Located on crossroads between Asia and Europe, between two worlds, is the city of Nis. The importance of Niš will be explained some other time, but for now we will speak about a part of that city – the archeological site called Mediana. Mediana was the Roman villa from late Roman period and where the famous Emperor Constantine was born. Now you get a clue why Mediana, near today’s Nis, is so important.
The city of Nis used to be called Naissus in Roman period and it was a very big city and a center of the Roman province. Naissus had a really good strategic position and most of the ways between Asia and Europe have been forever passing through this region. So this old Roman city was rich. Near Naissus, a few kilometers away, there are ruins of a luxury villa – Mediana. Just to be clear, the whole region of southern Serbia is rich with remains from Roman period, but Naissus and Mediana are far more important for now. Everybody knows who Constantine the Great was, and what his contribution for the European civilization was, but not many people know that he comes from this city and that Mediana was his villa. According to some historians, Constantine was born in this villa. He brought Christianity to Europe and founded the city Constantinople on Bosphorus. Constantine the Great was among the few leaders in entire history that have never lost a battle.
The Importance of Mediana
Mediana’s archaeological site is of great importance, as it contains a church with one of the oldest frescoes of Jesus Christ. The fact is that Constantine’s mother was a Christian and she influenced her son to accept the new religion. Today, the site is not fully researched. The archaeologists cannot even agree on the original length of the villa. Some local legends say that an underground tunnel connects the present fortress in the center of Nis and archeological site of Mediana. It is just one of the mysteries connected with this location. Mediana was a villa for the rich and powerful Romans, and because of that, the villa was full of commodities and luxuries of that period. Today, there are some stories about continuing excavations, but there are also stories about building a highway near the Mediana site. As the site is not fully researched, the works on the highway would certainly damage some of the artifacts that are definitely waiting to be found. The problem is the attitude of the state towards its history and those sites, as we simply do not have the respect for historical monuments such as Mediana, and many others. For years, people were destroying valuable sites, artifacts, and other clues that there once was a big city and a Constantine’s villa at this location. After his death, several other imperators had used the villa.
Responsibility is ours, responsibility that this archeological site and many others from different periods are researched and preserved. Mediana is the best preserved part of Naissus, and we should respect and protect it. All these buildings, roads, and weapons from different historical periods always have some stories that are just waiting to be told, and they always need someone to hear them.