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Roman Emona

By Laura Blake

Posted: 3rd February 2014 10:44

The historic legacy of Ljubljana runs deep. What now stands as the capital and largest city found in Slovenia was once the site of a thriving Roman settlement, and traces of this flourishing legacy still remain across the city, offering tantalising glimpses into the past.

The settlement of Emona was built in the middle of the ‘Ljubljana Gateway’, a natural passage between central Europe and the Mediterranean, allowing control over the major European trade routes. Built in 14 AD, Emona was both an important military stronghold and a flourishing commercial hub. Archaeological excavations have discovered that the settlement was at first little more than a basic military camp constructed behind defensive ditches. Progress however, was rapid; the ground plan show that the settlement covered around 430 metres of land and was protected by eight metre tall walls that were 2.5 metres thick. What is so fascinating about the remnants of Emona is that they display the methodical ingenuity that is synonymous with the Roman Empire; the city was laid out in a rectangle with a forum built at its very heart. Beautifully rendered walls and mosaic floors were a standard feature of Emona’s buildings, whilst a system of intersecting paved streets mirrored a major drainage channel built below the surface that carried waste into the nearby Ljubljana River.

It is believed that Emona supported a population of between five and six thousand, and was so important that it has its own patron goddess, Equrna – but Emona gradually fell into a state of decline as the Roman Empire slowly began to lose power.  The city was finally destroyed in 452, when it was ransacked by the Huns.  Today, the stories of Emona can be explored in three main sites across the city, such as a newly renovated section of the old city walls in the Mirje District. Ljubljana proudly displays its successes and scars of the past, creating a truly captivating atmosphere. 

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