The castrum of the 13th Legion Gemina, the only legion that remained on the Dacia Province territory during the entire period of Roman occupation, had the standard shape of the permanent Roman castra, well defined by the engineers and the architects of the empire: a rectangle with four gates placed on each side and with main roads that connected the gates placed on opposite sides. In Apulum, the castrum had a medium size compared to other legion castra, having the dimensions of 430 x 480 m and a surface of almost 21 hectars.
In 2011, during the works for the renovation of the citadel, archaeological excavations were conducted and they made visible, amongst other elements of the Roman castrum, a section of Via Principalis, that is to say the road which connected the southern and the northern gates of the fortress. In other words, Porta Principalis Dextra and Porta Principalis Sinistra, that is to say the main gates on the right and on the left, the Roman orientation being by facing the sunrise. The existence of some Via Principalis vestiges were otherwise presumed before the actual excavations and its course was considered obvious since we have parts of Porta dextra preserved in situ. After the archaeological campaign the authorities decided to preserve and expose a section nearby the main artery of the citadel (Michael the Brave Street). In this area some slabs of the road are visible, preserved in situ and completed with new ones in order to offer an articulated image, and also a brick channel positioned under the longitudinal axis of the road, with drainage purpose, and some segments of the side channels used for the drainage of the rain water. In the same area, the porticus columns are visible, that is to say a covered gallery on each side of the road, beyond this gallery and linked to it, different military buildings being placed.
Other important roads of the castrum were Via Praetoria, placed in cross section with Via Principalis and connecting the esastern gate (Porta Praetoria) and the building complex of the castrum headquarters (Principia); Via Decumana was the continuation of Via Praetoria from the Principia to the western gate (Porta Decumana); and finally, Via Sagularis which followed the line of the walls being a patrol road.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
Rectangular in shape, with a gate placed on each side and with main roads that connected the gates placed on opposite sides. This is how the Apulum Roman castrum was planned by the engineers and the architects of the Roman Empire, almost two millennia ago.
If you wonder how did the roads cutting the ancient Apulum looked like, we can tell you that in Alba Iulia we have a section of Via Principalis. It was the road that connected the main gates of the castrum, the southern and the northern ones. Via Principalis was passing in front of the „Principia” of the Roman castrum, that is to say the headquarters of the 13th Legion Gemina.
Here, a part of the 1800 years old building is visible inside the Principia Museum. Every day, carts with salt, oil, wine or even military equipment necessary for the inhabitants of the castrum were passing on the road paved with stone slabs.
The vestiges of the road, on which the Roman soldiers used to walk, came out during the restoration process of the Alba Carolina Citadel. After the archaeological campaign, the area nearby the Michael the Brave street, the main road of the citadel, was chosen to be preserved and to be made visible. Those who come here may see road slabs preserved in situ but also the brick channel underneath the longitudinal axis of the road that was meant to ensure its drainage.
The central part of the road was flanked by two rows of stone slabs with carved edges that were meant to prevent the sideslip of the carts that ensured the food and equipment supplies of the military camp.
The restoration team highlighted segments of the side channels placed by the Romans in order to ensure the drainage of the rainwater but also some of the columns of the porticus, the covered gallery that guarded the road on each side. The traces of the Apulum Roman castrum, archaeologically researched and touristically highlighted, are part of the „European Cultural Route of the Roman emperors and wine along the Danube”.