Serbia: Land of the Iron Emperors

Freedom square and catholic cathedral in Novi Sad view, Vojvodina region of Serbia
Freedom square and catholic cathedral in Novi Sad view, Vojvodina region of Serbia
Closeup of the monument of Justinian the First in the center of Skopje
Closeup of the monument of Justinian the First in the center of Skopje
City of Krusevac, Belgrade, Serbia
City of Krusevac, Belgrade, Serbia
Felix Romuliana, Gamzigrad
Felix Romuliana, Gamzigrad
Felix Romuliana, Gamzigrad
Felix Romuliana, Gamzigrad
Medieval fortress in Golubac, Serbia
Medieval fortress in Golubac, Serbia
View of the Serbian City
View of the Serbian City
View of Belgrade, capital of Serbia
View of Belgrade, capital of Serbia
Belgrade Fortress
Belgrade Fortress
Novi Sad
Novi Sad
Caricin Grad
Caricin Grad

The wide lands of the Danube were the homelands to two great European peoples, the lllyrians and the Serbs. The Illyrians provided Rome with a series of martial emperors who collectively saved the Roman world, while the Serbian Kings established the shape of the medieval Balkans. The ruins of imperial retirement palaces such as Gamzigrad and iron fortresses like Kru?evac, punctuate the countryside. Not only this, Serbia hosts the remains of perhaps the earliest settled agricultural community in Europe. This tour is a little off the beaten track, but the country’s wealth of iconic archaeological sites - from remote prehistory until the birth of modern Europe - are not to be missed!

This tour is a little off the beaten track, but the country’s wealth of evocative sites will ensure our days - and minds - are filled with wonder. Join us as we uncover the story of Serbia & the Balkans, alongside our expert guide, Oliver Gilkes.

  • Explore Vin?a, the Danube-side cradle of Neolithic civilisation
  • Visit extraordinary Gamzigrad, Emperor Galerius’ retirement home
  • Visit Golubac and other fortresses on the banks of the mighty Danube
  • See the medieval new town of Kru?evac, built by the heroic but doomed Prince Lazar
  • The old town at Nis, a typical medieval trading city of the Balkans

Gamzigrad – 2020 Departure (instead of Special Access)
Even emperors have to rest. The long list of the ‘Illyrian Emperors’ from this region invested in grand villas to featherbed their declining years and (hopefully) peaceful retirements. Diocletian famously went to the seaside, but his successor, Galerius, constructed a walled fortress villa. A luxurious imperial palace was accompanied by temples and public spaces. Not to be outdone, Galerius’ nephew and successor, Maximum Daia, built his own version a few miles away.

Themes

  • Romans
  • Prehistory

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We fly into Belgrade and upon arrival, transfer to our hotel.
Hotel: Royal Inn
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

A day of imperial connections. We drive to Sirmium, one of the capitals of the Late Roman world. Numerous emperors, from Marcus Aurelius onwards, used it as their convenient campaign base on the Danube to intercept barbarian raids and to dominate the road network. Later, under the Tetrarchs, it became an imperial capital. In the afternoon, we cross the river to Novi Sad and visit the Austrian Petrovaredin fortress.
Hotel: Royal Inn
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

We will begin the day by driving to the great Neolithic tell (one of only 2 in Europe) at Vinca. The material culture first identified here was crucial to developing an understanding of the first settled agriculture in Europe. In the afternoon we return to Belgrade for a walk through the city to trace the remains of Roman Sigidunum and Belgrade’s medieval past in the great fortress overlooking the rivers Sava and Danube.
Hotel: Royal Inn
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

A long day as we will drive along the Danube to Viminacium, the Roman capital of Moesia, to see the excavations. The amphitheatre, part of an extensive necropolis, the public baths and a mammoth have all been uncovered. Then on to Golubac, the great medieval and Turkish castle guarding the entrance to the Iron Gates gorge. This fortress has curtain walls cascade dramatically down the southern bank of the river. In the afternoon we will stop at the extraordinary Mesolithic settlement at Lepenski Vir, and finally a drive along the Danube gorge to Kladovo where we will spend one night.
Hotel: Royal Inn
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

This morning, before heading south we will stop briefly at the ruins of the great bridge over the Danube built by Apollodorus of Damascus for Emperor Trajan. We then head to Gamzigrad. Here, at a place named Felix Romuliana, Emperor Galerius built himself a retirement villa, much like that of his mentor Diocletian at Split. Set in rolling countryside, a huge walled enclosure once contained this majestic country villa, but its ruins now are just as impressive. Nearby is the specially built funeral pyre where Galerius was cremated, and his mausoleum. We drive to the town of Nis, claimed to be one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and the gateway between the East and West.
Hotel: New City Hotel, Nis
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

A morning visit to the ruins and archaeological site of Justiniana Prima. The 6th century emperor Justinian the Great ordered the reconstruction of his home village into a model ‘city’ of his era. Later view the finds from the site on display in Zajecar before returning to Nis to see the Archaeological Hall of the Museum.
Hotel: New City Hotel, Nis
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

Constantine the Great was born at Nis and, interestingly, sections of the walls from this era remain. We pay a quick morning visit to the fortress, and then we hope to visit the Constantinian imperial villa at Mediana. We drive on to Krusevac for lunch and then a visit to the church and town built by the heroic, doomed, Price Lazar in the fourteenth century. Then back to Belgrade.
Hotel: Royal Inn
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

Today we transfer to the airport for our return flight or onward travel.
Meals: Breakfast included

Itinerary 2020

Day 1

We fly into Belgrade and transfer to our hotel in the city centre.

Hotel: Overnight in Belgrade
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

A day of imperial connections. We drive to Sirmium, one of the capitals of the Late Roman world. Three emperors, namely Galerius, Severus II and Licinius, used it as their convenient base on the Danube to intercept barbarian raids and to dominate the road network. Later, under the Tetrarchs, it became an imperial capital. In the afternoon, we cross the river to Novi Sad and visit the Petrovaredin Fortress, a vast edifice built by the Austrian emperors against the Turks, but never used.

Hotel: Overnight in Belgrade
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

We head out of the city this morning, to Vinča. This was one of the most important sites of European prehistory, inhabited from c. 5700 BC during the Neolithic era, and the centre of the first great settled farming civilisation. We visit the famous river bank site, one of only two prehistoric ‘tells’ in Europe. We return to Belgrade for an afternoon visit to the Serbian National and Historical Museum with its archaeological collections.

Hotel: Overnight in Belgrade
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

An early start and a drive along the Danube. We stop first at Viminacium, a huge Roman site, both provincial capital and legionary fortress, used as a campaign base by numerous emperors. Onwards to Golubac, the beginning of the Iron Gates, where a medieval and Turkish fortress cascades down the river gorge. After lunch we continue on along the Danube gorge stopping at Lepenski Vir, the extraordinary Mesolithic river side village, found during the building of the Danube dam. On to Kolubac, the site of the dam and our overnight stay.

Hotel: Overnight in Kladovo
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

This morning, following a quick stop to see the remains of Trajan’s great bridge over the Danube, we set out southwards for Zajecar to see the finds from Gamzigrad. We drive on to the site, at a place named Felix Romuliana, where Emperor Galerius built himself a retirement villa, much like that of his mentor Diocletian at Split. Set in rolling countryside, a huge walled enclosure once contained this majestic country villa, but its ruins now are just as impressive. We drive to the town of Nis, claimed to be one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and the gateway between the East and West.

Hotel: Overnight in Nis
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

This morning we set out to discover another emperor’s dream. We visit the ruins and archaeological site of Justiniana Prima. The 6th century Emperor Justinian the Great ordered the reconstruction of his home village into a model ‘city’ of his era. A series of walls, churches and palaces were erected. We make our way back to Nis where we will see some of the excavated finds from Mediana at the Archaeological Hall in Nis.

Hotel: Overnight in Nis
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

Constantine the Great was born at Nis and elements of the city of his time remain. We will visit the Turkish fortress, the heart of the old city to find these. In the outskirts we will find the huge Constantinian Roman villa at Mediana, with mosaics and a series of huge warehouses. We head back towards Belgrade stopping at Kruṡevac to visit Prince Lazar’s town and church, the first of the Byzantine Moravan style.

Hotel: Overnight in Belgrade
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

Today we transfer to the airport and catch our return flight back to the UK, where we bid farewell to marvellous Serbia.

Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels

Travel Information

Joining the Tour

For full information about how to join the tour, please click here.

Passport & Visa Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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Book now

To book your tour without flights from the US, please call our team on 888 331 3476

2020 Tour Details

Thu 24th September - Thu 1st October

Available

$3,295

inc.

London based departure

sgl supp: $265

SER20A

Led By: Oliver Gilkes

Guide Lecturer

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