Aquincum

This Hungarian city is over 11 hours from Italy’s capital, but its ruins call to mind the architecture and history of ancient Rome.

Visit Aquincum, in Budapest’s Óbuda district, to see the ruins of an ancient Roman settlement of the same name. As you walk among the remnants of temples, residences, public bathhouses, shops and a law court, you will be able to make out the layout of what was once a prosperous capital city in the third century.

Roman Emperor Vespasian established a military camp on the site. It was an important part of the Empire, even producing several leaders of the Roman Empire. The same architectural advances that were in place in Rome were brought to these Eastern reaches of the empire. Observe the large amphitheater and a three-level aqueduct, which brought water from the springs to the military camp.

By the fifth century, Romans began to withdraw from the city, leaving it vulnerable to invaders, including the Huns under Attila. Other citizens also withdrew, so that the city was abandoned and falling to decay until archaeologists began excavations at the end of the 19th century.

Adjacent to the archaeological park, which has an admission fee, is the Aquincum Museum. It holds restored mosaics and murals from excavated ancient Roman buildings. There are also statues and artifacts from the governor’s palace, demonstrating luxuries of ancient daily life. Within the museum, the Aquincum Vision Storage provides views of 1,200 finds from prehistory through ancient Roman times through life under the rule of the Huns. See what the rotating exhibitions offer as well.

The Aquincum Museum is open year-round, but closed on Mondays. English-speaking guides are available with advance booking. There is a fee to enter the museum except on Hungarian national holidays (March 15, August 20 and October 23). Public buses stop at the north and south entrances to the archaeological park.


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