Aquincum, dating from the end of the 1st century AD and the most complete Roman civilian town in Hungary, had paved streets and sumptuous single-storey houses, complete with courtyards, fountains and mosaic floors, as well as sophisticated drainage and heating systems. It's not all immediately apparent as you explore the ruins in the open-air archaeological park, but the museum puts it in perspective.
The museum, next to the entrance to the Roman town, contains an impressive collection of household objects: pottery, weaponry, grooming implements, a military discharge diploma... In the basement there are some hokey virtual games for kids, such as battling with a gladiator. Look out for the replica of a 3rd-century portable organ called a hydra, the mock-up of a Roman bath and a road map of the Roman Empire (Tabula Peutingeriana).
Painter's House & Mithraeum
Just opposite the museum is the wonderful Painter’s House, a recreated, furnished Roman dwelling from the 3rd century AD. Behind it is the Mithraeum, a temple dedicated to the god Mithra, the chief deity of a religion that once rivalled Christianity.
Just north of the museum, the arrow-straight main thoroughfare leads you past ruins of the large public baths, the macellum (market) and the basilica (courthouse). Most of the large stone sculptures and sarcophagi are in the old museum building to the east.
Roman Civilian Amphitheatre
Across III Szentendrei út to the northwest and close to the HÉV stop is the Roman Civilian Amphitheatre, about half the size of the amphitheatre reserved for the garrisons in Óbuda and seating 3000. Lions were kept in the small cubicles, while slain gladiators were carried through the ‘Gate of Death’ to the west.
Near the end of May, the Aquincum Museum ruins host Floralia, a traditional Roman spring festival complete with theatre performances and gladiator shows. The festival is named after Flora, the goddess of flowers and spring in Roman mythology, and celebrations include dancing, eating and drinking, children's events and arts and crafts. For a ticket discount, come dressed as a Roman.
- Aquincum’s main thoroughfare
- Painter's House
- Hydra (portable organ)
- Tabula Peutingeriana (Roman road map)
- If travelling to Aquincum on the HÉV suburban train, view the Roman Civilian Amphitheatre first before crossing busy III Szentendrei út.
- Be aware that tickets are almost always checked by a conductor on the HÉV.
- If you bought a ticket to the Castle Museum or Kiscell Museum, it is valid for entry to the Aquincum Museum for 30 days.
Take a Break
A branch of the immensely popular Nagyi Palacsintázója pancake chain is at the entrance to the Aquincum Museum.
- Train HÉV to Aquincum
- Bus 34, 106
Wonderfully preserved Roman-era town.