Felix Romuliana

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May, 2019

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Felix Romuliana, at Gamzigrad in eastern Serbia, are Roman ruins, which since 2007 have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We were to start with the burial ground of Galerius and Romula, his mother. Our guide, Miroslav, wanted to drive to the site high on Magura Hill, but the rutted path, damaged by recent rain, made it impossible, so we set off on foot uphill. At the top we found two huge circular mounds: 3-foot high stone walls with a grassy raised top. The remains of the mausoleums were visible, and an information board showed how these may have looked.

Back down and in the car, we drove to the deserted site where Milosh, the young curator, told us the fascinating story of Galerius. He was not of noble origins, but rose to the rank of Emperor through bravery and intellect. As an emperor could only reign for 20 years, he built Felix Romuliana, a kind of retirement home, at his birthplace. Unfortunately, he died before his reign was over, but on his death bed, decreed that Christianity should not be forbidden.

The site had been discovered only recently and originally was thought to be a military compound until more artefacts were found including the overriding evidence, a plaque bearing his name. Some items had been reconstructed with the originals being housed in the National Museum in nearby Zajecar. A model depicted how the site, with its 20 large round defence towers, would have been.

Dotted around the site were information boards in English and Serbian and we found a circular mosaic which is covered in winter with sand to protect it. At the southern end, a gate led out to a steam and picnic area.

Helen Jackson

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