Anyone who has seen the movie Indiana Jones must have wanted to switch places with Harrison Ford for a moment or longer and go on an exciting adventure. Discovering hidden passages, connecting historical facts and solving puzzles that lead you to priceless treasures are a special experience, and – believe it or not – people actually travel to experience and discover something new. Serbia abounds in archaeological sites, some of which are unique and known throughout the world. From the first organized human settlements to the amazingly advanced architecture of Ancient Rome, traveling through Serbia through several unique sites can be an extraordinary time travel through centuries and millennia.
Sirmium – In the footsteps of the Roman emperors
In the period of Ancient Rome, Sremska Mitrovica was known under a different name – Sirmium. One of the most valuable preserved traces from that period is the Imperial Palace (Palatium Imperiale), which is located near the city square. The very first step into that space opens a window that offers a unique experience of history. This magnificent space is like a labyrinth of grandiose foundations and forms an architectural ensemble of rooms and chambers from which Emperor Diocletian ruled the Roman Empire at the end of the 3rd century AD, and in the 4th century the palace in Sirmium became more important than the Imperial Palatine in Rome.
A visit to the palace is completed by a list of all the emperors who stayed in Sirmium, and it is located to the right of the entrance. The whole range of information about the site is opened to visitors by interpretation panels placed along the entire complex. Of particular importance is the artifact that testifies to the advanced technologies of that era – the hypocaust, a floor heating system. A unique example of decorative art are the floor mosaics and the remains of frescoes on the walls.
Lepenski Vir – Two millennia in the palm of your hand
Lepenski Vir is a treasure trove of the remains of the oldest sedentary human habitation in Europe, founded on Djerdap about 8,000 years ago. The peaceful fishermen “Lepenci” built and nurtured a culture that lasted for two millennia, in the period from 6500 to 4500 BC, in that carefully selected location.
The site of Lepenski Vir was discovered and freed from the burden of accumulated centuries during the comprehensive explorations of Djerdap, which preceded the construction of the hydroelectric power plant Djerdap I. After the excavation was completed, the site was moved to protect it from submergence after the pre-construction of the Danube. A new Visitor Center on the current site was opened to visitors in 2011, and the artifacts are covered and protected by a mesh dome that preserves the remains of an amazing culture that tourists from all over the world come to pay tribute to.
The new protective construction opened up the view of the Treskavac rock, on the left, Romanian bank of the Danube, towards which the entire settlement was oriented because it had a cultic significance for the inhabitants of that time. One of the world’s phenomena and the little-known secret of the Lepenski Vir is linked to the Treskavac rock. Namely, behind Treskavac, the sun rises twice, but only once a year, on the day of summer solstice.
Felix Romuliana – History with the stamp of UNESCO
The Imperial Palace of Felix Romuliana, located near the village of Gamzigrad, 11.5 kilometers from Zaječar, is an archaeological site from the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century and one of the best preserved Roman monuments in Serbia. The remains of the massively fortified villa of Emperor Galerius (Gaius Galerius Valerius Makimianus) form a vivid reminder of the unlimited resources that emperors had at their disposal to shape and create the destiny of the empire.
The attention of visitors is captured by massive fortifications, imperial villas, temples and a granary, built during the time of Emperor Galerius, otherwise one of the 16 Roman emperors born in the area that today belongs to the territory of Serbia. The site is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List and is a must-see for true lovers of culture, history and archaeology, as well as those who are curious and eager for new knowledge and journeys into the past.