Ancient Serdica - Roman thermal baths and temples
Loading google map. Please wait!
The rule of the emperors of the Severan dynasty (AD197–235) was a time of upsurge for Serdica. Autonomous coin minting was resumed. Motley images of local landmarks (temples, water founts, etc.) and symbols were imprinted on the reverse side of locally-minted coins. The end of the 2nd century AD and the start of the 3rd century AD witnessed busy construction development. The streets and the agora were adorned with colonnaded porticoes in the Roman- Corinthian order. The mineral spring and the curative mineral baths and buildings were instrumental in the prosperity of the city. We can judge from statuary images, inscriptions and coins about the prime role of the gods of healing – Apollo and Asclepius. Fragments have been discovered from an imposing statue of Asclepius, as well as a magnificent gilded bronze head of a statue of Apollo the Healer – a Roman copy of an Early Greek original belonging to the Skopas School. The ancient mineral water reservoir, located to the south of Banya Bashi Mosque, was crucial to the arrangement of healing activities in the city. The huge thermal baths, south of the agora, beneath today’s St Nedelya Church, were built at that time. Hypocaust (underfloor heating) installations and a good-size pool in the building have been partially explored. Other deities were also venerated in Serdica. A temple to Heracles (underneath Bulbank building) and parts of a temple to Zeus Hypsystos, to the north of the fortification wall, have been uncovered. Pieces of cult statues and inscriptions testify to the veneration of Athena, Artemis, Cybele and Mitra. Excavations at the Temple to Heracles have laid open a great number of broken pieces of cult statues of various deities. The act of destruction is accounted for with the advent of Christianity and the eradication of pagan symbols in the late 4th century AD.