For good four hundred years, the Celje region was ruled by the Romans who deemed the town on the Savinja River very important. The town was located on an important crossroads of the great itinerary road known from the famed Tabula Peutingeriana, where paths split and led to all sides of the eastern Roman Empire. The Romans took power in the then flourishing town in the year 15 BCE when the Noric Kingdom (Regnum Noricum) was annexed without a fight. The Noric Kingdom enjoyed a high level of autonomy. During the reign of the Emperor Claudius, from 41 to 58, it was placed under direct Roman administration. In this period (in 46 CE) Keleia was granted town privileges and the Latinized name Municipium Claudia Celeia. The name Celeia was preserved in the Slovenian (Celje) and German form (Cilli) to this day.

Ancient Celeia must have been a wonderful town. Writings describe it as wealthy and densely populated, protected by walls and towers, with many multi-story marble palaces, wide squares and streets. It was dubbed the Second or Little Troy – Troia Secunda. As witnessed by many material remains, Celeia was a cosmopolitan town. In addition to the names witnessing the presence of Romanized Celts, people of all complexions and races could be found here: Syrians, Africans, and others. The population also included retired legionaries of Roman armies who moved to Celeia after completing their active duty. The rich ethnical fabric of the population is also witnessed by the diversity of cults in the town. In the four centuries of Roman reign of Celje, we find worship of, in addition to the Roman gods, the solar deity Mithra introduced as early as in the 2nd century CE from the East, as well as old Celtic cults: Epona, the protector of horses, sacred Noreia, and the divine Celeia. Simultaneously with the Mithraic cult, Christianity was also introduced to the region.

Although Celeia lived relatively peacefully the entire time, far from the atrocities of wars, it was not in a quiet lull all the time. Being close to the Empire's eastern border, Celeia was acutely aware of the invasions of the nomadic tribes, the harbingers of the Roman Empire's downfall. The glorious Roman army grew increasingly vulnerable and often fell prey to the barbarian nomadic armies that looted in this area as well. The darkest hour came in 475 when the previously prosperous Roman town Celeia was finally sacked and razed by the Huns.

Read the chapters from the past: