Romuliana / Gamizgrad
Last night we had asked at the hotel how to get out to the ancient Roman site that is near here. We found that it is about 10km away, but the bus might be quite complicated, and we should take a taxi.
Thinking that we would still try for the bus, we went and asked at the museum. If anyone knows how to get there, they should.
On entering, we did not get the reaction that we had expected. On explaining that we wanted to go to Gamzigrad before seeing the museum, we were told we could take a taxi. Not the answer we were hoping for, but so be it. Then she mentioned that she would ask the director of the Museum if he could take us! It’s a long shot but we saw no harm in her asking.
While we were waiting, we ended up getting a guided tour of the museum. This in itself was a bit of fun, as they went and got a translator for us! I hope that he had as much fun as we did. The museum is set up really well. The bottom floor has a few of the mosaics that have been excavated from the site, and they are exquisite. Along with well sculptured statues and busts. A sign of the importance of Romuliana is that stone unique to Egypt was brought here and sculpted into Emporer Galerius. He was the one that had Romuliana built as a holiday home and palace for his mother Romula. Also giving the city her name. He was also born here, so for this Emporer it is a very special place.
Going up the stairs there are some magnificent sculptural artworks. These are new and made in the style of Steam Punk. Very different to the 1700 year old exhibits. Then there are sections on the Neolithic era all the way up to the 1959’s and 60’s. Although fairly small, the museum is very well laid out, and there is a lot of detail without flooding you with information that you will forget in 24 hours. Although I am sure I will forget a lot of it!
The Director had agreed to take us out to the archaeological site, but would not be ready for a little while, so suggested that we check out the Beh’s house. This is the only remaining Turkish house in Zajecar. When the Turks withdrew most of the buildings and things they left behind had been destroyed, but one man sold his house to a Serb before leaving. Due to this, when they were destroying everything, this building was spared as it was no longer Turkish. Luckily for us, as we were now able to look around. Down stairs is used as an art space with paintings from a young artist. Not my style personally, but I am always glad to see new people getting exposure.
Upstairs is set up with different rooms throughout the ages. Starting with the Turks and ending again in the 50’s and 60’s. Great examples of furniture and styles. If I could get those old wood stoves home I would love one.
Now it was time to head out to Romuliana.
Built around 300 by a Roman Emporer famous for having an Edict of Tolerance before Constantine I, but dying before it could be implemented. The site is very large at about 4.5 ha, with massive surrounding walls with towers every few metres. An inner defensive wall, with the East West road splitting the public section and the royal section. Both have extensive bath complexes, but the public side seems to be mainly for people to give their devotions at the large temple of Jupiter, or work in the granary behind it.
The other side is where the two palaces are. One for Galerius, and another for his mother. Very sweet of him. Most of the excavation work has been recovered to protect it, and all of the mosaics bar one or two have been covered with sand. This is a bit disappointing, as it is the main reason for us wanting to go there, but we got to see a couple of them in the museum and another good one here in situ. Even without the mosaics the site is worth looking at. Then there are the two mounds on the hill. These were for the Deification of the Emperor. This was the first and last time it happened.
After a brief run-down on the site, we got to wander around, and were lucky enough to get a lift back to town afterwards.
My thanks go out to the Director of the Zajecar Museum for a lift and a great conversation. Especially clearing up a few points on UNESCO that have been bugging us for a while. Also to everyone else today.
Again, we have been floored by the hospitality shown to us in Serbia, and if this trend continues, I may not be able to leave….