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The northern Balkans, including Ratiaria in Dacia Ripensis, in the 6th century

Coordinates: 43°48′56″N 22°54′55″E / 43.81556°N 22.91528°E / 43.81556; 22.91528

Ratiaria plan
A grave stone with the inscription about Tettius Rufus, a Decurion and Pontiff of the Roman colony Ratiaria;[1] currently kept at the National Archaeological Institute and Museum, Sofia. The Latin inscription reads: D (is) M (Anibus) / L (uci) Tetti / Rufi dec (urionis) / Pontif (ICIS) / col (onia) Council (Iaria) / Fonteia / nus frat (s)

Ratiaria[2] (or: Raetiaria, Retiaria, Reciaria, Razaria; Bulgarian: Рациария; Greek: Ραζαρία μητρόπολις;) was a city founded by the Moesians, a Daco-Thracian tribe, in the 4th century BC,[citation needed] along the river Danube. In Roman times it was named Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria.

It is located 2 km west of the present village of Archar in Vidin Province, northwestern Bulgaria. The closest modern cities are Vidin (27 km. to the north west) and Lom (28 km. to the east).

An archaeological museum for the site has recently been established in Dimovo.[3]


Governor's residence, Ratiaria

Ratiaria was conquered by the Dacians of Burebista[citation needed] and later by the Romans.

The city had a gold mine in the vicinity, which was exploited by the Thracians.

The earliest involvement of the Romans occurred in 75 BC when Gaius Curio Scribonius Burbuleio, prefect of Macedonia, entered this territory to ward off the Scordisci, the Dardani and the Daci.

In 29 BC, Marcus Licinius Crassus chased the Triballi here to a fortress.[4]

It was not until the principate of Augustus that the Romans conquered the region, which was organised into a province named Moesia. In 33/34 AD Tiberius built the road linking the Danube forts including Viminacium and Ratiaria. The city was certainly less important than the nearby Sirmium, Viminacium and Naissus, but its associated fortress located along the Danubian Limes made it a key legionary station. Legio IV Flavia Felix was based here at least until the conquest of Dacia (101-106 AD), together with the fleet of the Classis Moesica under Vespasian.

After the conquest of Dacia, the castrum was abandoned and the settlement became a colonia within Moesia Superior named Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria (107 AD) after its founder the Emperor Trajan. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries Ratiaria became prosperous as a trade centre and customs port.

A number of Roman patricians (aristocrats) lived in Ratiaria, while the nearby Bononia (today's Vidin) was home to a small military unit.

With the definitive abandonment of Dacia Traiana by Aurelian in 271, the old castra in the region were reopened.

It is unclear whether Aurelian or the Emperor Diocletian replaced Dacia Aureliana with two provinces,[5] but by 285, there were two: – Dacia Mediterranea with its capital at Serdica and Dacia Ripensis with its capital at Ratiaria. As the capital of the new province Ratiaria served both as the seat of the military governor (or dux) and as the military base for the Roman legion XIII Gemina.

Later these two “Dacias” along with Dardania, Moesia Inferior and Praevalitana constituted the Diocese of Dacia. An important bishop’s cathedra was established in the town in the 4rd century AD.

The city became an important Christian centre in the 4th century and several bishops are recorded. Palladius of Ratiaria, an Arian Christian theologian, lived here in the late 4th century.

Rebuilding works were done under Anastasius I, celebrated in the new town’s name, Anastasiana Ratiaria. Priscus calls it a prosperous city in the 5th century.[6]

In AD 586 the town was sacked by the Avars.

Archaeological excavations of the site began in 1958 and have continued sporadically since then.

Ecclesiastical History[edit]

As provincial capital of Dacia Ripensis, it also was the Metropolitan archdiocese, yet was to fade.

Titular see[edit]

The archdiocese was nominally restored in 1925 as a Latin Catholic titular archbishopric of the highest (Metropolitan) rank.

The incumbent is Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, having the following previous incumbents:

  • Gustave-Charles-Marie Mutel (민 아우구스티노), Paris Foreign Missions Society (M.E.P.) (1926.01.11 – 1933.01.22)
  • Andrew Killian (1933.07.11 – 1934.11.05)
  • Anselm Edward John Kenealy, Capuchin Franciscans (O.F.M. Cap.) (1936.01.13 – 1943.12.08)
  • Nikolay Avtonomov (1945.10.06 – 1979.08.13)
  • Marian Oles (1987.11.28 – 2005.05.24).
  • Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal (2016.05.03 – ).

Famous locals[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AE 1911, 214; AE 1919, 81.
  2. ^ Ratiaria Web Site: http://www.ratiaria.archbg.net/excavations_en.html
  3. ^ http://www.ratiaria.archbg.net/index_en.html
  4. ^ Cassius Dio, LI 23, 2-27
  5. ^ Bury, p. 135. The date must be A.D. 283, and it is obvious that Aurelian set up the boundary stones, one of which Gaianus restored. There were, then, two Dacias when Diocletian came to the throne and, therefore, Mr. Fillow has inferred that we should read in our List: Dacia <Dacia>, that is presumably Dacia Ripensis and Dacia Mediterranea. Aurelian's Dacia mediterranea might have included Dardania, and Dardania, Mr. Fillow thinks, was split off as a distinct province by Diocletian.
  6. ^ Kazhdan 1991, "Priskos"

Sources and external links[edit]