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The ruins of Aquincum
|Location||Budapest, Central Hungary, Hungary|
Aquincum (Latin: [aˈkᶣɪŋkũː], Hungarian: [ˈɒkviŋkum]) was an ancient city, situated on the northeastern borders of the province of Pannonia within the Roman Empire. The ruins of the city can be found today in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. It is believed that Marcus Aurelius wrote at least part of his book Meditations at Aquincum.
Aquincum was originally settled by the Eravisci, a Celtic tribe. Aquincum served as a military base (castrum), having been part of the Roman border protection system called limes. Around AD 41-54, a 500-strong cavalry unit arrived, and a Roman legion of 6,000 men (Legio II Adiutrix) was stationed here by AD 89. The city gradually grew around the fortress, and after Pannonia was reorganised by the Romans in AD 106, Aquincum became the capital city of the Roman province of Pannonia Inferior, holding that position until the administrative reform of Diocletian, more than a hundred years later. Under Hadrian, the city obtained municipal status, while under Septimius Sever, Aquincum became a colonia.
The city had at least 30,000 inhabitants by the end of the 2nd century, and covered a significant part of the area today known as the Óbuda district within Budapest. Ruins from the old Roman settlement can be seen in other parts of Budapest as well, notably Contra-Aquincum. These Roman structures were, during the 2nd and 3rd century AD, the heart of the commercial life of the Pannonia province. The excavations show evidence of the lifestyle of this period. From the beginning of the 3rd. century Christianity began to spread in the city.
During the middle of the 4th. century, the territory of Aquincum was under constant Sarmatian attacks from the north. The decline of the Roman Empire included Aquincum, and the ancient city was largely destroyed by 350 AD. Germans and the forces of Attila the Hun invaded the region during 409 AD.
People living in the settlement could enjoy the achievements of the Empire, like central heating in the houses, public baths, a Mithraeum and palaces, The most important monuments in Aquincum are the two amphitheatres: the Aquincum Civil Amphitheatre and the Aquincum Military Amphitheatre, built in the 1st century AD. These were venues for gladiatorial combats and beast fights.
Many historic artifacts from the city now appear in the Aquincum Museum. The museum exhibits a reconstruction of the hydraulic system, Roman houses and paintings that have been recovered on site. The ruins of a three-level aqueduct have been discovered around the city. As of 2007, the museum is also opened to the public in wintertime.
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