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Address: ul.Budapeshta 2 | at the Arena di Serdica Residence Hotel, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
Description:

In the past Serdica was the capital of the eastern province of Dacia...

In the past Serdica was the capital of the eastern province of Dacia Mediterranea - part of the Great Roman Empire. It was an important commercial and political centre, large and well developed city, built in a Roman style with large stone streets, a forum, beautiful temples and impressive buildings with magnificent decorations.In 2004 during the construction works in the city center of Sofia unexpectedly came across a part of a Roman wall. Archaeological excavations immediately started – thus the Amphitheatre of Serdica (Amphiteatrum Serdicense) was discovered! This is a monumental public building with an elliptical layout and an arena in the middle, elliptically surrounded by the tiered seats for the spectators. The great number of coins and pottery discovered enabled the researchers to identify two periods in III-IV century. During the research on the site it became evident that about 5 meters under the amphitheatre there is a theatre, built in II-III century, i.e. 100 years earlier. A unique complex combining ancient amphitheatre and theatre was discovered. These are the largest buildings from the age of ancient Serdica, evidencing its heyday during the centuries. The finding was declared unique and the discovery - unmatched in the world!The Arena of Serdica is 60.5 m long and 43 m wide. However, the Amphitheatre of Serdica is the only one in the world, combining a Roman theatre and a late antique amphitheatre in one place and the only such public building in the Balkans. This makes the site truly unique and the discovery - sensational. It is a fact that no other capital or even city in the world can boast a theatre and amphitheatre together and located in its very centre. Its construction began during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and was completed by the Emperor Constantine the Great.Interesting Facts:- The first evidence for the existence of an amphitheatre with arena for fights is a stone plate found in 1919 near the present-day building of the Council of Ministers. It is assumed that it served as an “advertising banner” at the entrance of the ancient Serdica. Nowadays it is preserved and is on display in the Archaeological Museum in Sofia.- The plate reveals images of lions, tigers, bulls, crocodiles, which took part in combat with Gladiators. The Christians persecuted at this time were thrown to the wild beasts for the amusement of the spectators. The excavations revealed teeth of bear.- The amphitheatre was located outside the fortress walls of the ancient town and now it is located in the centre of Sofia.- Its walls have been preserved in their actual form and the combat arena is covered with sand as it was in the past. The origin of the word “arena” is from the Latin word for sand “harena”. The sand was selected as the most suitable material to absorb the blood of the victims.- When standing in the ruins of the amphitheatre and looking up at the street level, it becomes evident how ages and nature have deposited a new layer of about 12 m between the town of Serdika from III century and the modern city.- The walls of the amphitheatre and the sectors with seats were about 5 floors high and correspond to the level of the nowadays Moskovska Street. About 25,000 spectators gathered on the site. Its opposite end is found to be near the Youth Theatre on Dondukov Blvd.- 7 stone seats for spectators are preserved and placed in their original locations.- Here the dressing rooms of the actors involved in theatrical performances can be seen, as well as the entrance of the east gate, where the chariots passed during the gladiatorial combat.- Clad in metal and leather, people from all over the empire used to die or gain their freedom on the arena.Besides the metallic clink of weapons, the ruins remembered recitations of poets and orators, virtuoso performances of musicians and actors, exalted cheers of spectators.- Clay tiles still bear the footprints of animals - goats, dogs, cats, immortalized their traces in the uncured slabs of the ancient builders.A dwelling and a furnace dated V-VI century and a well dated IV-V century were also discovered.Superstructures built during the age of the Ottoman Empire were found, as well as coins and pottery from this period. Legends about the Emperor Diocletian – the creator of the Amphitheatre of Serdica - Diocletian was characterized with his lust for power, serious and pensive look, as if contemplating great deals. It had been predicted that he would reach the supreme power after killing a boar, so he repeatedly went hunting. - When seized power, Diocletian reserved for himself the eastern empire and the position of senior co-emperor. He took the name Jovius – from the name of god Jove, Jupiter. - Diocletian first introduced as mandatory the complex royal ceremonies followed by almost all the emperors after him, aimed at enhancing the power and limiting the access to the autocrats deified while still alive. - After the solemn abdication of Diocletian - the only emperor who retired voluntarily - it turns out that it was only his authority that protected the Tetrarchy from collapsing. - Diocletian spent the last years of his life in his huge palace, which was built near his hometown of Aspalatos (today's city of Split) in Dalmatia. According to legend, when some messengers came to him with a request to return to power again, he replied to them that “if they knew what vegetables he himself grew in his garden, they would never ask him to become the Emperor again”.

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Remarkable

You can stroll through the ruins and check the boards to discover what each are was. I would not necessarily go out of my way to see this but as it's so central I'd suggest... read more

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 1 week ago
Mike M
,
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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176 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 68: English reviews
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
85 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

You can stroll through the ruins and check the boards to discover what each are was. I would not necessarily go out of my way to see this but as it's so central I'd suggest taking an hour at most to wander around. I can't believe how clean the surrounds were,; not a spec of litter. Well done to the... More 

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Thank Mike M
Texas
Level Contributor
63 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

I would recommend seeing the amphitheatre only if you have extra time on your trip to Sofia. It is free and interesting, but very small and located within a hotel which cheapens the experience in my opinion. After seeing the cathedral, Sofia Basilica, and museum of archeology, the amphitheatre was nearly a let-down.

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Thank Sarah P
Athens, Greece
Level Contributor
54 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 February 2017

This is the old town of Sofia. It is recently revealed and it is still under excavation. It is in the city centre and you can not miss it. It is also on the way to the metro. Someone , cannot walk along it or above as it is closed to the public. However, you can get a very good... More 

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Thank GeorgeSemertzakis
Budapest, Hungary
Level Contributor
118 reviews
73 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 February 2017

I have seen roman ruins all over Europe but this one is speciall because of the presentations. The ruins are a level lower than the present level of the present day buildings and are covered by glass top, which let you fell how the new city Sofia rose above old Serdica. You will not find as many and complete ruins... More 

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Thank Agnes56
Level Contributor
84 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 January 2017 via mobile

There are story boards which give you a potted history of what you are looking at & despite being underground it's clean, free, well light & easy to stroll around and get up close & personal with the ruins. We went late evening & were the only people there apart from what appeared to be security staff in their glass... More 

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Thank Sarah E
Sofia, Bulgaria
Level Contributor
88 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 January 2017

When I visited it the site was under reconstruction but it was really interesting to peek inside.It is a must-see because it is part of the ancient history of Sofia and the location is perfect-next to the Sheraton Hotel and the central Mall.

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Thank ELENA511
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
95 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 January 2017 via mobile

Although on my to-see list, I stumbled across this early by chance. It is fascinating. While we couldn't fully appreciate the outside parts as they were buried in the snow, the undercover parts have a vivid idea of the layout and functioning of the streets and buildings of the unearthed area, which is substantial. Clearly described in English, walls have... More 

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Thank Chris B
Zemun, Serbia
Level Contributor
236 reviews
201 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 204 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 January 2017

This is the best way Sofia can show tourists its rich history. It is like open air museum, in city center, well marked, clean.

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1 Thank MetalMind
Crewe, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
38 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 December 2016

The ampitheatre is well preserved in the basement of a hotel. You are able to walk around and enjoy the Roman past of Sofia.

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1 Thank Simon N
Level Contributor
2,471 reviews
1,910 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 584 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 December 2016

I like the idea that this structure is preserved within the hotel and after preservation, the hotel included these ruins within the design of their building. It's free to enter but the ruins themselves are not that spectacular.

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Thank KarolaRS

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