Ancient Serdica – The Eastern Gate of Serdica
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Nezavisimost Sqr. (In the underpass between the Council of Ministers, the National Assembly and the Presidency)
During the rule of Emperor Trajan (AD98–117) Serdica was elevated to the rank of municipium, town or city with specifi c rights of autonomy. This entailed an obligation to administer a sizable urban territory – one of the biggest in the province of Thracia. The addition of the emperor’s family name to the city titulature, Ulpia Serdica, is an obvious statement of this political act. The administration of the new municipium was organized on the Greek model with boule – a council of citizens, and demos – an assembly of the populace. Other institutions such as gerousia, associated with the practice of the cult of the emperor, have also come to light through the excavation of inscriptions. Serdica’s first urban arrangement was closely related to the new city status. The two main streets were laid out: Cardo Maximus (north-south road) and Decumanus Maximus (east- west road). The insecurity arising from barbarian incursions over 4th–5th centuries AD prompted a reinforcement of Serdica’s fortification system. The city core, within the range of the early wall, was totally re-fortified. The existing wall was encompassed with a closely adjoined new one, built of bricks on a quadratic plinth. On the frontage it had triangular projecting turrets, while the east and west city gates were reinforced with pentagonal turrets. The layout of the two gates can be viewed in the underpass to the Presidency building and to the west of George Washington Street. Some 20 m outside this wall, another, smaller one was erected – proteichisma. The construction of this solid fortification system on the model of the double line of the Theodosian Walls in Constantinople is referred to the second half of the 5th century AD.