Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs (Sopianae)
The Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs (Sopianae) is one of the most significant provincial cemeteries. On the site of the modern city of Pécs, the Ancient Romans had founded Sopianae in the 2nd century AD, and by the 4th century it had grown into a flourishing provincial seat and an important centre of Christianity. The already explored archaeological findings offer a uniquely varied and complex illustration of the early Christian burial architecture and art of the northern and western provinces of the Roman Empire, the roots of a civilisation surviving to the present day.
A unique feature of the early Christian necropolis of Sopianae is the fact that a large number of burial facilities were concentrated here: hundreds of brick tombs, several dozens of small family burial chambers built of stone and bricks, and larger community burial chambers and cemetery buildings. The early Christian buildings in Pécs have preserved the vertically divided architectural structure of burial chamber and chapel, quite rare in the Antiquity. The subterranean part of the two-storey structure is the burial chamber; the deceased were placed into brick tombs, or sometimes into a sarcophagus. Memorial chapels (memoria, mausoleum) were erected above them. The two-storey structures had a double function, serving both as a burial site and place of ceremonies. Burial chambers were mostly used by wealthy families.
Some of the sepulchral buildings have painted walls decorated with biblical scenes and symbols. The murals are early Christian art works, modelled after Italian and Balkan patterns. The monogram of Christ, the most widely used symbol of early Christians was a favourite element of decoration. The murals illustrate biblical scenes, such as the fall of man, Prophet Daniel cast in the lions’ den, Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus, Jonah, and the youths cast into a burning furnace. A rich variety of plant and animal ornaments, doves, peacocks, the wine pitcher and the glass, as well as geometrical patterns symbolising the garden of Paradise are frequently used motifs.
Since the year 2007, a significant portion of explored findings have been concentrated within a single complex at the Cella Septichora Visitor Centre. The Early Christian Mausoleum and the tombs in Apáca Street can also be visited within the World Heritage site.
World Heritage Management Body: Zsolnay Heritage Management Non-Profit LLC
Site manager: István Márta director
Contact: Attila Üveges Head of World Heritage Division
Address: P.O.Box 27, Pécs 7603, Hungary
Telephone: +36 30 698 31 65
Fax: +36 72 510 629