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Turist Information Centre Ajdovščina
Cesta IV. Prekomorske 61 A
5270 Ajdovščina

tel.: +386 5 36 59 140

mon - fri: 8.00 - 16.00
sat: 8.00 - 12.00

mon - fri: 10.00 - 18.00
sat: 8.00 - 12.00


Roman Stronghold Ad Pirum (Hrušica)

The Roman Stronghold Ad Pirum is situated at the highest point of the Roman Road that led from Aquileia via the Hrušica plateau to Emona (Ljubljana). The Roman Road was built under the ruling of Emperor Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), at the time, when the territory of present Slovenia was comprised in the Roman Empire. This road was a substitute for the older road that led via Ocra (Razdrto). The Roman Road continued from Emona through Celeia (Celje) and Poetovio (Ptuj) and on towards Carnuntum (Petronell near Vienna) or better, up to the River Danube which was the border of the Roman Empire. The other road from Emona led through Neviodunum (Drnovo near Krško), towards the Balkan Peninsula and on to the east.

From the 1st century AD on, Ad Pirum was a postal station and a station to change and feed horses.  However, from the 2nd century on it was also a guard military post. In the second half of the 3rd century a small military stronghold was built in Ad Pirum. Moreover, most of the findings in Ad Pirum originate from this period and from the 4th century, which shows that the area was already then quite highly populated. Ad Pirum had a crucial position during the invasions of Barbarians troops and of several armies of different rival candidates for the throne as it protected the main road connecting the Balkan to Italy. Most probably a permanent military garrison was situated there.

Ad Pirum was a part of the Julian Alpine defence system that protected the present-day Italian territory after the defence on the Empire’s borders was not sufficient anymore. This defence system spanned from Tergeste (Trieste), Tarsatica (Rijeka), Emona (Ljubljana) to Forum Iuli (Cividale del Friuli) and it protected the area where it was the easiest to pass from Pannonia and the Balkan Peninsula to the Italian territory. This area was called Alpes Iuliae (Julian Alps) and for this reason the defence system bore the name Claustra Alpium Iuliarum. It was built of many lookouts, block walls and forts, big stronghold such as Castra in Ajdovščina, Ad Pirum on the Hrušica plateau, Nauportus in Vrhnika and smaller ones such as Lanišče, located approximately 5 km eastwards of Ad Pirum and well seen from the road. These fortifications were allocated everywhere, where it was possible to pass to the Italian territory.

The ground plan of the stronghold was adapted to the surface and thus of a deformed oval shape. The stronghold is 250 metres long and up to 75 metres wide. It is surrounded by a 2.7 metres wide wall, which used to be 8 metres tall, and fortified with towers. The stronghold was divided into the upper and the lower part by a transverse wall, through which a narrow passage was made. The upper part probably served as a tactical retreat if needed or as a camp or stable. The lower part was a postal station and a place for soldiers’ huts and a water tanker. The road Aquileia – Emona passed through the lower part of the stronghold from west to east. Entrance from east was guarded by two approximately 10 metres tall towers and a big door. Today, you can see the trails of the door hinges in the stone grounds. Entrance from the west has’t been examined yet, as some buildings were built above the site.

Researches so far have shown that Ad Pirum was abandoned round 400 AD, perhaps even after the Battle on the River Frigidus in 394 when the Emperor Theodosius defeated the usurper Eugenius or maybe after the march of the Western Goths under Alaric to Italy in 401. In spite of that, traffic via Ad Pirum continued till the end of the 6th century.

What happened in the Early Middle Ages on the Hrušica Plateau is not very well known. Between the12th and the 14th century, a church consecrated to the St. Gertrude, the patron of travellers, was built in the abandoned Roman stronghold. In that time the old Roman Road revived again. From the 17th century till the completed building of the railway Ljubljana – Trieste in the middle of the 19th century, the old Roman Road was used as a postal connection between Gorizia and Ljubljana. The building, which is now altered into a restaurant, used to be a postal station in the Middle Ages and later on served as a hunting hut to the Counts Lanthieri from Gorizia.  

A chronicler Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641 – 1693) in his book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (Slava vojvodina Kranjske) described the road via the Hrušica plateau and the postal station, which he engraved in a copper plate. Between 1991 and 1994 the former postal station, the hunting hut, the weekend house and the forest hut were renovated under the direction of the Institute for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage from Nova Gorica and are now Slovene cultural monuments.

The staff of the Stara Pošta Inn on the Hrušica plateau woud be glad to show you their small collection of archeological findings.