Villa Armira is the most well-preserved suburban estate of Roman times in Bulgaria
13 May, 2017
Almost all rooms have mosaic flooring.
The owner and his two children.
The villa has its own heating system, hypocaust.
Mythological scenes could be seen in almost every room.
The relics of Villa Armira, the most sumptuously decorated private palace of Roman times in Bulgarian lands, are located in southern Bulgaria, not far from the town of Ivailovgrad. Discovered in 1964 during a reservoir construction, this fine specimen of Roman culture was named after the nearby River Armira.
The suburban villa was built in the late 1st century AD on a site meeting all the requirements for such constructions, as described by the ancient Roman writers. It is situated on a south-facing slope in the immediate vicinity of a water supply source and close to a main road. It is believed to have originally belonged to a close associate of the Roman governor of the surrounding area, who issued the former a permit to build his own villa complex just decades after Thrace was finally conquered by Rome.
The luxury two-storey villa with a panoramic terrace is elaborately decorated with white marble and has exquisite mosaic flooring. It spreads over 3,600 square metres amidst a large garden. There is an outdoor pool (impluvium) in the centre of the complex surrounded by a number of rooms for different purposes. The building has a hypocaust, traditional ancient Roman heating system, a hollow space under the floor, in which hot air circulated through ceramic pipes or between stacks of bricks (pilae), supporting the floor. A number of ceramic vessels, jewels and everyday objects, indicative of an opulent lifestyle, were discovered in the villa.
In the early 2nd century, a marble shop was set up here to chisel the white marble extracted in the area. As a result, the entire ground floor was faced with perfectly chiseled marble tiles, covering the walls of all the important chambers and the pool, which used to be surrounded by a colonnade and a lovely fence. All the chambers and halls had mosaic flooring featuring traditional geometric or figural motifs. In the master's chamber, mosaic portraits of the 2nd-century owner and his two children were found. These are the only Roman-era mosaic portraits to have been discovered in Bulgaria.
In the early 3rd century, Villa Armira was expanded eastward with a spacious triclinium (a dining-room containing a dining table with couches along three sides) with adjoining rooms for the servants. New mosaics with images of the Gorgon Medusa, a common theme in the villa's decoration, were added. The complex was inhabited until the third quarter of the 4th century. It was destroyed in the invasion by the Goths, supposedly during the devastating ravage of the region in the aftermath of the Battle of Adrianople (modern Edirne) of 378 that led to a disastrous defeat of the Roman army.