Modern Alba Iulia sits in the fertile heart of Transylvania on the banks of the Mures River. The town is dominated by an 18th-century Austrian fortress, which currently houses both the university and Muzeul National al Unirii. The fortress also overlies a key piece of the Roman settlement: the military camp of the XIII Legio Gemina. After the conquest of Dacia in the second 2nd century AD, Apulum housed the headquarters of the regional Roman occupation force and, at various times, the governor of the Dacian provinces.
Ancient Apulum actually consisted of several settlement areas: the military camp, along with its neighboring civilian support network, and across the Mures, a larger town that grew into the Colonia Aurelia had at least one mithraeum of its own, which is under investigation by a German-Romanian team. In the early 3rd century AD, a second town was created adjacent to the military camp: the Municipium Septimium Apulensis. Our site lies there, just outside the military camp.
In the medieval period (9th-14th centuries), the ruins of the Roman base became the foundations for a thriving fortified community, centered around a monumental cathedral. The site of the Apulum Mithraeum III project housed several medieval buildings that reused portions of the Roman temple.
Valued for its strategic location on the Mures River, a later Austrian fort (1714-1738)–now restored and the center of the modern city–was constructed atop the medieval settlement, burying the surrounding area, including the former mithraeum.
Today, Alba Iulia is a growing cultural capital of Transylvania, celebrating the site’s history and future with regular battle re-enactments, concerts, and events during the summer.