Principij Rijeka, Principij Rijeka, Principij Rijeka, Principij Rijeka, Principij Rijeka
Principij is an archeological park located in Rijeka’s old town center. It was built in the middle of the 3rd century as a part of the defensive line of the Roman Empire. Principij at its best was a complex of military buildings that served as the command post of the southern defense sector named Claustra Alpium Iuliarium. It was built in a time when the Empire was going through a tough period, thanks in large to the significant pressure from the Barbarian tribes on its border and because of the constant fighting for power from within. Claustra Alpiuma Iuliarium spanned from Tarsatica (today’s Rijeka) through the mountain regions of the Southern Alps, and its main goal was to safeguard vital mountain passes from the ongoing barbarian threat.
The middle part of Principij was highlighted by an open courtyard, which was encircled by buildings on three sides. Those buildings were used as armories and warehouses. Opposite to the entrance, there was a monumental building, which was known at the time as Basilica. Behind the Basilica there were multiple buildings, such as the treasury, a temple, officer’s quarters, etc.
The construction of the Principij marked the start of the exponential growth of the Antic Tarsatica. Despite the fact that the Roman Empire was in turmoil, Trasatica has entered its golden age once Principij was built. A major factor for that was the fact that it was the only port in the defense line, and as such the vast majority of goods traveled through it before reaching its final destination. Trasatica and Principij were prospering until the late 5th century when Principij was abandoned by the Roman forces. Since the 15th century, people started to build upon the ruins of the old Principij. Numerous houses were built there and the antic architecture was further damaged when ditches and various canals were dug out. The houses were built on the perimeter walls of the old Principij and they stood there until the 1960s.
In 2007 the city of Rijeka founded first serious archaeological research of Principij and it yielded – almost – immediate results. Even before the start of the research, the archaeologists were able to unearth some of the parts of Principij. The new archeological digs discovered the large part of the stone covered courtyard, four buildings, and the stone forefront of the central building, most likely the Basilica.
Today, the area of Principij has been renovated and arranged in a form of an archeological park. Visitors are free to take a stroll through the park and in the process see the remains of the old Roman structure. The construction of the park added another must-see place to the rich offering of Rijeka. The park also hosts various exhibitions from time to time, with the highlight being on displaying items which were found during the research of the area.