- See also: European history
The Roman Empire was the greatest ancient empire of Europe. At the height of its power in 117 AD, it ruled over considerable parts of Europe, as well as much of North Africa and the Middle East. In 286 AD, it was effectively split into a western empire, ruled from Rome and an eastern (later, Byzantine) empire, ruled from Constantinople, which continued to exist until Constantinople was taken by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Roman Empire left a huge and lasting impact on the civilisations of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and Roman cultural influences continue to be evident in these civilisations and beyond.
|“||Haec est Italia diis sacra. |
"This is Italy, [land] sacred to the Gods."
—Pliny the Elder
As with many ancient civilizations, Rome began as a city-state, founded, according to tradition, in 753 BC as an elective kingdom. Tradition has it that there were seven kings of Rome with Romulus, the founder, being the first and Tarquinius Superbus falling to a republican uprising led by Brutus, but modern scholars doubt many of those stories and even the Romans themselves acknowledged that the sack of Rome by the Gauls in 387 BCE destroyed many sources on their early history.
The Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was established in or around 509 BC. Besides wars with other powers (notably Carthage), the Republican era was characterized by conflicts between the old aristocracy (patricians) and the common people (plebians). Some plebians rose to wealth and political prominence, from which they challenged the old system.
Rome rose as a great power in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, as they defeated and annexed Etruria, Carthage and Ancient Greece. The military became more powerful, and the republic became increasingly corrupt. Julius Caesar was a military leader who conquered Gaul (today's France) and other territories, won a civil war against the Senate, and introduced the Julian Calendar — which forms the base of the calendar used today in the Western world. Caesar started transforming the Republic into a dictatorship, but was betrayed and assassinated in 44 BC. While Caesar's assassins claimed to be acting on behalf of the restoration of the Republic, a power struggle broke out over the inheritance of Caesar. His nephew Octavian outmaneuvered or killed all rival claimants, and assumed near absolute power and the honorary name "Augustus".
The Roman Empire
Power was transferred to Augustus, the Emperor (Latin: Imperator) in 27 BC, founding the Roman Empire, after almost a century of civil wars. Augustus' conquest of Egypt (where his rival Marc Antony had courted Queen Cleopatra) helped expand Roman control into the Middle East, coming to encircle the Mediterranean Sea.
While Judaea was a small and rather insignificant province, Christianity was founded there. The modern image of the Romans has to a large extent been shaped by the New Testament's description of the 1st-century Roman Empire, including in Biblical art and stories, not to mention its records of the extent of Roman influence and political power in the Near East. Rome reached its greatest territorial extent in the early 2nd century CE under Emperor Trajan, who was succeeded by a number of capable emperors including Hadrian, famous for Hadrian's Wall near the border with Scotland, and the Antonines. Following this period known as the Pax Romana, the Crisis of the Third Century caused the Empire to temporarily lose its northwestern European and eastern Mediterranean possessions to usurpers. Almost two hundred years of corruption, civil war, and assassinations followed during the 3rd and 4th centuries, severely weakening the Empire.
In 395 AD, Theodosius I divided the Imperial administration by bequeathing the imperial office jointly to his sons: Arcadius in the East, to rule from Constantinople, and Honorius in the West, based in Rome. This was not the first such division, but Theodosius would prove to be the last man to control both halves of the Empire at the same time. Shortly thereafter, Rome would be sacked for the first time in eight centuries, by the Visigoths in 410. This was followed by a period of accelerated decline and two more sacks, one by the Vandals in 455 and another by the Magister Militum himself, Ricimer, in 472. The Western Empire deteriorated due to various factors, the immediate ones being the conquests of Germanic tribes and the collapse of the Roman Army; and depending on whom you ask, it fell either in 476 AD, when the Germanic king Odoacer deposed the titular Western Emperor Romulus Augustulus residing in Ravenna or circa 536 following the death of Theodoric and the commencement of the Gothic Wars against Constantinople, which resulted in the abandonment of Rome.
But the Eastern Empire endured and recovered, conquering large parts of the western Mediterranean under Emperor Justinian with his able general Belisarius, though his dynasty was also the last whose primary language was Latin, not Greek. Starting in the 7th century, the Eastern — or Byzantine — Empire engaged in a long struggle against the expansion of Islam and sometimes even fought against other Europeans (particularly Roman Catholics, as the Rome and Constantinople had developed different churches). The remnants of the empire, based in modern-day Greece and western Turkey, soldiered on and called itself "Roman" until 29 May 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks after a 53-day siege and the last emperor was killed in action, last seen fighting the attackers after he had removed all rank insignia to die as a Roman.
Roman heritage and revival
Rome created a foundation for modern Europe, including Christianity, codified law (several Latin expressions, such as nulla poena sine lege - "no penalty without law" - and habeas corpus - "you shall have [possession of your own] body" - are still used on a daily basis by judges and lawyers worldwide), republican government, urban planning, monumental architecture, and the Latin alphabet. Roman heritage was revived during epochs such as the Italian Renaissance. Many of the younger members of the European elite during the 17th-19th centuries went on a Grand Tour in which ancient Roman sites were among the main attractions.
Many later political entities have claimed to be the successor of the Roman Empire. The Byzantine Empire was the part of the Roman Empire that survived throughout the Middle Ages, and the Ottomans, who conquered the Byzantine Empire and captured its capital Constantinople in 1453, saw themselves as their successors. In fact some Ottoman rulers took to calling themselves Kaiser-i-Rum, which roughly translates as "Emperor of Rome". As the Byzantine Empire fell, the Russian Empire claimed to be the "third Rome", and the Russian imperial dynasty even married into the last Byzantine dynasty to further press the claim. Both the Russian title that is rendered in English as 'Czar' or 'Tsar' and the German title 'Kaiser' are derived from the Latin 'Caesar'. World War I ended all European and Mediterranean polities to implicitly or explicitly claim to be (a continuation of) the Roman Empire.
In AD 800, the Pope, who did not recognize the empress of the Eastern Roman Empire, crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne as "Holy Roman Emperor". His successors held various levels of authority over Central Europe, until the Thirty Years War in the 17th century demoted the title to mostly sentimental value.
In 1804, Napoleon had himself crowned Emperor of France to claim power over Europe, and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, also King of Austria, crowned himself Emperor of Austria a few months later. As Napoleon seized much of the Holy Roman Empire's territory the following years, Francis II dissolved the Empire in 1806 to prevent Napoleon from becoming Holy Roman Emperor; in 1814, Napoleon was defeated by an alliance including Austria. Napoleon III founded the Second French Empire in 1852, though as the newly unified Germany deposed him in 1870, they claimed Imperial status. The German, Austrian, Russian and Ottoman Empires all collapsed at the end of World War I, putting an end to the continuous claims to succeed the Roman Emperors. Later attempts by Fascist Italy under Mussolini to "revive" Roman glory, or by Bokassa to crown himself emperor of Central Africa, in a presumption of Bonapartist as well as Roman continuation, were highly unsuccessful and viewed with ridicule and skepticism abroad. That being said, the Latin language and the Roman ideals and styles are still used in contexts as diverse as science, European attempts at unification or Government architecture.
Some remnants of the classical Roman era are still visible even 2,000 years after they were first constructed, with some still in use for the same or similar purposes they were built for. After the "fall" of the Roman Empire, most of its former territory entered a decline in technology, economy and literacy and, as such, many of its technological and engineering feats seemed superhuman and were indeed referred to by names such as "devil's wall" (for parts of the Limes in today's Germany). Some, including some stones from the Colosseum in Rome, were taken in the Middle Ages to build other structures, but there is still much that remains. To some extent, the Holy See preserves the ancient Roman heritage, and indeed one of the Pope's traditional titles, 'Pontifex Maximus', is the same title the High Priest of Rome (and later the emperor) held in pre-Christian times.
Graeco-Roman literature is also a source for the history of other cultures with few domestic written records, such as the Celts, the Old Norse, and the early Franks. As these were usually adversaries of the Romans, and the writers rarely had first-hand experience, the records are unreliable. In some cases, what might seem to be ethnographic or historiographic works about non-Roman cultures are actually veiled social commentary on the Romans themselves.
The influence of Latin
Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, has had a large influence on European languages. The Romance languages (chiefly French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan and Romanian) are direct descendants of Latin, and Latin has had some influence on all the other modern European languages. Most European languages use the Latin alphabet, though others use the Greek-derived Cyrillic alphabet, and some (like Armenian) have their own.
Latin was the sole liturgical language in Roman Catholic churches until the second half of the 20th century and is still sometimes used. It is still the official language of the Holy See, and Catholic priests still use it to communicate with colleagues from other countries. Due in part to huge losses of ancient texts around the time the Western Roman Empire collapsed, the overwhelming majority of all works ever written in Latin were actually written after it was the official language of any Roman Empire, but the quality of the Latin written in the first century BC and AD with authors like Cicero or Caesar, as well as Horace or Juvenal, is still regarded as the standard to emulate, and later works - often written by non-native speakers - are less famous and less often studied in schools. Latin and Greek were among the first languages to have grammar discussed and analyzed in detail, and many grammatical terms and concepts still derive from Latin terms. Some linguists of the 20th and 21st century have bemoaned this Latin-influenced approach to grammar, as it arguably imposes Latin categories on the modern languages analyzed. Due to both Greek and Latin texts discussing pronunciation and phonetic misspellings found in graffiti, modern linguists have a very good idea of classical Latin pronunciation - better, perhaps, than for any other "dead" language spoken so long ago.
Latin was a lingua franca for scientists and philosophers across Europe throughout the Middle Ages and for much of the post-Renaissance period; Newton (English), Descartes (French), Leibniz (German), Galileo (Italian), Copernicus (Polish) and Spinoza (Portuguese Jew living in Amsterdam) all published their work in Latin. Carl Linnaeus founded the practice of latinized scientific names for biological species. In modern English and many other languages much of the terminology in law, medicine and other sciences is derived from Latin. Often there are two ways to say something; where many people would use words from Anglo-Saxon like "He broke his leg", a doctor might use Latin-derived terms as in "He fractured his tibia".
Many European high schools, and some elsewhere, had Latin as a required part of the curriculum until well into the 20th century, and some still teach it. Today many universities still offer degrees in Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek), and some require students of Philosophy or Theology to study these languages. Latin developed "local pronunciations" in school and quotidian usage as it was mostly a written language of people who acquired it in adulthood or schooling. Those pronunciations diverge - sometimes widely - from the reconstructed classical pronunciation now known to scholars and taught in some schools alongside and instead of the traditional "national" pronunciation. English Latin pronunciation is particularly idiosyncratic and both Ancient Romans and other fluent Latin speakers not familiar with its peculiarities might have problems understanding it. The most widely used Latin pronunciation today is known as Ecclesiastical Latin, based on Italian pronunciation, that is the official pronunciation used by the Roman Catholic church.
Roman town planning and architecture
While cities had existed in the Mediterranean world for millennia when the Romans got going in earnest and there had even been some "planned cities" built by the Greeks or rulers like Ancient Egypt's Akhenaten, the Romans introduced their vision of citybuilding to their vast empire. Roman arms would conquer, but Roman culture, architecture, commerce and lifestyle would "civilize" the new citizens of the Empire and - to quote a modern term - would "win hearts and minds". While Rome itself is in many ways an aberration from Roman city planning ideals, in large part because many buildings and streets already existed by the time Romans came up with their concept of how a "proper city" should look like, most Roman founded towns are characterized by a rectangular grid-shaped street layout that the Romans applied even to their army field camps. Two roads intersecting at a right angle, called "Cardo" and "Decumanus" would serve as the basis for the street grid and at their ends would be city gates. Where those two streets intersected, the civic heart of the cit and a forum would be located. A few Roman cities or cities substantially rebuilt by Romans have to this day kept one or both of those "Roman main streets".
There is a great online resource, named Omnes Viae ("all roads"), compiled from the official Tabula Peutingeriana, that reckons distance (in Roman miles and Gallic leagues) and travel days (on foot) between any given Roman towns. It's worth a try.
As the Roman Empire originated in Italy and held onto this territory for the longest time, most remnants are found there and across the Mediterranean basin. For some centuries, Romans referred to the Med as mare nostrum (our sea), such was their near-total dominance in the region. However, Roman remnants can also be found in outlying provinces, and in fact some of the most impressive are Roman border installations built to keep out the "Barbarians" of today's Germany and Scotland. Gaul (France), and to a lesser extent Britannia (most of modern day England and Wales), were also important provinces and as such still have a lot of Roman era remnants, including streets and aqueducts. Some Roman streets remained in use and in prime condition until the advent of the automobile that necessitated wider roads and hence many Roman roads were paved over.
- 1 Rome/Colosseo (Lazio). The heart of Ancient Rome, with the Colosseum, the Forum, the Arch of Constantine and the Capitoline Hill with its equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (now a replica; the original is in a museum which is also on the hill).
- 2 Rome/Old Rome (Lazio). This part of Rome contains various ancient Roman relics, but especially the Pantheon, the temple to all the Gods of Rome, which is in wonderful condition and was turned into a church in the 7th century AD. Also in the neighborhood is Piazza Navona, which follows the oval shape of the Stadium of Domitian that used to stand there.
- 3 Aosta (Aosta Valley). Former Augusta Praetoria Salassorum, capital of the Alpes Graies province, is full of very interesting remains.
- 4 Arezzo (Tuscany). A former Etruscan capital, full of Etruscan and Roman remains. Has a wonderful Archeological Museum.
- 5 Aquileia (Friuli-Venezia Giulia). Once large and prominent in Antiquity, as one of the world's largest cities with a population of 100,000 in the 2nd century AD, today, the city is small (about 3,500 inhabitants). Its Roman ruins are unfortunately limited to a line of standing columns.
- 6 Brescia (Lombardy). Home to the best-preserved Roman public complex in Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, complete with a forum, amphitheatre and capitolium (Roman temple), built by the emperor Vespasian.
- 7 Brindisi (Apulia). Brundisium comes from the Greek Brentesion (Βρεντήσιον) meaning "deer's head", which refers to the shape of its natural harbor. In 267 BC, it was conquered by the Romans. After the Punic Wars it became a major center of Roman naval power and maritime trade. Nowadays, some columns remain.
- 8 Cagliari (Sardinia). Karalis was established around the 8th/7th century BC as one of a string of Phoenician colonies. Under Roman rule, it kept the status of the island's capital. Its highlight is a beautiful hillside amphitheatre, located to the west of the Castello.
- 9 Capri (Campania). Famously associated with emperor Tiberius.
- 10 Capua (Campania). Ancient Etruscan city, said by Cato the Elder to have been founded at about 600 BC. It submitted to Rome in 338 BC. At the beginning of the Second Punic War, it was considered to be only slightly behind Rome and Carthage themselves; after the Roman defeat of Cannae, it defected to Hannibal, who made it his winter quarters. After a long siege, it was taken by the Romans in 211 BC and severely punished. There are a few Roman remains, of which the most special is its amphitheatre, the second largest anywhere to survive (although more dilapidated than the ones at Verona and Pozzuoli), built in the time of Augustus, restored by Hadrian and dedicated by Antoninus Pius.
- 11 Cerveteri (Lazio). Famous for its Etruscan necropolis.
- 12 Chiusi (Val di Chiana). One of the twelve cities of the Etruscan League.
- 13 Civita di Bagnoregio (Lazio). Picturesque hilltop city with important Etruscan and Roman remains.
- 14 Cortona (Tuscany). Ancient Etruscan site, with several Etruscan and Roman remains.
- 15 Cumae (Campania). A suburb of modern Naples, it was founded by Euboean Greeks colonists of Magna Graecia in the 8th century BC, the first colony in the mainland. It's full of ruins of temples to the Greek gods, but perhaps most famous as the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl. Her sanctuary is now open to the public. In Roman mythology, there's an entrance to the underworld located at 1 Avernus, a crater lake near Cumae. This was the route used by Aeneas to descend to the Underworld, as described by Virgil in the Aeneid.
- 16 Herculaneum (Campania). A smaller town than Pompeii, buried in the same eruption and also with great mosaics and other relics.
- 17 Milan (Lombardy). As Mediolanum, was chosen by Emperor Diocletian to be the capital of the Western Roman Empire in 286 AD. After the city was besieged by the Visigoths in 402, the imperial residence was moved to Ravenna for strategic reasons. There are a few Roman remains, notably the well-preserved Columns of San Lorenzo, and traces of the ancient walls and gates.
- 18Naples National Archeological Museum. A great archeological museum that features ancient Roman paintings, mosaics and sculptures, many of them complete and in extremely good condition, that were dug up in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and various other Campanian towns that were victimized by the 67 AD eruption.
- 19 Orvieto (Umbria). The ancient city (urbs vetus in Latin, whence "Orvieto") has been populated since Etruscan times, and features an Etruscan necropolis with more than 100 tombs, Etruscan ruins and the remnants of a wall that enclosed the city more than 2,000 years ago.
- 20 Ostia (Lazio). The harbor facilities that served the capital, built by order of emperor Claudius.
- 21 Perugia (Umbria). First appears in written history as Perusia, one of the 12 confederate cities of Etruria. Home to lots of Etruscan relics.
- 22 Pompeii (Campania). A mid-sized Roman town that was buried under the ashes of Vesuvius in 67 AD, and only discovered in 1599. Some of it is in fact still buried in ash in order to better preserve it.
- 23 Pozzuoli (Campania). Known in ancient times as Puteoli, a great trading port, but most famous for its local volcanic sand, pozzolana (in Latin, pulvis puteolanus, "dust of Puteoli"), the basis for the first effective concrete, from which the dome of Rome's Pantheon is made. There are also dozens of very interesting Roman remains, including a very large amphitheater with a mostly intact interior, where one can still see parts of gears which were used to lift cages up to the arena floor.
- 24 Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna). Capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until its collapse in 476 due to its strategic and defensible position. Famous as the location where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon, in 49 BC, and also for its 6th-century churches with exceptional and very well-preserved Byzantine mosaics.
- 25 Reggio di Calabria (Calabria). A Greek colony at first, Reggio is home to one of the most important archaeological museums of Italy, the National Archaeological Museum of Magna Græcia, dedicated to Ancient Greece. During Imperial times, it was called Rhegium Julium, a central pivot for both maritime and mainland traffic, and boasted of nine thermal baths, one of which is still visible today.
- 26 Rimini (Emilia-Romagna). Seaside terminus of the Via Flaminia. Home to the Arch of Augustus, the Tiberius Bridge, an amphiteater and the Domus del Chirurgo. Its city museum features Roman and Etruscan antiquities.
- 27 Spoleto (Umbria). Spoletium was first noted in 241 BC. Reflecting the city's importance in ancient Rome, there are various relics, including a 1st-century AD villa, a bridge, and a partially rebuilt theatre with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Spoleto, a relatively small but good archeological museum, next door.
- 28 Sutri (Lazio). Features Etruscan and Roman remains.
- 29 Taormina (Sicily). Originally a Greek colony, Tauromenion was founded by colonists from Naxos, according to Strabo and other ancient writers. Famous for its theatre, one of the most celebrated ruins in Sicily, on account both of its remarkable preservation and its beautiful location.
- 30 Tivoli (Lazio). Features the country estate of emperor Hadrian.
- 31 Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia). Between 52 and 46 BC, it was granted the status of Roman colony under Julius Caesar, who recorded its name as Tergeste in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico. Its preserved Roman relics include a theatre at the foot of the San Giusto hill, facing the sea; two temples, one dedicated to Athena, one to Zeus, both atop the same hill; the Arch of Riccardo, a Roman gate built in the Roman walls in 33 BC, which stands in Piazzetta Barbacan; and many smaller pieces preserved at the Town Museum.
- 32 Turin (Piedmont). Created as a military camp (Castra Taurinorum) at around 28 BC, later renamed Augusta Taurinorum in honor of Emperor Augustus. The typical Roman street grid can still be seen, especially in the neighbourhood known as the Quadrilatero Romano (Roman Quadrilateral). Via Garibaldi traces the exact path of the Roman city's decumanus (main street) which began at the Porta Decumani, later incorporated into the Castello or Palazzo Madama. The Porta Palatina, on the north side of the current city center, is preserved in a park near the Cathedral. Remains of the Roman-period theater are preserved in the area of the Manica Nuova.
- 33 Verona (Veneto). Home to the world's third-largest amphitheatre to survive from Roman times.
- 34 Ventimiglia (Liguria). Formerly named Albium Intemelium, the capital of the Intemelii, a Ligurian tribe which long resisted the Romans, until in 115 BC it was forced to submit to Rome, when it was renamed Albintimilium. Remains of a Roman theatre (first half of the 2nd century) are visible, and remains of many other buildings have been discovered, among them traces of the ancient city walls.
- 35 Volterra (Tuscany). Beautiful walled city, built on the top of a hill. One of the Twelve Cities of the ancient Etruscan League, with some of the original gates from that era still standing, along with a dedicated museum packed with Etruscan and Roman relics.
- 1 Amiens (Picardy). Formerly known as Samarobriva ("Somme bridge"), mentioned for the first time in Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico. Excavations near the city hall and the Palace of Justice revealed the foundations of the forum, thermal baths and amphitheatre, built for a population greater than that of either Londinium or Lutetia. Two skylights cut in the last development of Place Gambetta allow observation of the forum's remains. The Musée de Picardie, the first building to have been built in France to serve as a museum as such, has its basement devoted to archeology, with a rich collection.
- 2 Arles (Camargue). Called Arelate in Roman times, when it was a prosperous trade center and military base at the mouth of the Rhône river, favoured by Julius Caesar over Massalia. There are abundant Roman remains, of which the Arènes d'Arles, built in the first or second century BC, is the most famous. Nearby (12 km north) stand the remains of the 3 Barbegal aqueduct and mill, a Roman watermill complex, originally consisting of 16 waterwheels in two separate descending rows built into a steep hillside; referred to as "the greatest known concentration of mechanical power in the ancient world". The Musée de l'Arles Antique, inside the city, has an informative reconstructed model of the mill.
- 4 Autun (Burgundy). This small city was the Roman garrison town of Augustodunum. Well-preserved Gallo-Roman walls still surround most of the city, and other Roman relics include a theatre and two gates, one of which is a spectacular double-decker stone structure in very good condition.
- 5 Bavay (Nord-Pas de Calais). Ancient Bagacum, an important junction of seven roads. Features a Forum from the 1st century, whose importance was unveiled by the 1940 bombing that destroyed the buildings covering it.
- 6 Besançon (Franche-Comté). Ancient Vesontio was a place of strategic military importance, at a gap between the Jura and the Alps. Its Roman remains consist primarily of the Porte Noire, a 2nd-century AD triumphal arch at the foot of the hill on which the Vauban citadel stands, and the Square Castan, an archaeological garden decorated with Corinthian columns, right beside the Porte Noire.
- 7 Bordeaux (Gironde). Formerly Burdigala, capital of Gallia Aquitania. The remains of its amphitheatre, with a capacity for 20,000 spectators, are preserved at the Palais Gallien.
- 8 Boulogne-sur-Mer (Nord-Pas de Calais). Under the name Gesoriacum, was the major Roman port for trade and communication with Britain. Its medieval castle and walls are built on foundations that date from Roman times. The belfry serves as a museum of Celtic remains from the Roman occupation.
- 9 Brest (Finistère). Strategically located on France's finest Atlantic natural harbor, Brest is believed to be the site of ancient seaport Gesocribate, mentioned on the Peutinger Table. Some ramparts of the present castle are made of evidently Gallo-Roman workmanship.
- 10 Clermont-Ferrand (Auvergne). Alleged birthplace of Vercingetorix, leader of the unified Gallic resistance to the Roman invasion under Julius Caesar. The city's first name was Nemessos – the Gaulish word for a sacred forest (which stood on the mound where the city's cathedral now stands). It's not far from the plateau of Gergovia, where the Gauls pushed back the Roman assault at the Battle of Gergovia in 52 BC. After the Roman conquest, the city became known as Augustonemetum. It was renamed Arvernis in the 3rd century. Nowadays, its main square features a huge statue of Vercingetorix. The ruins and archeological digs atop the battlefield plateau, 6 km south of the city, are also worth a visit.
- 11 Fréjus (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur). Once one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean, Forum Julii still has a lot of its ruins, of exceptional archaeological value. There's the Roman Amphitheatre, arcades of the Oree Gate, and remains of the Aqueduct arches. Its harbor clogged up and is now mostly a swamp.
- 12 Glanum (1 km south of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence). Atmospheric ruins of what was once a prosperous fortified town on the Via Domitia, built around a spring believed to possess healing powers. It was overrun and destroyed by the Alamanni in 260 AD and subsequently abandoned; the first systematic excavations began in 1921. Many of the objects discovered are on display today at the Hotel de Sade, in nearby Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
- 13 Golden Courtyard Museum (Musée de La Cour d'Or), 2 rue du Haut Poirier (Metz, Lorraine). Built to house the vestiges of Gallo-Roman baths of ancient Divodurum Mediomatricum, and a rich collection of Gallo-Roman antiquities.
- 14 Le Mans (Pays de la Loire). Seized by the Romans in 47 BC, Cenomanus was within Gallia Lugdunensis. A 3rd-century amphitheatre is still visible. Its ancient wall is one of the most complete circuits of Gallo-Roman city walls to survive. Ruins of the Roman thermal building, dating from the 3rd century, have been uncovered.
- 15 Lyon (Rhône-Alpes). Ancient Lugdunum, arguably the most important city of Roman Gaul, capital of Gallia Lugdunensis and birthplace of emperor Claudius. Home to the Gallo-Roman Museum, which is beside a gorgeous preserved theater, and the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls.
- 16 Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône). Founded by Greek colonists as Massalia (Μασσαλία), by the 4th century BC it had became one of the major trading ports of the ancient world. This status was briefly shaken when the city sided with Pompey against Julius Caesar, who had it besieged and humbled; prominence passed then to Arelate, for a couple of centuries. The Musée des Docks Romains, at the Vieux-Port neighborhood, preserves relics from the warehouses of the old Roman harbor.
- 17 Musée de l'Ancien Évêché (Museum of the Former Bishopric), 2, rue Très Cloître (Grenoble, Isère). The museum is housed in the former bishop's palace on Place Notre Dame. Under the museum is an archaeological crypt; the remains of Grenoble's Roman walls and a remarkable 4th-century baptistery, discovered during work on tram line B, are not to be missed. Ask for a free audioguide (French or English) at reception.
- 18 Narbonne (Languedoc-Roussillon). Founded in 118 BC, as Colonia Narbo Martius. Former capital of Gallia Narbonensis. A strategically important place in Roman times, being at the junction between the Via Domitia and the Via Aquitania. Trade was prominent here and there was a Forum and warehouses for grain and products. The underground storage sites are worth visiting.
- 19 Nice (Alpes-Maritimes). The upper city of Cimiez was a Greek, then Gallo-Roman settlement and it contains a good archaeological museum, the Musée d'Archeologie de Nice, next to some Gallo-Roman ruins.
- 20 Nîmes (Gard). Home to the most pristine Roman temple in France, a very well preserved arena, and the gorgeous 2 Pont Du Gard aqueduct nearby.
- 21 Orange (Provence). Features one of the best preserved theaters, dating from Augustus's reign, and a triumphal arch.
- 22 Périgueux (Aquitaine). Called Vesunna in antiquity. Here stand the remains of a Roman amphitheatre (known locally as the Arènes Romaines) the centre of which has been turned into a green park with a water fountain; the remains of a temple of the Gallic goddess "Vesunna"; and a luxurious Roman villa, called the "Domus of Vesunna", built around a garden courtyard surrounded by a colonnaded peristyle now housed in the Vesunna Gallo-Roman Museum.
- 23 Reims (Champagne-Ardenne). Known in ancient times as Durocortōrum, was capital of Gallia Belgica province. Has a triumphal arch as centerpiece of its Place de la République.
- 24 Thermes de Cluny, 6 place Paul Painlevé (Paris/5th arrondissement). The remains of the bathing complex of ancient Lutetia Parisiorum, now partly an archeological site, and partly incorporated into the adjacent Musée National du Moyen Age. Site of the coronation of emperor Julian "the Apostate" in February 360. Lutetia, renamed Parisius in the 5th century AD, was mainly built on the Seine's southern margin; the Roman cardo maximus (main axis) is still observed on the Left Bank (Rue St-Jacques) and on the Right Bank (Rue St-Martin). Some 800 m away, stand the 3 Arènes de Lutèce, a preserved 1st century amphitheater. There's also the Early Christian archeological crypt under the Notre Dame cathedral's forecourt. For more Roman antiquities in Paris, the Louvre is the obvious place to go.
- 25 Tropaeum Alpium (La Turbie village, 4 km east of Monaco). Built in honor of emperor Augustus, to celebrate his definitive victory over the ancient tribes who populated the Alps, at the boundary between Italy and Gallia Narbonensis. Visitors can also see the Roman quarry, about 500 metres away, with its sections of carved columns in the stone.
- 26 Vaison-la-Romaine (Provence). Features a beautiful bridge from the 1st century.
- 27 Vienne (Rhône-Alpes). Once the capital city of the Allobroges, a Gallic people, ancient Vienna was transformed into a Roman colony in 47 BC under Julius Caesar. Has extensive Roman remains, which include an Imperial temple of Augustus and Livia, the Plan de l'Aiguille, a truncated pyramid resting on a portico with four arches, originally inside its circus, (out of town) the remains of a Roman theatre, and a ruined thirteenth-century castle that was built on Roman footings. Several ancient aqueducts and traces of Roman roads can also be seen.
- 1 Acinipo (20 km north of Ronda, Andalusia). Remains of a Roman city, destroyed in 429 AD by the Vandals. Includes the remains of a Roman theatre, as well as Roman baths.
- 2 A Coruña (Galicia). Home to the Tower of Hercules, it may be the oldest lighthouse in the world that is still in use. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 3 Alcalá de Henares (Community of Madrid). Roman Alcalá was called Complutum. It features the House of Hyppolitus, one of the better fitted-out Roman archaeological complexes in the Madrid area, built at the end of the 3rd century or beginnings of the 4th century AD. It is famous for its well preserved mosaics.
- 4 Alicante (Valencian Community). Ancient Lucentum, probably founded as a Phoenician colony, enjoyed its peak between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD. Its archaeological site covers an area of some 30,000 m² (7.4 acres), and features the remains of the fortifying wall (including the foundations of the pre-Roman defensive towers), the baths, the forum, part of the Muslim necropolis, and a multitude of houses.
- 5 Almuñécar (Andalusia). City with Phoenician origins, home to very interesting remains, of which the most significant are five aqueducts. All, remarkably, are still standing and four of them are still in use after 2,000 years.
- 6 Baelo Claudia (22 km west of Tarifa, Andalusia). Trading post and garum (fish sauce) production center, beautifully restored and preserved, includes a forum, theatre and market.
- 7 Cádiz (Andalusia). Oldest continuously inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula, traditionally dated to 1104 BC. The remains of its Roman theatre are just behind the Old Cathedral.
- 8 Cartagena (Murcia). Founded as a colony of Carthage, it was conquered by general Scipio Africanus in 209 BC and renamed Carthago Nova. Home to a restored Roman theatre, two important archaeological museums, the remains of the Punic rampart (built in 227 BC with the foundation of the city), a colonnade, among other nice antiquities.
- 9 Castro Urdiales (Cantabria). Established as a Roman colony in AD 74 under the name Flaviobriga, during the reign of emperor Vespasian. The Flaviobriga archaeological site is under the Casco Viejo (old town), two meters deep. Remains of the Roman colony can be visited in the Regional Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria.
- 10 Ceuta (exclave in North Africa). Called Abyla by the Carthaginians, and Ad Septem Fratres or simply Septem, by the Romans (due to the seven little hills of the promontory where the city lies, that looked like seven brothers, or septem fratres in Latin). The ruins of a Roman basilica have been discovered.
- 11 Córdoba (Andalusia). Former capital of Hispania Baetica. Has a Roman bridge marked by a triumphal arch and an adjacent single-column monument and it crosses to an old fortified gate (now a museum).
- 12 Elche (Valencian Community). This original location was settled by the Greeks and later occupied by Carthaginians and Romans. Greek colonists named it Helike around 600 BC. The Romans called the city Ilici (or Illice) and granted it the status of colonia. The present-day Baños Arabes (Arabic Baths) actually re-uses old Roman baths.
- 13 Guadalmina (12 km west of Marbella, Costa del Sol). 3rd-century AD ruins of Roman baths, known as Las Bóvedas ("the domes") within a protected archaeological site.
- 14 Gijón (Asturias). Features a lot of interesting remains, such as the Roman baths of Campo Valdés (1st or 2nd centuries AD), the Roman wall (3rd and 4th centuries) and the Roman village of Veranes.
- 15 León (Castile and Leon). León was founded in the 1st century BC by the Roman legion Legio VI Victrix, which served under Caesar Augustus during the Cantabrian Wars (29-19 BC), the final stage of the Roman conquest of Hispania. In the year 74 AD, the Legio VII Gemina —recruited from the Hispanics by Galba in 69 AD— settled in a permanent military camp that was the origin of the city. Its modern name is derived from the city's Latin name Castra Legionis, or Legio for short. There are significant remains of its walls, built in the 1st century BC and enlarged in the 3rd-4th centuries AD, and the typical Roman street grid is observed - Calle Ancha is the Decumanus Maximus.
- 16 Lugo (Galicia). Only city in the world to be surrounded by completely intact Roman walls.
- 17 Málaga (Andalusia). Founded by the Phoenicians as Malaka about 770 BC. From 218 BC it was ruled by Rome, as Malaca. Its highlight is the Roman theatre, which dates from the 1st century BC and was excavated in 1951.
- 18 Melilla (exclave in North Africa). Founded as a Phoenician settlement called "Rhusadhir", Russaderion ( Ῥυσσάδειρον) for the Greeks or Rusadir for the Romans. Later it became a part of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. The large fortress which stands immediately to the north of the port, Melilla la Vieja ("Old Melilla"), has ramparts of fundamentally Roman workmanship.
- 19 Mérida (Extremadura). Formerly Emerita Augusta, the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania. Featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its several impressive remains, among them the longest of all existing Roman bridges.
- 20 Museu d'Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona (Barcelona/Ciutat Vella). Includes access to the underground ruins of ancient Barcino, whose Roman urban planning is very evident inside the walled city, which is correspondent to the contemporary Barri Gòtic.
- 21 Santiponce (Andalusia). Features the ruins of Italica, founded in 206 BC by the great Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio "Africanus", and the birthplace of emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Its highlight is one of the largest known Roman amphitheatres, with seats for 25,000. Well worth the quick trip from Seville (9 km).
- 22 Segovia (Castile and Leon). Famous for its aqueduct, one of the best preserved and most scenic anywhere.
- 23 Tarragona (Catalonia). Former Tarraco, capital of Hispania Tarraconensis. A beautiful amphitheater by the beach, a small preserved Forum and a good museum
- 24 Zaragoza (Aragon). First named Caesaraugusta, after Emperor Augustus. Its Forum, Thermal Baths, Riverine Port and Great Theatre are very well preserved. You can purchase a "Caesaraugusta route" joint ticket for this route of 4 museums, with a better price than seeing them separately.
- 1 Beja (Baixo Alentejo). Supposed to be the Roman Pax Julia, or Paca. Still surrounded by remains of old Roman walls. Said to be the richest in Roman remains of all the cities in Portugal, after Évora.
- 2 Braga (Minho). Ancient Bracara Augusta has some preserved remains and is host to the Braga Romana (Roman Braga) cultural fair, that celebrates the Roman influence in its history. It happens around the streets of the city centre, where people dress like ancient Romans and sell art and other souvenirs in tents. It is usually on the last weekend of May.
- 3 Chaves (Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro). Formerly known as Aquæ Flaviæ. Home to a lovely preserved Roman bridge, 140 m long, with 12 visible arches, built by order of Emperor Trajan.
- 4 Coimbra (Beira Litoral). In modern Coimbra there are a few remains from ancient Aeminium. The most important is the cryptoporticus, an underground gallery of arched corridors built in the 1st or 2nd century AD to support the forum of the city. It can be visited through the Machado de Castro Museum, formerly the bishop's palace, built during the Middle Ages. 16 km to the south, there's one of the largest Roman settlements excavated in Portugal, 4 Conímbriga, classified as a National Monument.
- 5 Évora (Alentejo Central). Julius Caesar called it Liberalitas Julia. Pliny the Elder also visited this town and mentioned it in his book Naturalis Historia as Ebora Cerealis. Vestiges from this period (the so-called Temple of Diana, city walls and ruins of Roman baths) still remain.
- 6 Lisbon. Believed to have Phoenician origins, Felicitas Iulia Olisipo, built on seven hills at the mouth of the Tagus river, quickly rose to prominence after the Punic wars, as Lusitania's primary port and commercial centre (which it still is). Several buildings on Rua Augusta have underground visitable archeological finds. Its old wall (Cerca Velha) has been studied, proven to be a primarily Roman construction, and been made a valued tourist attraction with several "Wall Walk" signs. The ruins of its theater are enclosed in a dedicated museum.
- 7 Santiago do Cacém (Alentejo Litoral). Features the ruins of ancient Miróbriga, with a Forum, a hippodrome, baths, an Imperial temple (to worship the Roman Emperors) and a temple dedicated to Venus. The hippodrome and baths are among the best preserved in Portugal.
England and Wales
- 1 Bath (Somerset). Aquae Sulis is the location of the Roman baths, the ruins of which are still visitable. The waters of the Celtic goddess Sulis are the only thermal waters in Britain. You can bathe like a Roman in the modern baths next door.
- 2 Birdoswald Roman Fort, Gilsland, CA8 7DD (7 miles north-east of Brampton, Cumbria). Only fort extensively excavated on the turf sector of Hadrian's Wall. It has produced lots of archaeological evidence for the phases of construction of the wall. Also the first fort to produce substantial evidence for what happened on the wall when Roman rule in Britain ended.
- 3 Caerleon (Monmouthshire). Isca was the hub of Roman civilisation in Wales. In the town are the public baths, large amphitheatre (with mythological links to Camelot) and the world's last-remaining legionary barracks. The other main attraction is the National Roman Legion Museum, which researches and displays half a million objects of Antiquity from the area around Caerleon.
- 4 Caernarfon (Gwynedd). The mediaeval castle is the main attraction here, but just a few hundred metres away are the remains of the most north-westerly fort in the Roman Empire, Segontium.
- 5 Caerwent (near Caldicot, Monmouthshire). Tribal capital of the Silures, most of Venta Silurum's remains date from the 4th century, including the impressive 5 metre-high town wall, houses, forum-basilica and a Romano-British temple, the latter highlighting how Romanisation often existed in harmony with older local traditions.
- 6 Canterbury (Kent). Founded as the Romano-Celtic town of Durovernum Cantiacorum. Home to the Canterbury Roman Museum, built to house the remains of a Roman domus and its courtyard.
- 7 Carlisle (Cumbria). An ideal base for exploring the western part of Hadrian's Wall.
- 8 Chester (Cheshire). Ancient Deva, or Castra Devana, the fortress city of the 20th Legion (Legio XX Valeria Victrix). As one of the great military bases in Roman England, has its fair share of Roman ruins.
- 9 Chichester (West Sussex). Believed to have been one of the bridgeheads of the Roman invasion of Britain. The city centre is built on the Roman town of Noviomagus, and it benefits from the cross-shaped design favoured by the Romans - North Street, South Street, East Street and West Street converge on the Chichester Cross, a medieval market cross. Just outside the city is Fishbourne Palace, home to the largest collection of mosaics in the UK and a unique formal Roman garden.
- 10 Cirencester (Gloucestershire). Ancient Corinium is the Roman highlight of the Cotswolds, with the remains of an amphitheatre - nowadays a grass-covered bowl - and the Corinium Museum. A small section of the old Roman wall can be seen at Abbey Park.
- 11 Colchester (Essex). Oldest recorded Roman town in Britain, claimed to be the oldest town in the UK. As Camulodunum, was for a time the capital of Roman Britain. Some modern scholars often speculate that "Camelot" could actually be "Camulod" misspelled. Its castle is built upon the foundations of the Temple of Emperor Claudius.
- 12 Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Pumsaint, Llanwrda (near Lampeter, Carmarthenshire), ☏ , [email protected]. The presence of untapped gold resources was one of the primary reasons the Romans invaded Britain, and here is the proof. Visitors can tour the mines, and walk in the footsteps of 2000 year-old miners.
- 13 Dover (Kent). Portus Dubris was founded at the closest point to continental Europe, ideal for a cross-channel port. In the Roman era, it grew into an important military and mercantile harbour. The Roman lighthouse built on the present-day site of Dover Castle may be the oldest stone building in Britain.
- 14 Exeter (Devon). Its Roman name was Isca Dumnomiorum, and it served as the base of the 5000-man Legio II Augusta for 20 years. Most of the original Roman wall can still be seen today; about 70% of it remains, and most of its route can be traced on foot.
- 15 Gloucester (Gloucestershire). Founded in 97 AD under Emperor Nerva as Colonia Glevum Nervensis, or shortly, Glevum. Roman tunnels and fortifications exist underneath the city centre and can be visited through the museum.
- 16 Hardknott Fort, Hardknott Pass, Eskdale, Cumbria (Lake District National Park). The remains of this northern military outpost are well-marked and the situation is dramatic, high in the Cumbrian mountains.
- 17 Hexham (Northumberland). An ideal base for exploring the middle section of Hadrian's Wall.
- 18 Leicester (Leicestershire). Founded as Ratae Corieltauvorum in 50 AD. Its Jewry Wall Museum features the 2000 year old remains of a Roman bathing complex. In 2013, the discovery of a Roman cemetery, found just outside the old city walls and dating back to 300 AD, was announced.
- 19 Lincoln (Lincolnshire). Developed from the Roman town of Lindum Colonia. Its Roman remains are mainly scattered around the cathedral quarter. Walking along Bailgate, notice the circles of old stones in the modern road surface: these are the original foundations of the Roman pillars which lined this route - Ermine Street, which stretched from London to York.
- 20 City of London. Major port and commercial centre in Roman Britain, under the name Londinium. Its Roman wall survived for another 1,600 years and broadly continues to define its perimeter. There are picturesque exposed sections close to the present Museum of London (which has a permanent exhibition of life in Londinium), near the Barbican Centre, as well as close to the Tower of London. The amphitheatre is now open to the public, underneath the Guildhall.
- 21 Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre, Off Richborough Road (near Sandwich, Kent), ☏ . One of the main beachheads of the Claudian invasion of 43 AD, today a collection of many phases of Roman remains still visible, under the auspices of English Heritage, which describes it as 'perhaps the most symbolically important of all Roman sites in Britain'.
- 22 Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum, Buddle Street, Wallsend (Tyne and Wear). The remains of the Roman fort at Segedunum, eastern terminus of Hadrian's Wall. It's a short walk away from the Wallsend Metro station. In fact many of the signs at the metro station have been translated into Latin, including the aptly named Vomitorium. A.
- 23 Silchester (near Basingstoke, Hampshire). Known to the Romans as Calleva Atrebatum, Silchester was abandoned after the Roman era which means that much of the archaeology remains. All that is left on the surface now is a complete ring of city walls and the amphitheatre, though ongoing archaeological digs (which you may get to see) could reveal more. Silchester is about as isolated a place as you will find in south-east England; on a spring weekday you are likely to find yourself sharing the ruins only with cows. Free to access every day, sunrise-sunset.
- 24 St Albans (Hertfordshire). Verulamium has left behind a well-preserved amphitheatre and city walls. The city's Verulamium Museum is dedicated to local Roman history, and hosts many artefacts including mosaics, coins and wall plasters.
- 25 Wroxeter Roman City, Wroxeter (near Shrewsbury, Shropshire). At one stage, Viroconium Cornoviorum was the fourth-largest city in Roman Britain. The main attractions today are the remains of the bath house and a tall section of free-standing wall, as well as a reconstructed town house, an impressive piece of experimental archaeology using only methods and materials available to Roman Britons.
- 26 York (North Yorkshire). Founded as Eboracum in 71 AD. After 211, became the capital of the province Britannia Inferior. Constantine the Great was first proclaimed Emperor in this city. Its medieval city walls are built on Roman era foundations. Features several events with re-enactors.
- 1 Arlon (Wallonia). Formerly the vicus of Orolaunum, Arlon has parts of its Gallo-Roman defensive wall, built in the 3rd century, still standing, and an outstanding archeological museum.
- 2 Liège (Wallonia). Was known as Vicus Leudicus in Roman times. An archeological display, the Archeoforum, can be visited under the Place St Lambert, showing Roman and medieval remains.
- 3 Tongeren (Flanders). Oldest town of Belgium. Founded as the military camp Atuatuca Tungrorum, built around 50 BC by Sabinus and Cotta, lieutenants in the army of Julius Caesar. More than 1,500 meters of the original Roman wall, dating from the 2nd century, has been preserved. The town market features a statue of Gallic leader Ambiorix. There's also a Gallo-Roman museum.
- 1 Alphen aan den Rijn (Groene Hart). Formerly the frontier garrison of Castellum Albanianae on the Old Rhine. Home to the Archeon, a theme park about living history of the Netherlands, containing 43 buildings from the Prehistory, Roman era and Middle Ages.
- 2 Heerlen (South Limburg). Former Roman military settlement, known as Coriovallum, at the crossroads of the Boulogne-Cologne and Xanten-Aachen-Trier routes. Its bathing complex has been excavated and is now a museum.
- 3 Katwijk (Bollenstreek). In Romans times, its name was Lugdunum Batavorum. It was a place of strategic importance, at the Empire's northern border, at the mouth of the Rhine, which in Roman times was larger in this area than it is today. There was a good deal of traffic along the Rhine. It was also a jumping-off point for the voyage to Britain.
- 4 Maastricht (Limburg). Started to exist when the Romans built a bridge over the river Meuse (Maas in Dutch, Mosa in Latin) in the 1st century AD, and named it Traiectum ad Mosam. Remains of the Roman road, the bridge, a religious shrine, a Roman bath, a granary, some houses and the 4th-century castrum walls and gates have been excavated. Fragments of provincial Roman sculptures, as well as coins, jewelry, glass, pottery and other objects from Roman Maastricht are on display in the exhibition space of the city's public library (Centre Céramique).The cellar of the Derlon Hotel was surveyed by Maastricht's city archeologists before restoration could start; several Roman remains, from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century, were found, and considered so important that it was decided to conserve and exhibit them. In the cellar of Derlon Hote can be seen part of a 2nd- and 3rd-century square, a 3rd-century well, part of a pre-Roman cobblestone road and sections of a wall and a gate dating from the 4th century.
- 5 Nijmegen (Gelderland). Founded as Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum, or Noviomagus for short, a frontier garrison, in the 1st century BC. A few Roman remains are visible today; a fragment of the old city wall can be seen near the casino, and the foundations of the amphitheatre are traced in the paving of the present-day Rembrandtstraat. The Valkhof museum includes artifacts from the Roman era.
- 6 Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities), Rapenburg 28 (Leiden, Bollenstreek), [email protected]. This is a traditional museum on the history of people. Includes an outstanding collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities, and a small temple that was given to the Netherlands by the Egyptians for their help with the Aswan monuments transfer project. It also features an exhibition on the archeological history of the Netherlands, including dug-up burial treasures and relics from Roman sites in the country.
- 7 Utrecht (Western Netherlands). Its history goes back to 47 AD, when emperor Claudius ordered his general Corbulo to build a defensive line along the Rhine, then the Empire's northernmost border. A stronghold (Castrum) was built at a crossing in the river, and called Traiectum ("crossingplace"). In the local language this became Trecht, Uut-Trecht (uut, "downriver", added to distinguish U-trecht from Maas-tricht) and later Utrecht. On the place where once the castrum stood, now stands the Domchurch built in the 13th century. Remnants of the Roman stone wall can be visited below the buildings around Dom Square.
- 8 Woerden (Western Netherlands). Former frontier garrison town, called Laurum or Laurium. Artifacts and even ships from that time have been found and some of them are exhibited in the parking garage (appropriately called Castellum) and in the city museum.
- 1 Aachen (Eifel). According to legend, the Roman spa resort town of Aquae Granni was founded by order of emperor Hadrian, circa 124 AD. Remains have been found of three bathhouses, including two fountains at the Elisenbrunnen, a neo-classical hall covering one of the city's famous hot springs.
- 2 Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt (Archaeological Museum), Karmelitergasse 1 (Frankfurt, Rhine-Main), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Located in a former Carmelite monastery, it displays finds from the Roman town of Nida (Frankfurt-Heddernheim). There's also an open-air archaeological installation, showing the foundations of the oldest building in the city: the Roman baths from the 1st and 2nd century.
- 3 Augsburg (Bavaria). Germany's third oldest city, being founded as Augusta Vindelicorum, named after the emperor Augustus. Former capital of the province of Raetia and administrative and economic centre of the Roman dominion from the northern Alps to the Danube River. Nowadays, features the Römisches Museum, founded as early as 1822 as "Antiquarium Romanum" (closed for renovation, it has been rehoused at a temporary location until 2022), and hosts the annual German Römerfest.
- 4 Baden-Baden (Black Forest). Known as Aquae to the Romans. The bath-conscious emperor Caracalla once came here to ease his arthritic aches. The ruins of the bathing complex are preserved under the aptly-named Römerplatz (Roman Square).
- 5 Cologne (North Rhine-Westphalia). Founded as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, was the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior. Home to an extensive Romano-Germanic Museum, above several ruins, right beside the famous cathedral.
- 6 Mainz (Rhineland-Palatinate). Ancient Mogontiacum was founded by the Roman general Drusus, brother of emperor Tiberius and father of emperor Claudius, at the strategic confluence of the Rhine and the Main; later, it became the provincial capital of Germania Superior, and an important funeral monument dedicated to Drusus was built. The so-called Drususstein still stands inside the citadel of Mainz.
- 7 Regensburg (Upper Palatinate). Founded as the military camp Castra Regina. Its Porta Praetoria is believed to be Germany's most ancient stone building, dating back to 179 AD.
- 8 Saalburg (Bad Homburg). The Saalburg fort is on the Limes Germanicus, built to keep the various "Barbarians" out, which has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- 9 Trier (Moselle Valley). The oldest city of Germany is home to the Porta Nigra ("black gate") monument, and the remains of three thermae (bathing complexes).
- 10 Wiesbaden (Hesse). Pliny the Elder first mentioned the thermal springs of Aquae Mattiacorum in his Naturalis Historia. Mogontiacum, base of 2 (at times 3) Roman legions, was just over the Rhine and connected by a bridge at the present-day borough of Mainz-Kastel (Roman "castellum"), a strongly fortified bridgehead. Mainz-Kastel was only detached from Mainz and incorporated into Wiesbaden no sooner than 25 July 1945. Some remains of the so-called Heidenmauer ("Heathen Wall"), and of a Roman triumphal arch, can be seen.
- 11 Xanten Archeological Park (North Rhine-Westphalia). Germany's largest archeological park, on the site of ancient Castra Vetera, another part of the Limes Germanicus.
- 12 Kempten (Allgäu). Cambodunum was conquered from the Celts by general Nero Claudius Drusus, the founder of Mogontiacum, and rebuilt on a classical Roman city plan with baths, forum and temples. Initially in wood, the city was later rebuilt in stone after a devastating fire that destroyed almost the entire city in the year 69 AD. The city possibly served as provincial capital of Raetia during the first century before Augusta Vindelicorum took over this role. Extensive archaeological excavations at the end of the 19th century, and again during the 1950s at what were then the outskirts of Kempten, unearthed extensive structural foundations.
- 13 Museum and Park Kalkriese (Kalkriese near Osnabrück). Here was fought the Teutoburg Forest battle, in 9 CE, in which Varus and three Roman legions perished against Arminius, a Roman officer of Germanic origin who betrayed the Romans and fought against them.
- 1 Augusta Raurica (Northwestern Switzerland). Very well preserved theater and arena in the greater Basel urban area. Site of the Swiss Römerfest.
- 2 Musée Romain Lausanne-Vidy, Chemin du Bois-de-Vaux 24 (Lausanne). On display are architectural finds from the Roman camp Lausanna, just by the lake, which still features the remains of walls and a forum from the time of Julius Caesar.
- 3 Martigny (Valais). Features interesting remains from Octodurus, conquered by the Roman Empire in 57 BC, in order to protect the strategically important pass of Poeninus (now known as the Great St. Bernard). It was later renamed Forum Claudii Vallensium Octodurensium.
- 4 Nyon (Vaud). Founded as Colonia Julia Equestris, later Noviodunum. Home to the best Roman museum inside Switzerland.
- 5 Solothurn (Berne Region). Founded as early as 350 BC as Castrum Salodurum, a bell-shaped walled fort. The remains can still be seen at Friedhofplatz and in Löwengasse.
- 1 Vienna Roman Museum (Römermuseum), Hoher Markt 3 (Vienna/Innere Stadt), [email protected]. This museum houses a collection of artifacts from Vindobona, as this Danubian garrison settlement was then known. There are Roman ruins in the cellar of the museum itself, first discovered during construction work in 1948, and for many years only accessible to the public via a narrow staircase, before the building was transformed into a full-fledged museum in 2008.
- 2 Carnuntum. Roman city and archaeological park on the site of the former capital of Pannonia Superior. Site of the contemporary Austrian Römerfest.
- 3 Villach (Carinthia). Called Sanctium in Roman times, home to a hot spring (something very valued at those times) and a museum.
- 4 Archaeological Park Magdalensberg (close to Klagenfurt, Carinthia). About 4 hectares large, shows important areas of the ancient settlement of Virunum, archaeologically studied since 1948.
- 5 Wattens (Tyrol). Nowadays best known as the headquarters of the Swarovski crystal company, the town features remains of a Roman villa, unearthed during construction works in 2012. Next to the glass covered archaeological remains, there are display cases with pottery and coins from a 732-piece gold and silver treasure belonging to a legionary. The St. Larentius church, very near in the town center, also dates back to the Roman period.
- 1 Aquincum Museum (Budapest/Aquincum). Aquincum was first a Danubian garrison town and later became capital of Pannonia Inferior. Emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius may have written at least part of his Meditations at Aquincum. The Aquincum Museum features indoor and outdoor parts; the latter include two amphitheaters, the Aquincum Civil Amphitheater and the Aquincum Military Amphitheater (both built in the 1st century AD) and the remains of the Roman camp's eastern gate. It hosts the annual Floralia spring festival.
- 2 Dunakeszi (Central Hungary). Small wall remains of a fort, belonging to the Ripa Pannonica - the fluvial part of the Limes protection system - can be see here.
- 3 Esztergom (Transdanubia). As a Roman town, was called Solva. Its castle, built on ancient Roman foundations, is nowadays a museum, with a permanent Roman exhibition.
- 4 Györ (Transdanubia). Called Arrabona in Roman times, is home to a good archeological museum.
- 5 Pécs (Transdanubia). Founded as Sopianae. Its centre was where the Postal Palace now stands. Some parts of the Roman aqueduct are still visible. Its early Christian necropolis, called Cella Septichora, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 6 Sopron (Transdanubia). a Roman city called Scarbantia stood here. Its present main square, which has an archeology museum, was the forum. Its firewatch tower's cylindrical lower part was built on the remains of the Roman town wall, and served as the north tower of the city from the 13th century onwards.
- 7 Szombathely (Transdanubia). Oldest recorded city in Hungary, founded in 45 AD under the name of Colonia Claudia Savariensum or Savaria for short. It was the capital of the Pannonia Superior province. Home to a reconstructed Temple of Isis, a restored Roman garden and the Savaria historical theme park. Every year, in August, it hosts the Savaria Historical Carnival.
- 8 Tác (Transdanubia). Home to the archeological site of Roman Gorsium, the country's largest open-air museum of this period
- 1 Celje (Pohorje-Savinjska). Famous for its multitude of remains from the rich Roman settlement called Celeia. Has a rich regional museum. Remains of various buildings and the ancient city walls are also scattered around the town itself.
- 2 Ljubljana (Central Slovenia). Ljubljana was anciently called Colonia Iulia Aemona. There still are remains of its Roman city walls, including a number of pillars from an entrance gate.
- 3 Ptuj (Eastern Slovenia). Emperor Trajan granted this settlement city status and named it Colonia Ulpia Traiana Poetovio. The central square of the modern town features The Orpheus Monument, originally a grave marker of Marcus Valerius Verus, the mayor of Poetovio in the 2nd century AD. There is also a Mithraeum and a good regional museum.
- 1 Poreč (Istria). The Roman colony of Colonia Iulia Parentium. The town plan still shows the ancient Roman Castrum structure. The main streets are Decumanus and Cardo Maximus, still preserved in their original forms. Marafor is a Roman square with two temples attached. One of them, erected in the first century AD, is dedicated to the Roman god Neptune. There's a preserved floor mosaic, originally part of a large Roman house, in the garden of the Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 2 Pula (Istria). Known for its many surviving ancient Roman buildings, the most famous of which is its 1st-century amphitheater, among the largest surviving Roman arenas in the world.
- 3 Split (Dalmatia). A city built around the palace of emperor Diocletian, where he voluntarily retired after having had enough of ruling his empire.
- 4 Zadar (Northern Dalmatia). Has a preserved Forum, built by order of Augustus, and an archeological museum.
- 1 Belgrade. Its oldest core, nowadays called the Kalemegdan Fortress, was founded in the 3rd century BC as Singidunum by the Celtic tribe of Scordisci, who had defeated Thracian and Dacian tribes that previously lived in and around the fort. The city-fortress was conquered in 34–33 BC by the Roman army led by Silanus, and became a part of the Danubian military frontier. Relics of that era can still be seen inside and outside the fortress.
- 2 Niš (Podunavlje). Birthplace of emperor Constantine the Great. The exact place where he was born (Villa Mediana) has been preserved.
- 3 Viminacium Archeological Park (12 km from Požarevac). Remains of a major city and military camp, the provincial capital of Moesia Superior. The archaeological site occupies a total of 450 hectares (1,100 acres), and contains remains of temples, streets, squares, amphitheatres, palaces, hippodromes and Roman baths.
- 1 Alba Iulia (Transylvania). Apulum was the largest castrum (fortress city) in Romania, occupying 37.5 hectares (93 acres). The present citadel, built in the 18th century, houses some Roman remains.
- 2 Constanța (Northern Dobruja). Called Tomis in antiquity. Famous poet Ovid died in exile here. Has a big floor mosaic which had a dedicated museum built around it.
- 3 Deva (Transylvania). Fortress city known in ancient times as Castrum Deva. Home to the Museum of Dacian and Roman Civilization.
- 4 Mangalia (Northern Dobruja). Started to exist as a Greek colony named Callatis in the 6th century BC. Today, it's a rich archeological site, with ruins of the original Callatis citadel and an archeological museum.
- 5 Roșia Montană (Transylvania). Founded during the rule of Trajan as a mining town, Alburnus Maior. Features one of the most extensive networks of Roman gold mines, some of them open to visitors.
- 6 Tropaeum Traiani (Adamclisi, Northern Dobruja). Monument built in 109 AD to commemorate Trajan's victories over the Dacians. The present edifice is a reconstruction dating from 1977. There's a nearby museum, containing many archaeological objects, including parts of the original Roman monument.
- 7 Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa (close to Hațeg, Transylvania). Archeological site of the capital of the province of Dacia.
- 8 Jidava (close to Câmpulung, Muntenia). Fort in the Roman province of Dacia.
- 1 Burgas (Bulgarian Black Sea Coast). The present city's territory is home to three ancient sites of the Via Pontica: Develtum, Poros and the newly excavated Aquae Calidae. There is also an archeological museum.
- 2 Hisarya (Hissar) (Upper Thracian Plain). Site of mineral hot springs. During the Roman rule, this town, called Augusta and later Sevastopolis, was a wealthy resort centre, with Imperial palaces, wide stone streets, marble baths, a sewage system and lots of statues of Roman gods. After being burnt down by the Goths in the 3rd century, it was rebuilt in the beginning of the 4th century, this time with massive and high defensive walls. Now it's a world famous balneotherapy resort, one of the biggest in Bulgaria. Many dilapidated Roman ruins are visible everywhere — public buildings, a small amphitheatre, the barracks of the Roman garrison, the foundations of a couple of the oldest churches in Bulgaria, as well as the country's best-preserved Roman fortress.
- 3 Nesebar (Bulgarian Black Sea Coast). The ancient Greek colony of Mesembria was located on an island, which has sunk under water. However, some remains from the Hellenistic period are extant. These include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, a market place, and a fortification wall, which can still be seen on the north side of the peninsula.
- 4 Plovdiv (Upper Thracian Plain). Ancient Philippopolis, later renamed Trimontium. Historic capital of Thracia. There are several Roman ruins that can be seen in or near the downtown area, including an aqueduct and a very well preserved theater.
- 5 Sofia (Bulgarian Shopluk). Conquered by the Romans at around 29 BC, Serdica gradually became the most important Roman city of the region. It was the midway point of the Via Militaris, which connected Rome and Constantinople. Emperors Aurelian (215-275) and Galerius (260-311) were born here. The geographical center of the modern city features the Amphitheatre of Serdica, under the flags of the EU.
- 6 Sozopol (Bulgarian Black Sea Coast). Anciently known as Apollonia Pontica (that is, "Apollonia on the Black Sea", the ancient Pontus Euxinus) and Apollonia Magna ("Great Apollonia"). A part of the ancient seaside fortifications, including a gate, have been preserved, along with an amphitheater.
- 7 Stara Zagora (Upper Thracian Plain). called Augusta Traiana, was one of the most prominent cities in Thracia. Huge avenues, covered with marble slabs, lined with statues, and a large amount of archaeological artifacts remain from this period, including the Roman Walls and Gate of the city, mosaics and the Roman Forum.
- 8 Varna (Bulgarian Black Sea Coast). Known in Roman times as Odessus. Home to the remains of a large bathing complex, and an archeological museum.
- 5 Buthrōtum (10 km from Sarandë). This is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Buthrōtum, or Βουθρωτόν (Bouthrōtón) in Greek, was an ancient city throughout Greek, Roman, bishopric and Byzantine periods. The city was finally abandoned during the Middle Ages, perhaps due to the surrounding marsh and subsequent malaria epidemic. Despite being one of the greatest classical cities of the Mediterranean, Butrint remains largely unknown. The current archaeological site includes an impressive Roman amphitheater, a Byzantine basilica (the largest in the world after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul), a Roman temple with mosaic floor, a beautifully carved lion's gate, as well numerous constructions built throughout the periods. Furthermore, what you see is just 15 per cent of what lies beneath. Butrint visitors should allocate approximately 2 hours to enjoy the site; archaeology fans will probably want closer to 3 hours.
- 6 Durrës (Coastal Albania). Formerly named Dyrrachium, was the western end of the Via Egnatia, the great Roman road that led to Thessalonica and on to Constantinople. Site of the decisive battle between Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus. Features an excavated amphitheater.
- 7 Athens (Attica). Athens was given the status of a free city under Roman rule, because of its widely admired schools. Emperor Hadrian, in the 2nd century AD, constructed a library, a gymnasium, several temples and sanctuaries, a bridge, an aqueduct which is still in use, and financed the completion of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which continues to be a major tourist attraction.
- 8 Corinth (Peloponnese). Capital of the province of Achaea, under the name Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis.
- 9 Preveza (Epirus). The present city is on the Cape of Actium; 7 km north, lies the ancient Nicopolis, the City of Victory, founded by Octavian in 28 BC, in the aftermath of the Naval Battle of Actium, in which he prevailed over Mark Antony and Cleopatra. It was later the capital of the Roman province of Epirus Vetus. The rich archeological site features city walls, the Basilica of Alkisson, the Basilica of Domitius, a Roman Odeon, a Nympheum, Roman Baths, a necropolis, a Roman theatre, the Augustus Monument, a Roman Stadium and the Roman Villa of Manius Antoninus.
- 10 Thessaloniki (Central Macedonia). A city with a continuous 3,000-year history, preserving relics of its Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past.
- 11 Philippi. A famous station along the Via Egnatia where Apostle Paul was captured by the Romans and wrote the letters of the Philippians from the Bible and the first Christian baptism was performed in Europe. Very interesting ruins in scenic surroundings.
- 12 Kavala. The very interesting tourist city was another important station along the Via Egnatia. Here you can visit one of the best preserved parts of the old Roemer street.
- 13 Amasra (Black Sea Turkey). Pliny the Younger, when he was governor of Bithynia and Pontus, described Amastris in a letter to Trajan as a handsome city. Extant attractions include Amasra Castle, built during the Roman period; a fine medium-sized archaeological museum by the sea, with remains from both land and underwater; and the Bird's Rock road monument, about 4 km out of town, created between 41-54 AD by order of Bithynia et Pontus Governor, Gaius Julius Aquila, in honor of emperor Claudius.
- 14 Anamur (Cilician Mountains). Ancient Anamurium features some partially ruined buildings—though still intact enough to give an idea about what they were like before they were abandoned—and high city walls on the side of a mountain, and is quite pleasant to walk around. Its castle, reported as one of the most scenic in Turkey, dates back to Roman times.
- 15 Ankara (Central Anatolia). Formerly Ancyra, capital city of the Roman province of Galatia. Features lots of relics, among them the Temple of Augustus and Rome, a bathing complex thoroughly excavated, and a theater.
- 16 Antakya (Hatay). As Antioch ad Orontes, it was capital of the province of Syria Palaestina, and famous as an important centre of early Christianity, with some of the first non-hidden churches. The local museum has an extensive collection of the 3rd-century Antioch mosaics, which depict mythological characters and geometrical patterns in distinct styles. The surrounding countryside features the Titus Tunnel, a Roman engineering marvel, a channel cut through the rock for nearly a mile (about 1.4 km). Today the channel is dry, but still worth a visit.
- 17 Antalya (Pamphylia). Emperor Hadrian visited Attalea in the year 130. The so-called Hadrian's Gate, built in his honor, is a major historical attraction.
- 18 Aphrodisias (Southern Aegean). Close to a marble quarry which made its sculpture style famous in the Roman world. Now it's one of the best preserved Roman cities in Turkey, and without the usual crowds of Ephesus.
- 19 Aspendos (close to Serik, Pamphylia). Features one of the best preserved theatres and an aqueduct 15 km long.
- 20 Çavdarhisar (Central Anatolia). Features the impressive ruins of the Roman city of Aizanoi, which consist of the baths, the market building, and the agora on the south side of the river, and the awesome Temple of Zeus, another set of baths (larger from the other one), and a stadium/theatre complex on the north of the river, the sides of which are connected by two still extant (and, indeed used by the modern traffic) Roman stone bridges to each other.
- 21 Dalyan (Lycia). The ancient seaport city of Kaunos, now silted up and 8 km from the coast, lies here. Kaunos was completely abandoned after a serious malaria epidemic of the 15th century AD, and therefore its extensive remains are very well preserved.
- 22 Diyarbakir (Southeastern Anatolia). Called Amida in Roman times. Its walls, built by Constantius II and extended by Valentinian I between 367 and 375, still stretch almost unbroken for about 6 km. A 19th-century courthouse within the İç Kale citadel, built in traditional Diyarbakır style from black basalt and white limestone, now is a state-of-the-art museum of archeology.
- 23 Ephesus (Central Aegean). The capital of Asia Proconsularis province, second in importance and size only to Rome according to Strabo, now a large world heritage-listed archeological site and one of Turkey's major tourist attractions.
- 24 Gaziantep (Southeastern Anatolia). The site of the Zeugma Mosaics Museum, which is a claimant for having the richest collection of ancient mosaics in the world. The museum hosts the mosaics excavated from Roman villas at the nearby ancient city of Zeugma, which rose to prominency during the Roman period due to its pontoon bridge carrying the Silk Road over the Euphrates River, and is now sadly submerged by the lake of the Birecik Dam.
- 25 Istanbul/Sultanahmet-Old City. Ancient Byzantium became a part of the Roman Empire in 73 AD. It was later besieged, and reconstructed, by Septimius Severus. In the 3rd century, was chosen and aggrandized by Constantine the Great as his new capital Constantinople, a status the city mantained for more than a millenium. The construction of Yenikapı metro station from 2004-2013 unearthed (among several important archeological finds) some foundations of the Constantine walls. The former Imperial capital's streets are not short of Roman antiquities. The Hagia Sophia was a church built during the Byzantine era that was later converted to a mosque by the Ottoman Empire.
- 26 Izmir (Central Aegean). Ancient Smyrna has always been famous as the birthplace of Homer, thought to have lived here around the 8th century BC. Its central market place from Roman times is now an open-air museum.
- 27 Izmit (Eastern Marmara). Founded by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia. It has ever since been one of the most important cities in northwestern Asia Minor. Diocletian made it the eastern capital city of the Roman Empire in 286 when he introduced the Tetrarchy system. Nicomedia remained as the eastern (and most senior) capital of the Roman Empire until Licinius was defeated by Constantine the Great in 324. Constantine mainly resided in Nicomedia as his interim capital city for the next six years, until in 330 he declared the nearby Byzantium as Nova Roma, which eventually became known as Constantinople. Historical monuments in Izmit include the remains of the ancient walls of Nicomedia and a Byzantine fortress.
- 28 Iznik (Eastern Marmara). Originally named Nicaea. Site of the First and Second Councils of Nicaea, the first and seventh Ecumenical councils in the early history of the Christian Church. Nicaea's Roman and Byzantine city walls, 14,520 feet (4,426 m) in circumference, remain almost entirely intact around the city. The 4th-century St. Sophia Cathedral, site of the Second Council of Nicaea, is still extant as well.
- 29 Olympos (Lycia). Lycian/Roman city that now lies in ruins on the beach, with stone sarcophagi and flames that mysteriously burn from the side of a mountain (they may have inspired the Greek myth of Bellerophon and the Chimera).
- 30 Sagalassos (near Ağlasun, Lakes District). High over the Taurus Mountains, remote and beautiful Sagalassos has a history predating the arrival of the Romans, although most of the remains seen today, including the nymphaeum, an impressive monumental fountain dedicated to the nymphs, are Roman in origin.
- 31 Sardis (Central Aegean). Founded by native, pre-Roman Lydians, and famously associated with King Croesus, Sardis has the usual set of temple ruins common in other sites contemporary with it. However, what makes it stand out is that it features the ruins of a Roman era synagogue, one of the oldest in the Jewish diaspora.
- 32 Side (Pamphylia). Seaside resort city with a quite large amphitheatre, a temple to Apollo, and a gate, in fairly good condition.
- 33 Silifke (Cilician Mountains). Formerly Seleucia. Its center is home to an intact Roman bridge, and the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. There's also an archaeological museum.
- 34 Tarsus (Cilician Plains). It was here that Cleopatra and Mark Antony met, and was the scene of the celebrated feasts they gave during the construction of their fleet (41 BC). The so-called Cleopatra Gate is still extant.
- 35 Urfa (Southeastern Anatolia). Believed to have been Ur, the birthplace of Biblical patriarch Abraham. The Romans called it Edessa. Its location on the eastern frontier of the Empire meant it was frequently conquered during periods when the Roman/Byzantine central government was weak, and for centuries, it was alternately conquered by Arab, Byzantine, Armenian and Turkish rulers. There is an ancient ruined castle with some Roman columns that remain.
- 36 Apamea (Orontes Valley). A member of the ancient Syrian Tetrapolis. There are several sets of ruins at the site, with more excavations still being undertaken in 2008. The colonnade on the main street of Apamea is a mile long and, in true Roman style, is dead straight, providing interesting 'vanishing point' photography. There is also a citadel at the site, which has seen locals move in and build around it, and several, smaller ruins heading away from town on the access road.
- 37 Bosra (Hauran). Ancient Neabatean site, first mentioned in the documents of pharaohs Tutmose III and Akhenaton (14th century BC). Under the Roman Empire, Bosra was renamed Nova Trajana Bostra, was the residence of the Legio III Cyrenaica, and the capital of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. Today, Bosra is a major archaeological site, containing ruins from Roman, Byzantine, and Muslim times, its main feature being the well preserved Roman theatre.
- 38 Damascus (Hauran). Credited with being the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. The Souq al-Hamidiyya, a broad street packed with tiny shops, is entered through columns from a Roman temple built on a site that had been occupied by an even older temple. The great Umayyad mosque, an architectural wonder with three minarets, was an Assyrian temple, then a Roman temple to Jupiter, a church when Rome converted to Christianity, then a mosque and a church together, and finally a mosque until now. All the symbols are still pretty much there and some Christian drawings can still be very clearly seen on the walls inside.
- 39 Latakia (Syrian Coast and Mountains). An important colonia of the Roman empire in ancient Syria for seven centuries. It was called Laodicea in Syria or "Laodicea ad mare" and was the capital of the Eastern Roman province of Theodorias from 528 AD until 637 AD. Its ruins include a tetraporticus, built by Septimius Severus in 183 AD, and a temple to Bacchus.
- 1 Palmyra (Syrian Desert). Queen of an oasis surrounded by palms, this city was first documented in the early second millennium BC as a caravan stop for travellers crossing the Syrian Desert. It received its wealth from trade caravans; the Palmyrenes, renowned merchants, established colonies along the Silk Road and operated throughout the Roman Empire. In 129 Palmyra was visited by Hadrian, who named it "Hadriane Palmyra" and made it a free city. Until the Syrian Civil War, it was described as Syria's only truly tourist town, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sadly, the Islamic State organization significantly damaged the ruins in 2015.
- 40 Baalbek (Bekaa). Heliopolis, as it was known, is a spectacular site with great ancient temples, built by the Phoenicians, the Romans, and other civilisations that have conquered the region. Baalbek as a travel destination is strongly discouraged right now, due to the spillover of the civil war in Syria.
- 41 Byblos (Mount Lebanon). One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Byblos has a Roman theatre close to its Crusader Castle.
- 42 Tyre (South Lebanon). A very ancient city, famously besieged by Alexander the Great. Features a huge quantity of Roman relics, including the largest and best-preserved example of a Roman Hippodrome, an intact Roman road and aqueduct, and a monumental arch.
The Roman period of Israel and the Palestinian Territories is well-known in Christian communities through the New Testament — the stories of Christ and his disciples. See Holy Land for Biblical destinations.
- 43 Caesarea (Caesarea Maritima, Caesarea Palestinae) (Israeli Coastal Plain). Built by Herod the Great, former capital of Judaea province, location of the 1961 discovery of the Pilate Stone, the only archeological item that mentions the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, by whose order Jesus of Nazareth is said to have been crucified. It is the site of what bills itself as the world's first underwater museum, where 36 points of interest on four marked underwater trails through the ancient harbor can be explored by divers equipped with waterproof maps.
- 44 Jerusalem/Old City. Conquered by Vespasian and Titus in 70 AD and later humbled by Hadrian after the Bar Kokhba revolt. It was then renamed Aelia Capitolina and rebuilt in a Roman urban planning style, which can still be noticed inside the walled city.
- 45 Masada (Negev). Fortress-palace built by Roman client King Herod the Great, atop a hill close to the Dead Sea, between 37 and 31 BC. During the Jewish rebellion against Rome in 1st century AD, a sect of Jews called the Kanai took refuge in isolated Masada. They were known in Greek as zelotes, or the Zealots. After remaining there for seven years, the Zealots finally fell at the hands of the Roman army in 73 AD. However, rather than be killed or enslaved, the holed up rebels chose to commit a mass suicide.
- 46 Tiberias (Galilee). Founded around 20 AD by the Roman client king Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, and named in honor of emperor Tiberius. The main attraction are the hot springs of Hammat Tiberias that, during Roman times, were the focus, if not raison d'être, of a community of 40,000 fervent bathers; nowadays they're enclosed in a National Park dedicated to their archeology.
- 47 Amman (Northern Jordan). Mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon, was the capital of the Ammonites, conquered by the Assyrians, then the Nabataeans, and later by the Romans who renamed it Philadelphia and turned it into a great trade center. From this time there remain a Roman Theater, built during the reign of Antonius Pius (138-161 AD) that could seat up to 6,000 people, and a Nymphaeum.
- 48 Aqaba (Southern Desert). An inhabited settlement since 4000 BC, Aqaba reached its peak during Roman times, then known as Aela. The Via Traiana Nova, coming south from Bostra through Amman, had its end in Aqaba, where it connected with a west road leading to Palaestina and Egypt. Around 106 AD Aqaba was one of the main ports for the Romans. The Via Traiana Nova's final milestone is displayed at Aqaba Archaeological Museum.
- 49 Jerash (Northern Jordan). Known for the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River. It is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the "Pompeii of the Middle East" (there's no volcano around, and it was never buried under ash), referring to its size, extent of excavation and level of preservation; modern Jerash sprawls to the east of the ruins, sharing the same city wall but little else. There also is a Roman Army and Chariot Experience: Two daily shows at the hippodrome (circus) include Roman Legion tactics, mock gladiator fights, and chariot exhibitions. Just ask and you will be allowed to go on a chariot ride after the show. Admission 10JD.
- 50 Petra (Southern Desert). The impressive capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC, was absorbed into the Roman Empire in 106 AD and the Romans continued to expand the city. An important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around 663 AD. Today, it has become Jordan's most important tourist attraction, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- 51 Alexandria (Lower Egypt). Capital of Hellenistic, Roman & Byzantine Egypt for almost 1,000 years, the second most powerful city of the ancient world after Rome. Its Roman-era relics include the Pillar of Pompey (actually built by Diocletian), a well-preserved theater, and the remains of its bathing complex.
- 52 Babylon Fortress (Cairo/Old Cairo). Built by order of Emperor Trajan, at the entrance of the former canal to the Red Sea, it became a fulcrum of the Roman occupation. Not long after the fall of the Empire, some of the very first Egyptian Christian (aka Coptic) and Greek Orthodox churches were built upon its foundations.
- 53 Cyrene (close to Shahhat, Cyrenaica). Former capital of Cyrenaica province. One of its more significant features is the temple of Apollo, originally constructed as early as 7th century BC. Other ancient structures include a temple to Demeter and a partially unexcavated temple to Zeus. There is a large necropolis approximately 10 km between Cyrene and its ancient port of Apollonia. Since 1982, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, some parts of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cyrene were reportedly destroyed in August 2013 by locals to make way for homes and shops.
- 54 Leptis Magna (Tripolitania). Birthplace of emperor Septimius Severus, who came to favor his hometown above all other provincial cities. The buildings and wealth he lavished on it made Leptis Magna the third-most important city in Africa, rivaling Carthage and Alexandria. Nowadays it's one of the most spectacular and unspoiled Roman ruins in the Mediterranean.
- 55 Tripoli (Tripolitania). Founded in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians, from the later half of the 2nd century BC on it belonged to the Romans, who included it in their province of Africa, and gave it the name of Regio Syrtica. Around the beginning of the 3rd century AD, it became known as the Regio Tripolitana. The only visible Roman remains, apart from scattered columns and capitals (usually integrated in later buildings), is the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, from the 2nd century AD.
- 56 Sabratha (66 km (41 mi) west of Tripoli). Home to a magnificent late 3rd century theatre that retains its three-storey architectural backdrop, temples dedicated to Liber Pater, Serapis and Isis, a Christian basilica of the time of Justinian and also three bathing complexes, with remnants of its mosaic floors. There's an adjacent museum containing some relics from Sabratha, but others can be seen in Tripoli's national museum.
- 57 Carthage (15 km north of Tunis). Once the Roman Republic's biggest foe, Carthage was defeated and destroyed in the Punic Wars and later reconstructed to be capital of Africa province. A UNESCO World Heritage List site.
- 58 Dougga (Northern Tunisia). Extensive ruins of a Roman town, still in pretty good condition. A UNESCO World Heritage List site.
- 59 El Jem. Formerly the Roman town of Thysdrus. Features the best-preserved amphitheater in Northern Tunisia.
- 60 El Kef (Northern Tunisia). First known by the name of Sicca during the Carthaginian era, then later Sicca Veneria during Roman times. The main attraction is its kasbah, a fortress of Byzantine origins, easily noticeable from almost any part of the city. Ruins of Roman baths can be seen at the foot of the kasbah.
- 61 Haïdra (Northern Tunisia). Here lie the ruins of Ammaedara, one of the oldest Roman cities in Africa. Its most prominent feature is the Arch of Septimius Severus, built in 195 AD and very well preserved, with decorative markings still intact. The underground bath complex has a series of reasonably intact bath chambers and corridors which you can still wander around freely - reported as marvellous to explore. Scant remains of the original market and theatre, one surviving column from an ancient temple, a Roman cemetery and three mausoleum towers can also be seen as well.
- 62 Kerkouane (Northern Tunisia). A Punic city, probably abandoned in 3rd century BC and, therefore, largely ignored by the Romans. As such it is probably the only example of its kind to survive. The town and its necropolis are a UNESCO World Heritage List site.
- 63 Sfax (Central Coastal Tunisia). The ground floor of the City Hall hosts an impressive collection of mosaics from the region, in particular the Roman towns of Taparura (where Sfax now is) and Thaenae (now Thyna, 11km west of Sfax).
- 64 Sufetula (Saharan Tunisia). A fairly well preserved inland Roman town.
- 65 Algiers. The Casbah site used to be a Phoenician settlement, conquered by Rome and renamed Icosium. The rue de la Marine follows the lines of a former Roman street. Its Museum of Antiquities has some fine relics.
- 66 Cherchell. Modern major city standing on the site of Caesarea Mauretaniensis, ancient provincial capital of Mauretania Caesariensis. The city featured a hippodrome, amphitheatre, basilica, numerous Greek temples, Roman civic buildings,its own school of philosophy, academy, and library. Nowadays Cherchell is a popular tourist destination, with various splendid temples and monuments from the Punic, Numidian and Roman periods.
- 67 Constantine. Site of the ancient Numidian capital city Cirta, conquered by Julius Caesar and later renamed "Constantina", in honor of emperor Constantine the Great. It's strategically situated on a plateau at 640 metres (2,100 ft) above sea level, framed by a deep ravine, and has a dramatic appearance. There are remains of an aqueduct, some ancient mausoleums and a museum.
- 68 Diana Veteranorum (54 km south of Batna). Modest ruins of a former colony founded by order of Trajan, with a large paved rectangular forum and an aqueduct. There are also the remains of a temple, possibly dedicated to Diana, and of two triumphal arches.
- 69 Djémila (46 km northeast of Sétif). A UNESCO World Heritage site, ancient Cuicul features some of the best preserved Berbero-Roman ruins in North Africa, including a gorgeous pristine theater, two fora, temples, basilicas, arches, streets, and houses.
- 70 Guelma (Northeast Algeria). Ancient Numidian site, called Calama by the Romans. Home to some modest ruins. Most of the ancient objects recovered at Calama and from the region are preserved in the Guelma Museum.
- 71 Hippo Regius (2 km south of Annaba). First settled by the Phoenicians probably in the 12th century BC, became a Roman colony in 46 BC. It's most famous as the bishopric of Saint Augustine, from 395 until his death on 430 AD. There's a museum dedicated to the ruins of Hippo Regius, right beside the Saint Augustine Basilica, which is by itself a major attraction; some of the saint's bones are kept as holy relics.
- 72 Lambaesis (11 km southeast of Batna). Ruins of ancient town and military camp, in pretty bad shape, on the lower terraces of the Atlas Mountains, 622 m above sea level, with triumphal arches (one to Septimius Severus, another to Commodus), temples, aqueducts, vestiges of an amphitheatre, baths and an immense quantity of masonry belonging to private houses. To the north and east lie extensive cemeteries with the stones standing in their original alignments.
- 73 Mascula (104 km east from Batna). In the Atlas Mountains, at 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) above sea level, Mascula was founded by Roman legionaries as a colony for them to retire as veterans. It features Roman baths from the late third century, still efficiently working after restoration.
- 74 Timgad (35 km east of Batna). Founded as a military colony by the emperor Trajan, to settle veterans from the Parthian wars, around 100 AD. It was intended to defend the province against the Berbers in the nearby Atlas Mountains. In the 5th century, the city was sacked by the Vandals, fell into decline, and became preserved under sand, up to a depth of approximately one meter; therefore, it's very well preserved. The original Roman street grid is magnificently visible, highlighted by the Decumanus Maximus (east-west-oriented street) and the Cardo (north–south-oriented street) lined by a partially restored Corinthian colonnade. At the west end of the Decumanus, rises a 12 m high triumphal arch, called the Arch of Trajan, which was partially restored in 1900. There are also a 3,500-seat theater in good condition, used for contemporary productions, four thermae, a library, and a basilica.
- 75 Tipaza. First a Punic trade post, is home to some nice ruins, and a popular seaside tourist destination.
- 1 Chellah (about 3 km south of Rabat). Ancient Sala Colonia, an old seaport founded by Carthaginians, conquered by Romans and later passed under Arab rule, just to be abandoned and settled again by unbelievable numbers of birds. Historical layers are visible, with outstanding Roman parts, which include the Decumanus Maximus or main Roman street, the forum and a triumphal arch. You can walk there from Rabat, but it's a long walk.
- 2 Essaouira (Atlantic Coast). Site of a superb natural harbor, was known in ancient times as Mogador, and boasted of a Tyrian purple factory, processing the murex and purpura shells found in the intertidal rocks at Essaouira and the Iles Purpuraires. This dye colored the purple stripe in Imperial Roman Senatorial togas. The city walls are built on Roman foundations. A Roman villa was excavated on Mogador Island, just off the harbor.
- 3 Lixus (2 km east of Larache). Lixus, built by a Berber king in 1180 BC, was one of the Kingdom of Mauretania's ancient cities. Some ancient Greek writers located at Lixus the mythological garden of the Hesperides, the keepers of the golden apples (they could be oranges). Lixus has mostly unspectacular ruins on a surface of approximately 75 hectares (190 acres). The excavated zones constitute approximately 20% of the total surface of the site.
- 4 Tangier (Mediterranean Morocco). A cosmopolitan harbor city with a colorful past, the commercial town of Tingis (Τιγγίς in Ancient Greek) came under Roman rule after the Punic wars, and became capital of Mauritania Tingitana province on 38 BC. The Museum of Antiquities, in the former kitchen of the Dar El Makhzen palace, houses finds from ancient Roman sites as Lixus, Chellah and Volubilis, as well as a life-size Carthaginian tomb and finds from the Tangier region from prehistory until the Middle Ages.
- 5 Tetouan (Mediterranean Morocco). Known in Roman times as Tamuda, a settlement used for the elaboration of fish salting and purple production. Nowadays, it's home to an archaeological museum constructed in 1943. Its exhibits are dedicated to the pre-historic and the pre-Islamic times of Morocco, with an emphasis on the history of the Romans, Mauritanians and the Phoenicians.
- 6 Volubilis (Middle Atlas). A partly excavated Roman city with UNESCO World Heritage status, listed for being "an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire".
Several museums as well as a number of privately organized groups offer reenactment, including Roman food or Roman dress. The historical accuracy of these things varies widely but is usually better than for "medieval" themed events. If you have a lot of time on your hand and/or are a scholar in that field you might even find yourself doing "experimental archeology" and cross the alps in full Roman era military equipment to shine a light on Roman military life.
- Hike The German Limes Road in Germany, or along Hadrian's Wall in England.
- A more ambitious proposition would be to hike or bike along the whole of the Via Claudia Augusta, from Augsburg through Innsbruck and the Alps all the way to Trento and Verona, maybe even Venice, which is not the historically correct itinerary, but is a great travelling option.
- The original pavement and milestones of the Via Egnatia, which together with Via Pontica, connected the two imperial capitals, Rome and Constantinople, remain intact in parts along its route.
The Roman tribal staple food was the puls, a thick pottage made of unground wheat, water, salt and fat, plus whatever vegetables and meats were at hand to be chopped up and added to the pot. Greek migrants on the 2nd century BC set up shop in Rome as bakers, introducing the concept of grinding the wheat into flour and baking it into bread. This practice slowly gained popularity, and by Imperial times, was prevalent. However, puls was a traditional and practical military ration, as well as ceremonially important for several Roman religious rites, and never disappeared.
Romans would eat their ientaculum (breakfast) at dawn and have prandium (more like a big snack) in the late morning. Both could be as simple as some bread dipped in wine or olive oil, plus olives, nuts and raisins - richer and foodier people also had meats, eggs, cheese, honey and a wider choice of fresh and dried fruit. The day finished with cena ("supper", the main daily meal), in the early evening. Rich folk would finish their daily business mid-afternoon, then hit the baths and go home to have cena lying on couches (lectus triclinaris, plural lecti triclinarii) for hours, in the triclinium, the familiar Roman dining room made famous by paintings and movies. The meal started with drinking preliminaries (comissatio) followed by salads and light hors d'oeuvre (gustatio), then the main courses (mensa prima) and fruits and dessert for last (mensa secunda). Romans had an idiom referring to a full-course meal, ab ovo usque mala, "from the egg to the apples", which came to mean "the whole story". The dining habits of the upper classes, and the decadence of Roman national values thus implied, are described and commented on by almost every Roman historian and social chronicler, from Cato the Elder (a hardcore xenophobic Republican traditionalist) to Tacitus (who was fond of comparing the Romans unfavorably to the Germanic tribes he writes about), and make for amusing reading.
Most members of the Roman elite were landowners, i.e. proud farmers, eager to consume and show off their own produce, to import and develop exotic crops and fruit trees, to store and preserve for winter; most of them had, as children, learned their letters and Latin from Cato the Elder's handbook of farming techniques De Agri Cultura. Pliny the Elder, in his books, discusses more than 30 varieties of olive, 40 kinds of pear, African and eastern figs, and a wide variety of greens and vegetables. It was considered more "civilized" to eat produce than hunted meat and mushrooms. Butcher's meat was an uncommon luxury; seafood, held in high esteem, and poultry were more common. Roman foodies would delight in eating roasted exotic birds (such as flamingos and peacocks). Aquaculture was sophisticated; there were large-scale industries devoted to oyster farming. The Romans also engaged in snail farming and oak grub farming. From the Eastern merchants they would buy black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and other "oriental spices" that were in high demand; some of them were worth their weight in silver.
A list of whatever food items were available to the Romans of any given period, according to geographic location, is easy to compile using online resources, and is a great conversation topic with local merchants and food connoisseurs, while in the field.
There is a famous cookbook in Latin called De Re Coquinaria ("About cookable things"), said by modern scholars to date probably from the 4th or 5th century AD, and attributed to the name Apicius, a famous rich gourmet contemporary to emperor Augustus. Whoever really wrote the book seems to have been particularly fond of sauces, as roughly 100 of the 400 recipes in his book are for sauces. The menus of places such as the restaurant inside the Caesar's Palace casino of Las Vegas are rather likely inspired by this book, if not outright based on it. Modern writers on Roman cookery often make a point of avoiding the Apicius recipes altogether, concentrating instead on content from Cato, Columella, Pliny and other classic sources.
Products similar to pasta were known in Rome under such names as lagana and itrion. In fact, Apicius describes a dish very similar to the traditional lasagne (he calls it lasana or lasanum, Latin for "container", "pot") in his book. There is no support for the legend that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy from the Chinese Empire in the 13th century.
Some products which are today ubiquitous in Mediterranean cuisines were unknown by Romans. Most of them are crops from the Americas, such as tomato, maize, potato, avocado, squashes, pumpkins and chilli peppers.
See Italian cuisine for contemporary food in Italy.
In Vino Veritas.
"In wine, [there's] truth." – ancient popular Roman saying
To say that the central theme here is wine seems somewhat obvious. Romans were avid wine drinkers and traders, and are known to have influenced, if not started, every major wine-producing European enterprise, from Portugal to the Crimea. The northern limes mostly coincides with the northern limit for viticulture - at least as it was understood then. This was no mere coincidence, as Romans liked to have all comforts of their culture even in the provinces as far as climate and distance would allow.
Most provinces were capable of producing wine, but regional varietals were desirable. In addition to regular consumption with meals, wine was a part of everyday religious observances. Before a meal, a libation was offered to the household gods. Romans made regular visits to burial sites, to care for the dead; they poured a libation at the tombs. In some of them, this was facilitated by a feeding tube built into the grave.
As in much of the ancient world, sweet white wine was the most highly regarded style. Wines were often very alcoholic, with Pliny noting that a cup of Falernian (the most celebrated and sung-about Roman wine variety, now extinct) would catch fire from a candle flame drawn too close. Research does not indicate that Roman wine was stored for several years or even decades like contemporary wine is, but wine amphorae from all provinces have been found in Rome's trash heaps, as the amphorae were too cheap to produce to make it worthwhile to transport them back empty.
Like in Greek culture, wine was drunk mixed with water, and sometimes flavored with herbs and spices. Drinking wine purum or merum (unmixed) was a mark of the "barbarian". Modern wine enthusiasts enjoy the wisdom of this ancient custom, and advise modern wine drinkers to consume one glass of water after each one of wine, which helps maintain mental focus.
Beer (cervisia) was known and widely consumed by Gauls and Germans, but considered vulgar, and a barbarous habit, among the Romans.
While many Roman remains are outside of cities, some cities that were founded or significantly influenced by the Romans still have Roman remains side by side with a medieval or early modern old town, so after you are done with the Roman era you can often walk into another part of town and see buildings from totally different periods.