AQUAE IASAE – ROMAN PUBLIC ARCHITECTURE, 1ST – 4TH CENTURY
From the 1st to the 4th century, on the territory of contemporary Varaždinske Toplice, next to the thermal wellspring, was the Roman settlement Aquae Iasae. The public part of the settlement was located on the highest terrace of the Toplice’s hill (today, there is a park), living areas were on lower terraces coming to the bottom of the hill, and the crafts and market place were established at the very bottom. A complex of Roman public architecture (1st-4th century) was discovered in the park, thanks to archaeological excavations and research conducted since 1953 by the Antiquity Department of the Zagreb Archaeological Museum. The complex consists of the bathing part composed of the bathing facility with swimming pools and a basilica, a forum with porches surrounding the main thermal wellspring, and a capitol with statues of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. The statue of goddess Minerva with a pedestal was found in 1967 at the very entrance to the temple. Geological specificities around the thermal wellspring, i.e. the layers of cider, were the main reason for good preservation of Roman architecture, making this complex one of the best preserved archaeological localities in Croatia.
Sulphuric thermal water welling out in place of today’s park is extremely medicinal. Its temperature is 58 degrees Celsius. All up to date findings testify to the fact that the respective water source was used for more than 2000 years. Today, even the Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation is sources from the same wellspring.
Discovered parts of the Roman architecture are located inside the town’s park, i.e. bathing garden established in 1820, which back then consisted of two parts: a decorative garden with a wellspring pavilion and a musical pavilion, as well as a landscape pavilion on the hillside, which turns into a forest park at the top. A portal at the garden’s entrance was constructed in 1865, and is decorated with a mould of a nymph, a Roman inscription, and two marble lions with fish tails.