ULCISIA CASTRA, Szentendre in the time of the Romans

The Eastern border of the Roman Empire was the Danube. Ulcisia Castra (wolf camp) of Szentendre was an important part of the Roman fortification – called limes – running along the banks of the Danube. It was built in the first years of the 2nd century AD on the present territory of the area confined by Dunakanyar – Paprikabíró – utca and Római sánc.

The fortification which existed until the first half of the 5th century. Could accommodate an army of 1000 men. Its significance is shown by the fact that several Roman Emperors visited it: Septimus Severus in 202; Caracalla in 210 and Valentinianus in 375. The vicus militaris surrounding the fortress was the place where the soldiers’ families and the craftsmen supplying the army dwelled.

While the fortress and the settlement around it were built to protect the frontier of the Empire, the villas on the confines of the town were built for completely different purposes. It was fashionable among the retired town – officials and army officers of the legion – called the veterans – to get an estate on the outskirts of Szentendre build a villa on it and to run a farm. Romans had a sense for natural beauties. They built their villas in the most beautiful areas: in the Pismány and Bubán; near the Dömör – gate and Ókúti stream. The latter one can be found on the present area of the Hungarian Open Air Museum. The ruins of Villa Rustica along one of the ways leading out from Ulcisia Castra, have been restored by archaeologists. The main entrance of the building was adorned by a portico. Its air – heated, marble mosaic ornamented rooms, and its bathhouse were covered with wall paintings and frescos. In the conduits of water pipes the water of the Ókúti – stream was flowing. Its yard with an atrium, its farm buildings and the tool finds make it probable that its owners dealt with vine – growing and kept an inn.

Szentendre lived its first hey – day in the Roman age. The Romans were the first who created civilisation in this area: they built roads, water pipes, stonehouses and made industry, trade, organised social life possible. In our time the memory of the Romans is preserved by some wall – ruins exhibited in the Roman Museum of Stonework Finds along the Dunakanyar körút, and by several streetnames: Õrtorony u., Pannónia u., Római sánc u., Római temetõ u., Római várkert u., Ulcisia – köz. The large – scale road constructions of the Romans have influenced even the present structure of our town.

At the beginning of the 5th century the Huns occupied our area. They were followed by different German tribes, traces of the Langobards have been found in Pannonia – colony. Almost hundred tombs have been excavated this is the biggest Langobard cemetery of our country. After the Langobards the Avars arrived. Their 250 year long rule has already more memories. The most valuable are the magnificent golden and silver finds of their sepulchres, from which we suppose that at the beginning of the 7th century. Szentendre was the princely centre of an Avar tribe. These masterpieces of the Avar goldsmith’s art are preserved in Budapest at the National Museum.