In the former Naissus, the birthplace of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, a luxury community named Mediana was built in the early 4th Century.In this classy suburb Roman emperors spent their time enjoying luxurious palaces, spacious thermae and delicious wines from the nearby cellars. The residential buildings dating back to 4th century CE used to be occupied by Constantine the Great and his heirs. Today, their remains stand as mute witnesses of the lavish lifestyle of the wealthiest class of the time.
Thanks to its favourable situation near the river and hot springs, the community had ready access to water. The water used to be carried via an aqueduct system to a water tower and then through canals to the great palaces, thermae and other facilities - the remains of which stand to this day.
The sheer wealth of Mediana’s inhabitants of the period is also evident from the numerous mosaics and frescoes that have been discovered in more than 80 luxury buildings. The ancient ramparts and floors decorated with mosaics stand out for their colours and for the beauty of their composition.
On the spot where the 6,000 square metre central villa once stood, you will see the remains of thermae and a grain store as well as a water supply system. Nearby there are remains of a villa with a peristyle – a continuous porch formed by a row of columns, with gold-plated mosaics of glass paste. The remains of two early Christian churches lie to the east of the villa and not far from them are the remains of military barracks and cellars, which used to supply Roman emperors with wine.
Near the end of the 4th Century, Mediana was badly damaged in a fire and then razed to the ground in an incursion of the Huns in 441. Although the settlement was soon rebuilt, it never regained its former splendor. The modest buildings made of poor materials in the 5th and 6th Centuries were no match for the lavish palaces where Roman emperors once lived. In the early 8th Century, when Avars and Slavs conquered the region, the last inhabitants of Mediana fled elsewhere.
Once you have completed your tour of the ramparts, the mosaics and the figures on site, you can continue exploring the Roman culture at the National Museum of Niš, which contains numerous artefacts found in Mediana, including sculptures, coins and fragments of bronze gates. Some of the artefacts are on display at the Mediana Museum on the site.