Monday, August 07, 2017


Construction of a luxury hotel is continuing in Sofia despite the discovery that the site covers part of an ancient Roman necropolis.
While numerous machines laid concrete and strengthened the foundations of the future 190-room five-star hotel, a team of archaeologists with an excavator was carefully digging a rare find out of the ground. They recently discovered an ancient Roman tomb – part of the eastern side of the necropolis of the Roman city of Serdica, which lies under Bulgaria’s capital – which could soon be buried under the luxury new hotel.

The same fate has already befallen six other tombs discovered at the construction site in April. “We have researched almost eight tombs, all of them with half-cylindrical arches, with different sizes, containing over 112 single graves,” Polina Stoyanova co-leader of the archaeological salvation team, told BIRN. She explained that all of the remains were damaged when the former Serdica cinema was built in the 1950s. It was demolished in July, opening up the space for the Hyatt Regency hotel, which is set to open in 2018.

“All the tombs we have discovered were flattened to the level needed for the construction of the cinema, so none of the arches were completely preserved,” Stoyanova added. The archaeologist explained that the Ministry of Culture, which holds the rights to determine the fate of excavations, as state public property, issued a conservation order for one of the tombs.

Large parts of the center of Bulgaria’s capital lie above the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Serdica, which flourished between the 1st and 6th centuries AD. Parts of the ancient city have been revealed. In 2016, the second government of current Prime Minister Boyko Borissov opened the Ancient Serdica complex in the heart of the city, which forms the largest open-air museum in Bulgaria.

Among the most important attractions of ancient Serdica are Decumanus Maximus, the main road of the Roman city, as well as the amphitheatre, one of the largest in the Eastern Roman Empire. The amphitheatre was discovered by accident in 2004 during the construction of another high-end hotel in central Sofia, which is currently named Arena di Serdica and has parts of the archaeological remains exposed in its lobby.
The necropolis of Serdica occupies large parts of Sofia’s downtown, including the space under the building the National Assembly and the area of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral and Sofia University.

Remains of the ancient burial area can be seen exposed in the St Sofia Basilica.

The remains discovered at the Hyatt construction site are located at the further eastern periphery of this necropolis, formed between the second and third centuries AD, where the tombs are of a lower density, Simeonova explained.


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