Aquincum – ruins of the Roman capital of Pannonia Inferior

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Aquincum – Celtic settlement on Gellert Hill

In the late Bronze Age (1200-800 BC), the Pannonian Basin, and therefore also the area of today’s Budapest, were in the circle of Urnfield culture. The name comes from the custom of placing the ashes of the dead in urns which were then buried in fields. However, definitely more traces in the Budapest area were left by the Celtic Eravisci tribe. In the 4th century BC they settled on the Buda side of the Danube, on the slope of Gellért Hill. Appreciating the advantages of warm springs spouting there, they named their settlement (oppidum) Ak-Ink, which means “abundance of water” (later Aquincum).

The border of the Roman empire on the Danube

At the end of the first century BC The Romans expanding their empire, established its northern border on the Danube. Due to the strategic nature of the place and restless border areas, more units of Roman legions were sent here.

However, the first large stronghold named Aquincum was established only in 89 AD by the decree of Emperor Domitian. Over time, Aquincum grew into a large city, and in 106 AD, during the reign of Emperor Trajan, it became the capital of the province of Pannonia Inferior, an area corresponding to today’s Transdanubia. During the peak of its heyday, Aquincum had about 60,000 residents, but at the end of the 4th century due to the constant invasions of the Huns, it began to decline. In 409, the Romans finally left the city, succeeded by the Huns.

Avars and Magyars in Hungary

After the death of Attila, the ruler of the Huns, in 453 other tribes such as the Gepids, Longobards and Ostrogoths established their own states in Pannonia. In 568, the Longobards lost their area in the Pannonian Basin to the Avars who came to the area in escape from the Turcs.

The Avars united the entire Pannonian Basin under a single political power and ruled it until the 9th century, when weakened by internal strife, could not resist the army of Charlemagne. Transdanubia was incorporated into the Frank empire. At the same time Slavs and Bulgarians also gained more influence in the region. However, soon new hosts of Pannonia, Magyars appeared on the horizon.


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