After the southern part of Dacia became a province of the Roman Empire (from 106 to 275 AD), the capital of the district was established here where the present town of Alba Iulia rises above the ruins of the ancient Apulum. In Roman Dacia all the cities developed from old military camps. Apulum was not simply the greatest city within the province, but one of the biggest across the whole Danubian frontier.
It began as one of Trajan's legionary bases. The town evolved rapidly into a municipium during Marcus Aurelius's reign, and the emperor Commodus elevated it to a colonia. Apulum was the seat of the XIII Gemina Legion of the Imperial Roman army. This was one of Julius Caesar's key units and the legion with which he famously crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC. Its symbol was the lion. In 271, the legion was relocated when the Dacia province was evacuated. Some parts of the Roman castrum where the XIII Gemina Legion was stationed are still visible for the tourists.
Apulum Roman festival reconstructs elements of civil and military life. It brings in front of the audience ancient equipment and warfare, Roman military drills and manoeuvres, fights between gladiators, lifestyle and handicrafts of the Romans and Dacians, workshops, games, creative activities and slaves markets. The festival became after a few editions an international event gathering notable historical reenactment groups from other European countries as Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria.
Crafting workshops (smithery, skin dressing, pottery, bone carving, target shooting, cooking, hair dressing) alternate with soldier and gladiator trainings, guided tours of the main Roman landmarks and theatre thematic plays. The festival is closed every year with the traditional battle between the Roman legion and the horde of warriors thirsty for revenge. Reenacted in detail, these events offer a genuine outdoor history lesson.
If you come and like what you see, you can also purchase handmade souvenirs to remind you of the Apulum Roman Festival.