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Amphitheatre of Serdica

ul.Budapeshta 2 | Arena di Serdica Residence Hotel, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
+359-2-810-7901
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Review Highlights
Fascinating preservation of Roman ruins

In the centre of Sofia go back thousands of years and imagine the Roman life in this below ground... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
Denis F
,
Island of Gozo, Malta
Surprise

This was a real surprise to discover in Sofia. steeped in history and currently undergoing... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
northants90
,
Northampton, United Kingdom
via mobile
Read all 265 reviews
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In the past Serdica was the capital of the eastern province of Dacia Mediterranea - part of the Great Roman Empire. It was an important commercial and political centre, large and well developed city, built in a Roman style with large stone streets, a forum, beautiful temples and impressive buildings with magnificent decorations.In 2004 during the construction works in the city center of Sofia unexpectedly came across a part of a Roman wall. Archaeological excavations immediately started – thus the Amphitheatre of Serdica (Amphiteatrum Serdicense) was discovered! This is a monumental public building with an elliptical layout and an arena in the middle, elliptically surrounded by the tiered seats for the spectators. The great number of coins and pottery discovered enabled the researchers to identify two periods in III-IV century. During the research on the site it became evident that about 5 meters under the amphitheatre there is a theatre, built in II-III century, i.e. 100 years earlier. A unique complex combining ancient amphitheatre and theatre was discovered. These are the largest buildings from the age of ancient Serdica, evidencing its heyday during the centuries. The finding was declared unique and the discovery - unmatched in the world!The Arena of Serdica is 60.5 m long and 43 m wide. However, the Amphitheatre of Serdica is the only one in the world, combining a Roman theatre and a late antique amphitheatre in one place and the only such public building in the Balkans. This makes the site truly unique and the discovery - sensational. It is a fact that no other capital or even city in the world can boast a theatre and amphitheatre together and located in its very centre. Its construction began during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and was completed by the Emperor Constantine the Great.Interesting Facts:- The first evidence for the existence of an amphitheatre with arena for fights is a stone plate found in 1919 near the present-day building of the Council of Ministers. It is assumed that it served as an “advertising banner” at the entrance of the ancient Serdica. Nowadays it is preserved and is on display in the Archaeological Museum in Sofia.- The plate reveals images of lions, tigers, bulls, crocodiles, which took part in combat with Gladiators. The Christians persecuted at this time were thrown to the wild beasts for the amusement of the spectators. The excavations revealed teeth of bear.- The amphitheatre was located outside the fortress walls of the ancient town and now it is located in the centre of Sofia.- Its walls have been preserved in their actual form and the combat arena is covered with sand as it was in the past. The origin of the word “arena” is from the Latin word for sand “harena”. The sand was selected as the most suitable material to absorb the blood of the victims.- When standing in the ruins of the amphitheatre and looking up at the street level, it becomes evident how ages and nature have deposited a new layer of about 12 m between the town of Serdika from III century and the modern city.- The walls of the amphitheatre and the sectors with seats were about 5 floors high and correspond to the level of the nowadays Moskovska Street. About 25,000 spectators gathered on the site. Its opposite end is found to be near the Youth Theatre on Dondukov Blvd.- 7 stone seats for spectators are preserved and placed in their original locations.- Here the dressing rooms of the actors involved in theatrical performances can be seen, as well as the entrance of the east gate, where the chariots passed during the gladiatorial combat.- Clad in metal and leather, people from all over the empire used to die or gain their freedom on the arena.Besides the metallic clink of weapons, the ruins remembered recitations of poets and orators, virtuoso performances of musicians and actors, exalted cheers of spectators.- Clay tiles still bear the footprints of animals - goats, dogs, cats, immortalized their traces in the uncured slabs of the ancient builders.A dwelling and a furnace dated V-VI century and a well dated IV-V century were also discovered.Superstructures built during the age of the Ottoman Empire were found, as well as coins and pottery from this period. Legends about the Emperor Diocletian – the creator of the Amphitheatre of Serdica - Diocletian was characterized with his lust for power, serious and pensive look, as if contemplating great deals. It had been predicted that he would reach the supreme power after killing a boar, so he repeatedly went hunting. - When seized power, Diocletian reserved for himself the eastern empire and the position of senior co-emperor. He took the name Jovius – from the name of god Jove, Jupiter. - Diocletian first introduced as mandatory the complex royal ceremonies followed by almost all the emperors after him, aimed at enhancing the power and limiting the access to the autocrats deified while still alive. - After the solemn abdication of Diocletian - the only emperor who retired voluntarily - it turns out that it was only his authority that protected the Tetrarchy from collapsing. - Diocletian spent the last years of his life in his huge palace, which was built near his hometown of Aspalatos (today's city of Split) in Dalmatia. According to legend, when some messengers came to him with a request to return to power again, he replied to them that “if they knew what vegetables he himself grew in his garden, they would never ask him to become the Emperor again”.
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Travellers talk about
“roman ruins” (11 reviews)
“metro station” (9 reviews)
LOCATION
ul.Budapeshta 2 | Arena di Serdica Residence Hotel, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
CONTACT
Website
+359-2-810-7901
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Reviews (265)
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1 - 10 of 106 reviews

Reviewed 2 days ago

In the centre of Sofia go back thousands of years and imagine the Roman life in this below ground centre

Thank Denis F
Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

This was a real surprise to discover in Sofia. steeped in history and currently undergoing archeological exploration. It is well worth checking out and the site is well protected. Very good sight to see in Sofia.

Thank northants90
Reviewed 1 week ago

The entrance is within the underground, it is free of charge and you just wander in to encounter a very interesting historical place. I definitely recommend to visit, don't expect something amazing but it is quite remarkable what was discovered during the building of a...More

Thank Pam R
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Hidden next to the church. A must see. You can get close to all the artifacts. Gives you an idea of what is under the city.

Thank Mark R
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

just keep on walkng around to find this place. It seems you are walking into a metro station but you are really not.

Thank 427BeatleBob
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Our guide explained that the Roman ruins were discovered whilst they were constructing the Hotel Serdica. Unlike in some countries, construction still went ahead but the ruins are now proudly displayed and available to anyone to visit.

Thank kathryndob
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

It is great how they have protected parts of Serdica and that you can walk around, much of it under cover so great on a rainy day.

Thank travelpassion
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Very interesting site to see the Roman ruins which they have preserved. Saw this as part of the Free Sofia Walking Tour

Thank rosie1393
Reviewed 5 weeks ago

Few cities in Europe have made such an effort to excavate old Roman ruins under their centers. One wonders why, as the cost of real estate in Sofia as well is pretty high. Perhaps it is the city's pride of having been part of Roman...More

Thank Robert937
Reviewed 4 September 2017 via mobile

This site is stripped of its history by the fancy hotel that has been built on top of it. What happened to authenticity

Thank Scott K
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