The monument was built in order to commemorate the dramatic confrontations of the first Dacian-Roman war, which took place in the province of Moesia Inferior.It was inaugurated in 109, and it celebrates the hard-won victory of the Romans against the Dacians, the Gets and their allies, the Costoboci and the Sarmatians. The monument was built on the site of the decisive battle that took place at the beginning of the year 102. The inscription on the Monument contain the dedication of the emperor Trajan to Mars Vltor – Mars The Avenger. In the immediate vicinity are the vestiges of a tomb with three concetric walls, of an unidentified roman military commander (praefectus castrorum – which was the third officer in rank in a Roman Legion), but also a funeral altar dedicated to the 3800 Roman soldiers killed in the fighting.
The monument was erected on the highest plateau in the region, at approx. 150 m above sea level, which makes it very easy to notice from great distances. This monument, like many others from its time, did not have the purpose to represent beauty and arts, but to send a strong message to the native population. The edifice was one of Rome’s most important symbols. Both the character of the scenes portrayed, as well as the comparison with other monuments (especially with Trajan’s Column) shows that this is not meant to explain or tell the history of the military campaign, but to be an artistic manifestation put in the service of imperial propaganda.
Tropaeum Traiani is one of the most important monuments in ancient Rome. The first excavations were undertaken by Grigore Tocilescu in 1882. The monument, in the variant in which it was reconstructed by the archaeologists under the leadership of the famous historian Adrian Radulescu in 1977, is made up of a cylindrical base, which is on top of several rows of circular steps and a conical roof which has concentric scales with rows of stone, from the middle of which rises the hexagonal superstructure.
At the top a bifacial trophy is built (10.75 m high), which shows an armor with four cylindrical shields. At the base of the trophy are two statuary groups containing a representation of the bodies of three captives.
The height of the monument is approximately equal to the diameter of the base, ie about 40 m. The 54 metopes from the limestone of Deleni show in bas-relief war scenes. The metopes are rectangular slabs with a height of 1.48-1.49 m. Of the 54 initial metopes, only 48 are still preserved.
Above the metopes is a frieze with 26 battlements (of which only 23 are preserved) which are also carved in bas-relief.Togheter they make up the crown of the circular core.
At 2 km west of the triumphal monument there is a Roman fortress, which is mentioned in the inscriptions for the first time as a municipality in 170.
The Roman fortress was built at the orders of Emperor Trajan for the families of veterans who participated in the Dacian wars (and is considered as the largest Romanian civilian settlement in the territory of Dobrudja), and it was part of the offensive system created by Trajan at the Lower Danube. The fortress is on a low extension of the hill on which the monument was built, to which it is connected by a narrow land tongue. The plateau is surrounded on all other sides by more or less steep slopes which offer protection. The enclosure has an area of approx. 10 ha. The exact plan of the fortress shows that the towers are neither equal nor is the distance between them. The differences stem from a lack of simultaneity in their construction. The semicircular towers are earlier than those developed on a rectangular plane with the semicircular front, which, in turn, precede those in the form of a horseshoe. On the northern side of the eastern side, the enclosure wall was kept at its highest height. The emplecton has on some portions the height of 4 m above the current level of the ground.
South-west of the central point of the intersection of the two main traffic axes of the fortress was built a huge basilica called forensis. The basilica has an area of 18 x 50 m, with the long axis oriented north-south and divided into three parts, with two rows of large columns. Only 18 column bases are kept. Access was made from the decumanus maximus. The long sides are provided with “buttresses” (12 on each side). The basilica s from Tropaeum Traiani is similar to the one from Pompeii, both having on the long axis, opposite the main entrance a narrow reserved space. Generally, these constructions had the central body superimposed on the lateral ones. In the upper level there were galleries which served the purpose of meeting places.
The city was rebuilt at the beginning of the 4th century AD, according to an inscription dated in 316, by the emperor Constantine the Great. The damage previously caused by the Goths was removed by building new massive defensive walls. The fortress is the fruit of several repeated constructions identified by archaeologists. The definitive destruction of the fortress was due to the Avar-Slave invasion of 586, a fact attested by all the archaeological excavations carried out inside the fort.
In the Tropaeum Traiani museum complex next to the triumphal monument and the citadel there is also the site museum. The building of the museum, inaugurated in 1977, is conceived as a lapidarium and contains numerous archaeological remains discovered in the fortress and the surroundings. On one side of the museum are exhibited metopes, pillars, battlements and parapet blocks of the festooned attic style. In the middle of the museum are found the colossal statue,inscriptions and the frieze. The other exhibits are made up of ceramic collections (vessels belonging to Hamangia culture, Gothic ceramics, Greek, Roman and Byzantine amphorae), opaque, tools, ornaments, fragments of aqueducts, sculpture, epigraphic documents.