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Silistra (sĭlĭˈsträ), town (1993 pop. 48,287), NE Bulgaria, a port on the Danube River bordering Romania. Products include textiles, furniture, foodstuffs, and bricks. The Roman Durostorum, it was founded in 29 B.C. and became an important town of Moesia. Its importance continued under Byzantine and Bulgar rule. After the Turkish conquest (1388) the town was strongly fortified. It was captured (1877) by the Russians and ceded to Bulgaria. Transferred to Romania in 1913, it was returned to Bulgaria in 1940. There are several mosques and the ruins of an ancient fortress. The name is sometimes spelled Silistria.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Silistria), a city and port in northeastern Bulgaria, on the right bank of the Danube. Population, 48,000 (1974). Silistra is the administrative center of Silistra District.

In 1973 and 1974 a transportation complex, consisting of a river port and railroad and bus stations, was constructed in Silistra. Various plants in the city produce electronic computer equipment, machine tools, and foundry equipment. Other enterprises produce textiles, furniture, and foodstuffs, including canned goods, meat and meat products, flour, and wine. A large lumber complex, which uses wood imported from the USSR, was completed in 1975.

Originally founded by the Romans, who called it Durosto-rum, Silistra was a fortress and administrative center from the third to sixth centuries. From the eighth to 14th centuries it was a Bulgarian city and fortress, known as Dorostolum (Bulgarian Drustur); near here, in 971, during the second Bulgarian expedition of Grand Prince Sviatoslav Igorevich of Kiev (970–71), Russian and Byzantine armies fought several battles. In 971 the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimisces took the offensive against Sviatoslav, who had consolidated his position in Bulgaria. After defeating a Russian detachment at Preslav, he moved on to Dorostolum, where Sviatoslav had kept his main forces—as many as 30,000 men, mostly foot soldiers—and a fleet of galleys. On April 23, the Byzantine army of 40,000-45,000 men, including 15,000 cavalry, unsuccessfully attacked the Russians, who after the battle withdrew to the fortress and, on April 25, repulsed an attempt to take it by storm. During the siege the Russians suffered great losses from illness and soon ran short on food. On July 22, Sviatoslav, with his army of about 20,000 men, sallied forth from the fortress to engage an enemy with forces numerically twice as large as his. The emperor succeeded in surrounding the Russians, but the Russians were able to break through and retreat to the fortress. Heavy losses and the prospect of starvation forced Sviatoslav to conclude a peace with Byzantium on honorable terms.

In the late 14th century, the Turks took the city and renamed it Silistra. Under Ottoman rule, Silistra remained a stronghold of great strategic importance. During the Russo-Turkish wars of the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, it was repeatedly besieged. In May 1810, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–12, General N. M. Kamenskii forced the Turkish garrison at Silistra to surrender. In 1828, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, Russian armies again laid siege to Silistra, which capitulated in June 1829. The Russians besieged Silistra for the last time in May-June 1854, during the Crimean War of 1853–56.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.