Aquae Iasae (Varaždinske toplice)

Roman settlement of Aquae Iasae is situated in the area of present-day town of Varaždinske Toplice, on terraced slopes of the Toplice hills....

City: Croatia in general

Country: Croatia

The north-eastern Croatian town Varaždinske toplice (population: 6,400) is known as the oldest Croatian spa. Hot springs and medical treatments have been offered here since the Roman settlement Aquae Iasae. Aquae Iasae was named after the Illyrian tribe Jasi and it means “water of the Jasi”. It flourished for 300 years (until the 4th century AD). Public baths (6,000 m²) were on the top of the hill, the residential area at its foot. Goths were the first ones to interrupt the pleasures of hot springs and relaxing massages in the 3rd century AD. Constantine the Great restored the thermae before the next wave of invaders brought them to their end. Excavations in 1967 unearthed a beautiful statue of goddess Minerva wearing a legionnaire’s helmet. The Roman Forum had a pool that was supplied with water from a nearby spring. The entire Roman complex is one of the best preserved in Croatia. It consists of a religious section (temples), a social one (forum), and a health part. Natural hot springs are located in the present-day park. Visitors who come here in June will enjoy the annual Aquafest.

When in Croatia, Roman history buffs should stop by Šćitarjevo, now a village between Zagreb and Velika Gorica, once an ancient Roman settlement called Andautonia (1st–4th century AD) on the banks of the river Sava. It used to be an important river port connected with the ancient Amber Route. In 1994 the archeological park consisting of a Roman town, street, bath house and necropolis, the first one in Croatia, was opened to the public. The park staff organise various events, workshops for children and adults (up to two hours) where they can do their own excavations, Roman games, etc. Visits to the nearby Muzej Turopolja (Turopolja Museum) and the Archeological Museum in Zagreb are also recommended.

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