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Early Christian burial chapel and grave

Early Christian burial chapel and grave
County: Baranya
Location: Pécs
Link: http://www.pecsorokseg.hu

World Heritage in Pécs www.pecsorokseg.hu

The area of Pécs has been inhabited continuously for about 2000 years, ever since the Roman times. The peoples formerly living here either side – by-side or one after the other left behind an impressing amount of archaeological finds. The ruins of the late Roman Christian Necropolis, located in the north-west of the inner city, in the vicinity of the Cathedral, are of particular interest considering they have survived several centuries of our stormy history.

The archaeological exploration of Sopianae (as Pécs was called in the Roman times) and its Necropolis has been going on for several hundred years already. The finds helped outline the town of Sopianae and the necropolis to the north of it, on the slopes of the Mecsek Hills. The community of Sopianae built a significant number of burial structures (chapels, burial chambers, built tombs) in the 4th century. These buildings are of outstanding value both as to their architecture and artistic features. Since the year 2000 they have been on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Cella Septichora Visitor Centre

Gyula Gosztonyi, architect-archaeologist initiated the exploration of the Cella Septichora Early Christian burial structure as early as the beginning of the 20th century. It was also his idea that the burial chambers should be connected under the ground and opened to the public. The grant of 1.5 billion HUF obtained from the Operative Programme of Regional Development for the implementation of the project ‘World Heritage in Pécs, Enhancement of its Touristic Appeal’ between 2004 and 2006, enabled us to realize that dream. As a result, visitors can admire the Wine Pitcher burial chamber, the Peter and Paul burial chamber, the Octagonal burial chapel, and Burial chambers No. III., IV., XIX. and XX., opened to the public early 2007.

Sites open to visitors

Cella Septichora Visitor Centre

Cella Septichora: This late Roman building with seven foils, built in the 4th century has a ground-plan which makes it unique in the area of the river Danube. In a depth of 4-6 m, on the former ground level visitors can see the walls rising as high as 2 m at places.

Peter and Paul burial chamber: This 4th century building is found in the centre of the necropolis. The underground part was the burial chamber with the tomb while the chapel was built above them. Visitors can admire the richly decorated walls and barrel vaults of the chamber.

The Wine Pitcher burial chamber: The burial chamber is found in the lower part of the once two-storey building. Its walls are decorated with geometric and floral patterns and it was named after the pitcher and glass painted on the wall of a niche.
Burial chamber No. III.: It probably had no surface structure built above it. Its vaults have crumbled, and the cover of the sarcophagus was damaged by despoilers of the tomb.

Burial chamber No. XIX.: The chamber explored in 2004 was found to contain two tombs separated from each other only by a brick trellis, which refers to a close relationship between the persons buried there. The chapel built on ground level has been destroyed.

Burial chamber No. XX.: One of the three tombs found here was plastered and painted on the inside. Excavations found a large number of mural fragments suggesting that the chapel above it may have been decorated as well.

Octagonal burial chapel: By the end of the 4th century the cemetery of Sopianae must have been full and therefore the building formerly used as a baptistery was transformed into a burial chamber. The tallest part of its wall is 3.8 m.

The Early Christian mausoleum

The upper part of the two-storey building was a chapel, while the lower part, decorated with murals depicting scenes from the Bible, functioned as a burial chamber. Only the latter is open to visitors.

Early Christian burial chapel and sepulchlar structures, 8 and 14 Apáca Street

Archaeological finds unearthed during several excavations can be seen on the two sites: a burial chapel, a double tomb with painted walls, an unpainted burial chamber, and a simple tombstone.

Location

The World Heritage sites are found to the south of the Cathedral, on and around Szent István tér. To enter Cella Septichora Visitor Centre take the path in the upper part of the square. The entrance to the Early Christian Mausoleum is found in the central part of the square, while the Early Christian Burial Chapel and Sepulchlar Structures are best approached from Apáca utca.

How to find the Sites

From the railway or coach stations: buses No 30, 32 or 33, get off at stop Boldogság Háza and walk along Janus Pannonius utca to Szent István tér (about 4 minutes), or from the railway stations you can also take buses No 34, 35, or 36, get off at stop Barbakán and take a 2 minutes’ walk along Esze Tamás utca to Szent István tér.
If you come by car, you can find the nearest parking lot on Barbakán tér and in the streets nearby (there is a parking fee). You need a special, pre-booked permit to drive in Szent István tér or Apáca utca.
Groups: Buses are allowed to stop for a maximum of 10 minutes in the parking lot on Barbakán tér, for passengers to get on or off the bus.

Opening Times

1 April – 31 October 10 am – 6 pm
1 November -31 March 10 am – 4 pm
Closed on Mondays

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