Cover picture © Credits to Cylonphoto
Cover picture © Credits to Cylonphoto

Felix Romuliana, a piece of Ancient Rome in Eastern Serbia

2 minutes to read

Usually, when people see the photos of Felix Romuliana for the first time, they think it’s some small ancient Italian village. Well, this assumption is not totally incorrect, as the Felix Romuliana settlement represents a piece of Ancient Rome, located in Eastern Serbia.

Felix Romuliana
Felix Romuliana
Gamzigrad, Serbia

In the very east of Serbia, not far from the quirky town of Zajecar, famous for its beer and long rock’n’roll tradition, there lies the Ancient Roman ruin of an imperial palace Felix Romuliana. It was a grandiose city, used as a residence of the Roman Emperor Galerius, who lived here until his last days in the year 311. Today, it’s an important cultural heritage spot, protected by UNESCO, that’s visited by approximately 40.000 tourists every year.

A wall detail from Felix Romuliana site © Credits to Bora030

Felix Romuliana 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 history of Felix Romuliana

Galerius held the title of Augustus and ambitiously believed that he would rule the entire Roman empire and expand the borders, which didn’t happen. When he quit his childhood dreams, he returned to Felix Romuliana and decided to build a grandiose palace in honor of his mother Romula. For more than a century it puzzled both the local and international scientists, as they thought that the ruins were a military camp, due to the imposing size and height of the towers. Fortunately, with further explorations, the scientists worked out the details of its past and purpose.

Entrance to Felix Romuliana © Credits to ElChoclo

Later on, a spectacular hall was discovered, one with the very well-preserved mosaics, decorations, and ornaments, and it was clear that the place had a residual purpose, moreover a royal residual purpose. The complex included a grandiose palace, two pagan temples, three Christian churches and many other buildings. It’s speculated that Galerius and his mother were buried in the surrounding area, but official grave and tomb were never found.

The importance of Felix Romuliana

Felix Romuliana floor mosaics © Credits to Cylonphoto

Felix Romuliana is often thought to be the most important Roman settlement in all of the Balkans, not only for its size and details but also for its uniqueness. It’s floor mosaics are widely known as one of the best examples of the late antique art. Most of the artifacts found in this archaeological site are a part of the permanent exhibition of the City Museum of the nearby town Zajecar.

Narodni muzej "Zaječar"
Narodni muzej "Zaječar"
Dragoslava Srejovića 2, 19000 Zajecar

How to get there and where to stay

This piece of Ancient Rome is located in Eastern Serbia, only 10 km away from the town of Zajecar, locally praised as a town of beer and rock’n’roll and is a good spot for exploring more of Eastern Serbia. It’s well connected with the highway and motorway with both Belgrade and Nis. Next to the Felix Romuliana is Gamzigradska Banja, a spa complex with natural thermal water that was used by the Roman emperor and aristocrats themselves. Now it’s acclaimed for its healing purposes as a special hospital for the rheumatic diseases but is also open for touristic visits.

Gamzigradska Banja spa
Gamzigradska Banja spa
Gamzigradska Banja, Serbia

And who wouldn't want to experience an imperial spa treatment?


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The author

Milena Mihajlovic

Milena Mihajlovic

I am Milena, and enjoy traveling, hiking and everything coffee-related. Through my writing, I want to inspire fellow travelers about Serbia, my dear country.

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