Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Three-Hour Walk Around Óbuda

At frist glace Óbuda today seems little more than a concrete jungle of tower blocks and flyovers. Behind the grey facade, however, there is a strong local identity and clues to the area’s long and colourful past abound. Arriving here in AD 89, the Romans built a garrison in this district shortly before founding the civilian town of Aquincum to the north. After the departure of Romans in the 5th century AD, successive waves of invaders, including the Magyars all left their mark on Obuda (literally “Old Buda”). By the end of the 16th century, Obuda was a thriving market town, eventually forming part of the city of Budapest in 1873.

Amphitheatre to the Roman Camp Museum Begin the walk at the corner of Becsi utca and Pacsirtamez≥ ut, which is dominated by the remains of a very fine Roman amphitheatre 1. The Romans arrived in the region soon after the time of Christ, building this impressive amphitheatre in the middle of the 2nd century AD, by which time Aquincum was the thriving capital of the province of Lower Pannonia. Originally used by the Roman soldiers from the nearby garrison, it became a fortress in the 9th century for the invading Magyar army. Not much remains of its once huge walls, but the scale of the theatre, which was designed to seat 14,000, is still awe inspiring. From the amphitheatre, continue along Pacsirtamez≥ ut to No. 63, the Roman Camp (Taborvaros) Museum 2. In the 1950s, this modern residential district, built on top of a Roman military camp complex, was found to be enormously rich in Roman artifacts. The museum (open Sundays and public holidays) houses Roman finds from the area, including ceramics, glassware and household tools.

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