By Sarah Diefallah
From time to time, modern city life becomes too overwhelming and all that one needs is a nostalgic trip, to indulge in the life of past ancestors and take a moment to enjoy life from a different perspective. Only a few stops on bus number 9 from Nyugati pályaudvar, lies a land of forgotten memories from the Roman times. These are the Aquincum Museum, the Archeological Park and the Hercules Villa; where one can visit exhibition halls, ruin sites and different types of attractions such as the mythological playground and the chronoscope.
From the first century BC until the fifth century AD, Pannonia (a province of the Roman Empire) was located over what is known today as Western Hungary and extended to parts of Austria, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia and Bosnia. One of the largest towns of Pannnonia was Aquincum, which is located in the oldest part of Buda: Óbuda (lit. Old Buda). In 1778, the first Roman ruins were discovered, and excavations started taking place in the historical town; resulting in today’s Aquincum Museum and Archeological Park. There’s also the Hercules Villa, a home to magnificent Roman mosaic floors that’s open to the public for a limited period until the end of October (otherwise accessible all year round with organized visits).
From the moment you step into the site of the Aquincum Museum and Archeological Park, prepare yourself for a journey through time. There are several attractions you will find there – including a collection of Roman vases and accessories; halls with virtual experiences taking you back in time to the domestic life of a contemporary Roman; and the busy business and shopping life with a recreation of the marketplace and shops. There’s also a huge park with ruins of an open-air theater, a chronoscope and a mythological playground that I would say are suitable for both children and adults alike to enjoy.
Although the site exhibits various aspects of the Romans’ lives, it is a shame that not everything is put out on display for visitors. If you take a long enough of a walk through the park, you will notice the huge amount of stored artifacts, which are somewhat hidden from the public. The museum is open all year long and entry costs Ft 500 for students. However, make sure to check the opening hours, especially those of the archeological park as starting from November, they may vary according to weather.
With another short bus ride of two stops on bus number 34 from the Aquincum Museum and Archeological Park from the Villa, you will find yourself at the Hercules Villa, which is open for visits (free admission) on Sundays (11am-1pm) until the end of October 2018. It is one of the only surviving houses of a high-ranking administrator of the era in Pannonia. The site includes two protective buildings containing mosaic floors with geometric motifs, myths of Hercules and Roman boxers, in addition to an assembly hall, stone-wall conduit and graves in the garden. It is believed to have gained its name from the mosaic, depicting the duel between Heracles and Nessus with one of the biggest surviving emblemas (central motif). This mosaic is the only imported one in the whole of Pannonia from an Alexandrian workshop. Despite the small size of the site, the skill and details shown in the mosaics are certainly worth the visit.
If you are looking for a gateway morning to travel through time and enjoy a combination of history and nature, then Aquincum is the place to go. With skillfully collected Mosaics, original stone collections and recreations of ancient times you can enjoy the sites and if you go soon enough, you can end your trip with a walk through the park, to enjoy the changing colors of leaves, fresh apples and the further hidden treasures of the Romans in Hungary.