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SOFIA | Ancient Cultural & Communicational Complex Serdica

62582 Views 124 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  Ulpia-Serdica
A little introduction about the Ancient city of Serdica

Sofia was originally a Thracian settlement called Serdica or Sardica (Greek: Σερδική, Σαρδική), named after the Celtic[1] tribe Serdi that had populated it. For a short period during the 4th century B.C., the city was possessed by Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great.

Around 29 B.C., Sofia was conquered by the Romans and renamed Ulpia Serdica.[2] It became a municipium, or centre of an administrative region, during the reign of Emperor Trajan (98-117). The city expanded, as turrets, protective walls, public baths, administrative and cult buildings, a civic basilica and a large amphitheatre called Bouleutherion, were built. When Emperor Diocletian divided the province of Dacia into Dacia Ripensis (on the banks of the Danube) and Dacia Mediterranea, Serdica became the capital of Dacia Mediterranea. The city subsequently expanded for a century and a half, which caused Constantine the Great to call it "my Rome". In 343 A.D. , the Council of Sardica was held in the city, in a church located where the current 6th century Church of Saint Sofia was later built.

Serdica was of moderate size, but magnificent as an urban concept of planning and architecture, with abundant amusements and an active social life. It flourished during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, when it was surrounded with great fortress walls whose remnants can still be seen today.
Currently the Sofia municipality is building the second metro line. Around the area where the existing Serdica metro station is located, will be built the St. Nedelya station and around it there will be a large complex which will incorporate the remains of the old city discovered together with the already exposed remains.

Here is the project

Here are some pictures of the already exposed remains

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Here is the situation today. They have installed the concrete bars that will be used to cover part of the remains and over which they will rebuild the boulevard. Also they have started the construction of the support for the glass roof.

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They started some of the landscaping and sidewalks near the complex

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Some updates of the archaeological excavations

Ларгото - Строителство на втори метродиаметър -пресечна точка с с първи. Археология

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Some more updates. The landscaping over one side of the street is almost over. As for the archaeological digs, they found a further part of the ancient city's main street (the big tiles in some of the pictures) and one of the Bulgarian forumers reported that they found some columns' capitals.

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Indeed. It would be great if Belgrade does the same with the remains of Singidunum. :cheers:

Here are some more pictures (from newspaper

Sofia's chief architect showing some of the columns' remains.

The digs under blvd. Maria Luiza

A terracotta figure

Some other remains close to where the glass dome will be located

Some of the mosaics found in the Roman baths

Ancient tub

Ancient water system


pictures made by Little sheep

On the right, you can see the remains of Via Principalis, the main Roman road of Serdica which was connecting the Western and Eastern gates of the fortress.

They recently found a 30 sqm mosaic in one of the buildings. The hypothesis is that this room was a reception hall. The mosaic is quite well preserved, although the earth due to underground water has fallen in some parts. There are still quite a few rooms to be excavated and hopefully more mosaics will come out.

^^ Amazing! I'd love to see that in person!
It should be ready at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013. You are welcomed to visit :cheers:
Here is a map of downtown Sofia and the exposed/current/potential archaeological areas.

Red - potential
Yellow - current
Blue - Exposed

1. This area has proven archaeological remains. The building on the upper left side of the area is a market where the city have found remains underneath when the building was restored at the beginning of the 90s. The other building in this area is a mosque and some remains have been found next to it. There are no official statements for future digs.

2. The North-Eastern round tower complex. The area was dug out during the 70s but it greatly needs some renovations.

3. This is the area where the archaeological digs are currently done or will be within the upcoming months.

4. The Eastern Gate complex. The area can be seen in the first pictures in my first post.

5. Rotunda St. George complex. Learn more here

6. St. Nedelya square. This area has a lot of potential. The municipality has shown interest in starting digs soon and hopefully we will hear more within the upcoming months. The area is said to be the place where the governor of Serdica has his palace, so quite a few interesting things could pop out.

7. The Western Gate complex. The area was partially excavated several decades ago and some have been integrated within the newly build Catholic church (building in left side of the area), but still a lot could be dug out.

An article from Agence France Presse

Bulgaria subway expansion digs up Roman city

SOFIA — Cars zoom by on the boulevards overhead as work progresses on expanding the subway underneath -- and in between a full-fledged Roman city has emerged right in the heart of the Bulgarian capital.

Archaeologists have little by little unearthed well-preserved stretches of cobbled Roman streets, a public bath, the ruins of a dignitary's house and the curved wall of an early Christian basilica, all dating back to the 4th century AD.

If all goes well, the ruins will be fashioned into a vast underground museum due to open to the public in late 2012.

"We hope to close excavations in another month and a half to open a room for conservation and then open the complex by the autumn of 2012," excavations chief Mario Ivanov told AFP on a recent visit to the site.

Roman ruins have dotted the capital for ages. Among these are a fully-preserved round Roman church and the sunken remains of an emperor's palace in the courtyard of Sofia's stern-looking presidency -- an incongruous sight and a prime tourist attraction for years now.

The latest excavations are basically an extension of the earlier ones, and are exposing more and more of Ulpia Serdica, a Roman town -- and important crossing point between Europe and Asia for thousands of years -- that stretches right beneath the government quarter in downtown Sofia.

The digs picked up in the last year as the city started work on a new subway line, which is to include a major station planned right under the historical site.
Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said drafts for the subway had to be adjusted four times as archaeologists -- unsure what to expect -- peeled away layers that exposed new treasures.

But the adjustments should be worth it.
"Sofia will have the most beautiful and state-of-the-art subway station in Europe with 1.9 hectares (204,500 square feet) of underground museum," she said.

The archaeological project was funded with 16 million leva (8 million euros, $11.6 million) from the European Union's regional development programme.

As work progressed, two boulevards covering the site were partly rebuilt on massive concrete crossbeams to allow archaeologists, working below, to expose a section of the stone-paved Decomanus Maximus, the main street in the Roman town.

A stretch of the underground ruins will also be visible from street level through a huge glass dome.

Bordering the Decomanus Maximus, archaeologists also uncovered the remains of what is believed to be the home of an important local dignitary, complete with inner courtyard and private bathhouse.

"Due to its central positioning and two seals found in the house, we presume it was the home of Leontius, one of the bishops of Ulpia Serdica," said archaeologist Ivanov.

The building next door was a Roman bath, probably patronised by the wealthier classes, complete with an intricate heating system underfoot, pink plaster floors and some 30 square metres of well-preserved Roman rosette mosaics.

Of more than just aesthetic value, these excavations also offer a glimpse into Bulgaria's ancient history.

Digging deeper at one spot, the archaeologists uncovered the ruins of a dried brick house from the mid-2nd century as well as well-preserved wooden parts of a Roman house from the 1st century.

A furnace with traces of glass on its charred surface could also indicate early glass making in the town, which until now was thought to have imported its glassware until after the 4th century, according to Ivanov.

"Once finished, the complex will be very beautiful and become a major tourist attraction," he predicted.

Visitors should be allowed to touch the ruins and "immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the ancient town: it's different from just looking at objects on display in a museum."

They might even do so on their way to catch the subway.
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