stood here, even earlier, deep in the prehistoric times when the rich culture of the late neolith and the early bronze periods flourished.
“Tzar’s Towers” is a place where many generations lived, people crossed, reigned, invaded and won.
By discovering these values of our cultural heritage, we can be proud of the material and cultural wealth of our region. “Tzar’s Towers” offer a great potential for development of the cultural tourism, which in the last decade records a great growth in the tourist offers. It is owing to the natural beauties, unspoiled nature, rich history, rich cultural heritage, delicious food and the generosity, hospitality and spirit of the Macedonian people. The researches, preservation and restoration of certain segments of the fortress will contribute to the enlivening of this gorgeous object inherited by our ancestors, which will give a new meaning to the nights over Strumica showing its beauty. This may motivate the new generations of inhabitants of Strumica to create something new from the layers built by the cultures old for several millennia.