After the first step taken on the Tibiscum–Sarmizegetusa Roman road you can take the second step on the most important Roman road from Banat, Dierna – Tibiscum, which starts from the Cerna’s mouth and crosses the Timis-Cerna Corridor to Tibiscum.
“As everywhere in the empire, the Romans built solid, levelled and wide military and commercial roads, and along them, here and there they set up resting places for travellers, where the shooters were replaced. Where the topographic position allowed it, they used to build watch towers intended to oversee not only the roads, but also to observe any foreign invasion. “[Simu T., 1924].
During the Dacian wars, the Roman legions were accompanied by experts in genistical and topometric works who, as soon as they had crossed the river, had the task of making topographic measurements, and in the places where there were important Dacian settlements Roman fortresses were erected instead. All over the country, the Romans sought to use and not destroy what they found useful for the conquest and domination of Dacia. Thus, after the conquest of Dacia, Roman fortresses and rustic villas were built throughout the territory of Banat.
In the touristic area ” Herculane Baths” of the Mountainous Banat you can travel on the Roman road Dierna -Tibiscum following:
The touristic route no. 4: The Roman’s Roads (II)
Road II Dierna – Tibiscum:
Dierna (Orşova) – Ad Mediam (Herculane Baths) – Praetorium (Mehadia)
Ad Pannonios (Domasnea) -Gaganis (Teregova)
Masclianis (Slatina Timis -Bucosnita) – Tibiscum (Jupa-Caransebes)
The journey can start either from Orşova, from the Ostrov Island on the Danube, where you can see the place where, during the first Dacian-Roman war (101-102), the Romans crossed the Danube on the vessel bridge, or from Drobeta Turnu Severin, near the remains of the Apollodor of Damascus’s Bridge, used by the Romans to cross the Danube in the Second Dacian-Roman War (105-106).
Drobeta (Turnu Severin) is the place where you can see the bridgehead from the construction of Traian’s Bridge. A true work of art of that time, the bridge was 1135 m long, 15 m wide and was supported by 20 pillars.
“After the first expedition in Dacia against the Dacians, in the years 101-102, Traian was the one who setup the first naval harbour at Drobeta, dug the first Danube waterway –navigable channel that crossed the rocks of the Iron Gates.” [Costencu M., 2006]
Drobeta received the title of municipium in AD 124, on the occasion of Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Roman Dacia.
From Drobeta Turnu Severin you can reach Dierna (today’s Orşova) after travelling the 17 Roman miles (25 km).
Although today both the Roman city Dierna and the later medieval fortifications are under the Danube waters, due to the construction of the Iron Gates (1964-1971) storage lake, Orsova is the starting point for the most important military roads of the Romans in both Dacian-Roman wars, Dierna –Tibiscum, on the Timis-Cerna Corridor, and then along the Bistra Valley up to Sarmizegetusa, in the heart of Dacia.
The Dierna Roman colony was raised to the rank of municipium during Emperor Traian and was founded on the ruins of a Dacian fortress called Zerna. Later on, the settlement was called Dierna, and during the reign of Emperor Antonius Pius it was called Tierna. The Roman fortress was the garrison of Legion V Macedonica.
Even though it did not have such a thriving development as Drobeta, the Roman city of Dierna was an important customs point under the title “statio Tsiernensis”, where taxes were collected both for the goods and riches exploited by Romans in Dacia and also for the people travelling to and from Dacia.
Ad Mediam (Herculane Baths)
From Dierna, the road continues to Ad Mediam (Herculane Baths), where you arrive after 11 miles (1 mile = 1,48 km), that is 17 km.
The Herculane Baths spa resort is identified with the ancient resort of Ad Mediam, where there were the “healing springs”, which have preserved their fame up to this day. Hercules’ springs brought together all the Romans, from the lowest to the highest officials, not only from Dacia but also from other remote Roman provinces as well.
“The Roman baths (today, included in the walls of the Roman hotel) were visited for rest and treatment by the governors of Roman Dacia, commanders of legions and cohorts, Roman colonists and the Romanized local population.” [Cristescu I., 2012].
The historian Griselini claims that the Emperor Traian himself should have been the founder of this city famous for its healing springs. In 1736, when under the command of General Andreas Hamilton, the Governor of Banat, began the restoration of the baths, a lot of Roman antiquities were excavated on the Cerna Valley: tabulae with inscriptions, statues, coins, so forth, all testimonies talking about the flourishing of these places in the time of the Roman emperors. Most of these historical riches took the road to Vienna to be preserved in the Imperial Library. Only the transport from 1755 did not reach its destination, a sign that not all testimonies of places must reach and be preserved by strangers. The ship transporting the Roman relics sank into the Danube, near Budapest. The votive tabulae containing the attestation of the Roman resort from AD 153 was preserved at the Herculane Baths’ Museum. Also at Herculane Baths you can see the Roman inscriptions dedicated to their gods, which help you to understand the Romans’ cult for the famous baths and their protectors: an altar dedicated to Hercules and its hot waters, and another one to god Esculap and Hygeia. A unique inscription is that of Traian, who thanks not only the gods Jupiter and Stator, but also Hercules for his victory over Decebal:
IOVI. STATORI. HERCULI. VICTORI. M.ULPIUS. NERVA TRAJANUS. CAE-SAR. VICTO. DECEBALO. DOMITA. DACIA VOTUM. SOLVIT. ASPICE. ROMULE. PATER. GAUDETE QVIRITES. VESTRA. ISTA. EST. GLORIA.
From Ad Mediam (Herculane Baths), the road continues north to Praetorium (Mehadia), a Roman fortress between Mehadia and Plugova, at a distance of 14 miles (20 km). The Roman camp and settlement were built on the site called by the locals “La Zidine”. A long time this place has been confused with the Herculane Baths spa resort, situated 13 km to the southeast, on the road and on the Cerna Valley. The Mehadia fortress was discovered by the historian Nicolae Stoica of Haţeg in 1829, being one of the strongest constructions of this kind in the Romans, proof being the very foundation and walls that are still visible today.
Ad Pannonios (Domaşnea)
After 9 miles (14 km) of walking you reach Domasnea, a settlement identified with the Roman settlement Ad Pannonios. At the border of the locality there is the Roman road and the camp, the testimonies being: a military diploma dated back to 159 AD and issued by Emperor Antoninus Pius on behalf of a veteran soldier Ivornecus, which was discovered on the hill of Domaşnea, on a Roman tower; silver coins and bricks with the inscription XIII, symbol of the legion Gemina, within the walls of a Roman settlement in the place named “The Cove of Iosca” from the entrance to the locality, as it arrives from Herculane Baths.
You can climb the hill of Domaşnea by some wide serpentines, after which the Roman road passes through the Oriental Gate, a saddling gorge at an altitude of 500 m, separating the Cerna river from the Timiş river. After 9 miles (14 km) from Ad Pannonios (Domasnea), you reach the Roman Gaganis fortress in Teregova, which lies on the Dierna-Tibiscum Imperial Road at the confluence of the Timis River with the Hideg brook. This mighty fortress was rivalling with the one from Orşova through its impressive premises. Looking at the walls of the fortress, which are still preserved at a height of one metre, it can be said that this Roman fortress was like “a vigilant soldier guarding the key that opens the road through the Timis Valley to Tibiscum.” [Simu T., 1924].
Masclianis (Slatina Timis -Bucosnita)
Passing through the Strait of Teregova Gorges and next to the ” Written Stone” Monastery at Armenis, you reach the Roman Masclianis fortress located within the quadrilateral perimeter given by the borders of the communes of Slatina Timiş – Bucoşniţa – Petrosniţa -Vălişoara. In 1871, a Roman funeral tablet was found with inscriptions from the Roman settlement stretching in a straight line between Petrosniţa and Vălişoara.
After the last 14 miles (20 km), you reach the Roman fortress bearing the name of the river, to Tibiscum, near today’s town of Caransebes.