Halmyris

Halmyris

A fortress where Christians Saints, Epictet and Astion, were martyred

Halmyris has its origin in the latin word for salt water “Salmorus”, and the fortress was so named by the roman conquerors. It was founded at the beginning of the 2rd century A.D., during the rule of Roman Emperor Trajan.

For several centuries, the Halmyris port was very important for the empire, being used as an operation base for the Danube Roman Fleet, Classis Flavia Moesica.

The fortress was shaped like a trapeze, it had 15 defense towers and two gates. According to an inscription, a civilian village for the sailors (vicus classicorum) was nearby, probably home to many veteran roman sailors.

Halmyris was the place where Saint Epictetus and Astion suffered martyrdom, being first Christian Martyrs from Dobrogea. According to tradition, the martyrdom took place in 290 A.D., although newer theories hints of a later date - between 303 - 304 A.D., during the Christian persecution ordered by Emperor Diocletian.

Priest Epictetus and his apprentice, Astion, arrived in Dobrogea and went to Halmyris, at that time a powerful settlement with “thousands of inhabitants”. It is said that the two travellers performed miracles, healed the sick and preached christianity. For their actions, the governor of the fortress, commander Latronianus, ordered their arrest, torture and execution. After the end of the persecutions against christians, in 313 A.D., the remains of the two saints were uncovered and stored into a Basilica with the role of diocese.

The basilica and the crypt where the remains were placed was discovered in 2001 by a team of archeologists led by Mihai Zahariade and the relics are now in the Halmyris Monastery, near the fortress.

In the last two decades, there were many archeological finds such as monuments and artifacts dating from the Roman and Roman-Byzantine era.

Like other Romano-Byzantine fortresses, Halmyris was abandoned in the 7th century A.D., under the pressure of attacks of nomadic people. Yet, the ruins keep telling stories that await to be discovered.

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