Aquincum Museum: Unveiling Budapest’s Roman Legacy
History and Origins
The Aquincum Museum, located in Óbuda, stands as the primary repository of Budapest’s Roman-era archaeological and historical artifacts. The foundation of the museum in 1894 owes its existence to the diligent organizational work of Bálint Kuzsinszky, who led excavations in the area. The museum’s origins trace back to a chance discovery in 1778 when a local vineyard owner stumbled upon the remnants of a Roman floor heating system, or “hypocaustum,” in his garden. Schönvisner István, a university librarian, recognized the importance of this discovery and identified the location as the ancient city of Aquincum. Today, the Aquincum Museum operates as a branch of the Budapest History Museum.
The Ruin Garden
Visitors can immerse themselves in the characteristics of Roman architecture, gaining insights into the structure of the erstwhile civilian town. Prominent landmarks such as the forum, public baths, and various sanctuaries reveal their dimensions and layouts. Remarkably preserved are the advanced floor heating systems from the early AD centuries and the remains of the water supply and sewage systems. A reconstructed bath from a bourgeois house is specially housed in a protective building. Additionally, beautifully adorned sarcophagi, gravestones, and memorial plaques populate the outdoor exhibition area alongside intricately carved architectural decorative motifs.
Permanent Exhibits: “Rome in Aquincum”
Housed in a space reminiscent of its original grandeur, this permanent exhibit showcases memories of the former governor’s palace. Notable pieces include the world-renowned Aquincum organ, restored mosaics from the palace, remnants of wall paintings, and monumental statues associated with sanctuaries. Also on display are a reconstructed fountain and carved stone ornamental vessel, reflecting the luxurious interior of the building.
The Display Warehouse
Taking visitors on a chronological journey from the prehistoric era to the Hungarian conquest, the Display Warehouse meticulously catalogs the archaeological finds of Budapest and Aquincum. This renovated space, converted into an exhibition area, remains open even during winter months. A recent addition to the museum is a model of a Roman residential building. A mythological playground and a virtual experience area have also been developed to engage visitors of all ages.