The Museum of Mosaics is in the town of Devnya, Bulgaria. It is an in situ museum that is located in a specially constructed building so as to preserve the archaeological discoveries. A big Roman building with exquisite mosaics was discovered in this place during archaeological excavations in 1976. The museum was constructed over some of the foundations of this building.
The ancient building dates back to the time of Emperor Constantine I the Great – the end of the 3rd century – the beginning of the 4th century. It was an urban house (villa urbana) in the Roman town of Marcianopolis which was one of the biggest towns in this part of the empire.
Five of the rooms and the portico are covered in floor mosaics in different colours – some of the best examples of Roman mosaic art found on the territory of Bulgaria. Three of the mosaics are exhibited in situ in the rooms where they were discovered. The other mosaics were moved and placed on a new structure after undergoing certain preservation procedures and restoration.
The mosaics are made of tiny cubes of marble, limestone, baked clay and glass, painted in 16 colours. They depict mainly characters and scenes from the Greek-Roman Mythology, exotic animals and birds, floral and geometrical patterns, etc.
The mosaic covering the floor of the living-room represents the shield of goddess Pallas Athena which is decorated with the head of the decapitated Gorgon Medusa in the middle. The purpose of the image was to protect the owners of the house from evil and to petrify the ill-wishers with the the chilling look of the Gorgon. Despite the gorgon's reputation as a horrible monster, the image is rather tame. Medusa is depicted with her face turned slightly to the right, though she is staring to the left. Tiles of various colours have been used to give volume to the image.
The villa is almost square and measures 37.15 m × 37.75 m .
It had 21 rooms situated around an inner courtyard (atrium) with a well; the rooms have a total area of 1,409 m2 /15,170 sq ft.
The museum is in a small park, with a well-preserved Roman street crossing under the building. Around the museum there are several ancient walls, which, along with the villa, constitute most of the preserved ruins of Marcianopolis. The museum building only covers the western part of the villa; its eastern wing and the atrium are not covered, which is a fault in the museum design. Many of the villa walls were decorated with frescoes and stucco.The floors of the portico and the five premises were covered by elaborate mosaics.
The Museum of Mosaics in Devnya is listed as Number 10 among the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria.
The mosaic of Zeus and Antiope lies on the floor of the cubiculum, or bedchamber of the villa, which measures 5.60 m × 4.40 m (18.4 ft × 14.4 ft).
Other mosaics in the villa include the story of Ganymede, who is transported to Mount Olympus by Zeus who transformed into an eagle, which covers the oecus, the largest premise. The badly damaged Seasons mosaic in the women's quarters, which depicts images of animals, geometric motifs and personifications of the four seasons, of which Autumn has been preserved; and the geometric Pannonian Volutes mosaic, was moved to the museum from another ruined ancient building of Marcianopolis.