When the Romans talked about civilising the world they weren’t only talking of conquest and military might. In fact, they saw the tactic of exporting their lifestyle as a key weapon in their subjugation of others – and nothing represented this better than Roman baths.
Often free to use and available to the whole populace, these ancient Roman baths were a crucial aspect of daily life in the Empire. Usually consisting of the caldarium (hot bath), the tepidarium (warm bath) and the frigidarium (cold bath), bathing was seen as a central part of the normal routine for people in Roman times. After the fall of Rome it would be hundreds of years before people took bathing so seriously again!
Not only seen as a way to keep people happy, Roman baths were also a grand symbol of the superior nature of Roman civilisation. Often vast structures, Roman baths also relied on the comprehensive system of Roman aqueducts and water storage and sewerage systems which stood unmatched right up to modern times.
Nowadays, a number of these amazing Roman baths have survived, some in places which may surprise you. Indeed, a number of these bath complexes are so well preserved that a visit to them will leave you simply astounded. Read on to discover the best surviving Roman baths of the world…
Only recently starting to creep out of Pompeii’s shadow, the fascinating ruins of Herculaneum contain two of the best preserved Roman baths in the world – the Forum baths and the Suburban baths. These are probably the best Roman baths found anywhere.
Herculaneum was a port town established by the ancient Romans in what is now modern Ercolano, Italy. At its peak, Herculaneum would have had around 4,000 citizens and served as a holiday town for wealthy Campanians and Romans.
Like nearby Pompeii, Herculaneum was engulfed by the lava and mud which spewed from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and, as a result, much of the town was preserved throughout the centuries. In fact, Herculaneum arguably withstood the natural disaster better than Pompeii with many of its upper floors still being intact. This, combined with the fact that Herculaneum is less crowded and easier to walk through makes it a great site to visit.
Even the streets of Herculaneum are fascinating, displaying the high degree of planning employed by the Romans. Some of the most stunning sites at Herculaneum include the thermal spas and baths, the gymnasium, the House with the Mosaic Atrium and the House of Neptune. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
The Lucinian Baths at Dougga, also called the Baths of Caracalla, are a genuinely impressive example of surviving Roman baths. Quite a site to see, the towering walls and other structures have survived pretty much intact.
Dougga (Thugga) in Tunisia is the location of the extremely well-preserved ruins of an ancient site inhabited by a series of cultures, notably the Numidians, the Punics, the ancient Greeks and the Romans.
Dougga boasts a series of impressive ruins amidst its seventy hectares, including a 3,500-seater theatre, an amphitheatre, temples such as those of Juno Caelestis and Saturn, public baths, a forum, a trifolium villa, two triumphal arches and the remains of a market.
Dougga has a variety of cultural influences, having been a thriving Numidian capital first established in the fifth century BC and later being incorporated into the Roman Empire in 46 BC, as part of Julius Caesar’s annexation of eastern Numidia.
Therefore, whilst most of its existing remains date back to the second and third centuries AD, there are several sites that predate this period. In fact, even the layout of Dougga can be traced as having remained the same as it had been under the Numidian civilisation.
However, one of the oldest ruins at Dougga are those of a six-tiered Punic-Libyan Mausoleum thought to date back to the second or even third century BC.
The incredible state of preservation of Dougga combined with its mix of cultural influences led UNESCO to list it as a World Heritage site in 1997. Grand and full of fascinating sites, Dougga is one of Tunisia’s most interesting archaeological sites and features as one of our Top Tunisian Tourist Attractions.
Among the most impressive Roman baths found anywhere in the world, the huge Baths of Caracalla in Rome are simply astounding – check out the streetview option in our entry for this site and take a virtual walkthrough!
The Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla in Italian) are an ancient Roman public baths complex in Rome, the incredible remains of which are one of the very best ancient sites in Rome.
It was the Emperor Septimius Severus who began building the Baths of Caracalla in 206 AD, but they are named after his son, the emperor Caracalla, who completed the works in 216 AD.
Comprised of a vast compound of red-brick buildings, the Baths of Caracalla would, like all ancient Roman baths, have been used for a variety of social functions and could accommodate thousands of visitors at any one time. As well as being where people gathered and bathed, the Baths of Caracalla would have had shops, libraries and galleries as well as other leisure facilities.
Used until they were destroyed by the Goths in the sixth century AD, they Baths of Caracalla were later exploited for their marble. However, due to their position slightly outside the centre of the city, the baths were never built over and have therefore survived in good condition.
Today the hugely impressive remains of the Baths of Caracalla still offer a great insight into what would have been a social hub of the ancient Roman world. With the original walls still towering above and impressive black and white mosaics underfoot this amazing ancient ruin is one of the best preserved of its kind anywhere in the world. Audio guides are available to help explain the various rooms and chambers which can be explored.
However, the fun doesn’t stop there. For it is the recently opened underground sections which will really set your heart racing. An innocuous staircase will take you deep below ground to the tremendously well preserved tunnels and corridors which represent the unseen heart of this complex – where slaves and other workers would have scurried about to keep the waters heated and the customers happy.
Another hidden gem to be found in this underground wonder is one of the best examples of a Temple of Mithras to have survived today. Still containing the original mosaics and alter space this temple is a wonder in its own right.
Ranked among the most famous Roman baths, this complex led to the naming of the very city in which it is now found. Boasting a combination of well-preserved remains mixed with some 19th century additions, it’s one of the best examples of Roman baths to have survived.
The world famous Roman Baths complex in Bath, UK, contains an incredible set of thermal spas and an impressive ancient Roman bathing house.
First discovered in the nineteenth century, the Roman Baths are one of the best preserved ancient Roman sites in the UK and form a major tourist attraction.
Among the best known ancient baths in the world, the Romans Baths were initially built as part of the town of Aqua Sulis, which was founded in 44 AD. Vast and lavish, the baths were able to accommodate far more people than just the residents of this town and were intended as a place for people to visit from across the Empire. As with other bath complexes of the time, the Roman Baths at Bath were a focal point for the town, a place to socialise and even a religious site.
It is unsurprising that the Romans chose to build such magnificent baths in this location. The area benefits from hot springs from the Mendip Hills, which arrive at the Roman Baths at a temperature of 46 degrees Celsius and rise due to enormous pressure. In fact, prior to the Romans discovering these springs, the Celts dedicated this phenomenon to the Godess Sulis. The Romans equated Sulis with their own deity, Minerva, and kept the original name, calling the town Aqua Sulis – the waters of Sulis.
Today, the Roman Baths offer an incredibly comprehensive insight into the lives of the ancient Romans in the town and around Britain. The site looks quite small from the outside, but it is actually vast and a visit can last several hours.
One of the first things one sees upon entering the site is a view from the terrace above the Great Bath. Overlooked by nineteenth century statues of various Roman icons, this is the centrepiece of the site and a first glimpse into what lies ahead. Later on in the tour, visitors arrive at the Great Bath, where it is possible to stand right alongside the water. There are even costumed characters on site to create an authentic mood and entertain young children.
The sacred spring is next along the tour. Visible through a floor to ceiling window, visitors can view the original spring of hot water, which was dedicated to Minerva due to its believed healing powers. The spring was also a place of worship and the place where people threw coins, curses, wishes and prayers. Many of these messages can be seen at the Roman Baths and range from the humorous to the sinister.
The Temple and the Temple Courtyard were sacred places at the Baths from the late first century until 391 AD, when the Temple was closed by Emperor Theodosius as Christianity rose to become the Empire’s state religion. Walking through the Temple Courtyard, videos are shown to demonstrate what this once magnificent site would have looked like and how it was used. It is also here that one can see the gilded bronze statue of the head of Minerva.
Amongst the other sites at the Roman Baths, there is a comprehensive museum dedicated to exploring the lives of the ancient Roman citizens of Bath and an ancient drain used as an overflow system. Around the Great Bath itself, visitors can explore the numerous saunas, swimming pools, heated baths and changing facilities at the site.
Audio tours, available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Japanese and Mandarin and are included in the ticket price or visitors can join one of the hourly guided tours. The audio tour includes sections by the famous author Bill Bryson, and there are also children’s audio guides. You can even download the audio tour in advance from the Roman Baths official website.
The Antonine Baths ranked among the biggest Roman baths to have ever been constructed and were the largest such complex in North Africa. Much remains to be explored, though only the lower levels have survived.
The Antonine Baths was a huge Roman bath complex in ancient Carthage, the well-preserved ruins of which can still be viewed today.
Originally built from 145 to 165 AD, mostly during the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, the Antonine Baths were among the largest baths to be built in the Roman world and were the largest such complex in North Africa.
The baths could cater for a multitude of visitors and contained a number of rooms and chambers standard to such ancient bath complexes, including the Frigidarium (cold room), Caldarium (hot room) and Tepidarium (hot bath).
Although it would have once existed of many stories, the remains that can be seen today are mostly from the lower level.
Despite lacking its original grandeur, the fascinating ruins of the Antonine Baths are certainly worth exploring and provide a picturesque location, positioned as they are against the backdrop of the ocean.
The largest Roman baths ever built, the Baths of Diocletian in Rome could hold up to 3,000 people and boasted vast frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium chambers as well as a host of other facilities. Various elements survive - some standing as grand ruins while others have been incorporated into other buildings.
Once the largest ancient baths complex in the world, the Baths of Diocletian – or Terme di Diocleziano – was built between 298AD and 306AD in honour of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Set out along the traditional model of a Roman baths complex, the Baths of Diocletian contained a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room or steam room) as well as additional large bathing chambers, gymnasiums and even a library. The baths themselves were a hugely impressive building project, particularly given how swiftly they were constructed. The majority of the water for the baths was supplied by the Acqua Marcia.
The key difference with other contemporary baths was simply a question of scale - it is believed that at their height the Baths of Diocletian could hold up to 3,000 people at a time.
Given the sheer size of the Baths of Diocletian, it is no surprise that the structure did not survive intact over the centuries. However, various elements of the baths survive - some standing as grand ruins, others having been incorporated into other buildings. It can therefore be difficult at times to distinguish between the original building, restored areas and more modern constructions built within the complex.
One of the key tourist attractions for those wishing to view the baths is the Museo Nazionale Romano - Terme di Diocleziano, which is part of the Rome National Museum (shown on map, above). This museum, opened in 1889, was built within the Baths of Diocletian and contains several collections from the ancient world. Although the museum contains many interesting exhibits, it gives little insight into the original baths themselves.
Probably the best place to view the actual structure, and get an idea as to the original scale of the Baths of Diocletian, is the well preserved Aula Ottagona. Also part of the Rome National Museum, it contains many artefacts found during the excavation. Though currently closed except when hosting an exhibition, it is the sheer scale and preservation of the structure that impresses most .
Other areas of the Baths of Diocletian can also be explored in the nearby Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri and Church of San Bernardo alle Terme.
One of the more unexpected entries in our Roman baths list is the Imperial Baths of Trier. Believed to be the biggest Roman bath complex outside Rome, many of the original walls still stand and there’s even the option to explore the ancient underground tunnels.
The Imperial Baths of Trier, known in German as Kaiserthermen, are the beautifully preserved ruins of a Roman public bath complex constructed in the fourth century AD.
Considered to be the largest Roman baths outside of Rome, the remains of the Imperial Baths of Trier are centrally located within the city and are a fantastic site, with many of their walls standing and even the option to explore their underground tunnels.
Trier was a Roman city initially established in around 15 BC and called Augusta Treverorum. By the late third century AD, when Diocletian divided the Empire and created the Tetrachy, Trier was such a flourishing and important city that it was known as the “Second Rome”. At this time, Constantius Chlorus became the emperor of the West Roman Empire and moved to Trier with his son, Constantine the Great.
From 306 onwards, Constantine began a mass development of the city, of which the Imperial Baths of Tier were a part. This seriously impressive ancient site features as one of our top ten visitor attractions in Germany.
Little remains of the baths at Aizanoi, though two separate bath complexes have been identified here. However, visitors can see some interesting mosaics within these ruins.
Aizanoi is a Turkish archaeological site housing mostly Roman remains from this ancient city’s peak in the second and third centuries AD.
Amongst its ruins, Aizanoi has five ancient and still used bridges, two Turkish-style baths, column-lined promenades, a stadium, a gymnasium, a theatre and its great Temple of Zeus.
Though boasting quite a large a set of thermal baths, little remains of the original structure of this ancient bath complex. However, the remains of the hypocaust heating system can still be seen and are quite impressive.
Aventicum is an impressive ancient Roman site in Switzerland which was the thriving capital of the Helvetians.
It is unclear as to exactly when Aventicum was founded, but it reached its peak between the 1st century BC and 5th century AD, during its time as capital of the region under Roman rule. At this point, it was home to some 20,000 inhabitants. Aventicum also became a colony of Rome or "colonia", a prestigious accolade, in around 71AD.
The sites which can now be seen at the archaeological site of Aventicum are very well preserved and include a 2nd century amphitheatre which would have seated 16,000, some of the original city walls with a surviving tower (originally one of 73), a set of thermal baths and holy sites including a sanctuary and some temples.
Now located in the area known as Avenches, Aventicum offers visitors plenty of original sites to see. There is also a museum within the amphitheatre tower which explores the history of Aventicum and with finds from the site itself including daily tools, mosaics, sculptures and various items from the city’s time under the Romans.
The picturesque Roman site of Baelo Claudia contains a partially preserved bath house of which a reasonable amount of the structure survives. However, visiting this site is worth it for the view alone!
The Roman city of Baelo Claudia in Andalusia is one of the best surviving examples of an ancient Roman town in Spain. Sitting directly on the coast, Baelo Claudia is a beautiful site to visit, with both stunning views and ancient ruins.
The remains of Baelo Claudia, near the modern town of Tarifa, have been beautifully restored and preserved because of the good general conservation of the ruins, their easy interpretation and the beauty of their surroundings.
Although founded in the second century BC, Baelo Claudia began to expand as an important trading post in the first century BC and first century AD, particularly under the rule of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Baelo Claudia was expanded to include significant municipal areas, including a forum, theatre and market. It was particularly known for its trade in the Roman sauce called garum.
In latter centuries, it is believed that Baelo Claudia suffered due to an earthquake and the onset of raiders and pirates in the area and the site was abandoned towards the end of the Western Roman Empire period, probably in the 6th century.
Today, Baelo Claudia is a place where visitors can observe the fundamental characteristics of a classical Roman city and there are many aspects to the site that can still be viewed. These include the forum and the temples of the Capitolium as well as temples of eastern character such as that which is dedicated to Isis. Beyond these elements are a Basilica, administrative buildings or the municipal archive, market, theatre, baths, city walls & gates, streets, aqueducts and cisterns.
There are numerous Roman cities whose remains can still be seen in greater or lesser measure in the Andalusian territory and a visit to Baelo Claudia is certain to inspire further exploration.
Baelo Claudia has a visitor’s centre on site and has many facilities to make a trip there convenient for tourists, including a car park next door. This amazing ancient city features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions of Spain.
Little remains of this rare example of Roman ruins in Scotland – this ancient bath house was a second century complex which would have served one of the forts of The Antonine Wall. Today, the remains are located innocuously in the middle of a modern housing estate.
The Bearsden Bath House was a second century Roman bath complex which would have served one of the forts of The Antonine Wall. Today, the remains of the Bearsden Bath House - located innocuously in the middle of a modern housing estate - represent some of the best of this Roman military structure.
The Antonine Wall was itself a defensive wall built almost two decades after Hadrian’s Wall and representing some of the further incursions made by the Romans in the UK.
The Budapest Bath Museum also known as Thermae Maiores contains the remains of the Roman baths complex which served Roman troops in ancient Aquincum.
The Budapest Bath Museum (Thermae Maiores) houses the ruins of the Roman baths complex of the military base that existed on this site from the first to the fourth centuries AD.
It would have formed part of the Roman city of Aquincum, which served as the capital of the Roman province of Pannonia, later Lower Pannonia, and reached its peak around the second century AD with as many as 40,000 inhabitants.
Within the ruins of this ancient Roman city lie the remains of the public baths, which themselves also include a paleo-Christian baptistery and a 9th century basilica. While not fully intact, these Roman baths are reasonably well-preserved.
Butrint is an archaeological national park in Albania and a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its ancient ruins dating back as far as the 7th century BC. In fact, classic mythology says that exiles moved to Butrint to escape following the fall of Troy.
Originally part of an area called Epirus, Butrint has been occupied by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines and the Venetians. As a result, Butrint offers a wealth of incredible archaeological structures, including a well preserved Greek theatre, fortifications which have been changed by each civilisation which occupied it, Roman public baths inside which lies a paleo-Christian baptistery and a 9th century basilica.
One of Butrint’s earliest sites is its sanctuary, which dates back to the fourth century and sits on its hill or “acropolis”. The sanctuary was named after the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, and was a centre of healing. Butrint was abandoned during the Ottoman era when marshes started to emerge around it, however, many of its historical treasures remain intact and attract tourist from around the globe.
The great thing about Butrint is the ability to trace the development of a succession of eras through its sites and structures, making it a microcosm of history. With so much to see, including an onsite museum exploring the site’s history, a visit to Butrint National Park usually lasts around three hours.
Caerleon Roman Fortress is home to the remains of an impressive 1st century fortress baths. Visitors can view the ruins and reconstructions of the baths as well as a detailed model of their original design. The museum also has a great collection of artifacts recovered from the bath drains.
Caerleon Roman Fortress is home to the impressive remains of a first century Roman legionary barracks, fortifications, amphitheatre and baths. In fact, they are said to be Europe’s only such barracks on display.
Built in approximately 75AD, the Caerleon Roman Fortress was known as Isca and would have been home to the Second Augustan Legion. Spread over 50-acres, it would have housed approximately 5,000 people and was in use for some 200 years.
Today, the well-preserved ruins of Caerleon Roman Fortress offer a fascinating insight into life at a Roman fort on the edge of the Empire. Amongst the highlights are its grand bathhouse, 6,000-seater amphitheatre begun in 90AD and the L-shaped barracks themselves.
The nearby National Roman Legion Museum contains a number of fascinating exhibits detailing finds and artefacts from the site.
The ruins of Chesters Roman Fort contain the remains of a Roman bathhouse which would have served the garrison on Hadrian’s Wall – a reconstruction can be seen at Segedunum Museum.
Chesters Roman Fort, originally known as Cilurnum, was built as part of Hadrian’s Wall, the famous 73-mile barrier constructed under the remit of the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD.
The role of the 600 soldiers garrisoned at Chesters Roman Fort was to guard a bridge across the Rover Tyne which carried the wall.
With extensive well-preserved remains that include four main gates, an altar and shrine and several buildings such as a baths complex and the commandant's home, Chesters Roman Fort offers an illuminating glimpse into the lives of the soldiers who lived here. Within the sites visitor centre, there are also displays of artefacts found along Hadrian’s Wall.
Chesters Roman Fort is an English Heritage site.
One of Portugal’s best Roman sites, the remains at the public baths include their hypocaust heating systems, decorative mosaics and the frigidarium (cold room), caldarium (hot room), the tepidarium (warm room) as well as the remains of the praefurnium (heating or furnace room). The site contains three bath areas, Great Southern Baths, Baths of the Wall, Baths of the Aqueduct.
Conimbriga is probably Portugal’s best-preserved Ancient Roman archaeological site, although it has a history stretching back to the Iron Age. In fact, while the Romans arrived at Conimbriga in the late first century BC, the settlement had been inhabited since the ninth century BC.
Whilst almost certainly not the biggest of Portugal’s Roman cities (although it is yet to all be excavated), Conimbriga thrived under the Romans, the results of which can be seen in its ruins. It was only when Conimbriga was attacked in the fifth century that the Romans abandoned the area.
Things to see at Conimbriga include the remains of houses and public buildings, some quite impressive walls, a road, public baths including their heating systems and some mosaics. There’s also a small museum of finds.
For a sneak peek, the Conimbriga website has a fun virtual tour of the site. Conimbriga also features as one of our best visitor attractions in Portugal.
Believed to have been one of three sets of baths serving Roman Arles, the Constantine Baths would have formed part of the imperial palace known as Palais Constantine. Pretty well preserved, much of the outer structure survives and this is definitely worth a visit.
The Constantine Baths (Thermes de Constantin) are a well preserved set of ancient Roman public baths in the Provence town of Arles.
Dating back to the fourth century AD, the Constantine Baths would once have formed part of an imperial palace known as Palais Constantine. It is also thought that this was one of three sets of public baths in Roman Arles.
Today, visitors can see the well-preserved remains of the Constantine Baths, the excavated part being only its northern area. Whilst only a fraction of these baths are visible, what can be seen is fascinating and includes several of the bathing sections. The Constantine Baths are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
With a history dating back to the Iron Age, Cumae contains a series of ancient ruins and artefacts among which are the remains of a second century AD public baths complex.
Cumae Archaeological Park in Pozzuoli houses a series of ancient ruins and artefacts and is thought to have been inhabited as far back as the Iron Age.
Cumae itself was a settlement established by Greek colonists in the eighth century BC. Sacked by the Oscans in the fifth century BC and incorporated into the Roman Empire in the fourth century BC, Cumae’s sites are mostly Roman, but there are several Greek ones as well.
The most celebrated site at Cumae Archaeological Park is Sybil’s Cave or ‘Antro della Sibilla’. This atmospheric cave was built in two phases, the first in the fourth century BC, the second in the late first century BC or early AD.
Named after the Cumaean priestess who, according to Virgil's Aeneid, is said to have prophesized to the Trojan Aeneas prior to his entry into the underworld, the exact purpose of Sybil’s Cave is yet to be decided upon, but it was most likely a defensive structure. It also served as a Christian burial site. Whatever its original use, this atmospheric trapezoidal tunnel is fascinating.
Other sites at Cumae Archaeological Park include the fifth century acropolis walls, a second century BC amphitheatre, a forum, several temples, such as the Temples of Jupiter and Apollo, and a second century AD public baths complex.
The ruins of the ancient town of Cyrene include the second century AD Trajan Baths, which though quite large, have not survived particularly well. Keep an eye out for the interesting inscription stones.
Cyrene in Libya is considered to be one of the most impressive Greco-Roman sites in the world and one of the best Classical Greek sites beyond Greece itself.
Traditionally said to have been founded by the Greeks of Thera in 631BC, Cyrene was a trading hub first inhabited by the Battiadae dynasty and which became one of the most important centres of the Greek world.
Over time, Cyrene was conquered several times yielding to, amongst others, Alexander the Great, before being Romanised in 74BC. Cyrene’s status and importance further flourished under Roman rule and was rebuilt under Hadrian. In fact, it was only after the great earthquake of 365AD and the region’s changing climate which eventually caused its decline.
Amongst its fantastic remains, Cyrene is home to the ruins of the great sanctuary of Apollo which has sites ranging from the Temples of Artemis and Apollo which date back as early as the 7th century BC to the 2nd century Trajan Baths. Also found at Cyrene is the impressive Temple of Zeus.
One of its most impressive sites is Cyrene Amphitheatre, which the Greeks built in the 6th century BC, was used as a Roman amphitheatre and is now the largest Greek site in Africa.
There’s lots more to see at Cyrene including its acropolis, agora, forum and necropolis. Part of what makes Cyrene so incredible is not just its monuments but its overall planning - a mix of Greek and Roman, which is evident throughout.
Listed by UNESCO and protected by the Global Heritage Fund, sadly Cyrene is considered to be badly neglected.
Check the official advice of your country’s foreign office before considering travelling to Libya.
The Grand Baths at Djemila are in a reasonable state, though they are certainly not the most impressive site at this former ancient city and don’t rank alongside the more famous Roman baths of the world.
Djemila in Algeria is an archaeological site housing the ruins of a UNESCO-inscribed Ancient Roman settlement. Founded under the name Cuicil, it is thought that Djemila was first established between 96 and 98 AD under the Emperor Nerva and occupied until the fifth or sixth century.
Constructed amidst mountainous terrain, Djemila was built to fit in with its surroundings and, as it expanded in the second century, amassed an impressive set of buildings. Like Timgad, Djemila was probably the home of a military base.
Today, Djemila houses a wealth of Ancient Roman ruins such as those of the Arch of Caracalla, a well-preserved bath complex, temples such as the Temple of Venus Genitrix and the theatre built by Emperor Antoninus Pius. Djemila has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982.
Not ranking among the best Roman baths of the world, a little imagination is necessary to really understand the baths at Glanum, as little survives of the original structure. One highlight though is the stone mask fountain through which water would have flowed.
Glanum was a thriving Ancient Roman settlement, the impressive remains of which can now be seen in an archaeological site near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Whilst there is some evidence to show that this site has been occupied since the first millennium BC, most of the sites at Glanum date back to between 20 BC and the second century AD, when it was under Roman rule.
The oldest main structure at Glanum is a sanctuary and fortification probably built in the sixth century BC. Found at the southern edge of the site, this would have predated the Roman settlement and is thought to have been dedicated to a deity known as Glanis.
The archaeological site at Glanum has both residential and monumental sections. Public baths and dwellings can be seen in the north of site with several ancient columns dotted around the area. However, it is two of its ancient monuments which form the star attractions at Glanum, namely its archway and its mausoleum known together as “Les Antiques”.
The arch is a well-preserved triumphal arch thought by some to have been constructed during the reign of the Emperor Augustus (27 BC–14 AD). It depicts the Roman victory over Gaul. Meanwhile the Mausoleum of Glanus, known as Mausolée des Jules and thought to date back to as early as 30 BC, is a remarkable 18 metre-high private family memorial resplendent with friezes and columns.
A small roman baths complex in Marbella, Spain, the second or third century AD Guadalmina Roman Baths are nonetheless interesting to explore.
The Guadalmina Roman Baths, known locally as Las Bovedos, meaning “The Domes”, are the ruins of a small Roman baths complex in Marbella.
Located near the beach, the Guadalmina Roman Baths are comprised of seven stone rooms built in an octagonal shape and probably date to the second or third century AD.
Certainly a more obscure entry on our Roman baths list, the underground bath complex at Haidra in Tunisia contains a number of chambers and corridors which you can still wander around freely. A little hidden gem.
One of the earliest Roman settlements in North Africa, Haidra in Tunisia contains the remains of the Roman city of Ammaedara. Well off the beaten track, Haidra – also called Hydrah – attracts few tourists and even the archaeological excavations have been few and far between.
Founded in the first century AD, Ammaedara was originally a legionary outpost, used by the Third Legion Augusta during their campaign against the rebellious Numidian leader Tacfarinas – a deserter from the Roman auxiliaries who led his people in an uprising against Rome during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.
After the defeat of the rebellion, Ammaedara was settled by veterans from the campaign and grew into a thriving Roman city. Indeed, remains of the cemetery of the 3rd legion have been identified on outskirts of the site.
It is unclear as to whether a pre-Roman settlement existed at Haidra. Though the foundations of a Punic temple to Ba'al-Hamon were found near the site, there is little additional evidence of a major settlement.
The Romans ruled the region until the Vandal invasions of the 5th century AD and the ruins of Haidra contain evidence of the period of Vandal rule as well as the subsequent Byzantine period which followed after Justinian’s successful re-conquest.
Today Haïdra contains a number of interesting ruins dating from the various periods in the city’s history. Perhaps the most impressive is the imposing Byzantine fortress - built around 550 AD on the orders of Justinian, it acted as a defensive stronghold for the newly conquered Byzantine lands.
Dating to around the same period is the Church of Melleus which is in a reasonable state of preservation with a number of surviving columns and interesting inscriptions from the 6th and 7th centuries on the paving stones. Evidence of the Vandal period survives in the form of the Vandal Chapel - dating to the reigns of King Thrasamund and King Hilderic in the early 6th century AD.
Of the other ruins at Haïdra, the most prominent is the Arch of Septimius Severus. Built in 195 AD it remains very well preserved with decorative markings still intact. However, one of the best places to actually explore is the underground bath complex, a series of reasonably intact bath chambers and corridors which you can still wander around freely.
Scant remains of the original market and theatre can also be seen as well as just one surviving column from the ancient temple that stood on the capitol. Other elements to explore at Haïdra include the Roman cemetery and the three mausoleum towers – impressive structures that have survived the ages in pretty good condition.
Among the Roman remains at Histria lie the ruins of the public baths, which have only partly survived but are still an interesting example to view.
Histria, close to the city of Constanta in Romania is an archaeological park housing ruins which date throughout Romania’s history. Histra was once a harbour, first occupied by the Ancient Greeks in 675 BC. Under the Greeks, it flourished into a centre of trade, specialising in ceramics, glass and metals. The earliest Romanian currency, the 8g silver Drachma, was first issued in Histria in circa 480 BC.
Over the centuries, Histria was invaded numerous times, including twice by the Romans and it served as both a Roman and Byzantine settlement. Only in the seventh century was Histria destroyed by enemy forces.
This rich yet turbulent history has endowed Histria with a wealth of sites and monuments such as temples to Aphrodite and Zeus as well as Roman baths. Visitors can walk around the site with relative freedom, looking at its fascinating collection of remaining walls, columns and structures.
Histria has an archaeological museum, housing a display of finds from the site ranging from jewellery and coins to tools and weapons.
The baths at Kourion are some of the best remains found at the site and contain a number of interesting mosaics as well as the remains of the hypocaust heating system.
Kourion, also known as Curium, is an impressive archaeological site near Limassol in Cyprus containing mostly Ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins.
In fact, it is believed that the site of Kourion was first inhabited during Neolithic times, with the earliest evidence dating back to 4500-3900 BC, but that the town itself was founded in the thirteenth century BC by the Argives.
Over the centuries, Kourion has played important roles in many regional conflicts. During the Cypriot uprising against Persia (fifth century BC), its king – Stasanor – betrayed his country, lending his support and troops to the Persians. However, Kourion later supported Alexander the Great’s fight against the Persians (fourth century BC).
Kourion continued to be inhabited throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods, with the establishment of buildings, monuments and other structures from these times still visible today. Perhaps the most memorable site to be seen today at Kourion is its ancient theatre. Still intact and able to seat up to 3,500 spectators, the theatre at Kourion dates back to the second or third century AD, although there would have been a theatre here from the second century BC.
However, the theatre is definitely not the only thing to see at Kourion. The site includes the remains of a third century AD Roman market which includes some public baths and a Nymphaeum.
Several additional ancient buildings remain, including part of the fourth century AD House of Achilles - thought to have been a reception centre - with its mosaic floors and the third century AD House of the Gladiators, so named because some of its mosaics depict gladiatorial battles. The complex of Eustolios is another fascinating site, this having been an affluent fourth to fifth century private residence in Kourion and including a bathing complex.
Kourion also possesses evidence of early Christianity, both at the complex of Eustolios and by way of its early Christian basilica, a fifth century AD church at the site. Other sites of Kourion include the remains of a stadium and the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. However, it is worth noting that these latter two sites are slightly separate from the rest of the archaeological park.
A lesser known entry on our Roman baths list, the Lugo Roman Baths are located within a hotel in the Spanish town of Lugo. Visitors can still see the changing rooms - the apodyterium - and there are several other remains, including arches and a bathing room.
The Lugo Roman Baths were built in approximately 15BC, around the time when the city was founded and remain well-preserved.
As with all such bathing complexes, the Lugo Roman Baths attracted Romans by virtue of their believed healing powers, in particular the properties of the water which they drew from the thermal spring. Still running today, this water is naturally at a temperature of 44 degrees Celsius and contains elements such as sulphur and sodium.
Today, the Lugo Roman Baths are located within the Hotel Balneario de Lugo and can be visited for free upon contacting the hotel’s reception. Still clearly discernible are the changing rooms - the Apodyterium - and there are several impressive elements, including remaining arches and a bathing room.
Built in the second or third centuries AD, this relatively obscure Roman baths complex is quite hard to find and contains the partially-restored remains of the baths which served Roman Lugdunum.
The Lyon Roman Baths are thought to have been built in the second or third centuries AD.
The ancient bath complex would served ancient Lugdunum, as the city was known during the Roman period, when it was an important regional capital of the Roman Empire.
Only found in the 1970’s and then partially restored, they are hidden behind a set of modern buildings.
The Roman baths at Mirobriga are fairly well preserved and form quite a large bath complex. In many places the hypocaust system has been exposed and is interesting to view.
Mirobriga was once a thriving Roman town, the ruins of which can now be seen in Portugal.
Believed to date back to the first century AD, the remains of Mirobriga are quite extensive, well preserved and include a forum and the country’s only surviving Hippodrome - once the site of fierce chariot races.
Just some of the things to see at Mirobriga are its sewerage system, impressive baths complexes and Roman bridge. There’s also a small visitor centre.
What is now a museum was once an ancient baths complex and represents some of the best remains of Roman Paris. Much of the outer structure of these Roman baths survive, known as Thermes de Cluny, and the museum itself provides a guide to the layout of the baths.
Musee de Cluny in Paris is steeped in both medieval and Ancient Roman history. Officially known as Musée National du Moyen Âge – the National Museum of the Middle Ages - Musee de Cluny has an impressive collection, including Roman statues, gothic sculptures, a treasury filled with the works of medieval goldsmiths and an exhibit of funereal objects.
Also housing a collection of tapestries, one of the star exhibits at Musee de Cluny is the La Dame à la Licorne series, translated as “The Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries, which date back to the fifteenth century.
Musee de Cluny contains a number of other interesting exhibits, including a set of Jewish gravestones dating back to Roman times.
However, it is not just what is inside Musee de Cluny which is of interest to historians – the very buildings in which it is contained are of great historical importance. Notably, Musee de Cluny is made up of two main buildings, the fifteenth century Cluny Abbey Hotel (Hôtel de Cluny) and an important series of Gallo-Roman baths.
These baths, known as Thermes de Cluny, date back to the first to third centuries AD and represent some of the best preserved remnants of the Gallo-Roman city of Lutetia. With much of their walls intact, Thermes de Cluny is an exciting find for Ancient Rome enthusiasts.
Some of the rooms of Musee de Cluny were once part of the baths (the official site has a map showing which these are – otherwise it is hard to tell). Outside the museum, one can see the original walls of the cold room or “caldarium” and warm water room (tepidarium), although, at the time of writing, visitors cannot walk around this part of the site.
The baths at Nora probably date to the second or third centuries AD but are in a relatively poor state of preservation.
The Nora Archaeological Site in Sardinia contains mostly Ancient Roman ruins, but was founded in at least the 8th century BC by the Phoenicians. Some Phoenician ruins can be seen, including a temple and some fortifications.
Prior to Phoenician settlement, Nora may have even previously been a nuraghi site (the people of Sardinia credited with building hundreds of defensive structures). Conquered at one time by the Carthaginians, Nora became a Roman settlement in the third century BC.
Amongst the finds at the Nora Archaeological Site are a Roman theatre, a series of mosaics, baths complexes and numerous other structures.
While impressive in their own right – with remains including the caldarium, tepidarium and the frigidarium – the most striking elements of the Baths of Neptune at Ostia are the impressive black-and-white mosaics, particularly the mosaic of Neptune himself.
Ostia Antica is an extraordinary Roman site that contains the ruins of the ancient port town that served as the gateway to Rome.
Just half an hour from central Rome by train, Ostia Antica has all the inspiration of Pompeii without the throngs of tourists. In fact, if you want to examine well preserved Roman ruins in peace and quiet with time to contemplate the ancient world, you’ll be hard pressed to find better.
Tracing its roots back to at least the 4th century BC, Ostia Antica served as Rome’s principle port for hundreds of years, a witness and monument to the rise of the ancient superpower, its dominance and eventual decline.
Ostia Antica's place in history is most notable for an attack by pirates in 68BC which led to unprecedented powers being handed to Pompey the Great, setting yet another precedent which damaged the foundations of the Republican system.
As the landscape changed over the centuries, Ostia Antica was slowly abandoned, and the site is now a couple of miles from the sea.
Today, visitors can view a great many ruins from the ancient town, including a well preserved Roman theatre, the Baths of Neptune, remains of the military camp, temples to ancient deities, the forum and even Ostia Synagogue, which is the oldest known synagogue site in Europe.
Yet Ostia Antica is so much more than these notable elements, for it contains a huge range of well-preserved more typical Roman dwellings, shops, flats and warehouses and even has a Roman public toilet. This combines to give visitors a great picture of an ancient Roman town and allows you to get a real feel for day-to-day life in ancient Rome.
There is a small museum on site which has a number of artefacts and further information on the history of Ostia Antica. At certain times during the year Ostia Antica is also the venue for concerts and other events. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
Little survives of the once great Baths of Diocletian of Palmyra – a few standing columns hint at what once was. However, it’s still worth a look for those visiting this ancient city and there’s so much more to see there that it could never be a waste of time.
Along with many other historical sites in the region, the ancient site of Palmyra is reported to have been heavily damaged in the current conflicts. This page remains as it was originally created in 2011 and will stand as a live-archived article until it is again possible to assess the state of the Palmyra ruins.
Palmyra was a thriving city of the ancient world whose impressive, UNESCO-listed ruins are located in Syria. Originally known by the Semitic name of Tadmor – which is now the name of the neighbouring modern town – Palmyra was once a commercial hub along a busy trade route.
References to Palmyra appear in the Bible as well as in other historical writings, some dating as far back as the second millennium BC. However, it was from the first century BC that affluent caravan owners stopped there along the old Silk Road, contributing to its wealth.
In addition to helping the city flourish, Palmyra’s central location also made it a target for invaders including the Assyrians, the Persians and then the Seleucids. It was under Rome however that Palmyra experienced its peak. As the Roman Empire expanded in the first and second centuries BC, Palmyra became one of its provinces. The relationship between the city and Rome developed over time, with Palmyra managing to retain a high level of independence.
The city’s most infamous figure was Queen Zenobia. Following the assassination of her husband, King Odainat, Zenobia claimed control of the region on behalf of the couple’s young son, Vabalathus. After a mighty attempt to claim independence from Rome, in 272 AD, Zenobia’s rule ended when she was taken to Rome. Not long after this, Palmyra’s fortunes began to decline, especially after its people were massacred for rising up against Rome, resulting in the destruction of much of the city.
Successive emperors, such as Diocletian and Justinian, fortified its remains, turning Palmyra into a military outpost and Palmyra was later taken over by Muslim forces, but it never regained its original glory.
Ruins of Palmyra
Most of the extensive ruins of Palmyra today date back to its time under Roman rule, particularly the second and third centuries.
One of the most imposing and important ruins of Palmyra is the Temple of Bel, a stunningly well-preserved temple to a revered Babylonian deity. Other important sites at Palmyra include the Colonnade of the Decumanus, the Baths of Diocletian, the Tetrapylon, the theatre, the arched gates, the agora, the Senate House and its many funereal monuments and burial sites, some pre-Roman.
Containing one of the more impressive Roman bath complexes to have survived, the baths at Perge still retain much of the outer structure, the underground heating system and the remains of the tepidarium (warm room) and frigidarium (cold bath chamber).
The ancient city of Perge near Antalya in Turkey is now an impressive archaeological site containing a wealth of ancient ruins, mostly dating back to the Roman period, though the city itself has a history dating back well into antiquity.
The current city is said to have been founded in circa 1000BC, though settlements may well have existed here earlier; in fact Perge was mentioned in a Hittite tablet discovered in 1986. Though the early history of Perge is more obscure, it is known that the site was captured by the Persians and then later by the armies of Alexander the Great in around 333BC. It then became part of the Seleucid Kingdom.
The Romans arrived in Perge in approximately 188BC and built most of the sites seen there now, including its once 15,000-seat theatre, the agora, gymnasium, baths and necropolis. During its time under Rome's control the city went on to become an important Roman city and later Byzantine centre. During this period Perge underwent what would probably be its golden age, with a wealth of new public and private buildings and monuments being constructed. Indeed, in the later Roman period Perge became an important Christian city and it is believed that Saint Paul spent time here. During and after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the city was subjected to a number of attacks and was abandoned during this time.
Today, though Perge may not be as well-known as many ancient Roman cities, there is plenty to see and it’s not far from the popular resort of Antalya. Among the ruins visitors can explore the wonderful colonnaded main streets, the ancient theatre and the 12,000 seat Roman stadium. Also found at the site are the remains of Roman baths, the city’s imposing gates and a number of other ruins, including the impressive 2nd century AD Nymphaeum.
In addition, many of the statues and other finds excavated at Perge can now be found in the Antalya Museum.
Once the largest building in the city, the Roman Baths at Sagalassos were a mighty affair. One interesting attribute is the remains of the praefurnium (heating room) of the second tepidarium. There’s quite a bit to see at these baths and it’s certainly worth exploring.
Sagalassos is an active archaeological site in southwest Turkey which contains mostly Hellenistic and Ancient Roman historic ruins, some of them very well preserved.
In particular, the Fountain of Antoninler at Sagalassos still has its pretty facade. There are also the remains of a 9,000 seat theatre, a council hall (bouleuterion), a library, rock carved tombs, temples and baths.
Part of the Phrygian kingdom from the ninth century BC and then part of the Lydian kingdom, Sagalassos became more urbanized under the Persian Empire from 546BC, becoming a focal point in the region of Pisidia over the course of two centuries.
In 334BC, Alexander the Great arrived in the region and attacked Sagalassos, eventually succeeding in destroying it, although its citizens did put up a good fight. Over the coming centuries, the Pisidia region - including Sagalassos - changed hands several times, finally coming under Roman rule in 129BC.
The prosperity of Sagalassos fluctuated over the end of the first century BC, but slowly it became more successful, particularly because of the fertility of its land and the production of a material called Sagalassos Red Slip Ware, a type of tableware. Much of this affluence translated into the construction of buildings and monuments, especially during the second century AD, under Hadrian, and up to the third century.
Sagalassos began to fall into decline in around 500AD and this was accelerated by a devastating earthquake in 590AD. Although abandoned for a long period of time, the area was further inhabited from the tenth century AD.
Though not containing the ruins of a bath complex itself, Segedunum fort and museum includes a reconstructed Roman bath house based on the remains found at nearby Chesters Roman Fort, part of Hadrian’s Wall.
Segedunum Roman Fort was one of the ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall, the iconic UNESCO-listed barrier built under the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD.
There were several wall forts along the 73-mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, each garrisoned by Roman soldiers. From around 122 AD, Segedunum Roman Fort held 600 soldiers and was one of the eastern forts along the wall. It would continue to perform this role for a period of around 300 years. After this time, the fate of Segedunum Roman Fort is unknown, except that it was built over in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries only to be uncovered from the 1970s onwards.
The interactive museum at Segedunum Roman Fort displays a myriad of finds excavated at the site of the fort including armour and weaponry. It also houses everyday objects including one very unique object - the only known Roman British stone toilet seat.
Visitors to Segedunum Roman Fort can view the remains of the fort itself as well as its reconstructed Roman baths. Segedunum Roman Fort is also a good place to see a section of Hadrian’s Wall, especially from atop the 35 metre viewing tower.
A lesser-known entry on our list of Roman baths, this former Roman city in modern Macedonia contains the remains of a small bath complex, known as the Thermae Minores, or ‘Little Baths’.
Stobi is one of Macedonia’s most famous archaeological sites. Once the capital of the kingdom of Paeonia, Stobi was located along a busy trade route and thrived as a commercial hub specialising in the trade of salt. Stobi reached its peak in the third or fourth century AD.
Whilst the first mention of Stobi dates back to the second century BC, it is thought to have been founded several centuries – perhaps three or four hundred years - prior to this.
In the second half of the second century BC, Stobi came under Roman rule and, in 69 AD, under the Emperor Vespasian, it became a municipium. It continued to flourish up to the sixth century AD, when it was an important Christian site.
Today, the archaeological site of Stobi houses a wealth of ancient ruins, including the remains of palaces, baths, streets, temples and a second century AD theatre. Most of the ruins date back to the third century AD, although some, like the theatre, were built earlier. There are also several well-preserved vivid mosaics throughout the site as well as remnants of early Christianity, such as numerous basilicas.
Though not as well preserved as the nearby Imperial Baths, Trier’s Barbara Baths are nonetheless worth exploring with the best part of this site being the chance to wander the subterranean service tunnels.
The Barbara Baths (Barbarathermen) in Trier are a set of ruins of a second century Roman baths complex.
A little of the original Barbara Baths can be seen above ground today, but this pales in comparison to the Imperial Baths of Trier. This is due to the fact that most of the complex was quarried for materials in the seventeenth century.
However, below street level lie a fascinating set of tunnels in which (when open) visitors can view the workings of the Barbara Baths, including furnaces, sewers and the heating system.
The Barbara Baths are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Closed at the time of writing.
This sprawling Roman site contains the remains of no less than fourteen bath complexes. While these sites aren’t wonderfully preserved, many contain interesting remains such as the underground heating systems which were used within them.
The ruins of Timgad in Algeria are an impressive set of ancient Roman remains and rank among the best such ruins in North Africa.
Founded by the Emperor Trajan in 100 AD, the settlement of Timgad, then known as Thamugas, was probably a base for the Third Augustan Legion.
Timgad was both a military colony and an incentive to the African people to serve in the Roman army, as anybody who did so for twenty-five years would have a home in the base. An interesting point to note about the ruins of Timgad is that all of the homes built there were similar in size, a sign of equality amongst Rome’s citizens. The original settlement was a perfect square, spanning an area measuring 355 square metres.
Timgad continued to grow throughout the second century and reached its zenith during the reign of Septimius Severus, from which most of the current buildings date.
Much of Timgad was damaged in the fifth century and, despite a brief Byzantine revival of the settlement under Justinian, it was finally destroyed during the seventh century Arab invasion and abandoned by the eighth century.
Today, the vast ruins of Timgad are a well preserved UNESCO World Heritage site. Amongst other things, visitors can view the remains of a stunning second century Trajan arch, a 3,500-capacity theatre, a forum and a series of fourteen bath complexes. There is even a library and the remains of temples and churches, the latter demonstrating the later prominent Christian presence in Timgad.
The ruins of Timgad have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982.
The Roman Baths at Varna in Bulgaria contain some great ancient remains, including partially intact outer walls and covered corridors and tunnels. There are also the various bath house chambers, from the cold water frigidarium to the hot water caldarium and tepidarium as well as the sports hall. They are thought to be one of the largest Roman bath complexes in Europe.
Varna Archaeological Museum (Varnenski Arheologicheski Muzey) houses over 100,000 items from a variety of historic periods, including the prehistoric, the Thracian, ancient Roman and Greek times, the medieval period and from the Ottoman Empire.
Velia Archaeological Site contains the ruins of the city’s second century AD Roman baths along with the mosaics which decorated this complex.
The Velia Archaeological Site (Scavi di Velia) in Campania houses the remains of a Greek colony turned Roman municipality.
Velia was originally founded by a Greek community as the colony of “Elea” in 540 BC. With the help of prominent citizens and philosophers Zeno and Parmenides (the latter having founded the school of Eleatics, the former having been a member), Velia managed to overcome several attacks including from Poseidonia and the Lucanians.
During the Second Punic War, Velia provided ships to Rome for its fight against Hannibal and in 88 BC it became a municipality of the Roman Empire. The decline of Velia, which was dependent on naval commerce, coincided with the reduced need for its harbour.
Today, the Velia Archaeological Site contains an array of ancient ruins as well as medieval ones. Visitors can see a series of public buildings and monuments from the Greek and Roman eras including third century BC fortifications, a large fourth century BC arch known as the Pink Gate as well as second century AD Roman baths with mosaics and a theatre.
The Velia Archaeological Site also has medieval sites such as its eleventh/twelfth century castle, which is recognisable by its rounded towers and turrets.
This famous Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall contains the remains of the military bath house which would have been used by Roman soldiers and must have provided some relief to those troops more used to warmer climes. Only the lower half of the structure has survived.
Vindolanda was one of the main Ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall, the 73-mile barrier built by the Emperor Hadrian from 122 AD.
However, Vindolanda is thought to have been inhabited by the Romans from 85 AD, following the victory of the Roman Governor Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius, well before this iconic wall was built.
Prior to functioning as a wall fort, the initial role played by Vindolanda was that of a fort guarding the supply route known as Stanegate, which ran from east to west.
Today, Vindolanda remains very well preserved and there is much to see. The structures at Vindolanda range from a pre-Hadriatic baths complex to post-Roman mausoleum and church, demonstration of the lengthy period for which the site has been occupied (up to the sixth century AD, well after the Romans had left).
Amongst other sites found at Vindolanda are military offices and barracks dating to the Severan period and numerous sites from the third and fourth centuries including houses, workshops, a Praetorium, a temple and more baths.
In addition to the reconstructions and excavated elements, there are also several replica sites on display, including a great timber and stone model of a section of Hadrian’s Wall and several Roman buildings such as a house and a shop, really bringing the experience to life.
For those wanting to see what else has been found at the excavations, the Vindolanda museum offers an array of artefacts including one of the country’s biggest ancient leather collections. It’s a testament to the high level of preservation of Vindolanda that a delicate material such as leather has survived so well. Writing tablets have also been well preserved and, while many of these particularly rare finds are now at the British Museum, some are always on display at Vindolanda, offering a fantastic insight into the lives of its former residents through their written words.
Little-known outside the local area, the Welwyn Roman Baths are actually found beneath a highway in a specially constructed chamber put in place to protect the remains. The ruins are those of a small baths complex which were originally part of a larger private villa.
The Welwyn Roman Baths complex houses the remains of a Roman bathhouse dating back to the 3rd century AD.
Originally part of a larger Roman Villa, the Welwyn Roman Baths are housed in a unique environment - an underground chamber built nine metres below the A1(M) motorway.
Excavations took place before the motorway was constructed and efforts to preserve Welwyn Roman Baths resulted in the construction of the chamber and an access tunnel.
Today visitors to Welwyn Roman Baths can view the remains of the small bath complex, information on the Roman approach to bathing as well as an exhibition detailing the history of the site and other relevant archaeological finds from the local area.
The second century AD public baths are among the most remarkable remains of this former Roman settlement.
Wroxeter Roman City is an impressive Ancient Roman site in Shropshire. It houses the remains of what was once known as Viroconium, at one time Roman Britain’s fourth largest city. In fact, Viroconium was initially a first Century garrisoned fort which evolved into a city.
Around 5,000 people lived in Viroconium at its peak and those who visit Wroxeter Roman City can learn about their lives through an audio guided tour as well as through the artefacts exhibited in its museum. However, perhaps the most evocative elements of Wroxeter Roman City are its ruins.
From the exercise hall to the bathing complex and walls, visitors can view the buildings in which its population of mostly traders and ex-soldiers lived, worked and were entertained. Most of Viroconium – there were two hundred acres of it in its heyday – still lies unexcavated, but that which can be seen offers a glimpse into what this great city would have looked like.
A fascinating aspect of Wroxeter Roman City is actually its existence at the end of Roman Britain and beyond. Possibly inhabited up to the sixth century, the ruins include sites erected and rebuilt after the Romans had left, yet in typical Roman style. This has led archaeologists to believe that those who lived in Viroconium after the Romans had left wanted to carry on living in the same way.
Wroxeter Roman City is an English Heritage site.
The baths at the archaeological park in Xanten are contained within a protective canopy within the museum complex. While not particularly well preserved compared to some other bath complexes, they are nevertheless worth a look.
Xanten Archaeological Park (Archaologischer Park Xanten) houses the remains of the former Roman settlement of Colonia Ulpia Traiana. The area of the park was first garrisoned by Roman legions in around 13 BC and soon flourished.
Roads and a harbour were built as was a vast military camp and, except for an interruption due to a Germanic Bataver revolt in 69-70 AD, it continued to thrive. In 88-89 AD this settlement was finally honoured with the status of being a "colonia" and thus Colonia Ulpia Traiana was born.
Most of the buildings in Xanten Archaeological Park date back to the second century AD, when great building projects were undertaken. By this time, the colonia had a population of around 10,000 people and was a great agricultural hub. However, it was utterly destroyed by the Germanic Franks in the third century and, despite final attempts to breathe life back into the settlement, including further fortification, it was abandoned by the fourth century.
At 73 hectares, Xanten Archaeological Park is now Germany’s largest outdoor museum and offers so much to see. It is a mixture of ruins and reconstructed sites including temples, homes, an amphitheatre, a city wall, a baths complex and an inn, to name but a few. There is also a museum housing finds from excavations.
Overall, Xanten Archaeological Park offers a fascinating insight into life in this Roman settlement and really lets you immerse yourself in its history. You can even dress up like a Roman.