Croatia is so rich in Roman heritage, boasting places like Salona, Diocletian's Palace, Pula, Brijuni Islands, that it's amazing that sites like the military complex at Burnum, historically significant Varvaria (Bribir) and megalithic walls of Asseria near Benkovac are still considered "lost Roman cities". These three important archaeological digs still, for the most part, hide entire cities - with all their streets, temples, baths, mosaics, monuments waiting to be revealed.
Burnum, some claim, originates from the year 33 B.C. The Roman governor for Dalmatia Publius Cornelius Dolabella is credited with actually starting the city, and during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius, around 50 A.D., Burnum was already a well-established town. Several Roman legions were located there in succession and even the famous Roman writer Pliny the Elder (AD 23 - 79) wrote about the fortress at Burnum. Today, Burnum is the most recently excavated Roman military arena in Europe!
Asseria flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, when it was one of the main settlements of the Liburnians. The oldest remains found so far in Asseria date back to the 5th century BC, and reveal a town with walls 7m high and 3 m thick, built as part of the military belt protecting the rich cultural life on the coast from barbarian invasions from the inland. As a classic Roman city, Asseria had a town square, a water system, public baths and a necropolis, all of which have been uncovered. Still, its most important Roman monument is a triumphal arch, one of seven entrances into the city, built in 113 AD in honor of Roman Emperor Trajan.
A village at the hilltop of Bribir, Varvaria was as well Liburnian and later Roman settlement. Interestingly, the old name 'Varvaria' as well as the Croatian name Bribir, actually translate to 'settlement by water', possibly a reference to a Stone Age settlement which was relocated to this site, retaining its old name. Along with remarkable megalithic walls, Varvaria features floor stone mosaics, a Nypheum – public cistern system, as well as important tributes to the more recent Croatian history.
Our "Lost Roman Cities Tour" takes you on an unforgettable historical journey to discover Burnum, Asseria and Varvaria and optionally, the location of Promona - the site of last battle in which Romans under Augustus finally defeated the wild Illyrian Delmati tribe to complete their conquest of the eastern Adriatic shores.
The program can be arranged to start from Zadar or the Šibenik area and can even be explored from Split.