Felix Romuliana Gamzigrad – Palace of Galerius

Felix Romuliana Gamzigrad – Palace of Galerius

The remains of the luxurious Imperial Roman Palace of Felix Romuliana are set in the village of Gamzigrad, south of the Danube, 11 km from Zaječar and 238 km southeast of Belgrade. The Imperial palace of Felix Romuliana was built by the Roman Emperor Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus between 297 and 311 AD to glorify his victory over Persians that brought him admiration and glory. The late Roman fortified Imperial palace compound of Felix Romuliana, containing luxurious structures protected by massive walls have hexagonal turrets in order to resist the barbarian attacks. Felix Romuliana memorial imperial complex in present day Gamzigrad in East Serbia was inscribed as an unique testimony of Roman building tradition of the period of the Second Tetrarchy. Felix Romuliana archaeological site in Gamzigrad covers the surface of 179 hectares. The powerful and charismatic Emperor Galerius /who was the son in law of Emperor Diocletian/ was born and died in the impressive fortress. Before his death Emperor Galerius proclaimed the Edict on religious tolerance in Nicomedia, on 30th April 311 that legitimized equal religious rights to Christians and was a Christian Inheritance of Felix Romuliana.

The first evidence of the Gamzigrad inhabitants from the pre-Roman times have been discovered in the 1960s and 1970s – by chance or in the course of investigations of the Roman palace. These were the fragments of different pottery vessels accompanied by the ground stone tools and rare bronze objects. The information that there are important pre-historic sites in the vicinity of Gamzigrad palace prompted academician Dragoslav Srejovic to start the archaeological excavations of these sites in the final decades of the 20th century….”The earliest prehistoric settlements documented at Gamzigrad date from the advanced Eneolithic period (Copper Age). In the period between 1989 and 1997 few sites were investigated, including the Bronze Age
necropolis on the Magura hill near the Gamzigrad palace, multilayered prehistoric settlement at Banjska Stena near Gamzigradska Banja (Ma p1 / 19), En eo lithic settlement on the Beligovo hill near Gamzigradska Banja, rock-shelter dwelling place near Gamzigradska Banja, dating from the Bronze Age, Bronze and Early Iron Age settlement in the area called Miletov Bunar near Rims ki Majdan  and Bronze Age settlement in the village Zvezdan”. Prehistoric settlements and necropoles at Gamzigrad and its surroundings, Miroslav Lazic 

After several years of archaeological campaigns within the walls of the Gamzigrad fortified palace, Dr Dragoslav Srejovic and his team discovered the remains of two mausoleums and two consecration mounds on the Magura Hill, one kilometer to the east of the palace. Emperor Galerius was buried in a ceremonial tomb on the top of nearby Magura Hill located about 1 km to the east of the Imperial Palace, side by side with his Queen mother Romula where remains of a mausoleum and monument dedicated to Emperor Galerius and his mother Romula still stands. Romula was priestess of a pagan cult, after whom the famous palace was named. Such composition of the fortification and the buildings with residential and cult purposes is a unique example of Roman architecture.

Archaeological excavations in the complex of Felix Romuliana have revealed the fascinating Emperor’s Residence with exceptionally fine mosaics, magnificent statue of Galerius, temple devoted to Jupiter and Hercules, important economical objects, public baths and remarkable city gates as well as inscription Felix Romuliana which means “Happy Romuliana”. The architecture of the Felix Romuliana Imperial complex is rich in materials, has high quality of decorative architectural sculpture of pillars, capitals, walls, as well as sculptural decoration. Residence, temples, city gates and squares of Felix Romuliana are richly decorated with frescoes and floor mosaics of floral and geometrical motifs. About the middle of the 5th century almost all the structures within the walls were burnt down and demolished. Felix Romuliana was eventually restored but its appearance completely changed. Throughout the 6th century Felix Romuliana was a settlement of farmers and craftsmen. At the beginning of the 7th century it was abandoned and remained deserted until it was settled by the Serbs in the 11th century. Until the 11th century Felix Romuliana was inhabited by Slavs who had their fortification on the particular site.

Since 2007 the fortified palace of Felix Romuliana is the part of UNESCO cultural heritage and thus attracts more and more visitors as well as historians and archaeologists from all over the world.

The Archaeological Site of Felix Romuliana is host of number of cultural events – concerts, performances, scholars and scientific conventions, educations, visitations…. The project “Present yourself to the Emperor Galerius as the customs dictate” had significantly improved the interpretation of this locality, by creation of stronger interaction between the historical heritage of the imperial palace and visitors, which enables visitors to learn and discover undiscovered parts of the palace in uniquely interesting way. The game designed along the model of treasure hunt provide visitors opportunity to take the role or an archeologist and by chasing the hidden clues create a mosaic, and follow the ancient customs which dictated that one needs to take a bath before presentation to the emperor, must make a sacrifice to gods and approach to the emperor in typical ceremony. The basic technical solution comes from the special android application and icons which initiate actions on mobile application when one approaches to the gadget, by hidden traces that need to be discovered by the visitor-archaeologist. The system of hologram projections, interactive panels and 3D computer animation on the Felix Romuliana site provides visitors the opportunity to explore and experience the Roman architecture in the most attractive way. Here visitors are greeted by the “Roman legionaries, centurions and the civil escorts” dressed in original costumes. 

The Felix Romuliana Archaeological Site makes one of our favorite and most recommended tourist destinations in Serbia, thanks to its excellent presentation of the cultural and historical legacy, by unique costumed performances, as well as the possibility to provide memorable enjoyment of visitors in the authentic Roman lunch or traditional meal of the Wallachian, Torlach and Serb specialties served in the pleasantly arranged natural setting. Such brunch or meal makes visitors excited !

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