Sites & cities that bear the name of Felix Romuliana

Felix Romuliana

Today in : Serbia
First trace of activity : 298 C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 7th century C.E
Recorded names : Feliks Romulijana, Феликс Ромулијана, Гамзиград, Gamzigrad

Description : Gamzigrad (Serbian Cyrillic: Гамзиград) is an archaeological site, spa resort and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Serbia, located south of the Danube river, in the city of Zaječar. It is the location of the ancient Roman complex of palaces and temples Felix Romuliana (Serbian: Феликс Ромулијана / Feliks Romulijana), built by Emperor Galerius in Dacia Ripensis. The main area covers 10 acres (40,000 m2). In the vicinity of Gamzigrad lie the ruins of a huge Roman complex called Felix Romuliana, one of the most important late Roman sites in Europe. Early explorers believed the ancient ruins to have been a Roman military camp, because of their size and numerous towers. Systematic archaeological excavations conducted since 1953 revealed that the site was, in fact, an Imperial palace. It was conceived and built by one of the Tetrarchs, Emperor Galerius, the adopted son and son-in-law of the great Emperor Diocletian. Galerius started construction in 298 (after a victory over the Sasanian Empire that brought him admiration and glory) to mark the place of his birth. The name Felix Romuliana was given in memory of his mother Romula, who was also a priestess of a pagan cult. The complex of temples and palaces served three main purposes - a place of worship of his mother’s divine personality, a monument to his deeds as emperor, and a luxurious villa for Galerius. Romuliana survived until it was plundered by the Huns in the mid 5th century. Later the site became a humble settlement of farmers and craftsmen, finally to be abandoned at the beginning of the 7th century with the arrival of the Slavs. The structures were first evaluated in 1835 by Baron von Herder, a Saxon mine entrepreneur, in the "Bergmänische Reise in Serbie im Jahre 1835". Later the German mineralogist August Breithaupt also wrote an article about the constructions. The Austro-Hungarian naturalist, geographer, ethnographer and archaeologist Felix Philipp Kanitz (who has earned great respect in Serbia and Bulgaria through his works on the South Slavs) was especially interested in Gamzigrad and visited the ruins on two occasions, in 1860 and in 1864 when he drew the then condition of the ramparts and towers, included in his works on Serbia, printed in Vienna and Leipzig. “Gamzigrad is one of the most magnificent monuments of the past...” ...“one of the largest and best preserved monuments of Roman architecture in Europe” -F. Kanitz The enthusiasm for Gamzigrad disappeared by the end of the 19th century. The real history of the complex was yet to be researched. The interest was revived in the 1950s during the period of "Neo-romanticism of Serbian archaeology". Vekoslav Popovic, Director of the Town Museum of Zajecar initiated the systematic archaeological research in 1953. The academic professor Dr. Dragoslav Srejovic was in charge of the research in 1970, he is the one regarded as positioning the monument among world archaeology. The complex was demystified in 1984, when in the south-west an archivolt with the inscription of FELIX ROMULIANA was discovered.

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