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The remains of the Roman city of Ulpiana were discovered at the Gradina archaeological site, a mere kilometre away from Gračanica monastery. It is the most important archaeological site of the Roman and Early Byzantine periods in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.It is believed the city was founded during the reign of Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus, who ruled from 98 to 118.
Over the centuries, Ulpiana went through several stages of development, as witnessed by the well-preserved buildings and the artefacts found on site.
Its favourable situation and the minerals extracted from the nearby mines helped Ulpiana’s rapid development, allowing it to quickly become a political, economic, religious and cultural centre of the region. At the height of its power, in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, Ulipiana was granted the status of a municipium and was renamed Municipium Ulpiana Splendissima.
The devastating earthquake with razed the city in the 4th century marked a turning point in its development. Emperor Justinian rebuilt the city in the mid-6th century and renamed it Justiana Secunda, but it was destructed once again in the late 6th and early 7th century, during the incursions of Avars and Slavs.
Ulpiana was surrounded by walls built on a rectangular floor plan, the ruins of which are still visible. To the north and west of the city there were necropolises, while a castrum was erected to the northeast. Only parts of the northern necropolis and the northern gate with defence towers still stand.
Inside the walls of the ancient fortified city, there are ruins of an early Christian church built in the 6th century, a memorial with a marble sarcophagus, two Roman thermae and a Turkish bath. Several hundred square metres of mosaics of exquisite beauty and value were also discovered at the site of Ulpiana. The major discovery and a true gem of Ulpiana is the basilica with a 4th century baptistery. It is believed the church was dedicated to saint Florus and Laurus, who lived and died here in the 2nd century.
Ulpiana is situated in the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, which is currently administered by the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo.