Situated on the North bank of the Sava, not far from the Danube, Sirmium was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. The Second Legion Adiutrix stayed here for a while, Trajan used it when he attacked Dacia, it was the place where Marcus Aurelius presided the trial of Herodes Atticus. No less than ten emperors were born in or near Sirmium, which became an imperial residence in the fourth century.
Today, it is a provincial town in northwestern Serbia, not far from the Croatian border. There is a beautiful church in the center, dedicated to Saint Demetrius. Next to it is the small archaeological museum. In the neighborhood, there are two excavations – the one in the northwest may have been a bathhouse, the other is a building next to the ancient hippodrome, which is now covered by a park.
The ancient imperial basilica – is this the place where Theodosius was presented as Gratian‘s coruler? – is now in a special hall, which I was not able to visit because it closed earlier than I had expected: at four o’ clock in the afternoon. Nevertheless, there were large windows, which allowed you to see quite a lot.
The museum is nice. Upstairs, there are several rooms with archaeological finds from the ancient city. You will see many objects from daily life, some small sculpture, weapons, a couple of frescos, a few inscriptions, and a bit of pottery. I liked the roof tile, made in 582, containing a prayer: Christ was asked to help the city halt the Avars, to protect the Roman Empire and the maker of the tile.
There’s also a courtyard with inscriptions. I saw records of II Adiutrix, XIII Gemina, I Minervia, and VIII Augusta, several nice reliefs, a couple of beautiful tombs, a mosaic, and – most of all – a wooden boat that lay almost unprotected. I was surprised to see a dedication to Neptune, so far from the sea. It is of course not the most beautiful museum in the world, but the people are friendly, and it is certainly worth a visit.
My article on ancient Sirmium is here, with many photos from the museum.