If you’re looking to explore Roman sites and Roman ruins and want to find the best places to view Roman history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.
The Roman Republic and Empire stood for over a thousand years. At the peak of the Empire, the Romans ruled from the borders of Scotland to the deserts of Egypt, from Spain to Syria and beyond.
Over the centuries the Romans left their mark on the world and today there are numerous Roman sites that can be visited, some stunning monuments known throughout the globe, others abandoned in forgotten deserts or ignored in the very towns and cities we walk day-by-day.
Once you’ve explored the list of Roman historical sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring ancient roman sites and roman ruins.
Our database of Roman historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Roman sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.
You can filter results by country, resort, city or town as well as by date and famous figure by visiting our Roman Sites Search Map.
Once a vibrant classical city, Ephesus in Turkey contains some of the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins in the world and is quite simply stunning. A treasure trove for enthusiasts of Ancient Roman and Greek history, highlights include the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the classical theatre.
Ephesus or "Efes" was a vibrant classical city, now bordering modern day Selçuk in Turkey and representing some of the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins in the Mediterranean.
Thought to have been founded in the 10th century BC by an Athenian prince named Androklos, Ephesus grew into a thriving city until 650BC when it was attacked and damaged by the Cimmerians. However, the settlement was reconstituted and soon the city began to thrive once more, eventually being conquered by the vast Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great.
The city was involved in the Greco-Persian wars but then fell back under Persian rule until its liberation by Alexander the Great. Fought over continuously by Alexander’s successors and their descendents, Ephesus, like so much of the region, was eventually absorbed into the Roman Republic, in the late second century BC.
Sights at Ephesus
Today, Ephesus is a treasure trove for enthusiasts of Ancient Roman and Greek history, allowing them to walk through its streets and view its magnificent houses, community buildings, temples and stadiums.
Ephesus was once famous for its Temple of Artemis, built in around 650 BC. Sadly, this was destroyed and is now represented by just a solitary column.
Some of the most impressive sites at Ephesus include the Library of Celsus, the ruins of which stand two storeys high, the Temple of Hadrian which was built in 118 AD, the classical theatre where it is believed Saint Paul preached to the Pagans and the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, so called because legend has it that the Romans locked seven Christian boys there in 250 AD, who only awoke in the 5th century.
The cross shaped Basilica of Saint John is also nearby, as is the fourteenth century Isabey Mosque, which is an impressive structure built from the remains of Ephesus.
A trip to Ephesus usually takes at least half a day - some tours include other local sites such as Priene and Miletus - but history enthusiasts will probably want to enjoy this site for a whole day. There is also a great Ephesus Museum displaying artifacts found in the old city. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.
Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town fossilized following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
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.
Once the largest amphitheatre of Ancient Rome where gladiators, criminals and lions alike fought for their lives, the Colosseum remains a world renowned, iconic symbol of the Roman Empire.
The Colosseum is a site like no other. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, nothing represents the sheer power and magnificence of the Roman Empire like this stunning piece of ancient architecture.
The Colosseum, or ‘Colosseo’ in Italian, was once the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. It was built in the first century AD by the Emperor Vespasian as a place for the people of Rome to enjoy. Originally named the Flavian Amphitheatre, after Vespasian’s family name, the man who brought the Roman Empire back from the brink would not live to see its completion.
The construction of the Colosseum was very much a symbolic gesture to create a clear distinction between Vespasian and his predecessor, Nero. Nero had committed suicide after suffering military coups, partially a result of his extravagance, which included building the opulent Golden House and a vast statue of himself. By contrast, Vespasian was building the Colosseum for the citizens of Rome. As if to emphasise this point, the Colosseum was built in the former gardens of Nero’s palace over the site where Nero’s colossal statue had stood.
Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was opened with great fanfare by Titus, Vespasian’s son and successor. He marked the opening of the Colosseum with one hundred days of games, including stunning battle recreations on artificial lakes of water. The fact that the Colosseum was completed by this date was particularly impressive considering the building’s incredible complexity, vast size and the fact that Vespasian only came to power in 69 AD.
Even despite the short timescale of the build, the result was spectacular. Not only was the Colosseum able to take up to 50,000 spectators, it was also perfectly symmetrical, ornately decorated in marble and stone and an incredible feat of engineering.
The Colosseum remained the amphitheatre of Rome until the end of the Roman Empire. This was the place where gladiators, lions and those accused of crimes were put to the test, often fighting to the death.
Since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum has suffered from various destructive forces, including extensive pillaging of its stone and marble as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes. In fact, its materials contributed to many famous Roman buildings such as St Peter’s Cathedral and the Palazzo Venezia. Yet, even though a third of the Colosseum has been lost over time, this magnificent structure remains one of the most fascinating and beautiful historic sites in the world.
A visit to the Colosseum offers a great insight into the lives of Roman citizens and those who had the misfortune of fighting there. In particular, it is now possible to tour the underground hallways and corridors where the gladiators of ancient Rome would prepare to fight and ponder their mortality. Also recently opened are the higher areas of the structure, from where you can take in views of the Roman Forum.
There is a museum within the Colosseum with a wealth of interesting artifacts and information and audio guides are available in a number of languages. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
Baalbek is home to the largest ever Roman temple and a range of other magnificent ancient structures. It is one of the most impressive Roman sites in the region.
Baalbek is a hugely impressive Roman site in Lebanon which is home to the largest Roman temple ever built, as well as a range of other magnificent ancient structures.
Initially a Phoenician settlement dedicated to the worship of the deity of the sun, Baal, the city was known as Heliopolis (City of the Sun) by the Greeks in the 4th century BC.
However, it was during Roman times that Baalbek reached its peak, becoming a Roman colony in 47BC under Julius Caesar. Over the next two centuries, the Romans would imbue Baalbek with the empire’s largest holy temples. By 150AD, it would be home to the vast temples of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus.
Today, visitors to Baalbek can see the impressive ruins of these incredible structures including standing in the shadow of six of the original 54 columns of the Temple of Jupiter - the largest temple ever built by the Empire. Baalbek is also the place to see the extremely well-preserved Temple of Bacchus, the stairs of the Temple of Mercury and a ceremonial entryway known as the propylaea.
There is also evidence of Baalbek’s time beyond the Romans. For example, the ruins of the Roman Temple of Venus show how it was incorporated into a Byzantine church. This and other sites tell of the time of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius, who destroyed many of the Roman holy sites in favour of churches and basilicas. Visitors can also see the remnants of a large 8th century mosque from the Arab conquest.
Baalbek is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The site of Ostia Antica contains the ruins of the port of ancient Rome and visitors can view some amazingly well preserved remains of the settlement.
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.
The Maison Carrée in Nîmes is a staggeringly well preserved Roman temple, and one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman building anywhere in the world.
La Maison Carrée, or Square House, in Nîmes is a staggeringly well preserved Roman temple, and one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman building anywhere in the world – for fans of Ancient Rome, La Maison Carrée is simply a must-see site.
Originally built in 16BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa – the close friend and confidant of Emperor Augustus – the building was dedicated to Agrippa’s sons Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar. During this period, as Augustus consolidated his hold on power and confirmed his status as the first true Roman Emperor, he undertook many building programmes across the Empire and La Maison Carrée is a great example of this. During this period Agrippa was also responsible for the construction of the original Pantheon in Rome.
La Maison Carrée was lucky to survive the fall of the Empire. This is mostly due to the fact that the building became a church in the fourth century. Through the ages La Maison Carrée has been used as a consul's house, stables and the town’s archive. It has been partly renovated and restored over the years, but remains true to its Roman origins and is certainly not a recreation. Nowadays La Maison Carrée is one of several well-preserved Roman sites in Nîmes, which also boasts a Roman Amphitheatre and a grand tower built by Augustus, the Magne Tower.
Visitors to La Maison Carrée can view this stunning structure in all its glory as well as watching a multimedia presentation inside the building which brings Roman Nîmes back to life.
Umm Qais, also spelt Umm Qays, houses the remains of Gadara, one of the Decapolis cities.
Present day Umm Qais has within it the remains of one of the ancient Decapolis cities, the Greco-Roman settlement of Gadara.
Probably established by the Greeks in the 4th century BC, Gadara was taken by the Seleucids and, in 63BC, by the Romans led by Pompey. It would later fall under the remit of King Herod. At its peak, Gadara was a creative and intellectual hub, home to famous poets, mathematicians, philosophers and poets.
For Christians, Gadara is also said to be the site where Jesus performed the Gadarene swine miracle.
Today, Umm Qais still has remnants of Gadara including a theater, churches, shops, a nymphaeum, baths, and paved roads. One interesting part of the sites in Umm Qais is that many of the structures, such as the theater, were made out of black basalt. There are also Byzantine-era elements built atop the original Roman ruins.
With the rolling hills of Jordan, Syria, and Israel and Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee) enclosing the area, Umm Qais is also very picturesque.
Nimes Arena is amongst the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world.
Nimes Arena (Arenes de Nimes), also known as Nimes Amphitheatre, is amongst the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world.
A Roman Marvel
Built during the reign of the Emperor Augustus in the first century AD, Nimes Arena is a marvel of Roman engineering. A vast oval with a stunning façade resplendent with archways and ornamentation, Nimes Arena could seat up to 24,000 people in its 34 terraces.
All the people of Nimes - then called Nemausus - would sit according to their social status and watch the games played there. These would range from animal hunts involving lions, tigers and even elephants to the famous gladiatorial matches. Executions would also be held at Nimes Arena, in the form of those convicted to death being thrown to the animals.
A Visigoth Fortress
In the sixth century, under the Visigoths, Nimes Arena began to play a military role. Transformed from a sports arena to a castle fortress or "castrum arena" complete with a moat, Nimes Arena was a sort of emergency shelter of the people of the town in the event of attack.
From Castle to Village
Nimes Arena would go on to play an even more elaborate role in the twelfth century when it became the seat of the viscounty of Nimes and home to a chateau. In the eighteenth century, this went even further with the establishment of a whole 700-strong village within its walls. It was only in 1786 that Nimes Arena began to be restored to its original grandeur.
Nimes Arena Today
Now fully restored, Nimes Arena is a popular tourist attraction and allows people to really experience what it would have been like for Roman spectators. Including an interactive audio guide and some detailed exhibits, the site is now a fitting museum of its past. However, beyond just its historic significance, Nimes Arena is also still used for events today.
Pompeii was an ancient Roman city whose incredibly well-preserved ruins now form a popular UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of the best known ancient sites in the world, Pompeii was an ancient Roman city founded in the 6th to 7th century BC and famously destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
The people of Pompeii were completely unprepared for this disaster and its impact, which covered Pompeii in 6-7 metres of ash.
Today, Pompeii is one of the world’s most famous archeological sites. It is a ghost town filled with the bodies of its tragic citizens, many of whom died from asphyxiation and who were preserved by the ash and cinders which buried them.
The most intriguing aspect of Pompeii and what makes it such a popular site to visit is the extent to which its homes, buildings and artifacts have remained intact. Essentially, walking through Pompeii is treading in the footsteps of ancient Roman life, with its houses, shops, walkways, pedestrian stones and carriage tracks.
Amongst Pompeii’s most interesting sites are; the public marketplace or ’Forum’, a large home known as the House of the Vettii and the Basilica, which was a central building in the city. The artifacts found at the site are also fascinating, with many domestic objects and even the preserved bodies of people who perished in the eruption.
Pompeii Amphitheatre is also staggeringly impressive, it being a 20,000 seat structure and the first ever stone amphitheatre. In 59AD, the Emperor Nero banned games in this sports venue for a whole ten years, after a giant brawl between fans of Pompeii and those of neighbouring Nuceria.
Pompeii is quite a maze, so ensure you have a map, available for free at information desk at the entrance, where you can also buy audio guides. During the summer, the Pompeii Archeological Superintendence organises evening tours. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
The Roman Forum was the very centre of ancient Rome. Throughout the lifespan of Roman civilisation the Forum served as the focus of political, civic and religious life.
The Roman Forum, or Forum Romanum, was the very centre of ancient Rome. Throughout the lifespan of Roman civilisation the Forum served as the focus of political, civic and religious life.
From magnificent temples and triumphal arches to the very seat of power in the Senate house, the Roman Forum was the very centre of it all.
The Roman Forum was the active heart of the Republic and Empire for over a thousand years and its changing nature reflected the constant shifting in the fortunes of the religious, military and political nature of the Roman world.
First built in the 7th Century BC, the Roman Forum has seen any number of buildings large and small constructed, destroyed and demolished over the years. Today much of the grandeur of the Roman Forum has been lost to the ages, as the buildings were pillaged and the material used elsewhere. Some of the key structures have survived due to their conversion to Churches or other uses, like the Curia Julia and the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, but others have left just a shadow of their past glories, hinting at the magnificence of a by-gone age.
No visit to Rome is complete without a stroll around the Roman Forum and it is a must see for anyone visiting the city.
There are a large number of historic buildings or their remains in the Roman Forum, some of the notable ones are: The Temple of Saturn; the Arch of Septimius Severus; the Arch of Titus; the Atrium Vestae (once home to the Vestal virgins); the Gemonian stairs; the Curia Julia (once the site of the Roman Senate); the Temple of Caesar; the Regia (where the first kings of Rome lived and later the Pontifex Maximus); theTemple of Vesta; the Temple of Concord; the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (perhaps the best preserved structure in the Roman Forum); the Temple of Venus and Roma; the Basilica of Maxentius. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
There is a great website which has produced a 3D virtual reconstruction of the Roman Forum and is well worth a look before any visit so you can get your bearings before you go there in person – the Digital Roman Forum.
Abila is an ancient town in Jordan and one of the Decapolis, a federation of 10 Greco-Roman cities providing a defence of the eastern front of the Roman Empire.
Along with Philadelphia, Gerasa, Pella, Gadara, Kanatha, Dion, Scythopolis and Damascus, Abila made up part of the Decapolis, a ten-city Greco-Roman federation southeast of the Sea of Galilee in Jordan providing a strategic defence post protecting the eastern front of the Roman Empire.
It was occupied in the Bronze Age around 6,000 years ago to approximately 1500 AD (although an earthquake in 747AD turned much of the thriving city into rubble) and even though the site fell to ruin, there have been some spectacular discoveries. Archaeologists have painstakingly uncovered Byzantine churches, a monastic complex from the early Islamic period, Roman baths, a theatre, temples used to worship Herakles, Tyche and Athena, miles of subterranean water tunnels, aqueducts, megalithic columns, tombs, city gates and various municipal buildings.
Abila has been excavated extensively for almost 40 years but it remains one of the most exciting sites in the region for two reasons. Firstly so much is yet to be excavated and secondly much of what the resident archaeologists want to dig up is already visible from the surface, teasing them. It is close to the village of Quwayliba and on the bus from Irbid - the nearest sizable town - ask the driver to drop you off at the ruins.
Acqua Marcia is an ancient aqueduct of Rome built in the first century BC. It is one of several aqueducts and impressive Roman sites surviving in Rome.
The Acqua Marcia is one of seven of Rome’s aqueducts which are located within the Appia Antica Regional Park. Built between 44 and 42 BC, significant stretches of this ancient aqueduct, with its monumental arches and brickwork, can still be seen today. However, it is far from its original glory, with much of the site having been destroyed during the construction of the Felice Aqueduct.
One of the most popular ways to view the Acqua Marcia is by bicycle, rented from the Appia Antica Regional Park.
Aesica was one of several Roman Forts build along the line of Hadrian’s Wall. It is thought to have been constructed in the early 2nd century.
Aesica was one of several Roman Forts build along the line of Hadrian’s Wall. It is thought to have been constructed in the early 2nd century - probably around 128 AD. Today it’s remains sit directly alongside a modern farm complex.
Unlike other forts along Hadrian’s Wall, Aesica is actually located to the south of the Wall, but stands next to foundations that were prepared for the broad wall. The original fort had three main gates with double portals and towers at each corner of the fort.
At some point the western gate was completely blocked up. Today the fort remains reasonably well preserved by the standards of the sites along Hadrian’s Wall, with a number of the external walls still visible along with the outlines of many of the internal buildings.
A Roman bathhouse has also been found a short distance to the south of the fort, around 100 yards away.
Aizanoi houses ancient Roman ruins including a stadium, gymnasium, theatre and an impressive Temple of Zeus.
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.
Alba Fucens is an ancient city in the modern town of Albe in the Abruzzo region of central Italy and is a stunning example of Roman ruins dating back to 303BC.
Alba Fucens has been described as an 'archaeological jewel' and it's easy to see why. It is situated in a picturesque valley at the base of the 8,159ft Monte Velino in the Abruzzo region of central Italy and was a frontier town separating the Marsi and Equi tribes featured in ancient Rome's early chapters but were defeated by the Romans in 303BC.
The thriving, prosperous town saw conflict during the Second Punic War (218BC - 201BC) and the Social War (91BC - 88BC) and held some very important state prisoners including Syphax of Numidia, Perseus of Macedonia and Bituitus, King of the Arverni before being totally destroyed by the Saracens in the 10th century.
While the history of Alba Fucens is utterly fascinating, what remains today for the 40,000 yearly visitors is equally as captivating. In the late 1940s, Belgian legal historian and architect Ferdinand de Visscher 'gave himself with abandon' to the archaeological conservation of Alba Fucens and amongst many stunning finds lie the remains of a magnificent amphitheatre commissioned by Praetorian prefect Naevius Macro (and today used for theatrical and musical performances), a macellum or marketplace and amazingly well-preserved fortification walls with a circuit of over 3km.
Visitors will also see thermal spas intricately decorated with marine-inspired mosaics, baths for men and women, the pagan chapel of Hercules, an ancient domus romana, counters and sinks of a wine bar, a sewage system (cloaca maxima) and the 12th century Church of San Pietro.
The Alcazaba Fortress in Merida was a defensive structure built in the middle of the ninth century which also contains the ruins of several Roman buildings.
The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida was a stronghold built in approximately 835 AD, during the reign of Abd al-Rahman II. This commanding ninth century structure with its twenty five bastions remains today, albeit with medieval additions and renovations.
The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida also has characteristics typical of other civilisations, notably the Visigoths, indicating that it may have been constructed earlier.
Very little remains of the original interior within the ten-metre high walls of Alcazaba Fortress, though an original well has survived. The ruins of several Roman buildings can also be seen. Overall, this is considered to be an important site, not least because there are few remains from this era in the area.
The Alcazaba Fortress of Merida is grouped as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
Aldborough was originally the capital and stronghold of the Brigantes, who controlled vast swathes of Northern England, before becoming Romanised in the first century AD.
Aldborough Roman Site contains the remains of the Roman town of Isurium Brigantium as well as an interesting museum looking at the history of the settlement.
Before the Roman occupation, the region in which modern Aldborough stands was ruled by the Celtic Brigantes. The Brigantes were one of the dominant tribes of the Iron Age in Britain, controlling the area which is now Yorkshire and Lancashire. At the time the Aldborough area was a Brigantian settlement called Iseur, however the Romans built their own settlement here and named the town Isurium Brigantium.
After the Roman invasion of Britain the Brigantes were initially compliant with Roman rule; 'Brigantia' became a client state. Indeed it was the Brigantes Queen Cartimunda who handed over a major adversary of Rome, the Catuvellauni chieftain Caratacus.
After Cartimunda divorced her husband, Venutius, in favour of his armour bearer, Venutius rebelled, and the Brigantian territories descended into civil war. Cartimunda was rescued by Roman aid. Soon after, however, the Romans took advantage of the unrest to take control of the region. In AD71, Petilius Cerialis, the Roman governor of Britain, subjugated the local population and established Isurium Brigantium as the headquarters for controlling the regional population.
In the beginning Isurium Brigantium would simply have been a fort, with a civilian population inhabiting the perimeter of the town. During the second century, the military capacity of the town was much reduced, and it established itself as a civilian centre. Approximately 55 acres in area, Isurium Brigantium was surrounded by a significant stone wall, reaching 12 feet in height, and in some parts, having a depth of 9 feet.
However, the town seems to have diminished during the later Empire period, and with the withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain much of the original Roman town suffered.
Today, very little of the original Roman town remains, except for an area which is managed by English Heritage.
The entrance to Aldborough Roman Site is through an area close to the original Roman south gate. Visitors immediately arrive at the Aldborough Roman Museum, which has on display fascinating architectural finds from the town.
Some parts of the southern wall remain intact, as well as the foundations of two defensive towers. Visitors can also follow the path through the gardens to view the highlight of the site, two magnificent mosaics. The mosaics date from the second or third century AD, and were discovered in the nineteenth century, the first by accident when a calf was being buried by an innkeeper. This mosaic has sustained some damage, and depicts a lion resting under a tree. The second remains well preserved, and shows an eight sided star in the centre.
In 2011, scientists using geomagnetic sensors located the remains of the Roman amphitheatre at Aldborough, under Studforth Hill, just outside the village.
Contributed by Chris Reid
Alesia was the site where Julius Caesar defeated the Gauls in 52 BC. It is one of the most famous military Roman sites.
Alesia is an archaeological site on Mount Auxois in the Côte-d'Or and the place where Roman emperor Julius Caesar won his decisive victory over the Gauls in 52 BC. By this time, much of southern France was already within the Roman Empire, having been annexed in around the second century BC, but other regions were still holding out.
At Alesia, Caesar met and defeated one of his most formidable adversaries, the Gaulish Chieftain, Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls’ uprising against the Romans. Yet, whilst Caesar was successful, he only won after a long siege, known as the Siege of Alesia.
The remains which have been uncovered in Alesia show that it became a prosperous Gallo-Roman city by the first century AD. Visitors to the Alesia archaeological site can see the ruins of several houses as well as public buildings and areas such as a theatre, a Roman administrative centre (basilica) and shops, all centred on a forum.
Also part of the Alesia site is the statue of Vercingetorix erected under the orders of Napoleon III in 1865, showing how this leader perceived this historic figure.
An impressive interpretative centre and archaeological museum have also recently opened here.
It is worth noting that there have been debates as to whether Alesia is the true site of this battle, with some historians claiming it occurred elsewhere.
The Alexandria National Museum in Alexandria, Egypt houses one of the world's finest collections of Pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Coptic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic artefacts in the world.
Opened in 2003 by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Alexandria National Museum sits in the middle of the city in an elegant early 20th century Italianate mansion that used to be the home to the Consulate of the United States of America.
The 3,480 square metre museum documents the rich and varied history of Alexandria - founded by Alexander the Great in April 331BC - from the age of the Pharaohs up to the 19th century and takes in the Pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Coptic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras.
Chronologically spread over three floors, the 1,800 artefacts include statues, jewellery, coins, weaponry, homewares, religious iconography, sarcophagi, terracotta figurines, clothing, glassware, pottery and even mummies.
The old garage block has been converted into a lecture hall and open air theatre while visitors can take a high-tech audio-visual tour of the museum and its artefacts in the basement workshop, looking at the pieces from lots of angles. All the labels are in Arabic and English and for anyone interested in Egyptian antiquity and history, the Alexandria National Museum in Egypt is a 'must visit'.
One of the oldest churches in London, All Hallows by the Tower contains Roman and Saxon remains as well as other interesting elements.
The church of All Hallows by the Tower has a history dating back to Saxon times and ranks among the oldest churches in London.
Originally built around 675AD, the church of All Hallows was actually constructed on top of earlier Roman buildings, elements of which can still be seen today. Over time the church was renovated and reconstructed several times and the current incarnation mostly dates to the late 1940s after serious damage was inflicted during a World War II bombing raid.
The central position of All Hallows by the Tower saw it witness some of the most important moments of the city’s history. Standing alongside the Tower of London, the bodies of many inmates of that infamous prison were brought here shortly after their execution – including Thomas More. Other notable figures connected with the church included Samuel Pepys, who watched the Great Fire of London from the church tower in 1666.
All Hallows by the Tower even has an American connection, with William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, baptised here in 1644 and John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States, married here in 1797.
Today visitors can explore the rebuilt church above, along with the 7th century Saxon arch, and then delve into the crypt below ground to see historic remains, including Saxon coffins, stones from a Crusader castle linked to Richard the Lionheart and the mosaic flooring of the 2nd century AD Roman villa.
Within the crypt there is also a small museum examining the history of the church and of London. Largely ignored by the masses, the church of All Hallows by the Tower is one of London’s hidden gems and well worth a visit.
Amathus is an archaeological site in Cyprus containing the remains of one of the island’s oldest ancient towns. It is one of several Roman sites in Cyprus.
Amathus is an archaeological site in Cyprus containing the remains of one of the island’s oldest ancient towns.
Known to have been inhabited since at least 1050BC, the origins of Amathus are unclear. It is believed to have been founded by the Eteocyprians and to have flourished and grown. Over time, it played host to the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Persians, the Ptolemies and the Romans. The abandonment of Amathus appears to have occurred in the late seventh century.
Amathus is strongly connected with the cult of Aphrodite as well as having links to the legend of Ariadne. Today, the ruins of Amathus include several ancient sites, including several tombs, an acropolis with a first century AD Roman temple to Aphrodite, an agora with some public baths and the remains of the eighth century BC palace of Amathus.
The remains of Ambleside Roman Fort date from the 2nd century and are located on the shores of Lake Windermere.
The remains of Ambleside Roman Fort date from the 2nd century and are located on the shores of Lake Windermere.
Built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, it served as a supply base to the larger fortifications at Hadrian’s Wall as well as being used to keep order in the local area.
When the Romans first arrived in Britain and conquered the north of England an initial fortification was built here, however it was abandoned soon after. The site was later reoccupied by the Roman military and a more permanent fort was established early in the 2nd century AD.
At its peak the Roman Fort at Ambleside could hold up to 500 men and it remained in use until at least the 4th century AD.
Today Ambleside Roman Fort is open to the public and run by the National Trust. Visitors can view the outline of the fort and its structures, while parts of the gates and sections of the fort walls are exposed, but the most significant surviving structures are the headquarters and granaries.
Ambrussum contains the ruins of an Iron Age settlement, a Roman staging post and the remains of the nearby Roman bridge
Northeast of the French village of Lunel, where the Via Domitia crossed the Vidourle River, lies the ruins of Roman Ambrussum.
This interesting archaeological sites holds three main attractions, the Iron Age defended settlement known as the Oppidum, a Roman era staging post complex and the remains of the nearby Roman bridge. The river was once spanned by this magnificent 11-arch stone bridge, the first century BC Pont Ambroix, of which only one arch now remains.
A new (2011) visitor's centre and museum exists for history buffs and one can walk the rutted old cobblestone roads to the Oppidum and see the reconstructed ramparts dating to before the Roman period.
Not an extensive or overly impressive site but certainly worth a look while in the area.
Cut into the hillside, the 6,000-seat Roman theatre in Amman, Jordan is one of the world's finest examples of Roman amphitheatre architecture.
Built during the reign of Antonius Pius around 140 AD (some sources claim it was during the reign of Marcus Aurelius played by Richard Harris in Gladiator) in the Roman city of Philadelphia - now Amman, Jordan - the 6,000-seat Roman theatre is one of the world's best surviving examples of classic Roman amphitheatre architecture.
The south-facing stage is bathed in sunlight for most of the day while the audience seating is shaded and the acoustics, as they are in virtually all remaining Roman theatre complexes, are excellent.
The standard three tier layout meant the rulers sat on the bottom, closest to the action, the military and assorted dignitaries took the middle tier and the general public had to squint from the top. Even today, theatrical and musical performances and other cultural activities are held in the theatre.
The forum in front of the theatre was added by Commodus (played by Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator) although the only physical remains are a long Corinthian colonnade and some Roman paving stones. Visitors can also see the restored Odeon on the east side of the forum which could accommodate around 500 spectators and the Nymphaeum, an ornamental fountain dedicated to the water nymphs built in 191 AD.
The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was a first century Roman amphitheatre in Lyon. It is one of the surviving Roman sites from the Roman city of Lugdunum.
The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls, translated as “Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules”, was an early first century amphitheatre in Lyon.
Lyon was once the Roman city of Lugdunum. Whilst the city was founded in approximately 44 BC, the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls is thought to have been constructed in around 19 AD. The reference to the “Three Gauls” relates to Gaul’s main three provinces at the time, Belgica, Aquitania and Lugdunensis, and of which Lugdunum was the capital.
In the second century AD, it is thought that several Christians were martyred at the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls in the course of the campaign of persecution against Christians at the time.
Only a fraction of the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls remains, the rest seemingly swallowed up by modern roads and buildings which surround it. What does remain includes a section of its walls, its northern gate and some of its foundations.
The Ancient Agora of Athens was a market, a meeting place and the social, political and commercial hub of the ancient city. It was re-built several times, including by the Romans, from whose era many of the remains derive.
The Ancient Agora of Athens was a market, a meeting place and the social, political and commercial hub of the ancient city. Whilst initial developed in the sixth century BC, the Ancient Agora of Athens was destroyed, rebuilt and renovated several times, including attacks by the Persians in 480BC, the Romans and by the Scandinavian tribe known as the Herulians in 267BC.
Despite its turbulent history, the Ancient Agora of Athens houses several fascinating sites, including the stunning fifth century BC Temple of Hephaestus. It is also home to the remains of several covered walkways or "stoas" such as the famous Stoa of Zeus where Socrates is said to have debated and met with other philosophers.
A good way to get your bearings within the Ancient Agora of Athens is to start by visiting the Agora Museum, which offers more information on the site.
Ancient Bosra contains a number of spectacular historic remains, chief of which is the incredible 2nd century AD Roman Theatre.
The ruins of ancient Bosra are among the most spectacular historic remains in Syria. Among the sites to see in Bosra is the incredible 2nd century AD Bosra Theatre along with a host of Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine and early Muslim structures.
The ancient city itself dates back far into antiquity, with references to the settlement stretching back as far as the 14th century BC. However, it was under the Nabataeans that the city rose to prominence, becoming an important centre of the kingdom. Conquered by Rome in 106 AD, Bosra soon became the capital of the Roman province of Arabia and at its peak held over 80,000 inhabitants.
In the Byzantine era the city was an important military and trading border town. It changed hands between the Byzantine and Persian empires before being captured during the early Islamic expansion in 634 AD. Under Muslim rule the city continued to thrive for several centuries and was an important stopping point for both traders and pilgrims on the route to Mecca. In the latter middle ages the political prominence of Bosra waned and the city slowly dwindled in size.
Today, a small city still remains alongside a huge array of fascinating archaeological sites. Chief among the ruins at Bosra is the 2nd century AD Roman theatre. Built under the Roman emperor Trajan, it would have originally held up to 15,000 people. During the early Islamic period the theatre was converted into a citadel which helped to ensure its survival and explains the excellent state of preservation. The site also boasts the ruins of an ancient Roman circus, the outline of which can still be seen.
Also found at the site of ancient Bosra are the remains of a Roman bath complex, Nabatean and Roman monuments, early Christian churches including the 6th-century cathedral of Bosra and important sites from the early Islamic period including the Al-Omari Mosque, said to be the 3rd oldest surviving mosque in the world.
The Antalya Museum contains thousands of ancient and prehistoric artifacts.
The Antalya Museum (Antalya Muzesi) is an archaeological museum in one of Turkey’s most popular resorts. It contains thousands of ancient and prehistoric artifacts and good explanations of their history. It is one of Turkey’s largest museums.
The pieces at the Antalya Museum come from a variety of sites around Turkey and are divided thematically into ’halls’ each relating to a different period. The museum includes a wealth of statues and sculptures from the Roman period, the majority of which were found during the excavations of nearby Roman cities such as Perge. These astonishing ancient statues are among the top highlights of the museum and have brought international renown to the institution.
There is also a collection of sarcophagi from the Roman period, Roman and Byzantine era mosaics and a charming children’s section.
Apamea is an ancient site in Syria which boasts a remarkable 1800 metres of Roman colonnades - it is one of the most dramatic Roman sites in the world.
Apamea (Afamia) is an ancient site in Syria which boasts a remarkable 1800 metres of dramatic Roman colonnades together with a range of other ruins.
Said to have been one of the largest Seleucid cities and built in around the 4th century BC in what is now Syria, Apamea flourished and thrived as a commercial hub. Indeed, at its peak under the Romans it had a population of some 117,000 people.
Today, Apamea is an incredible site. Most of the remains are from the Roman period, but there are some fascinating finds from its time under the Seleucids including ruins of its defenses, much of which have been restored.
The ancient city of Aphrodisias was named after the Goddess of Love; Aphrodite. Established in what is now modern day Turkey in the 6th century BC, it expanded into the thriving capital of the surrounding region.
Aphrodisias was once a thriving Hellenic and Roman city in what is now modern day Turkey. Today it is an archaeological site, whose ruins include the remains of a beautiful ancient stadium.
Established during the late Hellenistic period, Aphrodisias became a prosperous city under Roman rule from the 1st to the 5th century AD. In the 1st century BC, the city came under the personal protection of the Roman Emperor Augustus and many of the structures which can still be seen today date from that period and the following two centuries.
The city became an artistic centre as a result of its location near a marble quarry; the city is now littered with sculpture. Artists even travelled to Aphrodisias to take part in annual sculpting competitions. However the city fell to ruin after a series of earthquakes and was eventually abandoned in the 12th century.
Upon arrival to the ruins you will be greeted by the renovated Tetrapylon, a gateway of Corinthian style columns decorated with reliefs of the god Eros and goddess Nike.
The Temple of Aphrodite would have been in the busy heart if the city. Originally over forty columns of the temple would have stood, a number of which have been realigned today, giving a great sense of the scale of the original building. The Temple was converted into a Basilica in the 5th century AD with the Roman conversion to Christianity.
The stadium, dating as a far back as the 1st century BC, is beautifully preserved and is one of the biggest ancient constructions still surviving with a capacity of 30,000.
There is also an onsite museum featuring thousands of pieces of Aphrodisian art including busts, decorative and religious sculpture, ceramics and a unique figure of the goddess Aphrodite herself.
Other features of the ruins include the Odeon, the baths of Hadrian and the 8,000-seater ancient theatre which was adapted for gladiatorial combat in the Roman period. Also, look out for some of the over 2,000 Roman inscriptions still decipherable around the ruin.
Contributed by Rebecca Carman
Aptera contains an array of interesting Greco-Roman ruins, the highlight of which are probably the well-preserved Roman cisterns.
The archaeological site of Aptera contains an array of interesting Greco-Roman ruins, the highlight of which is probably the remains of the Roman cisterns which originally supplied water to the city’s baths.
Founded around the 7th century BC, Aptera became one of the most important cities of western Crete and grew into a thriving centre for much of the Hellenic and Roman periods. The city continued to be inhabited into the Byzantine age before a combination of natural disaster and external attacks forced its abandonment, which is dated to 823 AD.
Today as well as the impressive Roman cisterns, visitors to Aptera can explore a number of fascinating ruins at the site including Roman baths, villas and an ancient theatre - though this is not currently accessible as it is under excavation and possible restoration (Sept 2013). The archaeological site also includes a small ancient temple most likely dedicated to the goddess Demeter as well as the ruins of early churches. There is a small museum at the site which expands the history of Aptera and is situated within the surviving 12th century monastery.
A WW2 German machine gun post can also be viewed nearby along with a 19th century Turkish castle.
The Aquileia Archaeological Area is home to the remains of an affluent Roman trading port.
Aquileia in northern Italy’s Udine province was an important and affluent Roman trading port now famed for its archaeological sites and particularly it Patriarchal Basilica.
Founded in 181BC, the Romans only intended Aquileia to be a colony, but its excellent links meant that by 90BC it was a thriving municipium, with its residents rewarded not just with beautiful infrastructure but with Roman citizenship.
Attacked by Attila in 425AD, much of Aquileia was destroyed but there is still a lot to see. The archaeological site boasts a set of baths, the Republican macellum, some grand homes, part of the forum, an amphitheatre and a cemetery. The Basilica at Aquileia is also a massive draw. Whilst the current church was consecrated in 1031, parts of it – especially its stunning mosaics - hark back to the original fourth century structure.
The sites are actually spread out throughout Aquileia and many of them are visible from the roadside. There is also a museum, the National Archaeological Museum of Aquileia, housing a series of ancient finds.
Aquileia’s impressive remains have earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.
The Aquileia Basilica has a history dating back to the Romans.
The Aquileia Basilica - Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta - in northern Italy played an important role in spreading Christianity from as early as the fourth century. Originally constructed in 313 AD by Bishop Teodoro, much of Aquileia’s Basilica was destroyed by Attila and his Huns in 452AD.
Today’s Aquileia Patriarchal Basilica underwent a series of constructions and reconstructions over the centuries, with the current incanation consecrated in 1031. Yet the evidence of its long history is not erased. Indeed, visitors to the stunning Patriarchal Basilica can still see its fourth century mosaics.
Aquincum is a large Ancient Roman site in Budapest housing the remains of part of what was an important military base and city.
Aquincum is a large Ancient Roman site in Budapest housing the remains of part of what was an important military base and city. Most of the sites at Aquincum date back to the second century AD, when the city reached its peak with up to 40,000 inhabitants and as the capital of the province of Pannonia, later Lower Pannonia.
Today, the site of Aquincum has much to offer sightseers and history enthusiasts alike, including the ruins of a city wall, an amphitheatre (one of two in Budapest), temples, homes and burial grounds.
There is also the modest Aquincum Museum housing some artifacts from the site, although the English translations could be improved.
Arbeia Roman Fort was one of the wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall and a military supply base for the other forts.
Arbeia Roman Fort was built in around 160 AD and guarded Hadrian’s Wall and the entrance to the River Tyne. One of many wall forts along the wall, Arbeia Roman Fort also acted as a military supply base.
Today, Arbeia Roman Fort has been partially reconstructed, allowing visitors to really experience how this mighty fortification would once have looked and felt. The museum of Arbeia Roman Fort houses original artefacts found at the site ranging from coins and gemstones to the country’s best preserved ringmail armour suit and several tombstones.
The Arch of Augustus in Rimini was built to honour the first emperor of the Roman Empire.
The Arch of Augustus in Rimini, known as Arco d'Augusto, is an Ancient Roman monument constructed in 27 BC for the Rome’s first emperor. Thought to have been the gateway to Ancient Rimini which would have formed part of the city walls, the Arch of Augustus is a fairly ornate structure depicting various deities such as Neptune, Apollo and Jupiter.
The Arch of Constantine was a triumphal arch built by the Emperor Constantine the Great in 315AD.
The Arch of Constantine was a triumphal arch built by the Roman Emperor Constantine I, also known as Constantine the Great, in 315AD.
Erected to commemorate Constantine’s victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312AD, the Arch of Constantine contains an inscription dedicated to the emperor which can still be read today.
The Arch of Constantine is situated next to the Colosseum and near to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. It is free to visit and there are no opening hours. As well as the Arch of Constantine, there are two other triumphal arches in Rome, the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Severus.
The Arch of Germanicus is a Roman arch constructed in 19AD to honour Emperor Tiberius, his son Drusus and his adopted son Germanicus.
The Arch of Germanicus (Arc de Germanicus) is a Roman era arch in Saintes which was constructed in 19AD.
The arch was built to honour Roman Emperor Tiberius, his son Drusus and his adopted son Germanicus. Germanicus was the nephew of Tiberius and brother to Emperor Claudius. He was a successful Roman general and won a series of impressive victories against the Germanic tribes, hence his honourary name. The Arch of Germanicus celebrated these victories and honoured the commander, who had died the year before.
The Arch of Germanicus once stood at the head of a Roman bridge but was carefully moved and restored in the 19th century when the bridge was replaced. Today the Arch of Germanicus stands near the river and is open to view and visit.
The Arch of Hadrian of Athens is a triumphal gateway built in the second century AD.
The Arch of Hadrian of Athens is a triumphal gateway built in the second century AD (circa 132 AD). This is definitely not the most impressive of ancient gateways, its Pentelic marble now damaged by years of exposure to pollution.
The Arch of Janus is an Ancient Roman triumphal arch in Rome.
The Arch of Janus in Rome is an ancient Roman monument which is exceptional for being the only remaining triumphal arch in the city to have four faces, a design feature known as Quadrifrons.
Constructed in the early fourth century AD, the Arch of Janus was located at the periphery of the Forum Boarium, once Rome’s cattle market. Built of brick and marble, the arch has alcoves which would have originally contained statues and other decorative items, however these have not survived.
Little is known about this arch and, despite its name, the Arch of Janus was probably built in honour of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. As such, it is often known as Arcus Constantini.
As Constantine himself converted to Christianity after his victory in the civil wars, there is much debate as to whether such a triumphal arch would have been dedicated to a pagan deity by Constantine, further compelling the mystery surrounding this monument.
This ancient arch can be found in the centre of Rome, near other Roman sites such as the Roman Forum and Colosseum. As such, it's certainly worth a quick detour to view it as it's a pretty impressive site.
The Arch of Marcus Aurelius is an Ancient Roman site in Tripoli, Libya.
The Arch of Marcus Aurelius was once part of the Ancient Roman city of Oea which was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC and later conquered by the Romans.
The Arch of Marcus Aurelius was built around 165AD to celebrate the victories of the emperor’s brother, Lucius Verus who had defeated the Parthian Empire and sacked their capital city, Ctesiphon.
Today, the Arch of Marcus Aurelius is the sole remaining structure from Roman era-Oea, although the arch itself is well-preserved.
It is advisable to check the official advice of your government’s foreign office before travelling to Libya.
The Arch of Septimus Severus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Septimus Severus to celebrate his military victories.
The Arch of Septimius Severus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Septimius Severus to celebrate his military victories.
Located in the Roman Forum, the Arch of Septimius Severus commemorates the short war between Rome and the Parthian Empire, fought by the Emperor between 194-199AD. The brief conflict resulted in victory for Severus, who sacked the Parthian capital and reclaimed territory in the East.
The arch was completed in 203AD and remains in good condition despite the passage of time. It is free to view and there are no opening times. There are two similar triumphal arches in Rome, the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Titus.
The Arch of Titus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victories of his elder brother, Emperor Titus.
The Arch of Titus is a Roman triumphal arch built by the Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victories of his elder brother, Emperor Titus. The Arch was completed shortly after Titus’ death in 81AD.
Though only Emperor for two years, Titus had fought many campaigns under his father, Emperor Vespasian. The Arch of Titus commemorates his victory in the Jewish War, which lasted from 66AD until the fall of Masada in 73AD. Decorations adorn the arch, with some of the most interesting being the depictions of the spoils of the Temple of Jerusalem, including the Menorah, being carried away by Roman soldiers.
The Arch of Titus is free to view and is situated near the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. There are two similar triumphal arches in Rome, the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Severus.
Ardoch Roman Fort contains the well preserved earthworks of a Roman fort in Scotland, with ditches up to six foot high.
Ardoch Roman Fort, also known as the Braco Fort or Alavna Veniconvm is a well preserved - many say exceptionally preserved - fort in Scotland. The earthworks include six foot high ditches although there are now no remaining wooden or stone structures at the site.
Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is the site of four Ancient Roman temples.
Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is a small, but fascinating archaeological site in Rome. In the course of building works carried out in the 1920’s, four Roman Republican-era temples were found in the square of Largo di Torre Argentina.
The remains of the four temples of Area Sacra di Largo Argentina, now called Temples A, B, C and D, include various columns, platforms and walls.
The oldest of the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina temples is temple C, which was built in the early half of the third century BC. It can be recognised as the rectangular structure perched on a platform with an altar in front of it. It is also next to the largest of the temples, Temple D, which sits at one end and has a prominent set of columns. It is thought to date back to the second century BC.
Temple B of Area Sacra di Largo Argentina, built in the second century BC, is the round temple, while temple A, next to it on the end has been dated back to the third century BC.
Also located at the Area Sacra, on the side of the Via di Torre Argentina, is a collection of stones which have now been attributed as having formed part of the Curia of Pompey. This once rectangular building formed part of the complex which included the Theatre of Pompey and it was in the Curia of Pompey – a senate meeting place - that Julius Caesar was assassinated on 15 March 44BC.
The current occupants of the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina are not Romans, but cats – stray cats to be precise. Today, the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is home to a charming cat shelter (on the corner of Via di Torre Argentina).
Arenes de Lutece was an ancient Roman amphitheatre, the remains of which stand in Paris.
Arenes de Lutece or “Lutetia Arena” in Paris is one of the most important and rare remnants of the Gallo-Roman settlement of Lutetia. Lutetia or ‘Lutece’ was a settlement located on the site of what is now Paris. Originating in pre-Roman Gaul it then became a Roman city.
Originally built in the first to second century AD, Arenes de Lutece was a vast amphitheatre able to seat between 10,000 and 15,000 spectators. In 280 AD, Arenes de Lutece was sacked, leaving few remains.
Rediscovered during building works carried out in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Arenes de Lutece was subject to a great deal of renovation, sadly to the extent that much of what can be seen today – such as the tiered seating - is not original. Having said this, it is definitely worth seeing if you are interested in Roman Gaul. Some of the Roman stage settings are still visible and one does get a good sense of what the theatre would have looked like.
Today, Arenes de Lutece is more likely to be the site of skateboarding competitions and picnics rather than gladiator matches.
Arles Amphitheatre is a brilliantly preserved, UNESCO listed Roman built sports arena still in use today. It is one of the best preserved Roman sites in the world.
Arles Amphitheatre or “Amphithéâtre d'Arles” is a large sports arena built by the Romans around the first century BC or AD, during the reign of Augustus (27 BC–14 AD). At the time, Arles was flourishing as a Roman colony and benefiting from the construction of several monuments, of which Arles Amphitheatre was one of the grandest.
Built to accommodate over 20,000 spectators, with over a hundred Corinthian and Doric columns spread over two levels and at a length of 136 metres, Arles Amphitheatre remains one of the town’s most impressive sites. Its excellent state of preservation means that it is even still used today, not for chariot races, but for bullfighting. This excellent state of conservation is in spite the fact that it was used as a medieval fortification.
Arles Amphitheatre is now one of the town’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Arles Archaeological Museum houses an extensive collection of prehistoric and Ancient Roman artefacts.
The Arles Archaeological Museum, known as Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence Antique, displays an array of artefacts from archaeological sites in Arles and in the surrounding region.
From prehistoric funereal pieces to Roman statues and mosaics from the nearby sites such as the Arles Roman Theatre, the Arles Archaeological Museum is a good place to gain an overview of the town’s history. A visit can be done chronologically or by theme and guided tours are available every Sunday at 3pm (July-August daily).
Arles Roman Theatre was constructed during the reign of the Emperor Augustus.
Arles Roman Theatre, known as the Théâtre antique d'Arles, is an Ancient Roman theatre in the Provence town of Arles which would have been used for a variety of theatrical shows.
Like Arles Amphitheatre, it was probably constructed in the late first century BC to early first century AD, during the reign of the Emperor Augustus (27 BC–14 AD). However, unlike its famous counterpart, which stands in an excellent state of preservation, Arles Roman Theatre has suffered significant deterioration.
Quarried for its materials in the Middle Ages and overtaken by other development, Arles Roman Theatre was only really rediscovered in the nineteenth century. By this time, only a fraction of its steps remained together with the orchestra and two solitary columns.
Many of the statues and other objects once contained in the Arles Roman Theatre are now displayed in museums, including the Arles Archaeological Museum. Its most notable piece, the Venus d' Arles, can now be found in the Louvre in Paris.
Now one of Arles’ UNESCO World Heritage sites, Arles Roman Theatre is the venue of an annual festival.
The site of Arsuf, also known as Apollonia, contains the remains of a Crusader castle once occupied by the Knights Hospitaller. Also on the site are the remains of a Roman villa.
Arsuf, also known as Apollonia, contains the remains of an ancient settlement on the Israeli coast that has stood for over 1,000 years. Arsuf is best known for the remains of a once-mighty Crusader castle which was once home to the Knights Hospitaller, but the site also contains remnants from the many other civilisations that have occupied the area.
Founded by the Phoenicians in the 6th or 5th century BC, Arsuf was occupied by the Persians, Seleucid Greeks (from where it gained the name Apollonia), Romans, Byzantines, Muslims and finally the Crusaders who captured the town in 1101AD. In 1191AD Richard the Lionheart defeated Saladin here in the Battle of Arsuf.
The area was fought over throughout the Crusader period and, from 1261AD the fortress of Arsuf was occupied by the Knights Hospitaller. However, just four years later the Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured the fortress after a 40-day siege. His forces destroyed the town and the site was abandoned.
Today, Arsuf has been excavated and is now Apollonia National Park. Visitors can see the remains of the Crusader fortress, including evidence from the final battle. The clifftop setting and impressive defensive moat bring to life the scale and drama of the once-mighty castle. Also on show are the remains of a Roman villa, which highlights the diverse nature of the settlement at Arsuf.
Visitors can wander through the remnants of Crusader chambers and the site contains useful information on the various areas of the ruins. The site itself takes only about an hour to view, and contains some pleasant coastal and tranquil walkways.
During the holidays, events are often held here for children and the site can make for a good family day out. Purists be warned, those core historians seeking to explore the atmosphere of the ancient ruins should check ahead to avoid these events, as the site can be overrun with children dressed as pirates!
Asklepieion is an archaeological site containing the well-preserved ruins of the birthplace of medicine.
Asklepieion, also known as Asclepeion, in Kos was an ancient Greek and Roman sacred centre of healing based on the teachings of Hippocrates.
It seems that there has been a healing sanctuary at the site of Asklepieion since prehistory, but the main ruins today are those of later sanctuaries. The most significant was dedicated to Asklepios, who was a deity of health.
Over time, Asklepieion became increasingly popular and visitors would travels from far and wide to experience its healing properties. Thus, the sanctuary was expanded.
Today, the pretty and relatively well-preserved ruins of Asklepieion are set over three levels and include several temples, some Roman baths, gateways and a banqueting hall.
It is worth noting that this is not the most easily accessible site for people with mobility issues. The terrain is quite steep and there are many stairs to climb.
Aspendos Roman Theatre is a large and beautifully preserved Ancient Roman site in Turkey.
Aspendos Roman Theatre is a beautifully preserved Ancient Roman site in Turkey. In fact, it seems to be almost completely intact.
Still able to seat up to 15,000 people this Roman amphitheatre was once part of the city of Aspendos, which was founded by Ancient Greeks from Argos and was first written about by the Hittites in 800 BC.
Under the Romans, the city grew even more prosperous and Aspendos Roman Theatre was built there during the mid-second century AD.
Visitors can wander around Aspendos Roman Theatre and it even plays host to an annual summer festival. Nearby are also the remains of an Ancient Roman aqueduct. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.
The city of Assos was founded by Ancient Greeks from the 7th century BC. The ancient ruined city is crowned by an impressive temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena.
The city of Assos on the Aegean coast of modern Turkey was founded by Ancient Greeks sometime around the 7th century BC. Today the site, whose modern name is Behramkale, is a beautiful seaside resort littered with ancient ruins dating from the ancient Greek and Roman periods.
The city passed through many hands during its long existence, the Persians took Assos from the possession of the Ancient Greeks during the 4th century BC only to be driven out a few years later by Alexander the Great. Later, the city came under the control of the nearby Kings of Pergamum, until it was engulfed by the Roman Empire in 133 BC. The prosperity of the city dwindled after the Roman period and it remained just a small settlement throughout the Byzantine period and through to modern times.
The most famous of Assos’ ancient inhabitants would likely be Aristotle, who founded a school of philosophy here and married the niece of the city’s most famous king, Hermeias. St Paul was also a reputed visitor to the city.
Perhaps the best known ancient site at Assos is the Temple of Athena, which is situated on the crest of a dormant volcano. It offers beautiful views of the area stretching as far as the island of Lesbos, which is just 12km across the sea, and also of other nearby ruins such as Pergamum. For the best views, stay until dusk or get up early to see the sun rise. Although little remains of the temple, it is the only Doric example in the Anatolian region.
Other sights to see in the town include the impressive ancient city walls, the Hellenic city gateway - consisting of two massive towers - a Roman theatre, gymnasium, agora and the necropolis (cemetery). Some of the ruins have been reconstructed. Sights at Assos from other periods include the Ottoman era mosque and fortress which date from the 14th century.
Contributed by Rebecca Carman
The Atrium Vestae in the Roman Forum was home to Ancient Rome’s only holy priestesses.
The Atrium Vestae or 'House of the Vestal Virgins' in the Roman Forum was a fifty-room palace in Ancient Rome. Originally part of the Temple of Vesta, the Atrium Vestae served as the home of the priestesses of the g-dess of the hearth, Vesta. These holy women were known as the Vestal Virgins.
Little remains of Atrium Vestae, except for a series of statues displayed in a well-tended courtyard together with the walls of some of its rooms.
Augusta Raurica is an ancient Roman archaeological site near Basel in Switzerland.
Augusta Raurica is a well-preserved Ancient Roman site near Basel in Switzerland. Founded in 15 BC, Augusta Raurica grew into a thriving colonia by the mid-first century with a population of over 20,000 people.
Amongst its sites, Augusta Raurica has a fifty-row theatre, the remains of several public and private buildings and a maze of underground Roman sewers connected to a main pump room.
Augusta Raurica also has an archaeological museum housing finds from the site including a collection of silver objects.
Part of the vast 4th century Baths of Diocletian, the Aula Ottagona is probably the best preserved original structure.
The Aula Ottagona, or Octagonal Hall, is probably the best surviving structure from the Baths of Diocletian. Built in 306AD, the baths were the largest of the ancient world and could hold up to 3,000 people at a time.
Today, the remains of the baths can be seen over a wide area, with parts of the structure having been incorporated into other buildings, such as the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri.
However, to get the best idea of the scale and make-up of the original structure, the Aula Ottogona is the place to visit. A domed structure that would have been one of several large chambers making up the original bath complex, the Aula Ottogona remains intact and is now used for exhibitions as part of the National Roman Museum.
Avdat was an ancient Nabatean city along a prosperous trade route.
Avdat or “Ovdat” is an archaeological site in Israel which houses the pretty remains of an ancient Nabatean city later inhabited by the Romans, the Byzantines and the Arabs. It initially formed part of the trading route known as the Incense Route which ran from the Mediterranean to south Arabia and which peaked from the 3rd to the 2nd centuries BC. The main commodities along this route were frankincense, myrrh and spices.
Avdat prospered under the Nabateans from 30 BC to 9 BC, during the reign of King Aretas IV, but needed to be rebuilt after it was destroyed by Arab tribes in the late first century BC. This was carried out under Nabatean King Rabbel. However, in 106 AD, during Rabbel’s reign, Avdat was captured by the Romans. In the seventh century it was taken by the Arabs.
In addition to well-preserved fortifications, the ruins at Avdat include a caravanserai, homes, a Roman military camp, fourth century churches, a street and a bathhouse. Many of the ruins are Roman, but the Nabatean influence can still be seen, including the ruin of a temple.
Today, Avdat is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as one of four Desert Cities of the Incense Route.
Aventicum is an impressive ancient Roman site in Switzerland which was the thriving capital of the Helvetians.
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 Roman town of Baelo Claudia in Spain is a well-preserved ancient city which sits on the Andalusian coast, providing a beautiful backdrop to these ancient remains.
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.
Baia was once the summer retreat of Ancient Rome’s elite and is now an archaeological park outside Naples.
Baia, also known as Baiae, is an impressive archaeological complex in Campania in Italy housing the remains of a series of summer homes of the leaders of Ancient Rome.
Development began in Baia in the second century BC, during the republican era and continued into the imperial age, when the Emperor Augustus connected all the lavish villas in the area with a road. It was also under Augustus that Baia was furnished with its grand thermal baths.
Augustus’s successors, notably Nero, Hadrian, and Alexander Severus continued to expand and develop Baia, transforming it into a expansive mass of villas and leisure facilities. By now it was a true retreat for Rome’s elite.
Several pretty ruins remain at Baia, lying sprawled over the hills and near the coast. However, much of this almost-city, known by many as “little Rome” has since been swept into the sea.
Bar Hill Fort was one of the Roman forts along The Antonine Wall.
Bar Hill Fort was one of the forts along The Antonine Wall, a second century Roman defensive wall in Scotland.
Today, visitors can still discern parts of Bar Hill Fort - once this wall’s highest fort - including its bath complex. It is also a double treat for history buffs, as there is also a nearby Iron Age fort.
The fascinating Roman site at Barbegal contains the ruins of an ancient water-mill and gives crucial insight into Roman use of water-powered engineering.
The fascinating Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill archaeological site contains the ruins of an ancient water-powered milling complex and gives crucial insight into Roman use of water-powered engineering.
Not a technology often associated with the Romans, the Barbegal Mill demonstrates that far from being ignorant of such technology, the Romans actually pioneered this kind of harnessing of water power for industrial use.
Probably built in the early 2nd century AD, there are actually two ancient aqueducts that are found within the area of Barbegal, the Eygalières aqueduct and the Caparon aqueduct. Both served to supply the nearby city of Arles, Roman Arelate, while a sluice gate siphoned off water to the mill.
The Barbegal Mill itself was a huge complex built into the slope of the hillside and utilising 16 water wheels to power the massive flour mill. It is thought this industrial-scale operation provided the majority of the bread for the inhabitants of ancient Arles.
Today however, only a hint of this impressive complex survives. Sections of the Barbegal Aqueducts can still be seen as can the outer walls of the Barbegal Mill. The Museum of Arles contains a model of the complex demonstrating how it may have appeared in its heyday.
Basilica Aemelia was a commercial building of Ancient Rome located in the Forum.
Basilica Aemelia was a commercial building in the Roman Forum where the financial professionals of Ancient Rome would convene.
Considered to be one of the most impressive of the Forum’s structures, it is thought that Basilica Aemelia was built and rebuilt several times. Its first incarnation may have been erected in 179 BC and it was finally burnt to the ground in the fifth century AD.
Parts of the Basilica Aemelia have since been rebuilt, although little remains except remnants of columns and its pavement.
Santa Maria Maggiore is a papal basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary a.k.a Santa Maria della Neve or Santa Maria ad Praesepem. This is Rome's major or principal church dedicated to St Mary.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of Saint Mary Major) in Rome is a Patriarchal or ‘Papal’ Basilica and home to the famed Sistine Chapel. Originally built in the 5th century – from which time it still uniquely retains its structure – this ecclesiastical giant bears the works of many centuries. Whether it’s the baroque 18th century façade of Ferdinand Fuga, the Cosmatesque pavement gifted to the church in the 13th century or the fifth century triumphal arch and mosaics that still adorn it, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore offers the visitor a chance to see works of art and architecture from throughout its history.
One of the best known aspects of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the Sistine Chapel, with its beautiful paintings. It was Pope Sixtus V who commissioned Domenico Fontana to create the chapel. Several popes are buried at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, among them Sixtus V.
As well as viewing Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore itself, there is also a museum showcasing the site’s most important works.
Basilica Julia was an Ancient Roman courthouse in Rome’s Forum. It is one of many Roman sites which can be explored in the centre of the city.
Basilica Julia, also known as Basilica Iulia, was a civil courthouse in the Roman Forum which would also have housed a series of shops.
Initially founded by Julius Caesar in 54 BC, it soon burnt to the ground and was rebuilt and completed under Augustus in 12 BC. In fact, Basilica Julia suffered damage from several fires and would be rebuilt a number of times.
The Basilica of Constantine in Trier was the Roman Emperor’s audience hall and the biggest surviving single room from Ancient Rome.
The Basilica of Constantine or “Konstantin Basilika” in Trier in Germany is a remnant of this city’s prominent Ancient Roman history.
Once the place where Emperor Constantine the Great would meet and greet audiences, the Basilica of Constantine was part of the development of Trier undertaken by the emperor from 306 AD. At the time, Trier, then Augusta Treverorum, was the capital of Rome’s Western Empire and the home of Constantine the Great.
In the fifth century, the Basilica of Constantine was destroyed by invading Germanic forces, but now stands restored. This is partially due to the fact that it was incorporated into a seventeenth century palace and then served as an army barracks. In 1944, the Basilica of Constantine was renovated and it is now used as a church.
The Basilica of Constantine is one of this city’s many Ancient Roman sites and part of its UNESCO World Heritage listing. It is apparently the largest single Ancient Rome room to stand intact.
Be sure to look out for the optical illusion created by the window sizes of the Basilica of Constantine, which make it look even bigger than it actually is.
The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine was an Ancient Roman meeting house, the remains of which stand in the Roman Forum.
The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine is the largest structure in the Roman Forum and still has part of its roof as well as three of its colossal arches and vaults.
Initial construction of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine started under the Roman Emperor Maxentius in 308 AD and was completed by Constantine in approximately 312-3 AD. With its vast vaults standing unsupported, it is considered to be a triumph of Roman engineering.
Contrary to the religious connotations of its name, it is thought that the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine would have, like other Roman basilicas, served as a meeting house and judicial or administrative centre.
The Basilica of Sant Angelo is an eleventh century church partially made up of the remains of a Roman temple.
The Basilica of Sant Angelo in Formis is an eleventh century Benedictine church constructed on the former site of a Roman temple dedicated to Diana Tifatina. In fact, the remains of this Roman temple are incorporated into the Basilica of Sant Angelo in Formis, including its Doric columns and floor, both of which were once part of the temple.
The current form of Sant Angelo in Formis dates back to 1053 when it was built by the Abbot of Montecassino Desiderius, who was later Pope Victor III. Visitors to Sant Angelo in Formis can view its colourfully frescoed interior.
The basilica sits at the Forum Boarium, the ancient cattle market. Many visitors flock here to see the famous Bocca della VeritÃ , a large marble disc that was used in the Middle Ages as a lie detector.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin is a charming 8th century church in Rome commissioned by Pope Hadrian I. The site of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, within the locality of the Forum Boarium, was already home to a charitable food distribution centre and an ancient temple dedicated to Hercules Invictus, which was itself reconstructed in the 2nd century BC.
Whilst it was restored in the 9th century and suffered during the Norman invasion, today’s Santa Maria in Cosmedin owes much of its appearance to a 19th century refurbishment.
The unlikely star of the show at Santa Maria in Cosmedin is an ancient plaque known as the Bocca della Verità or ‘Mouth of Truth’. The origins of this ancient Roman block with its lion’s face is unclear – it is usually thought to have been a sewer drain cover or part of a fountain – but it is said that the lion’s mouth will close on anyone’s hand who lies. Tourists line up to test this theory.
Bassae is an ancient site and home to a famed UNESCO-listed monument to Apollo Epicurius.
Bassae is an ancient site where the Phigaleia built a sanctuary to the cult of Apollo Epicurius. A 5th Century BC magnificent temple in honour of the deity still stand there today. At one time, the Messenians people fled to Bassae, seeking sanctuary there from their war with the Spartans.
The Baths of Caracalla were an Ancient Roman public baths and leisure complex and remain well-preserved.
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.
The huge Baths of Diocletian complex was built in the early 4th century and covers a vast area. Today elements can be seen in a number of buildings, including the National Museum of Rome.
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.
The Bearsden Bath House was a Roman bath complex and is one of several Roman sites making up The Antonine Wall.
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.
Beit Shean is an immensely impressive archaeological site with remains dating back mostly to the Roman and Byzantine period.
The ancient city of Beit She’an in the northern Jordan Valley is an immensely impressive archaeological site with remains dating back mostly to the Roman and Byzantine period.
The site itself has an extensive history dating back to around the fifth millennium BC and was a significant settlement by the Bronze Age period. During the Late Bronze Age, when the Egyptians ruled the area, Beit She’an served as the administrative centre of the region.
As the Egyptians lost control of the region, around the 12th century BC, the Egyptian city was destroyed by fire and a Canaanite city rose in its place, before the Philistines conquered the area. It was during this period that Beit She’an gained a Biblical reference when the Israelites under King Saul were defeated at the Battle of Mount Gilboa – it is said that the body of Saul was hung from the city’s walls, along with the bodies of his sons. The city was then captured by the Israelite king David and formed part of the Israelite kingdom until its destruction by the Assyrians in 731 BC.
Following this period the city was later re-founded as a Hellenistic settlement and was known as Nisa Scythopolis. As with many of the ancient cities in the area Beit She’an was later incorporated into the Roman Empire and survived under Roman and later Byzanine rule for several centuries; it was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis league. Most of the remains of Beit She’an which can be seen today date back to this period, which is when the city reached its zenith with a population approaching 50,000 by the 5th century AD.
The city continued to function after the 7th century Arab conquest, despite seeing a decline in its prominence and size. However, it was not war or man-made destruction which signalled the end of Beit She’an, rather a major earthquake which struck the region in 749 AD and devastated the city. There were subsequent periods of occupation after this event – including a period of Crusader rule which saw the construction of a Crusader castle – but the ancient city itself fell into ruin.
Today visitors to the site can explore the remains of ancient Beit She’an (also called Bet She’an, Beth Shean or Bet Shean) which sits on the eastern side of the modern city of the same name.
Among the ruins are the impressive colonnaded main street (known as Paladius Street), parts of the defensive walls, the reconstructed Roman theatre, an ancient amphitheatre, Byzantine bathhouse and even structures dating back to the Egyptian and Canannite periods, such as a large Canaanite temple and the ancient house of the Egyptian governor. The remains of the Crusader castle can also be visited as well as a Mamluk-era mosque.
Alongside the ruins sits the Biblical Mount Gilboa, which affords excellent views of the surrounding area, and visitors can also purchase tickets for the impressive sound-and-light experience which is run at the site. Beit She’an features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Israel.
Belogradchik Fortress is an impressive fortification in Bulgaria with a history dating back to Roman times.
Belogradchik Fortress, also known as Belogradchik Kale or as Kaleto, is an impressively well-preserved fortification in north-western Bulgaria.
It was the Romans who initially founded Belogradchik Fortress as a stronghold from the 1st to the 3rd centuries, building the highest part of the fortress, known as the Citadel.
Over the centuries, Belogradchik Fortress has been used by a succession of different forces including the Byzantines.
The 14th century saw the site fall under the remit of Tsar Ivan Sratsimir’s Vidin kingdom, during which time it was enlarged and strengthened. Nevertheless, at the end of this century, Belogradchik Fortress was captured by the Ottomans, a move which saw the site used to suppress local uprisings and protect this corner of the Ottoman Empire.
In the 19th century, Belogradchik Fortress continued to be used for military and defensive purposes. In 1850, Belogradchik Fortress played a sinister role in suppressing the Belogradchik uprising, it being the place where activists were decapitated. In 1885, it was also used in the Serb-Bulgarian War.
Today, Belogradchik Fortress is open to the public and it features as one of our Top Tourist Attractions of Bulgaria.
Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman site on the Bignor estate and contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Britain.
Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman villa site on the Bignor estate. Situated in West Sussex, the Bignor Roman Villa complex hosts the remains of a 3rd century ancient Roman home.
The site was developed over two centuries before it was abandoned – probably after the Roman withdrawal from Britain.
Today, Bignor Roman Villa contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Britain, as well as the remains of the villa complex which include several living rooms, a bathhouse and even the underfloor heating systems employed by Roman engineers.
Bignor Roman Villa was discovered in the early 19th century and is enclosed in Georgian buildings which are themselves worthy of note and have recently been restored.
Binchester Roman Fort contains the remains of one of the largest Roman fortifications in northern Britain.
Binchester Roman Fort contains the remains of one of the largest Roman fortifications in northern Britain. Founded around 80 AD, the fort could play host to a considerable military force and was an important staging post for the Roman military in the region.
Evidence found at the site show that the fort also held cavalry units, with inscriptions showing that they tended to be very much multicultural in nature, with one such unit coming from central Spain and another from what is now Holland. Binchester Roman Fort remained in use throughout the Roman period and a large civilian settlement grew up around it. Indeed, locals continued to occupy Binchester Roman Fort for several centuries after the Roman forces departed. The modern-day village of Binchester is about 2 miles to the east of the site.
Today the Binchester Roman Fort site is open to visitors, who can explore its remains along with those of a Roman bath house within the complex.
Birdoswald Roman Fort is one of the best preserved of the wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall.
Birdoswald Roman Fort is not only one of the most well-preserved of the wall forts of the iconic Hadrian’s Wall, it is also next to some of the best stretches of this 73-mile barrier.
At its peak, Birdoswald Roman Fort would have housed up to 1,000 soldiers who were there to guard Hadrian’s Wall. Even after the Romans left Britain, Birdoswald Roman Fort remained inhabited up to the fifth century AD and later, in the sixteenth century, a medieval fortified farmhouse was built there, succeeded by a regular farmhouse.
Today, visitors can enjoy the extensive remains found at Birdoswald Roman Fort, which include much of its defensive structures such as its walls and gateways as well as buildings such as granaries and workshops.
The Birdoswald Roman Fort visitor centre offers a further glimpse into life in Roman Britain, with a model of the Wall as it would once have looked and displays of artifacts found at the site. Uniquely, it is even possible to stay within the walls of Birdoswald Roman Fort as part of a holiday. It is under the remit of English Heritage.
These spectacular ruins are all that remain of what was once a grand amphitheatre; the centre of entertainment in a bustling Roman town.
Nestled amongst charming French boulevards and cobbled streets is Bordeaux Amphitheatre, also known as Palais Gallien; all that remains of the once vibrant Roman city of Burdigala.
Put under state protection in 1911, Bordeaux’s citizens are now working to preserve this ancient amphitheatre, a snippet of a history long since vanished; it remains as an impressive reminder of the Roman presence which once dominated the area.
Burdigala is thought to have been the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Aquitaina; and was annexed as a Roman province under the emperor Augustus. The importance of the city is reflected in the grandeur of the amphitheatre and indeed the landmark once held around 15,000 spectators.
One of the first examples of an amphitheatre to use a both a stone and wooden structure, Bordeaux Amphitheatre was the sight of a host of ancient spectacles alongside often violent shows designed to engage and entertain both the locals, plebeians and patricians of the Empire alike. Little else is known about the ruins but it is thought that they got their name because in later times people thought the remains resembled a grand palace.
Some historians even speculate that Bordeaux Amphitheatre sits atop older ruins, but until further excavation can occur it remains an unanswered question.
Set in the heart of Bordeaux, destroyed by a fire during the Germanic invasions of the town, the impressive remains of the Palais Gallien are well worth the visit.
Contributed by Rebecca Lewis
The Boscoreale Villa and Antiquarium contains the remains of a Roman villa, destroyed during the eruption of Vesuvius, as well as an archaeological museum.
The Boscoreale Villa and Antiquarium complex contains the remains of an ancient Roman villa as well as an archaeological museum dedicated to this and other ancient sites - including Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae.
The archaeological site at Boscoreale was actually home to a number of Roman villas, which were destroyed in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Of these villas only one is open to the public, the partially-restored Villa Regina.
This villa probably dates back to the first century BC and had been further enlarged during the Julio-Claudian era. It is comprised of a number of rooms, arranged on three sides of an open courtyard which houses the wine cellar. It is believed the villa formed part of a farming complex, which was probably a vineyard and wine-press. Other villas excavated at the site include Villa Pisanella and the Villa of Publius Fannio Sinistore.
The Antiquarium archaeological museum contains artefacts from the Boscoreale villas as well as finds from the other major ancient sites in the area.
Brading Roman Villa was a first to second century Ancient Roman farm on the Isle of Wight.
Brading Roman Villa was part of an Ancient Roman farm on the Isle of Wight and is now an archaeological site and museum.
Thought to have first been constructed in the mid-first century, it is believed that Brading Roman Villa was developed into a stone structure by the middle of the second century. At this time, it would have benefited from a wealth of food and materials including wild boar, sheep, barley and wheat.
In the third century, Brading Roman Villa was severely damaged by fire and subsequently – but slowly - went into decline, partly due to ongoing barbarian raids.
Today, Brading Roman Villa is housed in a purpose built structure, where visitors can see its ruins, including walls rising up to one metre in height. Some of the highlights at the Brading Roman Villa are its mosaics, the largest of which portrays a mixture of religious, nautical and farming imagery and is located in room twelve.
The site of Brading Roman Villa is also dotted with the remains of the ancient farming buildings, which visitors can tour. One of the buildings contains the stone piles of what was an under floor heating system or “hypocaust”.
Branodunum Fort is a 3rd century Roman fort located on the Norfolk coast.
Branodunum Fort is a 3rd century Roman fort located on the Norfolk coast. Built in around 225 to 250 AD, Branodunum Fort is in fact one of eleven such constructs, known as Saxon Shore Forts, found on England's southern and eastern coasts.
Like its counterparts, Branodunum Fort was initially built to help control trade around the coastline, but later took on a more military, defensive role, defending from invaders from the North Sea. Branodunum Fort would remain garrisoned for some 150 years, only becoming empty when the Romans left Britain.
The walls of Branodunum Fort remained standing until the 18th century, when they were demolished.
Bremenium Roman Fort was an important Roman outpost and garrison located beyond the major fortifications of Hadrian’s Wall, near modern-day Rochester in Northumberland.
Bremenium Roman Fort was an important Roman outpost and garrison which was located beyond the major fortifications of Hadrian’s Wall, near modern-day Rochester in Northumberland.
This heavily fortified garrison site stood for more than 200 years as the most northerly base in the entire Roman Empire. The fortress operated as an outpost fort beyond Hadrian's Wall - a sort of early warning station.
Unlike many forts of its type, Bremenium had thicker walls and included significant artillery emplacements - highlighting the fact this fort existed at the very fringes of Empire, essentially in enemy territory. Consequently, no civilian settlements grew up outside the walls and there seems to have been little or nothing of this nature at Bremenium.
The first incarnation of Bremenium Roman Fort dates to around 80AD and was built by Julius Agricola, Governor of Britain in the late 1st Century. Recent research suggests it was built on top of a previous Iron Age settlement. A larger fort was built during the mid-to-late second century and this in turn was replaced in the third century AD. Its final phase was completed during the reign of Emperor Constantine, sometime in the mid fourth century.
Today the fort is part of the small village of High Rochester and within the ancient walls are a number of small structures including two 16th Century fortified farmhouses.
Though much of the original stonework has been plundered over the years, the remains of the Roman fort of Bremenium can still be seen. The west wall is the best preserved and consists of a 9ft high bank with stone facing, while one of the original gates can also still be seen. However much of the stonework has been plundered over the years for local buildings.
The Budapest Bath Museum 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.
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.
Bulla Regia was an Ancient Roman settlement in Tunisia, now famous for its subterranean villas, making it one of the most interesting Roman sites to explore.
Bulla Regia is a significant Ancient Roman archaeological site in Tunisia with a fascinating set of subterranean villas and other monuments.
Tunisia was annexed into the Roman Empire in approximately 46 BC, under Julius Caesar. Previously a Berber site, Bulla Regia flourished under the Romans, who built a series of monuments and public buildings in the area, such as its amphitheatre.
Amongst the remains at Bulla Regia, there are its famous two-storey villas, with the lower storey located underground to protect its inhabitants from the elements. A further characteristic of these villas is the fact that many of them contain original Roman mosaics, still in situ.
Bulla Regia features as one of our Top 10 Tunisian Visitor Attractions.
The Roman Fort at Burgh Castle is one of the best preserved Roman sites in Britain. The walls of this impressive fortification remain in remarkably good condition - they survive on three sides and stretch as high as four metres.
The Roman Fort at Burgh Castle is one of the best preserved Roman sites in Britain. Built between 260 AD and 280 AD, the walls of this impressive fortification remain in remarkably good condition - they survive on three sides and stretch as high as four metres.
Burgh Castle Roman Fort - known as Gariannonum - was originally built as part of the Saxon Shore defences, which were designed to act as a defensive system protecting against seaborne raiders from Denmark and Germany.
The forts acted as naval bases and defended trading centres and local settlements. Other Saxon Shore forts in the area are also located at Brancaster and Caister-on-Sea.
The walls of Burgh Castle Roman Fort were Originally around four metres wide and stood as much as four and a half metres high. They were fortified further by projecting towers or bastions which were used for catapults and ballistae - adding further firepower to the fort’s defences.
After the end of the Roman period, the site continued to be used by the Saxons with evidence of the site being used at one time for a monastery and later as a Norman fortification.
Today the remains of Burgh Castle Roman Fort are truly impressive; both for their state of preservation and for the located, situated as it is on a low cliff above the Waveney estuary. The site is operated by English Heritage and as well as exploring the ruins themselves, the site has a series of interpretation panels exploring the history of Burgh Castle.
Butrint is a prehistoric UNESCO World Heritage site in south west Albania which has been occupied by the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines.
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.
Byblos is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, as attested by the incredibly diverse ages of its ruins.
Byblos (Jbail) in Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, as attested by the incredibly diverse ages of its ruins. Thought to have first inhabited sometime around the fifth millennium BC, Byblos began as a Neolithic village of fisherman.
Over time, Byblos would, amongst other things, become a Phoenician trading hub called Gublu, be taken by Alexander the Great in 333BC, be ruled by the Greeks (this as when it acquired its current name) and then fall to Pompey, becoming a Roman city in the 1st century BC. Byblos began to decline under the Byzantines, who took it in 399AD.
Today, Byblos bears the marks of all of these civilisations. Stone Age, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age dwelling sit side by side with a royal Phoenician necropolis and Roman sites such as a theatre, a road and nympheum. There is also a 12th century Crusader Castle, a reminder of when Byblos was conquered in 1104.
In addition to its fascinating ruins, Byblos is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its contribution to modern language. In particular, Byblos is connected with the Phoenicians' development of the predecessor of our alphabet. There’s plenty to see at Byblos, some in its main archaeological site, other elements dotted around its medieval town centre.
With over 25,000 artefacts of national importance dating from the 3rd to 20th centuries AD, the Byzantine Museum is a popular attraction in Athens.
The Byzantine Museum in Athens contains over 25,000 artefacts of national importance and is a popular attraction for visitors to the Greek capital.
The museum’s vast collection covers the Early Christian, Byzantine, Medieval and post-Byzantine eras. It includes religious artefacts, stunning iconography, sculpture, textiles, paintings, manuscripts, jewels, ceramics and art.
The museum is divided in five main sections: From the ancient world to Byzantium; the Byzantine world; intellectual and artistic activity in the 15th century; from Byzantium to the modern era; Byzantium and modern art.
The artefacts come from all across Greece as well as from nearby regions where Hellenic and Byzantine culture were prominent.
Caer Gybi hosts the remains of a small Roman fort and naval base which formed part of the local Roman defences of the area in the latter Roman Empire period. It is one of several Roman sites to explore in Wales.
Caer Gybi in Holyhead contains the remains of a small Roman fortlet and naval base.
It is thought that Caer Gybi was constructed to defend against pirates who were operating in the area and this smaller fortlet was probably an outpost of the larger Roman fort at Segontium. It is believed that the Roman watchtower, which stood on the nearby Holyhead Mountain, served as the lookout post for Caer Gybi.
Although the construction date of Caer Gybi is unknown, it is believed that it was built in the late 3rd or early fourth century AD. The structure was made up of three defensive walls with circular watch towers at each corner. The fourth side of the fortlet fronted the sea and may have been a dock for the Roman warships which would have patrolled the area.
The Romans abandoned the region in the late fourth century AD and, by the 6th century AD, the site had been given to Saint Cybi who founded a monastery within the walls. The medieval Church of St Cybi still stands there today.
The architecture of Caer Gybi reflects other Roman defences of the time, many of which formed the "Saxon Shore" forts, and can still be seen in places such as Portchester Castle and Pevensey Castle. The construction even mirrors Roman sites further afield, such as the well-preserved Lugo Roman Walls in northern Spain.
Today, visitors to Caer Gybi can still view much of the original Roman defences, with walls standing up to 4m in places and at least one original corner tower.
Caerleon Roman Fortress is home to what is said to be Europe’s only viewable Roman Legionary Barracks.
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.
Caerwent Roman Town is home to the ruins of the once thriving Roman settlement of Venta Silurum.
Caerwent Roman Town is the name of the collection of Roman ruins which formed part of the once buzzing Roman settlement of Venta Silurum.
Probably founded in the first century AD, Venta Silurum reached its peak in the second century and was home to a range of buildings and facilities. From the remains of houses, a temple and an amphitheatre to its impressive 17-feet high defensive walls, Caerwent Roman Town has much to offer.
There are information panels along the way and pre-booked guided tours are available on certain days.
Caesarea in Israel was an Ancient Roman city later conquered by the Crusaders. Being situated along the coast, it is one of the more picturesque Roman sites.
Caesarea or “Keysarya” was an Ancient Roman city which is now a large archaeological site in Israel. It is believed that the city of Caesarea was initially founded atop the ruins of Straton's Tower, a third century BC Phoenician port city.
Conquered by King Alexander Jannaeus of the Hasmonean Kingdom in 90 BC, Caesarea’s population remained under local control until it was taken by the Romans in 63 BC. It was King Herod the Great who named the city Caesarea – after Augustus Caesar - and who endowed it with the majority of its great public buildings, infrastructure and monuments from 22 BC. Caesarea became a thriving commercial hub which hosted sporting events and which flourished further under the Byzantines. It was conquered by Crusaders in the eleventh century and its Crusader defences were erected in 1251 under French King Louis IX.
Today, Caesarea offers so much to see, including a large amphitheatre overlooking the ocean and an extensive labyrinth of ruins. Some of the most imposing remains at Caesarea are its Crusader fortifications.
Nearby, visitors can also explore the stunning remains of the Caesarea Aqueduct. Unless willing to hike for quite a while, it’s best to drive to this site. Overall, a trip to Caesarea can last anywhere from one to three hours and makes for a truly excellent day out. This site also features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Israel.
Cagliari Amphitheatre is a rock-hewn Roman amphitheatre dating to the second century AD.
Cagliari Amphitheatre is a rock-hewn Roman amphitheatre dating to the second century AD.
The origins of Cagliari Amphitheatre are obscure, though it is thought to have been built around the 2nd century AD and was certainly in use by the mid-3rd century, as referenced by ancient authors. Cut directly into the rock face and augmented with additional marble construction, the amphitheatre would have been used for a number of events, including gladiatorial games and public executions.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, Cagliari Amphitheatre fell into disuse and, like many other Roman constructs, was partially pillaged for materials over the centuries.
Today Cagliari Amphitheatre is open as a tourist attraction as well as hosting local musical events.
The Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities contains the most comprehensive and important collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts in the world.
The Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities contains the most comprehensive and important collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts in the world. Indeed, it is said to have over 100,000 pieces in all.
From smaller objects such as coins and piece of papyrus to statues of pharaohs and the magnificence of the Royal Mummies room with its eleven mummies (although entry is subject to an additional entry fee), the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is the place to see some of the most significant finds from this period.
Perhaps the most famous part of the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is its Tutankhamen collection, which includes the iconic funereal mask of the boy king as well as several other objects related to this pharaoh.
The Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities also contains ancient Greek and Roman pieces and, with such an array of things to see, it’s a good idea to plan your route before making your way around. Otherwise, it can be rather overwhelming. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Egypt.
Campania Amphitheatre was second in size only to Rome’s Colosseum.
Campania Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Campano) in Santa Maria Capua Vetere was the second largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire after the Colosseum.
At its zenith, Campania Amphitheatre would have been a grand four-tiered structure able to seat up to 60,000 people and adorned with beautiful monuments from columns to sculptures.
Located in the city of Capua, which was at one time possibly the largest city in Italy, the existing Campania Amphitheatre was the second amphitheatre to be built on the site. Started by the Emperor Nerva and continued by Trajan and Hadrian, it was completed in 138 AD.
Unfortunately, much of Campania Amphitheatre has been destroyed over the years, ravaged by the Visigoths, the Vandals and the Saracens. Externally, only the first level and part of the second tier of Campania Amphitheatre survive. However, there is still much to see at the site, including subterranean tunnels showing the workings of the amphitheatre.
Guided tours of the site must be booked in advance. There is also an on-site Gladiator Museum, which explores the history of Campania Amphitheatre as well as that of those who fought in the amphitheatres of Ancient Rome.
Cannae Battlefield is the location of Hannibal’s greatest victory in 216 BC over a huge Roman army led Consuls Varro and Paullus.
Cannae Battlefield marks the site of the famous Battle of Cannae, fought in 216 BC between Hannibal of Carthage and a huge Roman army led by Consuls Varro and Paullus. It stands as Hannibal’s greatest victory and Rome’s greatest defeat. However, not even this massive loss of life stopped the Roman war machine from losing the battle but winning the war.
With Hannibal having already invaded Italy and defeated large Roman armies at both Trebbia and Trasimene, the Roman leadership was under significant pressure to turn the tide of war. To try and stop Hannibal, Rome gathered the biggest army it had ever put in the field: more than 80,000 men. Outnumbered two to one, Hannibal used a new and brilliant tactic, known today as double envelopment, and massacred the Romans.
One historian has compared the result to an atomic bomb: 80,000 men died that day, possibly the most casualties ever in a single battle. This defeat brought Rome closer to total collapse than at any time during its history.
The site has one monument to the battle of Cannae within the archaeological site of Cannae di Battaglia which itself is a village from the middle ages.
To find the monument you have to enter and walk to the furthest point of the site. There is a single column which commemorates the battle. If you stand at this column and look north over the countryside, this is the area where most historians feel the battle was fought. The entrance to the site has some relevant information and memorabilia.
Contributed by Sam Wood, Ride and Seek Historical Bike Tours
The Cappadocia Underground Cities are incredible Christian subterranean fortified cities in Turkey protected by UNESCO.
The Cappadocia Underground Cities, found mostly in the Nevsehir region in central Turkey, are a series of magnificent subterranean cities built by the Troglodytes or ‘cave goers’. Of the almost forty known Cappadocia underground cities, some in Nevshir are open to the public, including Kaymaklı, Derinkuyu, Özkonak, Mazi and Ürgüp.
These Cappadocia underground cities were built by early Christians persecuted for their faith. It is unclear as to when the Cappadocia underground cities were constructed, but the earliest Christians were believed to have settled in the area in the fourth century.
The most incredible aspects of the Cappadocia underground cities are their sheer scale and complexity. Some of these cities delve eight levels underground, with comprehensive living quarters and facilities for making grape juice, cooking, drainage and plumbing and even stables for horses. Of course, these underground cities were also vital forts, protecting their citizens, and the Cappadocia made provisions for this, including sturdy doors and even holes in the ceilings through which to pour hot oil over any intruders.
Visiting the Cappadocia underground cities is an exciting, authentic and fascinating journey. The Cappadocia underground cities have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.
Capua Archaeological Museum houses a collection of ancient artefacts and is next to an ancient Mithraeum.
Capua Archaeological Museum in Santa Maria Capua Vetere displays a series of artefacts from around the region including from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, the Etruscan civilisation, Ancient Greek and Roman objects.
Adjacent to the Capua Archaeological Museum is a second century Mithraeum, a subterranean temple of the Persian cult of Mithras. You can visit the Mithraeum with a member of the museum staff.
Capua Gladiator Museum is a small archaeological museum connected to Campania Amphitheatre.
The Gladiator Museum of Santa Maria Capua Vetere is a small museum exploring the history of the adjacent Campania Amphitheatre, including exhibitions of dioramas showing how it would have looked at its peak and also original artefacts found at the site itself including gladiatorial weapons.
Comprised of two rooms, the Gladiator Museum also houses fragments which decorated Campania Amphitheatre such as arches and inscriptions. Given that Campania Amphitheatre is now a shadow of its former self, it is definitely worth visiting the Gladiator Museum, if only to get a sense of its true grandeur, especially since the entry ticket for both sites is combined.
Carcassonne is a UNESCO listed fortified town in France with a history dating back to before the Roman era.
Carcassonne, known as “La Cite” is a fortified town in southern France whose important strategic position between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic led to it being inhabited since before the Ancient Roman era.
Carcassonne is believed to have first been a hill fort known as an “oppidum” created in the sixth century BC and which formed a vital link between Europe as a whole and the Iberian Peninsula.
In the first century BC, Carcassonne and the area in which it was located were incorporated into the Roman Empire and, in the third and fourth centuries, the town began taking shape with the construction of a mighty wall. This, now largely ruined, wall is still visible in Carcassonne today.
In the Visigoth era, Carcassonne was a powerful stronghold, leading to a series of construction campaigns. However, it was from the twelfth century onwards that the structure of Carcassonne really took hold, initially with the building of the Count’s Castle or “Chateau Comtal”. The medieval fortifications seen today were built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Throughout its history, Carcassonne has been considered untouchable. Even before its walls were built it was the subject of two failed sieges in the thirteenth century and, during the Hundred Years’ War, an attack was never even attempted.
It was only in the nineteenth century that Carcassonne began to suffer deterioration was it was exploited for materials. The Carcassonne seen today was reconstructed by Violett-le-Duc.
There is much to see at Carcassonne, including its incredible double fortified 3 km walls and 52 towers. There are audio guided tours of the majestic citadel and visitors can explore the cathedral, both built by the then ruling Trencavels.
Since 1997, Carcassonne has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Cardiff Castle is a medieval complex comprised of a range of styles and with a diverse history dating back to the Romans.
Cardiff Castle is a medieval complex comprised of a range of styles and with a diverse history. With its good access to the sea, the site of Cardiff Castle was first home to a succession of Roman forts, initially built in the mid first century AD.
In the eleventh century, the Normans built first a timber then a stone castle on the site of the Roman fortifications. The shell of the stone keep can still be seen and entered by visitors today and the reconstructed Roman wall is also visible.
Over the centuries, several aristocratic families - including the incredibly wealthy Butes - came to own Cardiff Castle, many of whom added to the complex. Under the Victorians, Cardiff Castle was expanded and renovated, creating a luxurious and grand complex with lavish, themed rooms adorned with incredible artwork and architectural features, all designed by famous architect William Burges.
Today, visitors can tour Cardiff Castle’s opulent apartments. Also located at Cardiff Castle is the military museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales as well as pretty gardens to enjoy.
Carnuntum Archaeological Park contains reconstructed and original ruins from this once-thriving and strategically important Roman city.
Carnuntum Archaeological Park in Austria contains both reconstructed and original remains from this once-thriving and strategically vital Roman city.
The site is made up of a number of different attractions spread across a rather large area. Fascinating Roman ruins sit amongst restored and entirely reconstructed buildings, designed to bring visitors back in time to experience what life would have been like here in the Roman era.
Roman influence first took hold at Carnuntum in the early Julio-Claudian period. At the time the Danube was vital to Rome’s defence and the site was chosen as an important defensive sector and home to Rome’s 15th Legion. The Emperor Claudius also recognised the potential of the city, erecting a military camp designed to hold 6000 men while the city became the Carnuntum capital of the province of Upper Pannonia.
From the early second century the 14th legion, one of Rome’s most formidable, was stationed at Carnuntum - a testament to the city’s growing importance. With a permanent military garrison in place, and great potential for trade, a thriving civilian city expanded at Carnuntum and it soon became one of the largest and most important Roman cities in the region.
It was in 308AD, however, at a conference between the four Emperors of the Tetrarchy that Carnuntum would play its part in vital Roman - and world - history. After tough negotiations at Carnuntum, an end to the persecution of Christians and a universal tolerance of religion was proclaimed throughout the Empire.
With the increasing instability of the later-Roman empire, Carnuntum’s position on the border left it vulnerable. The city suffered greatly during the Barbarian Invasions and was gradually abandoned and fell to ruin.
Today visitors to Carnuntum can explore the remains of this Roman city - including the ruins of the military camp, amphitheatre and civilian and religious buildings - while also discovering the many full reconstructions built at the site.
These architectural reconstructions were produced largely with traditional Roman tools and craftsmanship and are said to be among the most accurate representations of Roman life in the fourth century ever produced. Fully functional, they are not simply museum pieces but instead welcome visitors to experience vibrant Roman life and society as it actually was.
Visitors can amass the dignitas and gloria of genuine Roman senators as they walk through the city’s buildings, particularly the Villa Urbana which showcases the luxury afforded to the wealthiest of the residents.
The archaeological site includes an important temple area which predates the Roman conversion to Christianity and celebrates one of the most important of Roman gods, Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Another highlight is the amphitheatre which was the centre of the Roman entertainment and home to the legendary Gladiator fights. The site’s other attractions include the remains of large public baths, an impressive Roman monument known as the Heidentor (Heathens’ Gate), while the museum is also a must see.
It is worth noting that the site is set out across a large area, with significant distance between the various attractions. It is therefore advisable to be prepared for these long walks when visiting.
Contributed by Rebecca Lewis
Carranque Archaeological Park contains a series of Ancient Roman ruins built in the fourth century AD.
Carranque Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueologico de Carranque) contains a series of Ancient Roman ruins built in the fourth century AD. The site is believed to have a connection with Emperor Theodosius I the Great.
Carranque Archaeological Park is mainly comprised of a well preserved villa - known as the Materno Villa - as well as a nymphaeum (temple) and a basilica. There is also a small ancient burial ground.
A good place to either start or end your trip is at the visitor centre, which contains some of the objects found at the Carranque Archaeological Park as well as models of how it would once have looked.
Carrhae Battlefield was the setting for one of the most crushing Roman defeats, inflicted at the hands of the Parthians.
Carrhae Battlefield near the modern town of Harran in Turkey was the setting for one of the most crushing Roman defeats, inflicted at the hands of the Parthians.
The battle took place in May 53 BC and was the culmination of a Roman invasion of Parthia, led by the wealthy Roman aristocrat and Triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus. Leading his army directly into Parthian territory, Crassus was defeated – largely due to the Roman inability to deal with the Parthian horse archers and heavy cataphract cavalry – and Crassus himself was killed during the ensuing negotiations.
There is no precise location for Carrhae Battlefield, but it is thought to have been sited to the east of ancient Carrhae, now the modern city of Harran.
Carthage was once one of the most powerful cities of the ancient world. Today, the ruins of ancient Carthage can be found on the outskirts of modern day Tunis.
Carthage was one of the most powerful cities of the ancient world and spawned the powerful Carthaginian Empire which dominated much of the western Mediterranean. The ruins of this famed city can be found on the outskirts of modern day Tunis.
Carthage itself was central to the history of the ancient world. Legend states that the city was founded by the Phoenician Queen Dido in the 9th Century BC and the ancient metropolis certainly rose to prominence over the next 500 years.
However, three long and brutal wars with Rome, known as the Punic Wars, eventually led to the downfall and destruction of Carthage in 146BC. It is said the Romans salted the earth so nothing more could live on the site of the once-dominant city.
Having destroyed the Carthaginian Empire however, the Romans later realised the potential in the strategic location of the site. In the 1st Century AD they re-founded Carthage and it grew to become one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire.
As Rome’s power waned, Carthage was briefly captured by the Vandals in the 5th Century AD before Byzantine forces re-took the city. In 698AD, after many years of hard fighting, the city was finally captured by the forces of the Umayyad Caliphate who founded the new city of Tunis nearby, leaving the ancient metropolis to fade away.
Time has significantly taken its toll on the site and little remains of ancient Carthage today and much of what remains is spread over quite a broad area. The best way to begin exploring these ruins is probably by visiting Byrsa Hill and the Carthage Museum. The museum hosts a collection of Carthaginian (Punic) and Roman artifacts including marble sarcophagi and a model of Punic Carthage.
Other key points of interest include the impressive Antonine Baths, the Roman Amphitheater, Roman villas and reconstructed Roman theatre of Carthage. Among the best preserved Punic remains are the Magon Quarter, Punic Port and unnerving Sanctuary of Tophet.
You can explore all the sites of Carthage on our Carthage Sites Map feature and Carthage also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Tunisia.
Carthage National Museum contains a wide selection of artefacts and exhibitions from the Punic, Roman and Byzantine periods of Carthage. It is a good place to begin you exploration of the ruins of this ancient city.
Carthage National Museum - sometimes simply called Carthage Museum - is one of the most important museums in Tunis and contains a range of interesting exhibitions and artefacts from the Carthaginian and Roman periods.
Amongst the many exhibits are displays examining life in ancient Carthage, the conflicts with the Roman Republic and the eventual destruction of the Punic city by Rome.
Also examined is the new Roman city and the Roman period itself as well as the story of Byzantine rule and the Arab conquest.
The museum includes a range of interesting finds, from jewellery, weaponry, tombs and funeral masks to Roman mosaics and day-to-day household items. Additionally, there is an interesting model of the Punic city.
Carthage National Museum is an excellent jumping off point for your exploration of the other sites of ancient Carthage, and provides stunning views over the ruins and the modern city.
The Carthage Punic Port and Museum hold the remains of the ancient military naval base of the Punic city of Carthage.
The Carthage Punic Port and Punic Port Museum can be found in the area of the ancient Carthaginian harbour near modern day Tunis.
This ancient superpower built its reputation on its mastery of the seas and the ancient Port of Carthage would have once help over two hundred of the most powerful warships of the time.
Originally destroyed after the Roman capture of the city in 146BC, it was later revives by the Romans themselves to serve the growing commercial needs of the now-Roman city of Carthage.
Today there are a handful of remains and ruins on the site as well as the small Punic Port Museum which has a number of models reconstruction what the Punic Port would have looked like in its prime.
The Roman Theatre and Odeon in Carthage are the remains of the ancient public buildings which once held more than 5,000 spectators. The theatre has been significantly restored.
The Roman Theatre of Carthage is a restored ancient Roman theatre complex in Tunis which is now used to host a range of events.
Originally built during the time of Roman control of Carthage, the theatre is believed to have been destroyed during the Vandal invasions of the 5th century AD.
Originally able to seat at least 5,000 spectators, the Roman theatre of Carthage would have been a central meeting place in the ancient city.
Now restored, it is no longer clear how much of the structure is original, but it is fair to say it can be viewed as more of a reconstruction than an ancient ruin. The same can’t be said however for the Odeon of Carthage which stands across the way from Carthage Roman theatre. This site would have been viewed for musical entertainment and was a more intimate setting than its close neighbour. The Odeon has not been restored and its ruins can still be seen today.
A number of statues found at the site of the Carthage Roman Theatre and Odeon are now on display in the Bardo Museum.
This site contains the well preserved remains of the wealthier elements of Roman Carthage, including a 4th century underground villa.
The Carthage Roman Villas site holds the ruins of a number of Roman luxury houses and Roman insulae - or apartment blocks.
The area is believed to have housed some of the wealthier inhabitants of Roman Carthage and is thought to have suffered during the Vandal invasions.
While many of these houses have little left to see today, the notable exceptions are the ’House of the Aviary’ (Villa de la volièr) which contains an intricate mosaic showing birds nesting among the tress and the structure known as Kobba Bent el Rey or Baths of Dido, a vaulted underground building dating from the early fourth century. The Kobba Bent el Rey is considered to be among the best preserved residential ruins in Carthage.
Casa Romana is a third century Ancient Roman villa in Kos and one of several Roman sites on the island.
Casa Romana is a third century Ancient Roman villa in Kos. With its 36 rooms, Casa Romana would certainly have been luxurious. It was also built atop an earlier Hellenistic villa, probably from the first century.
Across from Casa Romana are the ruins of the second century Temple of Dionysus, not too impressive in themselves, but worth seeing in conjunction with the villa.
Castel Sant Angelo was the tomb of the Roman Emperor Hadrian later used as a fort.
Castel Sant Angelo in Rome was originally constructed as the magnificent Mausoleum of Hadrian, the fourteenth emperor of Rome from 117AD to 138AD. It is unclearly as to exactly when Castel Sant Angelo was built, but most sources date it to between 123 and 139 AD.
A fortress-like structure, successive Roman emperors and other leaders used Castel Sant Angelo for a variety of purposes. In 401, Emperor Flavius Augustus Honorius incorporated Castel Sant Angelo in Rome’s Aurelian Walls, destroying and losing many of the contents of Hadrian’s mausoleum in the process. It later turned into a medieval stronghold and a prison.
In the fourteenth century, popes began using Castel Sant Angelo as a place of safety, an emergency shelter in times of danger. In fact, there is a corridor linking Castel Sant Angelo with Vatican Palace. Various changes were made to Castel Sant Angelo in order to meet the requirements of the popes and to further fortify this already well-defended building.
Today, Castel Sant Angelo houses a museum which tells the story of its history, from the Roman remains of the Mausoleum of Hadrian to remnants of the fortified castle, the original prison cells and the papal apartments.
The Castle of Almourol is a medieval castle built by the Knights Templar on an islet in the Tagus River.
Almourol Castle was built in the 12th century, on an islet in the middle of the Tagus River, as part of the defensive line held by the Knights Templar during the Portuguese Reconquista.
Although the site of Almourol Castle had been used as a fortification since at least Roman times the castle that stands today was primarily built under the Knights Templar, who began construction in 1171 AD. Subsequent excavations at the site have found evidence of this earlier Roman occupation, including the foundations of the Roman structure built here.
After the dissolution of the Templar Order in 1312 AD the castle was largely abandoned, particularly as the military situation in the area had changed meaning Almourol Castle was no longer of crucial strategic importance.
It was not until the Romanticist movement of the 19th century gathered pace that the castle became the subject of scrutiny once again, and it was largely restored at this time. Further restoration work took place in the mid-20th century.
Today the castle’s distinctive location and Templar architecture has led to Almourol becoming a popular attraction and a noted symbol of the Reconquest. Small wonder then that it's one of our picks for Portugal's top 10 visitor attractions.
Contributed by nmac
Catacombe di San Gennaro are a complex of underground tombs in use from early Christianity to medieval times.
The Catacombs of San Gennaro are an incredible collection of ancient underground tombs in Naples, some dating back as far as the second and third centuries AD. Located near San Gennaro church, the catacombs were in use from the early era of Christianity to at least the later middle ages and possibly beyond.
The relics of San Gennaro, which were located there until the ninth century, are long gone, having been first moved to Benevento and then located in Naples Cathedral. Nevertheless, the catacombs are still a fascinating site and the burial place of many of the bishops of Naples from medieval times. In the fifteenth century, the Catacombs of San Gennaro acquired the sinister role of being the burial place of victims of plague.
Dimly lit and hauntingly atmospheric, the catacombs span two floors in which visitors can see sets of archways and well preserved frescos and mosaics, some having been created in the second century AD. The highlight for many is the painting of San Gennaro himself.
The Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa are underground Ancient Roman tombs in Alexandria, Egypt. One of many underground Roman sites that are interesting to visit.
The Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa in Alexandria, Egypt, are an incredible set of subterranean Ancient Roman tombs.
Made up of three levels containing 300 bodies, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa represent the true sophistication of Ancient Roman engineering.
Built in around the second century AD, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa comprise a maze of rooms and passageways, including the triclinium, a banqueting hall for the relatives of the deceased and the main tomb. The ornate decorations inside the catacombs are an eclectic blend of Roman, Greek and Egyptian.
Whilst the bottom floor is now inaccessible due to flooding, the Catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa remain a truly incredible site. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Egypt.
The Catacombs of San Callisto are the largest and most famous of Rome’s Christian catacombs.
The Catacombs of San Callisto are just one of the many catacombs of Rome, five of which are regularly open to the public. These Catacombs were used by Christians as subterranean burial places.
Built in around 150 AD, the Catacombs of San Callisto span five floors and hold over half a million bodies, making them the largest of their kind in Rome. Whilst some believe that the practice of underground burials derived from the persecution of the Christians and thus the need to keep the graves safe, others think that this was just the custom at the time and due to the fact that they owned little land.
The most famous residents of the Catacombs of San Callisto are a number of popes of the third century, but not Pope St. Callixtus after whom the catacombs are named. Instead, this pope was responsible for part of the construction and expansion of the Catacombs of San Callisto.
The Cawthorn Roman Camps are the remains of a late 1st / early 2nd century AD Roman military enclosure situated in the south of the North York Moors.
The Cawthorn Roman Camps are the remains of a Roman military enclosure situated in the south of the North York Moors.
Today, little remains of the site apart from the earthworks which were constructed at the perimeter of the camps. The Cawthorn Roman Camps probably date from the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD.
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The Celtic hillfort of Otzenhausen contains the remains of an ancient fortification in Germany, thought to have been constructed by the Treveri tribe.
The Celtic hillfort of Otzenhausen contains the remains of an ancient fortification in Germany, thought to have been constructed by the Treveri tribe.
The hillfort is positioned at the edge of the Hunsrück Nature Park, and their considerable height and location gives them a dominant view of the surrounding area - going some way to demonstrate their strategic location. The fortification was likely built in the 5th or 4th century BC and remained in use until some point around the 1st century BC, when the site was abandoned for reasons unknown.
Sometimes known as the Hunnenring, it is doubtful the site had anything to do with the more famous ancient tribe of similar name, the Huns.
During excavations at the site, the foundation walls of a small Roman temple dating from the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. were discovered, indicating a continued presence in the area throughout Roman times.
Today the site consists of the remaining circular earth ramparts, which are topped with stones. Visitors can explore the site - though running to more than 4km, the hillfort is not easy to explore in full. There are a number of signposted vantage points along the route which carry explanations and additional information. Positioned high among the forests, the site makes for a beautiful hike along the logging roads.
Cerro da Vila is an Ancient Roman site housing the remains of a second or third century villa complex.
Cerro da Vila is an Ancient Roman site housing the remains of a second or third century villa complex including baths and mosaics.
Whilst mainly a Roman site, it is thought that Cerro da Vila was inhabited until the eleventh century. As such, the museum at Cerro da Vila exhibits not just Roman, but also medieval finds, including Visigoth and Moorish pieces.
Chedworth Roman Villa is a well-preserved Ancient Roman house in the Cotswolds. It is one of several Roman sites in the area.
Chedworth Roman Villa was a luxurious and vast home believed to have been built in around 120 AD, at which time this would have been a typical stately home.
Constructed with a central courtyard, Chedworth Roman Villa is comprised of a series of rooms containing several stunning mosaics, ancient relics and even bathhouses. Visitors to Chedworth Roman Villa can rent audio guides or have a guided tour.
Chester Roman Amphitheatre is Britain’s largest known Roman amphitheatre.
Chester Roman Amphitheatre is Britain’s largest known Roman amphitheatre. Originally part of the Roman settlement of ‘Deva’ which was founded in around 79AD and is now modern day Chester, Chester Roman Amphitheatre would have been able to seat between 8,000 and 12,000 spectators.
Two amphitheatres were actually built on the site of Chester Roman Amphitheatre, both stone-built with wooden seating but each quite different in other respects.
At its peak, Chester Roman Amphitheatre was a place where Rome’s 20th Legion trained and where the people of Deva were entertained. More recent findings have suggested that it was also the site of gruesome shows where gladiators were chained and tortured. The exact activities which would have taken place are unclear and archaeologists are still exploring Chester Roman Amphitheatre.
Sadly, little has remained of this once great structure. Most of its materials were used to construct the Chester City Walls and much of it is buried under the modern landscape. However, the outline of the amphitheatre is clear.
The Chester Roman Gardens are a scenic park complex containing a number of Roman artefacts from the nearby area.
The Chester Roman Gardens are a small garden and park complex close to Chester Roman Amphitheatre which contains a number of Roman finds and artefacts gathered from various sites in Roman Chester.
Originally built in the early 1950s, the gardens were re-designed in 2001 and now provide a scenic spot to browse the Roman ruins and generally relax.
The Chester Roman Gardens contain a range of remains from local Roman sites, including columns from the Roman gymnasium and carved fascias from the Deva Victrix Roman fortress.
Also contained in the Chester Roman Gardens is a hypocaust - the underground heating system used by the ancient Romans. A number of signs dotted around the gardens give useful explanations to visitors.
Chester’s Roman Fort was part of Hadrian’s Wall and is a now a well-preserved archaeological site.
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.
The Christian Necropolis of Pecs is a fourth century Roman mausoleum, the ruins of which are UNESCO listed.
The Christian Necropolis of Pecs is a fourth century Roman mausoleum in Hungary, the ruins of which are UNESCO listed.
A remnant of what was the Roman town of Sopianae, one aspect which makes the Christian Necropolis of Pecs special is its unique architecture. The site is made up two levels, with subterranean tombs and above-ground chapels.
Visitors to the Christian Necropolis of Pecs can see their remains as well as several fascinating funerial murals.
The Church of the Annunciation is believed to be the site where Gabriel told Mary she was to conceive the son of G-d.
The Church of the Annunciation, often called the Basilica of the Annunciation, is located in Nazareth on the site where it is believed that the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was to miraculously conceive the son of G-d. This holy Christian event is known as the Annunciation.
While the structure of the Church of the Annunciation is a twentieth century one, two previous churches – one Byzantine, one Crusader – have been excavated there, with the earlier one probably dating back to the fourth century AD. Inside the current church, visitors can see the Cave of the Annunciation, the site in which this event is thought to have occurred.
It is worth mentioning that the site of the Annunciation is a matter of some dispute, with some believing that it occurred elsewhere within Nazareth. The Greek Orthodox faith has its own Church of the Annunciation.
Built on the believed site of the crucifixion, tomb and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is possibly the holiest site in Christianity.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is holiest site in Christianity due the fact that it encompasses what are thought to be the last five stations travelled through by Christ, ending in his crucifixion.
Built in 325/6AD by Roman Emperor Constantine I (the first such emperor to convert to Christianity), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located on what many Christians believe to be Golgotha/The Hill of Cavalry, where Christ is said to have been crucified and later resurrected. It derives its name - Sepulchre, meaning the tomb- from the belief that it is the site of Jesus' burial.
It was Constantine’s mother, Helena, who went to Jerusalem and identified the site. Prior to the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the land on which it stands had been a temple to the deity Aphrodite, built by the Emperor Hadrian.
The sepulchre, the burial place of Jesus, is at the core of the church whilst the other four stations are clustered in The Hill of Cavalry. The décor of this section of the church is noticeably more opulent is believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout the centuries, it now mostly dating to the twelfth century following the First Crusade. At present the building itself is controlled by six Christian churches - the division of the site can be traced from the 11th century, and was solidified by the Ottomans in 1767. This division has not been tranquil and there continue to be violent clashes between members of different Christian churches; in 2008 a particularly hostile brawl between the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Churches had to be broken up by Israeli police.
Since 1981, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls. This site features as one of our recommended key places to visit in Israel.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is believed to have been the site of the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest Christian churches in existence and is believed to be located on the site where Jesus Christ was born.
The first church on this site is thought to have been built by Roman Emperor Constantine and his mother St. Helena in 326 AD. Whilst some of the flooring of this original church survives, the present structure of the Church of the Nativity dates to 530 AD and was built by the Emperor Justinian.
Christian pilgrims flock to the Church of the Nativity to see the silver star that marks the site on which Christ is believed to have been born. This site features as one of our recommended key places to see in Israel.
The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter in Tabgha is where Jesus is said to have reinstated Peter.
The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter is a Franciscan Chapel in Tabgha in Israel built in 1933 on the site where Jesus is believed to have reinstated Peter as the head of the Apostles. This was the third time that Jesus had appeared to his disciples.
Parts of the current structure of the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter derive from a fourth century church that once stood there.
Chysauster Ancient Village contains the ruins of an Iron Age settlement in Cornwall, which is operated by English Heritage.
Chysauster Ancient Village contains the ruins of a late Iron Age and Romano-British settlement in Cornwall, which is operated by English Heritage.
It is believed that Chysauster was inhabited from about 100 BC until the 3rd century AD and was primarily an agricultural settlement. This late Iron Age village is believed to have been in use up until and during the Roman occupation.
Today the site consists of the remains of around ten ancient houses, each around thirty metres in diameter. To the south of Chysauster Village is an underground passage known locally as fogou whose purpose is unknown.
Set on a tall hillside, Chysauster boasts stunning views across the countryside and out to the sea.
The Cimiez Roman Ruins are remnants of the ancient Roman city of Cemenelum.
The Cimiez Roman Ruins are remnants of the ancient Roman city of Cemenelum and include some of the walls of a Roman baths complex and of a small arena. They mostly date back to the third century.
Circo Romano de Toledo is a site which houses the ruins of a Roman circus in Toledo, Spain.
Circo Romano de Toledo (Roman circus of Toledo) stands just outside the (also Roman) walls of this Spanish city.
Toledo was once the Roman city of Toletum and was an important regional centre and capital of the Roman province of Carthaginensis.
Very little remains of this site, but it is thought to have once been the biggest Roman Circus of the time and similar in style to Rome’s Circus Maximus. Visitors can wander through the pretty modern-day park in which the circus is found and explore the ruins with ease.
The remains of the circus are mostly comprised of an array of low-lying arches from the lower levels of the structure and it gives little impression as to what the original circus would have looked like.
The Circus Maximus was the main sports stadium of Ancient Rome and is one of the most famous Roman sites.
The Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) in Rome was the main and largest sports stadium in Ancient Rome. Overlooked from the north by the emperors’ palaces on the Palatine, this grand arena was the site of exciting chariot races watched by an exhilarated crowd.
Built and rebuilt several times, at its largest the Circus Maximus held between 150,000 and 250,000 people. It is unclear as to when the first version of the Circus Maximus was constructed – it was certainly the oldest of Rome’s arenas - although it was in use by the fourth century BC and was enlarged under Julius Caesar in the first century AD and later by other emperors.
Today, the Circus Maximus is a shadow of its former magnificence. Without its Egyptian obelisks and Roman monuments, many see it as just a field, yet, with its shape and vast size still clearly visible, the Circus Maximus is definitely worth visiting.
The Circus of Maxentius is one of the best preserved Ancient Roman arenas in Rome.
The Circus of Maxentius (Circo di Massenzio), in southern Rome may have been much smaller than the Circus Maximus – only holding approximately 10,000 spectators – but today it has its revenge by being far better preserved that its grander counterpart.
Located on the famous Via Appia, the Circus of Maxentius was built sometime during the reign of the Emperor Maxentius (306-312 AD). Some say that the reason for its excellent preservation was the fact that it was barely used, if at all.
Today, some of the structures in the complex of which the Circus of Maxentius formed a part still stand, together with its central dividing line – spina - and its entrance towers. It would have been the site of the villa of Maxentius. The site is still under excavation, but is open to the public.
Cirencester Amphitheatre was once a Roman theatre, the remnants of which are located in Gloucestershire.
Cirencester Amphitheatre is thought to have been built in the second century AD and to have had a capacity of 8,000 spectators. The theatre of the major Roman city of Corinium, today known as Cirencester, Cirencester Amphitheatre would have attracted visitors from around Roman Britain.
Very little is left of Cirencester Amphitheatre, in fact only the earthworks are visible, although they do give an insight into the size of the former theatre. Cirencester Amphitheatre is an English Heritage site.
Colchester Castle is a beautifully preserved Norman stronghold with a rich history dating back to Roman times, having been built on the site of the Temple of Claudius.
Colchester Castle is a beautifully preserved Norman stronghold with a rich history dating back to Roman times.
Built from 1076 (some say from 1069) and completed in around 1100, Colchester Castle was constructed under the order of King William I for use as a royal fortress.
Colchester Castle would go on to serve several other roles, including being besieged in 1215 by King John and becoming the site of interrogation and jailing of “witches” in 1645 by a self-proclaimed Witchfinder General called Matthew Hopkins. It was also a private home and a library at different times.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Colchester Castle is its keep, which is said to be the largest example of a Norman keep Britain. The grand size of this central tower is a legacy from Roman times as it was built on the foundations of a vast Roman temple known as the Temple of Claudius (said to date back to the 1st century AD). Colchester itself was Roman Britain’s first capital.
The Temple of Claudius has a dramatic story of its own, having been attacked by the forces of Queen Boudica. The people of Colchester then shut themselves inside the temple, only to be killed within two days.
Today, Colchester Castle is a museum open to the public. Guided tours are available and allow access to those who wish to view the foundations and remains of the Temple of Claudius.
Complutum is an Ancient Roman site in Spain which was once an important city.
Complutum is an Ancient Roman site in Spain first conquered by the Romans in the first century BC.
Located within the UNESCO-listed Alcalá de Henares, approximately 30km east of Madrid, Complutum offers a number of things to see including its forum and Domus. One of its most famous sites is the House of Hippolytus, once part of an estate and a former college for Roman nobility.
Complutum is also known as the site of the martyring of saints Justus and Pastor.
Conimbriga is probably Portugal’s best-preserved Ancient Roman archaeological site.
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.
The Constantine Baths in Arles are a set of well preserved Roman public baths built in the fourth century.
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.
Corbridge Roman Town was a thriving Ancient Roman settlement near Hadrian’s Wall and is now an archaeological site.
Corbridge Roman Town was a thriving Ancient Roman settlement near Hadrian’s Wall, yet it was occupied before this iconic wall was built. In fact, before the Emperor Hadrian built his famous 73-mile barrier, Corbridge was the site of several forts. However, once Hadrian’s Wall was complete, Corbridge began developing into a town.
Today, visitors can explore the roads and remains of Corbridge Roman Town which include some well-preserved granaries, houses, workshops and markets. Corbridge Roman Town is an English Heritage site.
The stunning Roman Bridge in the Spanish city of Córdoba was built in the first century BC and straddles the 657km Guadalquivir River. In season five of Game of Thrones, it doubled as The Long Bridge of Volantis spanning the mouth of the Rhoyne River.
Built by the Romans in the first century BC, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba, as described in around 1140 by Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, ‘surpasses all other bridges in beauty and solidity'.
Rather than simply an object of beauty which it undoubtedly is, the bridge was a vital player in the city of Cordoba’s battles with, amongst others, the ominously-named Peter the Cruel in the 1350s.
Cordoba Roman Bridge was built in the first century BC and straddles the 657km Guadalquivir River. It has 16 arches supported by irregular semi-cylindrical buttresses and is 247 metres long by approximately nine metres wide.
At the southern end is the Torre de la Calahorra (Calahorra Tower), a fortified tower built in the 12th century by the resident Almohad Caliphate to protect the bridge and at the northern end is the Puerta del Puente (Gate of the Bridge) built over 300 years later in the 1570s.
The original bridge was probably wooden before it got replaced and it has undergone a number of reconstructions over the centuries and today, only the 14th and 15th arches from the northern end are original. In the 17th century a sculpture of St. Raphael was added to the eastern side by renowned Renaissance sculptor Bernabé Gómez del Rio.
In season five of Game of Thrones, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba doubled as The Long Bridge of Volantis spanning the mouth of the Rhoyne River.
Corinth was a major city to both the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans and its fascinating ruins are a busy tourist destination and one of the more popular Roman sites.
Ancient Corinth, the ruins of which can be found in the modern town of Korinthos, was a city of major importance in Ancient Greece and in Ancient Rome. Located in between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, Corinth was a vital port and a thriving city-state as well as being of religious significance.
Inhabited since the Neolithic period, Corinth grew from the eight century BC under the Ancient Greeks, developing into a centre of trade and a city of great riches. Much of this wealth was accumulated from the seventh century BC under the rule of Periander, who exploited Corinth’s location in the Isthmus of Corinth. By travelling through Corinth, ships could cross quickly between the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf, avoiding the need to sail around the coast. Corinth had the diolkos, a ship hauling device which allowed them to do just that. Ship owners were charged for using this device, providing Corinth with an ongoing flow of income.
Corinth became such a powerful city-state that it even established various colonies such as Syracuse and Epidamnus. In 338 BC, following the Peloponnesian War and the subsequent Corinthian War, Corinth was conquered by Philip II of Macedon. Throughout the classical era, Corinth had held regular sporting tournaments known as the Isthmian Games. These were continued under the Macedonians and, in fact, it was at the 336 BC Isthmus Games that Alexander the Great was selected to lead the Macedonians in the war against Persia.
In 146 BC, Corinth suffered partial destruction from the invasion of Roman general Mummius, although it was later rebuilt under Julius Caesar, eventually growing into an even more prosperous Roman city. Corinth’s decline began in 267 AD following the invasion of the Herulians. Over the subsequent years, it would fall into the hands of the Turks, the Knights of Malta, the Venetians and finally the Greeks, each of these conflicts, together with numerous natural disasters, depleting but never entirely destroying the city’s once magnificent sites.
Another interesting aspect of Corinth is its diverse religious history. Dedicated to the Greek deities of Apollo, Octavia and Aphrodite, during Roman times it was also the home of a large Jewish community as well as being visited by the Apostle Paul.
Today, visitors to Corinth can see its many ancient sites, including the fairly well-preserved ruins of the Temple of Apollo, which was built in 550 BC and the remaining columns of the Temple of Octavia. By contrast, only few remnants remain of the former Temple of Aphrodite, once a home of Corinth’s sacred prostitutes. Perhaps what makes Corinth such a fascinating site is that, due to its extensive wealth over the years, this ancient city’s Doric architecture was exceptionally ornate.
Beyond these sacred sites, much of Corinth’s original infrastructure is visible along with many remains from the Roman-era city, including the Theatre and the Peirene Fountain.
Those wanting to learn more about Corinth and see many of the artefacts from its excavation can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth.
Crofton Roman Villa in Orpington, London, contains the remains of an ancient house and farm complex originally built in the second century AD and occupied until around 400AD.
Crofton Roman Villa in Orpington, London, contains the remains of an ancient house and farm complex originally built in the second century AD and occupied until around 400AD.
The villa formed the centre of a farming estate and was altered several times during its 260 years of occupation. Today the site has been partially excavated and visitors can see the remains of ten rooms as well as the original tiled flooring and the hypocaust under-floor heating system.
The site is very child-friendly and also includes displays and information as to the history of the complex and the Romano-British period.
Croy Hill was the site of one of the Roman forts of The Antonine Wall.
Croy Hill was the site of one of the Roman forts of the Antonine Wall, a vast second century defensive barrier in Scotland which ran from West Kilpatrick to Carriden, along what is now Scotland’s central belt.
The wall was constructed to control trade and offer protection from the more aggressive of the Caledonian tribes; it was built in just two years. The Antonine Wall would continue to be occupied until the late 160s AD when the Romans began to retreat to its more famous counterpart, Hadrian's Wall.
Today, visitors to Croy Hill can still make out two beacon platforms and a defensive ditch which would have formed part of the original fortifications.
The Crypte Archeologique is a subterranean museum housing the remains of Gallo-Roman Paris. Among the lesser-known Roman sites, it is well worth a visit,
The Crypte Archeologique (Archaeological Crypt) in Notre Dame Square (Parvis) in Paris is an incredible site for those interested in the history of Paris. During the Gallo-Roman Period, Paris was known as Lutetia, which developed from the first and second centuries BC.
The Crypte Archeologique contains the remains of Gallo-Roman Lutetia, including its third century BC walls, its streets and heating systems and even the ruins of a cathedral. Some of the remains are medieval, dating to the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and including a hospital.
A little known site, the Crypte Archeologique is often not as crowded as the streets above it.
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 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 Curia Julia was the senate house in Ancient Rome and part of the Roman Forum. It is one of the most important Roman sites to have survived today.
The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum was the senate house in Ancient Rome, built under Julius Caesar and later restored by Diocletian after being damaged by fire.
It stood at the very heart of the ancient city, both physically and politically and would have borne witness to some of the most famous of Rome's events and figures.
Unusually for an Ancient Roman building, the Curia Julia stands intact, this being due to its conversion into the church of Saint Adriano in 623 AD by Pope Honorius I.
Cyrene in Lybia is considered to be one of the most impressive Greco Roman sites in the world.
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.
Delphi is an Ancient Greek site once considered to have been the centre of the Earth. It also contains many roman remains.
Delphi is an archaeological site in mainland Greece comprised of the well-preserved ruins of one of the most important cities in Ancient Greece. Archaeologists have found evidence that Delphi was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period and sites dating back to the Mycenaean Civilisation, but it was the Ancient Greek city which developed in Delphi which has left the biggest mark on the area.
Many of the sites at Delphi date back to the fifth century BC, although many have been reconstructed and some altered by the Romans. Many of the buildings also suffered from damage and destruction caused by fires and earthquakes. Nevertheless, walking through Delphi offers a fascinating insight into the lives of its former inhabitants.
Part of what made Delphi such an important city was its mythological and religious status. Ancient Greek mythology states that when the deity Zeus released two eagles to find the centre of the world, they met in Delphi. The name “Delphi” derives from the word “dolphin” as it was believed that this was where Apollo arrived on the back of a dolphin.
Today, Delphi reveals much of its past through incredible ruins, demonstrating a balance between religion, politics and leisure activities, particularly sports. Amongst these are the Temple of Apollo, believed to date back to the fourth century BC and once a central ceremonial site. This temple is believed to have been one of several that were built on the site, the previous ones having been destroyed by fires and earthquakes. This stood next to the Archive of the winners of the Pythian Games which were held at Delphi, burnt down in 373 BC, also known as the Chresmographeion. Other sporting sites, such as the Delphi gymnasium and the stadium are also visible and are very well preserved.
Possibly the best preserved site in Delphi is the fifth century Doric building of the Treasury of the Athenians, which is located along The Sacred Way, a central road of the religious area of the city. The Treasury of the Athenians held the trophies of sporting victories, although its exact purpose is still the subject of debate.
Perhaps Delphi’s most iconic site is the Tholos. Constructed in around 380 BC, this once circular building had six Doric columns, three of which stand today. The Tholos is actually located away from the rest of the main Delphi sites and, again, its exact purpose is unknown. The nearby Delphi Museum explores the history of the archeological site and houses many finds from its excavation. This famous site also features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.
Delphi Archaeological Museum displays artifacts from the Ancient Greek city of Delphi.
Delphi Archaeological Museum is an historical museum dedicated to exploring the history and exhibiting artifacts from the nearby archeological site of ancient Delphi.
Delphi was a major city of Ancient Greece and its sites are themselves popular tourist attractions. Amongst its displays, Delphi Archaeological Museum exhibits statues, sculptures and everyday items excavated from Delphi as well as exploring the site’s history.
Dendera, near Luxor, contains the stunning Temple of Hathor and is a real gem amongst Ancient Egyptian ruins. Day-trips to the site run from many Luxor hotels.
The Dendera complex lies approximately 50 miles north of Luxor and contains some of the best preserved and most accessible ancient Egyptian ruins to be found in Egypt, including temples, tombs and even a Christian chapel.
The most prominent site in the Dendera complex is the Ptolemaic-era Temple of Hathor. Dating back to the first century BC, Dendera’s Temple of Hathor was continually developed throughout the Ptolemaic and Roman eras and contains references to both Egyptian rulers and Roman Emperors – including Nero, Domitian & Trajan.
However, although the Temple of Hathor is a relatively late construction by Ancient Egyptian standards, the Dendera complex as a whole dates back much further and the current temple was built upon the remains of older strutures.
As well as the Temple of Hathor, other notable areas at Dendera include both Egyptian- and Roman-era birth houses, a chapel dedicated to the Egyptian deity Isis, the gateways of Domitian and Trajan and a late-Roman Empire period Christian basilica.
Many tourists will visit Dendera on a day trip from Luxor and, given that a number of tour companies offer this option from many Luxor hotels, this can be the most practical way to explore the Dendera complex and Temple of Hathor. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Egypt.
Derinkuyu Underground City is the most famous of the Cappadocia subterranean cities built by early Christians and protected by UNESCO.
Derinkuyu Underground City is the largest and most popular of the Cappadocia underground cities in Nevsehir, Turkey.
As with the other underground cities in this region, Derinkuyu was built by early Christians to escape religious persecution. The result is an astounding network of subterranean houses and communal facilities, including food and drink preparation areas, mass storage rooms, stables, wine presses and a church all spread over eight levels.
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Derinkuyu Underground City is incredibly well preserved and offers an in-depth insight into the lives of these troglodyte or ‘cave dwelling’ people. For those who are not too claustrophobic or frail, this is one of the most interesting sites in Turkey.
Situated on the site of a Roman fort in the historic city of Chester, Dewa Roman Experience allows visitors a hands-on exploration of a Roman legionary base.
Built on the former site of an ancient Roman fort, Dewa Roman Experience is a hands-on archaeological site containing the remains of this a Roman legionary base.
The Roman fort site at Chester was a strategic base for the Roman army circa AD 50. Initially the site had been a small fort used to defend Chester’s harbour and crossing point of the river Dee during campaigns against tribes in Wales and to the north and east of Chester. The name ‘Deva’ in Latin means ‘Holy One’, and takes its name from the river.
The Romans based themselves at Chester temporarily in the beginning, as resources were diverted to dealing with the Boudiccan uprisings in AD 60. A permanent military presence was established soon after, however, as the Romans attempted to conquer Britain in its entirety. The Second Legion was later stationed in Chester, circa AD 78, but the legion was withdrawn in AD 87 to help defend the Rhine frontier.
The Romans set great store by fighting conflicts at sea – Chester’s excellent harbour was therefore ideally suited as a base, and was subsequently developed into a major military centre. Its importance was demonstrated when the Romans chose it as the intended point of departure for a planned invasion of Ireland, although the plan never came to fruition.
Circa AD 90 the fort was occupied by the Twentieth Legion, and the legionary depot was rebuilt with stone. The Twentieth Legion was involved in campaigns against the Picts in Scotland whilst stationed in Chester, as well as periodically being involved in refurbishment work until the Romans’ departure from Britain in the 5th Century.
Today, visitors to Dewa Roman Experience may immerse themselves in Roman Chester – the fort was excavated in 1991 and visitors can wander through the streets and explore archaeological remains.
The visit begins with a virtual trip on board a Roman galley. There is a museum on site, and visitors can also take part in a number of historical themed activities, such as trying on Roman armour, firing a catapult and creating a mosaic. Additionally there is a soldier patrol, where visitors may experience life as a soldier, preparing for battle and defending a Roman amphitheatre.
Contributed by Chris Reid
Diocletian’s Palace was the place where this great Roman Emperor retired and is now an entire town.
Diocletian’s Palace in Croatia is remarkable in that this Ancient Roman emperor’s home evolved over the years to become an entire town, known as Split.
Diocletian was a Dalmatian-born soldier who reigned as emperor from November 248 AD to May 305 AD. He is considered a great reformer, having restructured the empire’s provinces and reorganised its administrative system. Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Diocletian’s reign was that he was able to retire by choice.
When he retired, the emperor did so at what is now known as Diocletian’s Palace and lived there until his death. He had built Diocletian’s Palace between 293 and 303 AD, not far from the town of his birth, Salona, modern day Solin.
When it was completed, Diocletian’s Palace was an impressive fortified structure with residential and garrisoned wings separated by a road. Diocletian’s Palace was lavish, with several apartments, three temples and the Peristil, which was a ceremonial court. It also housed Diocletian’s mausoleum, an octagonal structure where the emperor was later buried.
After Diocletian’s demise, Diocletian’s Palace continued to be in use until the sixth century, when it and Salona were attacked by the Eurasian Avars. The people of Salona sheltered within the palace walls, which managed to withstand the attack, and continued to live there.
From this point began the slow development of Diocletian’s Palace into a medieval town known as Spalato – now Split. Shops and homes were incorporated into its walls and a city grew in what can be described as a process of organic urbanisation. Unfortunately, Diocletian’s mausoleum no longer exists, it having become St Duje Cathedral in the seventh century. The location of Diocletian’s remains is unknown.
Walking around Split today, it is difficult to know where Diocletian’s Palace ends and the city begins. The two are intricately combined. Some of the more obvious and impressive original ruins include the fortification gates, particularly the Silver Gate, the Temple of Jupiter, the underground passageways and the Peristil. It caters well for the tourist trade with several walking tours of the historical sites.
Diocletian’s Palace and Split have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 and the city is a popular tourist destination.
Dion is an ancient city in Greece which became the religious centre of the Macedonian kingdom and now contains a number of Greek and Roman-era ruins.
Dion is an ancient city in Greece which contains a number of Greek- and Roman-era ruins. Today it operates as an archaeological site and museum.
Very much a place of religious importance, Dion became the religious centre of the Macedonian kingdom in the 5th century BC as well as hosting important games.
In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great offered sacrifices at the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Dion before setting out on his campaign against the Persian Empire. He later donated a magnificent statue to the temple, portraying his fallen cavalry troops who had died at the Battle of Granicus. Heavily damaged by Aetolian invaders in 219BC, the city was rebuilt and survived into the Roman era – indeed the Emperor Augustus founded a Roman colony here in 31BC.
However, as the Empire weakened the threat of barbarian attack combined with natural disasters and slowly the city was abandoned. Though it survived into Byzantine times, there is no reference to ancient Dion after the 10th century AD.
Today Dion Archaeological Site is located just outside the modern town and contains a number of interesting ruins from the Greek and Roman periods. Chief among these are the many Greek temples, including the large Temple of Zeus as well as temples to Demeter, Isis and Asclepius.
The site also contains the remains of a Hellenistic theatre, a partly-preserved 2nd century AD Roman theatre, ancient baths and the ruins of several ancient villas. A later-Roman church can also be found here, probably dating to the 4th or 5th centuries AD. Among Dion’s other treasures is an extremely well preserved Macedonian tomb.
Dion Archaeology Museum operates at the site and contains a fascinating selection of artefacts found within the ruins.
Djemila in Algeria is the site of extensive Roman ruins of a former military base.
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.
Domus Augustana was the palace of Ancient Rome’s emperors on the Palatine Hill.
The Domus Augustana on the Palatine Hill was a magnificent palace used as the residence of Rome’s emperors.
Built by the Emperor Domitian, the incredible remains of the Domus Augustana include a remarkable courtyard with the remnants of a fountain and many of its walls.
The Domus Augustana should not be confused with the nearby House of Augustus, the latter of which was the much more humble home of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus. In fact, Roman emperors were called “Augustus” for over 300 years, which is reflected in the name of the Domus Augustana.
The Domus Romane is an incredible Roman site found underneath the 16th century villa Palazzo Valentini, and located close to Trajan's Forum in the heart of what was once the centre of Imperial Rome.
The Domus Romane is an incredible Roman site found underneath the 16th century villa Palazzo Valentini, and located close to Trajan's Forum in the heart of what was once the centre of Imperial Rome.
This relatively new ancient site opened to the public in 2010 and is located close to Rome’s Piazza Venezia. It contains the remains of a Roman era house - or ‘Domus’ - dating to the imperial era and probably belonging to the wealthier elements of Roman society.
Visitors can explore all aspects of the ancient house, including the structure itself, the various chambers, living areas, bathrooms, kitchens, mosaics and even decorative wall frescoes - with the additional option of seeing it all brought back to life through a virtual journey. As well as the archaeological ruins themselves, the Domus Romane comes alive through a series of sophisticated light shows that recreate what the villas would have looked like. Visitors can also expolore a range of virtual reconstructions, interactive displays and films. A model of the area as it appeared in Roman times showing the various stages of the Domus Romane completes the tour.
Even before the opening of the Roman villa, Palazzo Valentini itself was already an important site in Rome - being the Provincial Council headquarters - and dating back to the end of the 16th century. At the beginning of the 18th century, the palazzo was rented to Prince Ruspoli and his family and, among others, was lived in by the composer George Frideric Handel, of Water Music fame. In 1873, after the palazzo became the property of the Provincial Deputation of Rome, renovation work was carried out and new extensions were added to turn it into the Provincial Council headquarters.
However, it was when excavations were carried out in 2005 that a startling find was revealed, the remains of a 20,000 square-foot, 4th century AD Roman villa complex alongside those of a private thermal bath. It transpired that when Palazzo Valentini was built the 16th century builders filled in the site, unwittingly preserving the villa for prosperity.
Dougga is an impressively well-preserved and UNESCO-listed ancient site in Tunisia.
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.
The remains of the Dover Roman Fort represent all that is left of the ancient Roman fleet base which served the large Roman naval detachment which defended British waters.
The remains of the Dover Roman Fort represent all that is left of the ancient Roman fleet base which served the large Roman naval detachment that defended British waters.
Known as the the Classis Britannica, the Roman British fleet was headquartered here the first half of the second century AD and the large fort built to defend it covered more than two acres. The fort was re-built around 130-140 AD before the entire complex was replaced in 270 AD by a newer ‘Saxon Shore’ fort.
Today very little remains of the Classis Britannica Fort but the ruins can be seen in the grounds of the Dover Discovery Centre, located next to Dover Museum.
Dura Europos was a thriving ancient city in Eastern Syria occupied by a series of civilisations, now represented by well preserved ruins.
Dura Europos was a thriving ancient city in Eastern Syria occupied by a series of civilisations, now represented by well preserved ruins.
It was one of the successor states that emerged after the death of Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Greeks, who founded Dura Europos in 300BC, locating it at the mid-point between their two capitals and overlooking the Euphrates River.
Over the centuries, Dura Europos developed from a caravan settlement into more of a commercial hub. In addition, time would also see this city taken over by a succession of peoples, first the Arsacid Parthians, then the Romans in around 160AD. Dura Europos was finally destroyed in 256AD, attacked by the Sasanid Persian Empire. In a remarkable discovery during the excavations the remains of Roman soldiers were found inside the underground siege tunnels which had been dug by Persian forces intent on undermining the walls.
Part of what made the archaeological discoveries at Dura Europos so impressive was not just their good state of preservation, but their intricate and ornate decorations including frescos and wall paintings. In fact, the site was so well conserved, some have taken to calling it the Syrian Desert’s answer to Pompeii. The majority of these fascinating finds are now on show in museums including the Louvre and the National Museum of Damascus.
Today, the impressive remains of Dura Europos illustrate its cultural and historical diversity. In addition to Greco-Roman ruins including temples, the site is home to the ruins of one of the world’s oldest known synagogues and what has been described as the earliest known church.
Visitors can explore the towering defensive walls and fortifications as well as evidence of the seigeworks which brought down the city. There are also great views to be had from the high cliffs above the Euphrates.
Durnovaria is the original Roman name for what is now the English town of Dorchester.
Durnovaria is the original Roman name for what is now the English town of Dorchester.
Though Dorchester is best known for its Thomas Hardy connections, it remains an interesting town in its own right, having a number of museums dealing with such diverse topics as dinosaurs, Tutenkhamun and military history.
The best Roman ruins in the town are the remains of a Roman townhouse dating from the 1st century CE located on Northernhay behind the Town Hall.
El Jem Amphitheatre is a magnificent UNESCO listed third century site in Tunisia.
El Jem Amphitheatre (El Djem) in Tunisia, also known as Thysdrus Amphitheatre after the original Roman settlement in this location, stands in the midst of a quiet town. This incredibly large and well-preserved Roman amphitheatre is El Jem’s star attraction and draws visitors from around the world.
From the outside, the El Jem Amphitheatre bears a striking resemblance to its older and larger – although not significantly larger – counterpart in Rome, The Colosseum. In fact, with its abundant original characteristics such as its tiered seats, arches and elliptical stone walls, which are intact up to 35 metres in places, many argue that the El Jem Amphitheatre is in better condition that the Colosseum.
Constructed by the Emperor Gordian between 230 and 238 AD, El Jem Amphitheatre was vast and able to accommodate up to 35,000 spectators (some even say up to 60,000). The structure measures 162 metres long and 118 metres wide, making the El Jem Amphitheatre the largest of its kind in North Africa.
Having managed to survive the destruction of the city carried out in 238 AD, the damage which one can see at the El Jem Amphitheatre can be attributed to its stint as a citadel in the seventeenth century. At this time, it was hit by cannon fire and suffered greatly. It was also quarried for its treasures and masonry over the years, yet still remains one of the most evocative Ancient Roman structures in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.
El Jem Amphitheatre features as one of our Top Ten Tunisian Visitor Attractions.
An archaeological site of great national importance, the Greco-Roman ruins at Eleusis are beautifully preserved and steeped in the richness of Greek mythology.
Eleusis archaeological site contains a range of impressive Greco-Roman ruins, steeped in the richness of Greek mythology.
Surrounded on all sides by a thriving modern industrial town, the site of Eleusis is renowned as the home of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a series of annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter and Persephone which ranked among the most sacred religious rites of ancient Greece.
The site was also the birthplace of Aeschylus, a playwright (or ‘tragedian’) who is known as the ‘father of tragedy’ and whose plays are still performed and read.
Today, the Eleusis archaeological site houses a number of important ruins including the Sacred Court, a Roman reproduction of Hadrian’s Arch in Athens and the Kallichoron Well, according to the Homeric Hymn, the resting place of Demeter. There is also a museum located on site which gives more detail on the history of Eleusis and provides further explanation on the myths associated with the site.
The ruins of a Roman military camp built on the remains of a bustling Greek city, Empuries is the only archaeological site on the Iberian Peninsula that boasts such an ancient history.
The site of Empuries in Catalonia contains the remains of an ancient Greco-Roman city and military camp and is one of the oldest of its kind found on the Iberian Peninsula.
The history of Empuries dates back to the early Iron Age, but the remains that can be seen today at the Empuries archaeological site are those of both a Greek trading port and a Roman military camp.
Founded in the sixth century BC by ancient Greek traders from Phocaea, Emporion – as it was originally known – was used by Greek merchants who utilised the advantageous location of its valuable natural harbour. The very name of the city implied its commercial purpose – empurion meaning ‘market’ in ancient Greek.
In 218 BC the Romans took control of Empuries in an attempt to block Carthaginian troops during the Second Punic War. By 195 BC a Roman military camp had been established and over the next century a Roman colony named Emporiae emerged at the site, lasting until the end of the third century AD. However, over time the city waned as the nearby centres of Barcino (Barcelona) and Tarraco (Tarragona) grew. The importance of Empuries dwindled and the city was largely abandoned at this time.
In the eighth century AD the Franks took control of the region, after defeating the Moors, and the area took on an administrative function – becoming capital of the Carolingian county of Empúries. This role remained until the eleventh century, when it was transferred to Castellon. From then on Empuries served as the home of small groups of local fisherman and was largely forgotten.
Today, the archaeological site of Empuries is nestled between the coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries and l’Escala, on the Costa Brava. Remains at the site include the ruins of the Greek market and port, an ancient necropolis as well as the Roman-era walls, mosaics, amphitheatre and early Christian basilica.
The ruins illustrate the rich and diverse history of the city, from holy areas and temples to a statue honouring Jupiter. Many of the finds from Empuries can be seen in the small on-site museum, which contains replicas as well as original items. Artefacts from the site can also be found at the central museum in Barcelona.
The site’s location on the Balearic Sea boasts magnificent views, making it a perfect location to explore history in scenic surroundings.
Empuries is managed by the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya, which looks after other historic sites nearby and on the peninsula.
Contributed by Ros Gammie
Epidaurus was a city of Ancient Greece located on the Greek mainland. Its incredible ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Epidaurus was a major city in Ancient Greece famed as a centre for healing. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Epidaurus thrived as a sanctuary devoted to the healing deities including Apollo, Asklepios and Hygeia and contained hundreds of spas, the remains of many of which can be seen today.
The main sanctuary area, called the Asklepieion, contains two such spas where a variety of healing rituals took place, including hypnosis. This was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. There is also a shrine to Asklepios and the remains of rooms for patients.
Probably the most impressive of the sites at Epidaurus is the fourth century BC theatre, which was built to accommodate approximately 15,000 people and still extremely well preserved.
Whilst most of the sites at Epidaurus were constructed in the fourth and fifth centuries BC, when the city was at its peak, some of them date back as far as the Mycenaean period and others were also adapted later by the Romans. The theatre is one example of such refurbishments.
Overall, Epidaurus is an absolutely vast, fascinating site set over three levels and offering an insight into Ancient Greek life. There is also a nearby Epidaurus Museum, exhibiting artefacts from its excavation. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.
Faro Archaeological Museum has a collection of artefacts including prehistoric, Roman, Moorish and medieval pieces.
Faro Archaeological Museum, also known as the Municipal Museum or Museu Municipal de Faro, has a collection of artefacts ranging from the prehistoric to the medieval including the Moorish.
Most of the collection at the Faro Archaeological Museum is Roman and includes tombstones, mosaics and other pieces found in the region. In addition to these exhibits, Faro Archaeological Museum also has seventeenth and eighteenth century Italian paintings, mostly of a religious nature. This theme is particularly fitting given the location of the museum in the cloisters of Nossa Senhora da Assuncao (Or Lady of the Assumption), a sixteenth century convent.
Fishbourne Roman Palace hosts the remains of a huge Roman palace built in the 1st century AD. Today it operates as a museum and contains information, artefacts and mosaics.
Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex hosts the remains of a huge Roman palace complex which was constructed in the 1st century AD.
Built on the site of a Roman supply compound, Fishbourne Roman Palace was a vast and impressive development which would have been built for the very highest echelons of Romano-British society. It is one of the largest Roman palace complexes to be discovered and is bigger than Buckingham Palace.
Over the next two hundred years Fishbourne Roman Palace was further renovated, including the addition of an array of intricate mosaics, many of which can still be viewed.
In the late third century Fishbourne Roman Palace was struck by fire and there is no evidence that the site was re-built beyond that date. The remains lay lost and forgotten until their discovery in the 1960s.
Today, Fishbourne Roman Palace is run by the charity Sussex Past and is open to tourists and educational groups. Visitors can view audio-visual displays, artefacts and reconstructions of the site as well as viewing the remains of the North Wing, which are protected under a covered enclosure.
There are many extremely well-preserved mosaics in Fishbourne Roman Palace, including the famous Dolphin mosaic.
The site also contains a reconstructed Roman garden, designed and planted according to archaeological and historical evidence, as well as a museum examining Roman horticultural techniques.
Various events and performances are held at Fishbourne Roman Palace throughout the year, with details available on the official website (see links).
The Flavian Amphitheatre is a well preserved first century Roman structure in Pozzuoli.
The Flavian Amphitheatre (Amphitheatre Flavium) in Pozzuoli was constructed during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian, probably in around 70AD.
Vespasian, who was the first Flavian dynasty emperor, built this vast amphitheatre – the third largest in Ancient Rome after those of Rome and Capua – in Pozzuoli as it was at an important crossroad.
Later damaged by ash and rubble from the eruption of the Solfatara volcano, Pozzuoli’s Flavian Amphitheatre lay abandoned and was used as a quarry for its marble. Nevertheless, when it was excavated in the nineteenth century, archaeologists found the Flavian Amphitheatre in a very good state of preservation, with many of its walls and floors intact.
However, one of the key highlights of a trip to the Flavian Amphitheatre is the fact that you can explore the underbelly of this once-thriving stadium and wander through the rooms and chambers below the arena itself. It is even possible to see the quarters in which the gladiators themselves would have prepared for their contests. This amazing set of underground corridors and passageways remains in an excellent state of preservation and gives a genuine glimpse into the amphitheatre's past .
Today, the Flavian Amphitheatre operates as a popular destination for those who visit the (now dormant) Solfatara volcano and the local area.
The Flavian Palace on the Palatine Hill was where Roman emperors held official functions.
The Flavian Palace (Domus Flavian) on Rome’s prestigious Palatine Hill was an Ancient Roman palace built by the Emperor Domitian in the first century AD.
A place where official functions were held, the Flavian Palace was the public counterpart to Domus Augustana, which served as the private home of Rome’s emperors.
The fountains in the courtyard of Flavian Palace are some of its most impressive remains.
Florence Archaeological Museum combines an impressive collection of Etruscan art with Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artefacts.
Florence Archaeological Museum (Museo archeologico nazionale di Firenze) offers a diverse collection of antiquities. The most impressive and comprehensive collection is probably the archaeological museum’s exhibit of Etruscan art which includes the world famous Chimera of Arezzo statue dating back to 400 BC.
Florence Archaeological Museum also exhibits artefacts from Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek times. Its ancient Egyptian collection is of particular importance and has been classed by some as the second most important in Italy after Museo Egizio in Turin. Some of the most celebrated pieces at the Florence Archaeological Museum are the sixth century François Vase and the Ancient Greek Idolino statue.
Florence Cathedral, with its iconic ‘duomo’, is a world famous fifteenth century cathedral.
Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore), often called the “Duomo”, is an iconic site built from September 1296 and consecrated by Pope Eugenius IV on 25 March 1436.
From its lavish use of marble to its status as the fourth largest church in Europe, Florence Cathedral was always intended to be vast and impressive. In fact, its initial designer, Arnolfo di Cambio wanted it to be the world’s largest church of the Roman Catholic faith.
One of the most famous aspects of Florence Cathedral is its dome. Designed by Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi who took inspiration from the engineering style used to build Rome’s Pantheon, it was one of the largest of its day and is tiled in a distinctive orange shade. Visitors who climb the 463 steps of the “Duomo” are rewarded with incredible views of Florence.
Works of Art
Inside Florence Cathedral, the dome is decorated with a fresco known as “The Last Judgement”, initially painted by Vasari, who also contributed to the Palazzo Vecchio, and later finished by Zuccari. Michelangelo’s and Donatello’s works are also represented inside as are copies of Pisano’s works. Despite this, the interior of Florence Cathedral is very austere, almost bare, representing the typical Florentine style of the time.
Adjoining Florence Cathedral is the octagonal Baptistry, believed to be one of the city’s oldest structures and possibly dating back as far as the fourth century. As Florence grew in power and importance, the Baptistry was enlarged and renovated, mostly from the twelfth century onwards. One of the Baptistry’s most celebrated elements are its bronze doors, which depict important Christian events.
Further fascinating aspects of Florence Cathedral are the archaeological findings at the site, including the ruins of Santa Reparata Cathedral, its predecessor. This is contained in the crypt, part of which s open to the public and which also houses the tomb of Brunelleschi.
Guided tours are available. Florence Cathedral is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of historic Florence.
The Forum of Augustus was built by the Roman emperor to celebrate avenging Caesar’s assassins.
The Forum of Augustus or “Foro di Augsto” in Rome was built by its namesake, the emperor Augustus (b. 63 BC – d. AD 14) following the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC.
In this battle, Augustus, together with Mark Anthony, emerged victorious over Cassius and Brutus, the assassins of Julius Caesar.
To celebrate this success, the emperor built the Forum of Augustus and dedicated it to Mars, the god of war. The Forum of Augustus thus had a grand temple in honour of this deity and the columns and steps of the Temple of Mars can still be seen today. The regal statue of Augustus also remains.
The Forum of Caesar was the first of the Imperial Forums built in Ancient Rome.
The Forum of Caesar or “Foro di Cesare” in Rome is one of a series of Imperial Forums built by successive Roman emperors. First commissioned by Julius Caesar in around 54 BC and completed in 46 BC, the Forum of Caesar was the first of these forums and was intended to relieve the already overcrowded Roman Forum.
At the time of the opening of the Forum of Caesar, the famous Roman leader had won a victory over his rival Pompey the Great. A celebration of this victory was constructed at the Forum of Caesar in the form of the Temple of Venus Genetrix. The godess to which the temple was dedicated was the defender of the Julian clan.
Today, the columns and platform of a Temple of Venus Genetrix can be seen at the Forum of Caesar, albeit that this was not the original, but a rebuilt version completed under the emperor Trajan – the original burnt down in 80 AD.
The Forum of Trajan was one of the Imperial Forums of Ancient Rome.
The Forum of Trajan or “Foro di Traiano” in Rome was built by the Emperor Trajan from 107 AD and it was inaugurated in 112 AD. Trajan, who reigned from 98 to 117 AD, built his magnificent Forum of Trajan after emerging victorious from several military campaigns, particularly the conquest of Dacia.
The crowning element of the Forum of Trajan is colonna Traiana or “Trajan's column”. Dedicated in 113 AD yet still incredibly well preserved, this impressive structure comprises a 98 foot column adorned with elaborate friezes chronicling the Dacian Wars down to the very last detail, including the final expulsion of the Dacians from their native soil.
It is worth noting that the statue at the peak of Trajan’s Column is not of the emperor, but of Saint Peter, an addition of Pope Sixtus V in 1587.
Originally, the Forum of Trajan would have contained several buildings, including the two libraries which would have flanked Trajan’s Column. The remains of one of these can still be discerned today near the Foro Imperiale as can some other buildings.
One of the more visible sets of remains belongs to the Basilica Ulpia, an administrative centre, the foundations and some granite columns of which are visible next to Trajan’s Column.
However, it is Trajan’s Markets, the Ancient Roman centre built in the Forum of Trajan, which forms the star attraction. The brick walls of the semi-circular structure of Trajan’s Markets stand in the centre of Rome and, whilst historians once thought that this was the Roman equivalent of a shopping centre, recent evidence suggests it may have played more of a financial or administrative role.
At the moment, only the lower section of the Trajan’s Markets is open to the public, but the whole site can always be viewed from the streets above.
The Garni Temple is a Greco-Roman temple complex probably built in the 1st Century AD by King Tiridates I of Armenia.
The Garni Temple is an impressive looking Greco-Roman temple complex probably built in the 1st century AD by King Tiridates I of Armenia with the support of the Roman Emperor Nero.
Likely dedicated to the ancient deity Mithras, today the Garni Temple lies about 30km to the East of Yerevan and the complex hosts a number of buildings including a royal palace, Roman baths, and a 9th Century church.
Destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, the Garni Temple was partially reconstructed in the 1970s and is now made up of both original and replacement masonry.
This astonishing museum features thousands of square feet of lovingly restored mosaics from the Roman town of Zeugma.
Forming part of the Gaziantep Museum of Archaeology, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum contains a superb collection of lovingly restored mosaics from the ancient Roman town of Zeugma. The museum itself is an impressive modern construction and a great many of the artefacts it features were excavated from ancient Zeugma, which is located about 45km away.
Zeugma was one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire in the East. Originally founded around 300BC by Alexander’s general Seleucus Nicator, the city was a vital military and commercial point across the Euphrates river, with as many as 70,000 people living in the city at its peak. However, a devastating attack in 256AD by Sassanid king Shapur I led to the city’s decline. Though Zeugma remained an important Roman and subsequently Byzantine city well into the 6th century, the mounting pressure on the Empire’s borders led to its eventual abandonment.
The remains of Zeugma are located on the bank of the Euphrates and now lie mostly underwater due to the construction of a number of modern dams. Before the dams were built, great conservation efforts were put in place to preserve the ruins of the city. Everything that could be moved was excavated, not just portable objects but wall paintings, mosaics and frescoes – with many of the finds move to the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. An unimaginable amount of work has gone into removing, restoring and reassembling these mosaics.
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum itself is among the largest mosaic museums in the world, exhibiting thousands of square metres of truly awe inspiring mosaics, originating from the Roman and Byzantine periods. Alongside this there are other excavations including the frescoes, fountains, sculptures and an intimidating bronze statue of the God Mars.
Sadly, the archaeological site from which the artefacts were excavated was subject to looting over the years. Some of the mosaics are therefore incomplete, due to the market for these artefacts which grew after Zeugma’s discovery. The museum today attempts to raise awareness against the looting and trafficking of artefacts such as these.
Despite this, some of the most impressive mosaics in the museum are vast works, depicting famous characters such as Poseidon, Dionysus and Achilles. Indeed, many of the mosaics have grained world renown; the haunting eyes of the “Gypsy Girl” are widely renowned. When in-situ, the mosaics would have adorned the walls of the Hamam (Turkish Bath) and many of the villas of the richer inhabitants of the ancient city. Archaeologists have recreated these decorated rooms, allowing you to get a feel of what they really would have looked like, thousands of years ago.
Contributed by Rebecca Carman
The Getty Villa is a museum dedicated to the ancient world.
The Getty Villa is a museum of Ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan artefacts and works of art.
Located in Pacific Palisades, California, it displays a collection of antiquities from each of these periods in a thematic exploration of ancient life, culture, religion and even war.
The Getty Villa is itself a reconstruction of a typical ancient villa as well as including a reconstructed theatre.
Glanum is an extensive archaeological site of a former Roman settlement near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
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.
Gordion is an ancient Phrygian city which today contains the astounding burial mound said to belong to King Midas.
Gordion, also spelt Gordium, in the modern Turkish village of Yassıhöyük is home to what is popularly said to be the tomb of the famous King Midas. This ancient city was once the capital of the Phrygian Empire, who ruled the region from roughly 1200BC-700BC.
Founded in an important strategic location in what is now central Turkey, Gordion was also famous as the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian Knot – with the legend stating that whomever achieved this feat would become king of all Asia.
Gordion itself saw many rulers and empires through the centuries. After the fall of the Phrygian Empire, Gordion was conquered by the Lydians, the Persian Empire and Alexander’s Macedonians. It later became a Roman city and survived through to the Byzantine era.
Today visitors to Gordian cannot miss the huge burial mound, or Tumulus, associated with Midas. Visitors can enter the mound through a modern tunnel and view information about the site and the remarkably well preserved burial chamber. However, there’s not much scope to explore the burial mound as the chamber itself is only viewable through the entrance bars.
Across the road from the Midas Tumulus is the Gordion Museum which hosts interesting displays of archaeological finds from the area and gives a background and overview of Gordion’s history. The museum also has a number of other items, as well as mosaics and a Hellenistic tomb.
Also worth exploring is the city’s acropolis, which includes the main excavation area and the ancient palace, temples and public buildings of the city. Don’t miss the looming Phrygian-era gate, which still stands over 10m high, at the south-east side of the Acropolis.
Be warned, exploring Gordion can be a hot and taxing experience – take lots of water and a good hat to keep out the sun!
Located in the picturesque Goreme Valley, Goreme’s open air museum is one of the most accessible ways to explore the region's ancient rock-cut churches.
The Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia includes a collection of around 30 ancient churches, and feels about as far from a traditional museum as it’s possible to get.
Easily accessible to visitors, the Goreme valley was the first historical site to be discovered in Cappadocia. The roughly cut rock churches are quite breath-taking; an unsuspecting visitor to the area would find it difficult, on first sight, to ascertain their purpose. It’s a stunning, almost haunting, landscape. The church interiors, particularly those of the Dark Church and the Buckle Church, contain some of the most beautiful and well preserved frescoes of the region.
By the end of the 2nd century AD, the Goreme valley had been transformed into a hub of Christian activity – converts to the new religion had been drawn to the valley’s natural defences as they fled persecution. During the 3rd century, Christianity began to take on a more organised form in the region as priests ‘of good character’ began to transform the area. Indeed, by the 4th century Cappadocia became to be known as the ‘Land of the Three Saints.’ These saints comprised St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Kayseri; his brother, St Gregory of Nyssa; and St George of Nazianzus. St Basil initiated worship within the community, and it was in Goreme that this practice was begun.
The name ‘Goreme’ is actually the fourth name by which it has been known throughout history. The Byzantines named the valley Matiana, and the Armenian Christians named it Macan. The valley was then named Avcilar by the Turks, who then bestowed upon it the name Goreme, meaning ‘unseen’, in honour of the churches of the same name which marked the valley.
Perhaps best described as a collection of monastic complexes, each monastery in the Goreme Open Air Museum contains its own church and there are some notable highlights among the list including the Dark Church, the Snake Church and the Apple Church. The Tokah Church, or ‘Church with the Buckle’ is one of the best preserved of the valley. This church contains an atrium, which was formerly a church itself, and is notable for the striking blue paint that is used in the frescoes that depict various scenes from the life of Christ.
Finally the Dark Church contains some of the most beautiful frescoes in the valley. Recently restored, the frescoes are a mixture of ochre, red and navy blue, which combine to fantastic effect. They portray the life of Christ, as well as the four evangelists.
Probably the most accessible way to view these ancient rock-cut churches, the Goreme Open Air Museum is also therefore quite a bit busier than other similar sights. A virtual tour can be explored here.
Contributed by Chris Reid
Gortyna in Crete was the capital of Crete and Cyrene during the Roman era.
Gortyna or “Gortyn” in Crete was an ancient settlement originally founded in approximately 3000 BC, during the Neolithic era. However, it was during the Roman era, from around the first to the fifth centuries AD, that Gortyna flourished, with a population of up to 100,000 people.
During the Roman period, Gortyna was the capital city of Crete and a number of important temples and buildings were built here, the remains of which can still be seen today. The Temple of Pythian Apollo is a particularly notable ruin, whose outline is identifiable as is its stepped altar.
Gortyna’s former prosperity is evident throughout this site, especially in the inscription of its Gortyn Law Code on the Odeon building, dating back to the sixth century BC and which is the longest of its kind.
Gortyna was also an important Christian site. The ruin of the seventh century Basilica of St Titus marks it as such and is a reminder of the rich history of this site. Destroyed by the Saracens in 824 AD, Gortyna is now an archaeological site.
The Grand Roman Theatre of Lyon dates back to the late first century BC.
The Grand Roman Theatre of Lyon, known as “Théâtre Romain” was constructed in approximately 15BC and was able to seat up to around 10,000 people.
Having been well restored in the early twentieth century, the Grand Roman Theatre of Lyon is one of the oldest structures of its kind and a reminder of Lugdunum, the Gallo-Roman city which would become Lyon. The site was generally abandoned by the third century AD.
Behind the theatre are further ruins, possibly the remains of the Temple of Cybele. The Grand Roman Theatre of Lyon is now used for performances. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lyon.
The Greenhead Roman Army Museum displays a series of artifacts and replicas of Roman military paraphernalia.
The Greenhead Roman Army Museum displays a series of artifacts and replicas of Roman military paraphernalia from weaponry and armour to chariots and wagons.
Some of these objects are derived from the collection of Vindolanda, another Roman site which took over the administration of the museum in 1997.
Other displays at the Greenhead Roman Army Museum include an account of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, under whom Hadrian’s Wall was built, and a reconstructed barracks room.
The Greenhead Roman Army Museum is located next to one of the oldest Roman forts in the area. This fort was known as Magna under the Romans and as Carvoran in the post-Roman era. Very little is known about this fort – it is possible that its purpose was to defend an important road junction nearby.
A visit to the Greenhead Roman Army Museum includes a film about the fort which includes a reconstruction of what it may have looked like.
The Guadalmina Roman Baths are the ruins of a Roman baths complex in Marbella.
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.
Guadiana Bridge in Merida was one of the largest bridges built by the Roman Empire.
Guadiana Bridge in Merida, known locally as Puente Romano, is a large Ancient Roman construct which crosses the Guadiana River. In fact, at a length of almost 800 metres, Guadiana Bridge was one of the biggest bridges known to have been built by the Romans.
The origins of Guadiana Bridge date back to the founding of Merida itself, which occurred in 25BC during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. Merida, then known as Augusta Emerita, became an important city and the capital of Lusitania.
Many of the original features of Guadiana Bridge, including a number of its arches, have been restored and today it is a working pedestrian bridge. Guadiana Bridge is one of several historic sites in Merida which are inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Hadrian’s Gate is an Ancient Roman monument in Antalya built in honour of the Emperor Hadrian.
Hadrian’s Gate is an Ancient Roman monument in Antalya built in honour of the Emperor Hadrian.
Hadrian was one of the most famous and important Roman Emperor's and ruled from 117 - 138 AD. He famously travelled far and wide across his empire, and spent far more time in the provinces than most of his predecessors.
Comprised of three arches, Hadrian’s Gate probably dates back to around 130AD, when the emperor himself visited Antalya.
Built by the Emperor Hadrian, this ancient library originally housed over 17,000 books, scrolls, documents and papyri. The ruins of the site were opened to the public in 2004.
The ruins of Hadrian’s Library in Athens are all that remain of this important centre of ancient learning, which was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian between 125 and 132 AD.
Hadrian was a great admirer of Greek culture and constructed a number of significant buildings in Athens, including this grand library. In its heyday, it would have housed over 17,000 books, scrolls, documents and papyri.
Destroyed by the Herulae in 267 AD it was later repaired before being damaged again during the later barbarian invasions. During the Byzantine era a series of churches were built on the site and further renovation was carried out in the Ottoman period. After suffering this continual series of damage, reconstruction and alteration, the site was excavated, studied and opened to the public in 2004.
The most impressive of the ruins are the great Corinthian columns on the well-preserved outer wall, and the impressive portico which served as the entrance to the courtyard.
Hadrian’s Villa, or Villa Adriana, is perhaps the best-preserved Roman villa complex in the world. The site covers almost 250 acres and consists of over 30 buildings and a number of other points of interest.
Hadrian’s Villa, or Villa Adriana, is perhaps the best-preserved Roman villa complex in the world. Built in the early 2nd century, the villa was the central hub of power in the Roman world for the latter years of Emperor Hadrian’s reign.
Hadrian’s Villa covers almost 250 acres and consists of over 30 buildings and a number of other points of interest. It includes a large colonnaded swimming pool, libraries, the Palestra and the famous Maritime Theatre. Most intriguing of all are the remains of the Emperor’s small island retreat – including his personal toilet – which served as Hadrian’s private escape from the stress of Imperial life.
Not the easiest site to access, and not among the most famous of Rome’s attractions, Hadrian’s Villa is nevertheless a startling tribute to the power of the Roman Empire and the magnificence that could be brought to bear by its leaders.
Be warned, to fully explore Hadrian’s Villa will take you at least three hours and can be quite physically strenuous in the summer heat, so make sure you take plenty to drink.
Hadrian’s Wall is a magnificent remnant of Roman Britain and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hadrian’s Wall is a magnificent remnant of Roman Britain and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Built under the rule of Roman Emperor Hadrian between 122 and 130 AD, it took six legions to complete this once 73 mile wall – 80 miles by Roman measurements. At the time of its completion, Hadrian’s Wall would have been between 13 and 15 feet high, made of stone and turf and would have stretched east to west from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth.
The purpose of Hadrian’s Wall was once thought to have been as a fortification to keep out the Scots, but today historians believe it was a way of monitoring movement between the north and south in an attempt to consolidate the Empire.
Large sections of Hadrian’s Wall remain intact in northern England and these are surrounded by various Roman monuments, forts and other ruins. There are several ways to visit all of these sections and sites, notably as part of the National Trail, which is a signposted walk, by bus, by bicycle and via tour groups. The 15 metre section pictured above is known as Planetrees and is quite central along the trail.
Other key sites along the Hadrian's Wall trail include Corbridge Roman Town, Chesters Roman Fort, Arbeia Roman Fort, Birdoswald Roman Fort, Vindolanda, Segedunum Roman Fort and Housesteads Roman Fort.
This site features as one of our Top Ten tourist Attractions in the United Kingdom. To view the all the Hadrian's Wall sites on a map click here.
Hagia Sophia is a world famous sixth century church turned mosque in Istanbul.
The Hagia Sophia, or ‘Ayasofya’ in Turkish, is a world famous sixth century church turned mosque in Istanbul, which now operates as a museum.
Whilst the original Hagia Sofia was built in the fourth century AD by Constantine the Great, very little remains of this structure nor the one built after it in the fifth century. The current building dates back to between 532 and 537 AD, during which time it was constructed under the order of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
The architects Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles designed the Hagia Sophia in the Byzantine style, with typical features such as its impressive dome, and Hagia Sophia served as a central religious home for the Eastern Orthodox Church. The building was converted to a mosque in 1453 under the orders of Sultan Mehmed II when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and thus it remained until 1935, when it became a museum.
However, it was during its time as a mosque that several dominant architectural features were added, such as the minarets at each of its four corners and the mihrab. Visitors to Hagia Sophia can view remnants of the first two Hagias Sophias as well as touring the current building with its stunning mosaics and ornate Muslim altars and chapels.
Outside, cannonballs used by Mehmet the Conqueror during his invasion of the city line the paths and there is an eighteenth century fountain for ritual ablutions. Hagia Sophia is a beautiful mixture of Muslim and Christian influences and architecture, including the Byzantine mosaics, which can only really be seen in the higher galleries for a further fee. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.
Haidra contains the remains of the Roman city of Ammaedara and includes a number of interesting ruins including the large Byzantine fort and underground Roman baths.
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.
Hatay Museum in Antakya explores the history of the famous ancient city of Antioch. Among a host of other artefacts is a collection of exquisite Roman mosaics.
Hatay Museum in Antakya, Turkey, is a fascinating institution dedicated to the history of the famous ancient city of Antioch.
Antioch is now known as Antakya, in the province of Hatay, which borders on Syria. The ancient city was the capital of the historic Kingdom of Hatay, and, along with Rome, Constantinople and Alexandria, was one of the pre-eminent centres of the Roman Empire. Its history is fascinating, notably as an important conduit in the spread of Christianity – St. Peter and St. Paul both stayed in the city - but it also played host other notables of the day, such as Anthony and Cleopatra.
Founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, it was eventually conquered by the Romans in 64BC and became an important Roman city. At its peak, Antioch contained approximately 500,000 inhabitants. The city was an important centre for early Christianity, indeed, the name ‘Christianity’ itself is said to have originated in Antioch, from the local word ‘Cristianos.’ Both Saint Peter – who established a church in the city – and St. Paul, who preached there – were onetime residents. Although initially persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian, Christians in the city were able to flourish later under the rule of the Emperor Constantine.
The Persians conquered Antioch in the 6th century, but it was retaken by Emperor Justinian shortly after. Antioch fell into Arab hands in the 7th century, remaining there until the Byzantines captured the city circa AD 1000. Over the next centuries the city became a strategically important prize during the Crusades, was captured by the Mamluks and was eventually incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.
Hatay Museum itself - also known as the Antakya Archaeological Museum - was founded on the instruction of the French archaeologist Monsieur Prost, as a result of the successful excavations that had begun in 1932. The excavations had unearthed numerous beautiful artefacts, ancient art – in particular Roman mosaics – as well as historical documents, stretching as far back as the Palaeolithic Age. Antioch was conquered and re-conquered a number of times over the centuries, which explains the array of different artefacts in the museum. The magnificent collection is located across seven different rooms and two halls, and is ordered according the locations in which the artefacts were found.
Construction of Hatay Museum was completed in 1938, and is perhaps best known for housing a number of famous Roman mosaics, in particular the Megalopyschia (‘greatness of soul’) Hunt. This mosaic is an important historic discovery, as the border portrays a number of landmarks from Antioch and Daphne (where the mosaic was discovered) as well as daily activities of the time. The mosaics occupy the first four rooms, and depict mostly mythical scenes.
Other notable mosaics depict the Boat of Pysches, Narcissus and Echo, and although incomplete, perhaps one of the finest mosaics of the museum, Oceanus and Thetis. Artefacts can be found from the Hittite and Byzantine period, as well as beautifully crafted Assyrian and Roman statuettes. Unfortunately the vast majority of building structures from ancient Antioch no longer survive, which adds to the importance of the mosaics, as an historical record of the city.
Contributed by Chris Reid
Heraklea Linkestis is an archaeological site in Bitola in Macedonia which was once an ancient Roman settlement.
Heraklea Linkestis, also known as just Heraklea, is believed to have been founded by King Philip II of Macedon in around the fourth century BC, before being conquered by the Romans in approximately the second century BC.
Located along the important trade route of Via Egnatia, Heraklea Linkestis thrived as a commercial hub. Well-preserved remains of this once thriving settlement can now be seen at the site, including a theatre and baths as well as a Jewish temple and a church. One of the most celebrated aspects of Heraklea Linkestis is its series of vivid mosaics.
Hierapolis was once a thriving, multicultural ancient city and spa, the remains of which can now be seen in modern day Turkey.
Hierapolis was once a thriving, multicultural ancient city and spa, the remains of which can now be seen in modern day Turkey.
It is said to have been founded by the rulers of Pergamum, the Attalid Dynasty, and is usually attributed to their King Eumenes II (197BC-159BC). However, it is thought by many that Hierapolis was actually in existence a couple of centuries earlier.
Whatever the case, part of what made - and still makes - Hierapolis such an attractive site were its hot springs, once thought to have had miraculous healing properties. Visitors would travel to Hierapolis to dip in them, something which visitors still do today.
Most of the ruins at Hierapolis date from the Roman period. The Romans occupied Hierapolis in 129AD and the city grew into something of a multicultural haven, with Romans, Jews, Greco-Macedonians and others living there side by side. Of course, Hierapolis was not a complete utopia. In fact, it is said that Philip the Apostle was crucified there and the city suffered from earthquakes, particularly in the first century AD.
There’s plenty to see at Hierapolis today, including its theatre, Hellenistic layout and streets, many standing columns, the nymphaeum and a large necropolis to name a few sites. As mentioned above, visitors can also take a dip in the hot springs, a unique experience.
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hierapolis is paired with the stunning natural site of Pamukkale, known as the Cotton Palace, which is nearby.
Histria was occupied by the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines and is thought to be the oldest settlement in Romania.
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.
Hod Hill is one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in Dorset.
Hod Hill is an Iron Age hillfort and one of the largest of its kind in Dorset. With its imposing size and ramparts, Hod Hill would have defended a village.
In 44 AD, it is likely to have been captured by the Romans during their invasion of Britain. The Roman Second Legion, led by the future emperor Vespasian, was sent to subdue the region and captured a number of hill forts in the area.
Evidence of Roman occupation of Hod Hill can be seen at the site in the form of the remains of a Roman fort.
The Horreum in Narbonne in France are a series of first century underground tunnels.
The Horreum in Narbonne, France dated back to the first century BC and are a network of subterranean tunnel and passageways which were thought to have been used as storage rooms during the Roman era.
These unique underground tunnels would once have formed part of the city of Narbo Martius, which was the capital of the Narbonne region during Roman times.
It is believed these tunnels were used as the storage area for the local market and today the site boasts a sound and light show which is designed to replicate the atmosphere of such an ancient marketplace.
Housesteads Roman Fort is one of the best preserved and most important of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.
Housesteads Roman Fort, originally known as 'Vercovicium', is one of the best preserved and most important of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.
Built in around 124 AD, Housesteads Roman Fort housed around 1,000 troops and remained in use until the fourth century.
Visitors to Housesteads Roman Fort can see the various stages of architecture of this Roman fortification including the well-preserved remains of its four gates and curtain wall, a hospital, latrines and, of course, a section of Hadrian’s Wall.
Managed by English Heritage, Housesteads Roman Fort also has a museum with a model showing how this imposing site would have looked in its prime.
The Hungarian National Museum is a museum of history, archaeology and art in Budapest.
The Hungarian National Museum exhibits a comprehensive collection of historic artefacts, documents and works of art. Its collections is incredibly diverse, ranging from bone tools from the Palaeolithic era to 45,000 twentieth century posters relating to significant political, social and cultural events.One of the main sections of the Hungarian National Museum is its archaeological department, which is divided according to time periods.
Amongst the myriad of exhibits overseen by this department, they cover the Paleolithic era, the migration period of the early Middle Ages and the Middle Ages generally and the Hungarian Conquest.
The Hungarian National Museum also houses an impressive Roman collection containing 65,000 artefacts including an incredibly large mosaic from Balácapuszta dating back to the third century - though they aren't all on display at any one time. The Roman collection also includes Roman gravestones, sculptures, milestones and stautes of Roman gods
A particularly interesting aspect of the Hungarian National Museum is its Zalavár collection, made up of grave and cemetery finds, mostly from the ninth century. It also has almost 80,000 archaeological animal bones, some dating back to the Palaeolithic era.
The Hungarian National Museum covers an extensive number of time periods and exhibits pieces from throughout the historical and global spectrum. There is quite a lot to see, but themed audio guides are available to rent, offering a structured tour.
An abridged audio guide can be downloaded from the Hungarian National Museum website whilst the full versions are available on site. Alternatively, you can either plan your route in advance or book a guided tour. Guided tours of the Hungarian National Museum are available in a variety of languages and themes, but should be booked at least a week in advance.
The Imperial Baths of Trier are some of the largest and best preserved Ancient Roman baths outside of Rome.
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.
The Istanbul Mosaic Museum contains the amazing remains of mosaics excavated the Great Palace of Constantinople built during the Byzantine period.
The Istanbul Mosaic Museum, located near Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, contains the amazing remains of mosaics excavated from the courtyard of the Great Palace of Constantinople.
First discovered in 1933 and later fully excavated in the 1950s, the mosaic floors were found under the modern Arasta Bazaar and now form the core of the Istanbul Mosaic Museum. The floor was originally part of a peristyle courtyard in the Great Palace and is one of the very few elements of this Byzantine palace to have survived. The mosaics themselves were probably commissioned under Justinian I during his major renovations of the palace in the 6th century.
The museum itself is on the northern side of the courtyard ruins and houses mosaics that made up the pavements outside the original palace as well as the floor of the courtyard. The original mosaic is believed to have been far larger than the remnants on display, and it is thought much of this ancient treasure remains hidden beneath the surrounding buildings.
The Great Palace mosaics that make up the museum have been dated between 450 and 550 AD and depict scenes from daily life, hunting nature and mythology rather than religious figures. Visitors can walk around and above the excavated mosaics and read detailed information points which describe the content and history of each mosaic section.
Located next to Sultanahmet Square, Hagia Sophia and the Boukoleon Palace, the Istanbul Mosaic Museum is in the heart of Istanbul’s historical district, within easy walking distance from all the famous sights of the city.
Contributed by Isabelle Moore
Itálica was the birthplace of more than one Roman emperor and includes some impressive ruins.
Itálica near Seville was an impressive city and the hometown of Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian. It would have been a vital hub in its time, both politically and in terms of military strategy. Today it is a fascinating archaeological site.
Established in 206 BC, Itálica was initially founded under the auspices of General Publius Cornelius Scipio following a victory at the Battle of Ilipa. The site was already home to a Turdetanian community, but in time it became first a town, then acquiring municipal status under Hadrian.
At its peak, Itálica would have been an imposing place, the evidence of which can still be seen today. Its size alone, some 60 hectares is impressive alone. Visitors to Itálica can appreciate its broad streets, the remains of its large amphitheatre as well as houses and public buildings including various mosaics and gardens.
The Jardin des Vestiges is an archaeological site in Marseilles with ancient Greek and Roman remains.
The Jardin des Vestiges is an archaeological site in Marseille housing the remains of this city’s ancient Greek then Roman port.
Discovered during building works carried out in the 1960’s, the ruins of Jardin des Vestiges have been excavated and include large sections of walls, gates and the remnants of warehouses and the general infrastructure of the old port.
Periods of time intermingle from the ancient to the medieval, with the earliest find dating back to 600 BC. There are trilingual panels at the site (in English, French and Italian), which make understanding the different ruins a more accessible experience.
Many of the finds excavated at Jardin des Vestiges, such as the remains of a third century AD ship, can now be seen at the adjacent Marseille History Museum. A visit to one usually includes the other, particularly as the entry fee is for both.
Jerash in Jordan was once a thriving Roman city and is one of the world’s best preserved and most impressive set of Roman ruins.
Jerash or Jarash, is one of the world’s best preserved ancient Roman sites. Once known as Gerasa, Jerash is believed to have been inhabited since the Neolithic Era. However, it is the impressive Roman city built in Jerash which has left its greatest mark on the area, becoming Jordan’s second most popular tourist site after Petra.
Jerash formed part of the Roman province of Syria following General Pompey’s conquest of the region in 64 BC. It later became one of the ten cities of the Decapolis league, flourishing and growing wealthier over two centuries of Roman rule. During this time, Jerash underwent several rounds of reconstruction, much of it occurring in the first century AD. One such occasion was in 129 AD, following a visit by the Emperor Hadrian. It was after this visit that Hadrian's Arch or the ‘Triumphal Arch’ was built, the ruins of which can still be seen in the southern part of Jerash outside the archeological park itself.
By the third century AD, Jerash had reached its peak as a thriving centre of trade with a population of up to 20,000 people. In fact, Jerash was even awarded the status of being a colony. However, this success was soon followed by Jerash’s slow downfall.
Several events over the next centuries, including the destruction of Palmyra in 273 AD, pillaging of its temples to build Christian churches under the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century and the Muslim conquest of the region in the seventh century all contributed to the decline of Jerash. This was further exacerbated by an earthquake in 747 AD. In fact, notwithstanding a brief twelfth century occupation by Crusaders, Jerash had fallen and lay deserted by the thirteenth century.
Today, tourists flock to see Jerash’s extensive and impressive ruins, including the Temple of Artemis and the Forum with its large ionic columns. Jerash’s original main street, the Cardo, runs through the centre of the site and, with its visible chariot marks and underground drainage system, is fascinating in its own right.
Other must-see aspects of Jerash include its still-functioning 3,000 seat South Theatre built between 90-92AD during the reign of Emperor Domitian, its second century AD North Theatre and its Nymphaeum fountain. Visitors can also see many of the artifacts found during the excavation of this site at the Jerash Archeological Museum.
Kasserine was an ancient Roman settlement known as Cillium, the remains of which can be seen today.
Kasserine, also known as Cillium, is a city in central Tunisia with several Ancient Roman monuments and ruins.
Founded in approximately the second century AD, Kasserine became a Roman colonia known as Colonia Cillilana or just Cillium.
Just west of the main city of Kasserine, visitors can see the remains of this city, including a large ancient theatre which is carved out of the hillside, a triumphal arch and several fallen columns.
Set slightly further away from the rest of the ancient ruins, and just off the main road, is the impressive Mausoleum of the Flavii, a huge looming three-story tower-mausoleum.
Cillium is a quiet site with few people making the effort to visit the remains, particularly given the proximity of better-preserved Roman sites, such as Sbeïtla, nearby.
Kaunos contains the remains of an ancient Carian city and includes a host of Hellenic, Roman and Byzantine remains – particularly its impressive theatre.
Kaunos archaeological site in Turkey contains the remains of this ancient city which has witnessed the rise and fall of several empires, cultures and civilisations over almost 3,000 years of history. Though not as spectacular as many ancient cities in Turkey, it has the advantage of being quieter, tranquil and picturesque.
Founded around the 9th century BC, Kaunos was a Carian city and an important trading port which bordered Lycia and was culturally influenced by its neighbour. Later conquered by the Persian Empire, the city was also altered by the increasing influence of Hellenic culture in the region leading to many ancient Greek-era structures, the ruins of which can still be found in places within the site.
As with the rest of the locality, Kaunos was incorporated into the Roman Empire and later was part of the Byzantine territories. With the Muslim invasions and later the rise of the Ottoman Empire, Kaunos was re-fortified and walls were constructed on the Acropolis.
Ancient writers attested the Malarial nature of Kaunos and it was this, along with earthquakes and the gradual silting of its harbour, which eventually led to the city’s abandonment.
Today, the ruins at Kaunos include a well preserved theatre, which displays both Roman and Hellenistic features, a temple dedicated to Apollo, a Byzantine basilica and Roman baths as well as the spectacular rock tombs - known as the Kings' Tombs - which are situated just outside the archaeological site.
Just to the north-west of the main settlement are the 4th century BC city walls which stretch for 3km – in places they are very well preserved.
Excavations at the site are still continuing and may lead to further areas being opened to the public at a later date.
Contributed by Victoria Haughton
Kaymaklı Underground City is a large subterranean city in central Turkey built by early Christians and part of a UNESCO site.
Kaymaklı Underground City is one of the most famous of the Cappadocia underground cities in the Nevsehir province of central Turkey. Built by early Christians to protect them from religious persecution, Kaymaklı Underground City is an elaborate labyrinth of tunnels and caves and is probably the widest of the underground cities.
Like all of these underground cities, the most impressive aspect of the Kaymaklı Underground City is the organised, structured and comprehensive nature of the complex. It had everything from living space, stables and communal kitchens to a church and a graveyard as well as being well fortified to protect its inhabitants. The Kaymaklı Underground City also has an inordinate number of storage rooms.
Kaymaklı Underground City is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is unclear when the city was actually constructed, but the earliest Christians were living in the area from the 4th century. Incredibly well-preserved and maintained, this is a fascinating site to visit and the tour takes around 2 hours.
Kerameikos was the site of an important ancient burial ground.
Kerameikos is an archaeological site in Athens which contains the remains an important ancient burial ground as well as a series of famous monuments.
Once home to the city’s potters - hence its name meaning pottery - Kerameikos developed to also become the site of a cemetery. In fact, some of the oldest graves found at Kerameikos date back to as far as the third millennium BC. It would serve this function for centuries, including under the Romans up to the sixth century AD.
Yet, in addition to the burial aspects of Kerameikos, such as the Street of Tombs where prominent figures were laid to rest, the site also contains remnants of the entrance to ancient Athens. Visitors can see the ruins of what was the city wall, including the Sacred Gate and the Dipylon Gate. It is also where the Panathenaic procession - a great ancient Athenian festival - began its route. The ruins of the staging area for this procession - the Pompeion - can be found at Kerameikos.
To see finds from the site, such as vases, visit the Kerameikos Museum.
Kinneil Estate is a fantastic historic site, centred around the 15th century Kinneil House. Also at the site are a Roman fortlet, the ruins of a medieval church, a museum and the cottage of inventor James Watt.
Kinneil House and Museum, part of the Kinneil Estate, has a rich history spanning almost 2,000 years.
The Kinneil Estate holds a wealth of historic sites, including a Roman fortlet - part of the Antonine Wall - the ruins of a medieval church, a cottage belonging to inventor James Watt and Kinneil House and Museum.
The Kinneil Museum is a good place to start your visit to the Kinneil Estate. Housed in the stables of Kinneil House, the museum details the history of the site, hosts a number of artefacts from the estate – some dating back to Roman times – and also includes an audio visual show.
Kinneil Roman Fort
Forming part of the Antonine Wall, Kinneil Roman Fort was one of the mile-castles built to protect the borders of the Roman Empire. Visitors can view part of the roadway and a partial reconstruction of the line of the wall. A number of artefacts from the site can be viewed in Kinneil Museum. Kinneil Roman Fort is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.
Kinneil House itself dates back to the 15th century and is open on selected days throughout the year (check official website for dates or contact Kinneil Museum). This historic house was the home of the Dukes of Hamilton and contains a wealth of interesting sights, including a number of rare renaissance wall paintings.
Just a short walk from Kinneil House and Museum lie the ruins of the 12th century Kinneil Church. Abandoned in the 17th century, Kinneil Church was also partially destroyed by fire leaving just the western gable and historic graveyard. The church bell can be seen in Kinneil Museum.
James Watt’s Cottage
James Watt’s Cottage, at the rear of Kinneil House, is the site where famous inventor James Watt worked to develop the steam engine. Watt was under the patronage of industrialist John Roebuck who lived in Kinneil House.
A visit to Kinneil Estate is also not complete without taking the opportunity to explore the surrounding parks, woodlands and ponds. You'll find more information on the Kinneil website - www.kinneil.org.uk.
The Kom Ombo Temple is a sacred Ptolemaic temple co-dedicated to the crocodile deity Sobek and to the falcon-headed Haroeris.
The Kom Ombo Temple is a sacred Ptolemaic temple co-dedicated to the crocodile deity Sobek and to the falcon-headed Haroeris. This dual-dedication is quite atypical and is - equally unusually - reflected in the symmetrical design of the Kom Ombo Temple.
Built under Ptolemy VI of the Ptolemaic Dynasty in the second century BC, the Kom Ombo Temple was added to under the Romans.
Despite being damaged by earthquakes and other things over the centuries, the Kom Ombo Temple is still impressive and has much to see including a range of religious carvings as well as those depicting day-to-day scenes, a sacred well and many a mummified crocodile.
Kourion is an impressive archaeological site in Cyprus containing mostly Ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins.
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.
Amazingly well preserved ancient storage tanks, these cisterns supplied water to the ancient city of Carthage and, though slightly off the beaten track, are well worth a visit.
La Malga Cisterns are vast ancient storage tanks used to supply water to the ancient city of Carthage.
An aqueduct system - the Zaghouan Aqueduct - that ran for over 100km brought water to the ancient metropolis and the Malga Cisterns were used to store that water and then run it through to the city and to supply the Antonine Baths.
Converted for other uses - such as stable blocks - after the fall of Rome, the Malga Cisterns have survived remarkably well and are certainly one of the more interesting Roman sites to explore.
La Malga Cisterns features as one of our Top Visitor Attractions of Tunisia.
La Olmeda Roman Villa is a well-preserved fourth century AD Roman home in Palencia in Spain.
La Olmeda Roman Villa (Villa Romana de La Olmeda) is a well-preserved fourth century AD Roman home in Palencia in Spain.
Spanning 3,000 square metres and comprised of 27 rooms, La Olmeda Roman Villa is best known for its mosaics, the most important of which depict great mythological scenes and can be found in its main hall. Several of the rooms in Olmeda Roman Villa also still contain the remains of the Roman under floor heating systems known as hypocausts.
In addition to the main building, the Olmeda Roman Villa site is surrounded by other Roman ruins such as numerous burial sites and a set of thermal baths.
Laodikeia was an Ancient Greek then Roman city, which is now represented by a set of ruins.
Laodikeia, also known as Laodicea, was an Ancient Greek then Roman city, which is now represented by a set of interesting ancient ruins.
Said by some to have been founded by Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid Kingdom in the third century BC, many of the buildings and monuments at the Laodikeia site date from the first century BC onwards. Laodikeia later became an important Roman city, continuing to be inhabited even after it was damaged by an earthquake in 60AD.
Among the ruins of Laodikeia are the remains of the ancient theatre, which would originally have held up to 20,000 spectators. A few of the other ruins which can still be seen include the stadium and gymnasium (both 79AD), a baths complex and a Temple of Zeus.
Lapidaire Museum is a museum of Ancient Roman artefacts in Narbonne, France.
Lapidaire Museum (Musee Lapidaire) is an archaeological museum in Narbonne, southern France which contains around 1,300 Ancient Roman exhibits.
From ancient wall fragments to tomb remains and Roman gravestones, Musee Lapidaire’s impressive displays showcase Narbonne’s Gallo-Roman history.
Lapidaire Museum is housed in the gothic church of Eglise Notre-Dame.
Leptis Magna was once one of the most important African cities of the Roman Empire and is now an impressive archaeological site in Tripoli.
Leptis Magna (Lepcis Magna) is an incredibly well preserved archaeological site in Tripoli, Libya. Originally founded by the Phoenicians as the port of Lpgy in the first millennium BC, Leptis Magna later became part of the Carthaginian Empire and was then incorporated into the Roman Empire in 46 BC.
Most of the remaining structures now found at the site of Leptis Magna are indeed Roman and originate from the reign of Septimius Severus. Emperor of Rome from 193 AD, Severus was born in Leptis Magna and, as such, he invested heavily in developing his home city, transforming it into one of the most important of Africa’s Roman cities. Leptis Magna became a beautiful place and a marvel of Severan planning.
Among the many remains found in Severus' home city, the marketplace, Severan Basilica, the Forum, the Amphitheatre and the Severan Arch represent some of the best preserved Roman sites in the Mediterranean. These sites remain visible at the site despite the various invasions that befell Leptis Magna from the fourth century onwards, finally falling to the Hilalians in the eleventh century. Today, Leptis Magna is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Check the official advice of your country’s foreign office before considering travelling to Libya.
Les Alyscamps was a Roman necropolis which now houses a collection of crowded medieval sarcophagi.
Les Alyscamps in the town of Arles in Provence is a site imbued with historical and religious importance. Originally an Ancient Roman necropolis where prominent figures were laid to rest, most of the thousands of strewn sarcophagi which crowd together in Les Alyscamps actually date back to medieval times.
From the fourth to the twelfth century, Les Alyscamps was a prestigious Christian burial ground, with several bishops having been buried there as well as Saint Genesius. The eleventh century saw the construction of St. Honorat Priory by Les Alyscamps, as a result of which it became a part of the famous Santiago de Compostela route. This was a Christian pilgrimage to the church of Santiago de Compostela in Spain which travelled through France.
Today, visitors can walk through the site to see its many tombs and gravestones, most of which are in a fairly poor state, but which together form a hauntingly pretty sight. To see the better preserved of these tombs, go to Arles Archaeological Museum. Les Alyscamps is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage listing of Arles.
Leukaspis was a thriving Greco-Roman port and city founded in the second century BC. Today, it has been excavated as the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site.
Leukaspis (Locassis) was a thriving Greco-Roman port and city founded in the second century BC and which grew to a population of 15,000 residents at its peak. Also known as Antiphrae, Leukaspis was a commercial hub of the Mediterranean olive, wine and wheat industries, conducting trade both inland and overseas.
In 365AD, Leukaspis was utterly devastated by a tsunami, an after effect of an earthquake in Crete.
Unfortunately, extensive development of the area around Leukaspis has meant that much of the former port has been lost. However, parts of Leukaspis have been carefully excavated and form the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site.
Amongst the ruins at the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site are the remains of villas, baths, a theatre, a necropolis (burial site) and an agora (town square/marketplace). One of the main buildings to be seen is a basilica, which began as a public hall and then became a church following the rise of Christianity.
The Lisbon Roman Theatre Museum exhibits finds from the excavations of Lisbon’s first century AD Roman Theatre.
The Lisbon Roman Theatre Museum (Museu do Teatro Romano) encloses the ancient theatre of Lisbon as well as exhibits and finds from the excavations of city’s first century AD Roman Theatre.
Whilst not very large, the Lisbon Roman Theatre Museum is modern and bright. The main attractions are the remains of the theatre itself as well as the columns and sculptures uncovered at the archaeological site.
Lisbon’s Roman Theatre is thought to have been built during the time of Augustus and to have been rebuilt or renovated under Nero in around 57 AD, in accordance with an inscription found there in the eighteenth century. At its peak it was probably able to hold around 5,000 spectators.
Abandoned in the fourth century AD and covered by the rubble of the 1755 earthquake, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that proper excavations of the Roman Theatre of Lisbon began.
The London Roman Amphitheatre was built in the first century AD and is the only one of its kind in the city.
The London Roman Amphitheatre was discovered in 1988 and remains the only known Roman amphitheatre in the city. Believed to have first been built in 74 AD, the London Roman Amphitheatre was probably extensively renovated in the second century, in around 120 AD.
At its peak, the London Roman Amphitheatre would have been able to seat up to 6,000 spectators and would probably have hosted brutal gladiatorial matches. At this time, London - then Londinium - had a population of some 20,000 to 30,000 people.
Today, visitors can see the remains of some of the walls of London Roman Amphitheatre, some original wooden drains and two small chambers which might have functioned as the waiting rooms for the gladiators or even the wild beasts that performed in the arena.
Once a month, the curator of the London Roman Amphitheatre hosts a guided tour of the site. Otherwise, it is part of the Guildhall Art Gallery and entry to the site is included in the gallery ticket.
The London Roman Fort was a second century fort which housed Roman Londinium’s soldiers.
The London Roman Fort was built in around 120 AD - around the same time as Hadrian’s Wall - to house the soldiers of Roman Britain’s most important town of the time, Londinium.
Covering around 12 acres in its heyday, the London Roman Fort would have been a square complex similar in architecture - but around three times the size of - forts such as those of Housesteads and Chester. It was probably home to around 1,000 soldiers.
The pin on the map shows the section of the London Roman Fort found on Noble Street, which would have been its southwest corner. Other parts of the fort are contained underground, notably in an underground car park nearby.
For information, ask the Museum of London, which also hosts tours of this site.
The London Roman Wall was built in around the third century AD and parts of it can be seen today.
The London Roman Wall was built between around 190 and 220 AD and stretched for about three miles from Blackfriars to Tower Hill. This defensive wall protected what was then the important Roman city of Londinium.
Prior to the building of the London Roman Wall, Londinium already had a fort, parts of which were now incorporated into the new wall.
Over the centuries, most of the London Roman Wall has been obscured by medieval additions and other development. However, there are some well-preserved parts which can still be seen today. The map highlights one of the more prominent remaining sections of the London Roman Wall, that at Tower Hill.
The Museum of London has more information on the London Roman Wall.
The preserved ruins of Ancient Rome’s largest and most prestigious gladiator training school, located next to the Colosseum in central Rome.
The Ludus Magnus was ancient Rome’s largest and most prestigious gladiator training school, located right alongside the famous Roman Colosseum.
Originally built between 81-96AD by Emperor Domitian, it was used as a training school for the gladiators who were to fight in the Colosseum. It was later rebuilt by Emperor Trajan between 98-117 AD, and it is from this period that the visible ruins we can see today are attributed.
Often forgotten and overshadowed, both literally and figuratively, by the impressive Colosseum, the Ludus Magnus has a rich history. Discovered in 1937, the complex was originally made up of a central training arena, a few stands for limited spectators and barracks & storage rooms for equipment. There was also a tunnel that would have run between the underground chambers of the amphitheatre and the training centre, making travel between the two speedy for the next round of gladiators.
Still visible today are the foundations of the spectator stands, gladiator barracks and one side of the arena itself. Visitors can view the cells gladiators would have been held in and the water fountains they would have drunk from before and after they trained, one of these four has been restored in the northwest corner.
The ruins of the Ludus Magnus are easily accessible from Via San Giovanni, which runs parallel to Via Labicana, the wide roman road that runs from the Colosseum down to Basilica di San Clemente, making this a perfect stop on a walking tour of Rome’s best sights.
Visitors can peer down into the ruins from the pavement of Via San Giovanni where informative signs will describe what they are viewing, or they can enjoy a drink at one of the many cafes that line the other side of the complex, giving fantastic views onto the remains of the school.
It is not possible to enter the complex, but it is possible to walk around all four sides and due to its sunken nature, meaning the entirety of the restored ruins is visible from any point. With the Colosseum rising behind, this is the perfect point to learn about the history of gladiator combat and the intense physical training they undertook; understandably it is a popular stop on many of the walking tours of Rome and given its proximity to the Colosseum it is not to be missed.
Contributed by Isabelle Moore
The Lugo Roman Baths were built in approximately 15BC, around the time when the city was founded and remain well-preserved.
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.
The Lugo Roman Walls have been described by UNESCO as "the finest surviving example of late Roman military fortifications", a title they truly deserve.
The Lugo Roman Walls have been described by UNESCO as "the finest surviving example of late Roman military fortifications", a title they truly deserve. Built in the third and fourth centuries AD to protect the Roman city of Lucus Augusti, the Lugo Roman Walls are incredibly well preserved, rising up to a height of between eight and twelve metres and their over two kilometre circuit remaining entirely intact.
Although the Lugo Roman Walls were built at a time when foreign invasion was a threat to all Roman Hispania, it is believed that they were actually intended to defend the city from internal threats, particularly from revolts of local tribes’ people. In the end, it wasn’t disgruntled locals who breached the Lugo Roman Walls, but the Germanic Suevi tribe in the fifth century.
Other peoples later captured Lugo, including the Visigoths and the Moors, followed by the Christians under Alfonso I and the Normans.
Several aspects of the Lugo Roman Walls are particularly impressive, including the fact that five of its ancient gates and forty six of its ancient towers are intact. While additions have been made over the centuries, what makes the Lugo Roman Walls remarkable is that they are predominantly Roman.
It is also worth noting that, during the medieval period, pilgrims passed through the gates of the Lugo Roman Walls - especially Porta Mina - along the famous route to Santiago de Compostela.
Visitors can stroll along the Lugo Roman Walls, a great way to appreciate their exceptional nature and to see the town.
Lullingstone Roman Villa is a fine example of a 1st Century Roman villa. Built roughly 50 years after the Roman conquest of Britain, it was home to the wealthier elements of Romano-British society.
Lullingstone Roman Villa is a fine example of a 1st Century Roman villa. Built roughly 50 years after the Roman conquest of Britain, Lullingstone Roman Villa was home to the wealthier elements of Romano-British society.
A villa stood on the site for over 300 years before its eventual destruction and abandonment. Today Lullingstone Roman Villa is operated by English Heritage and boasts a number of impressive mosaics and even evidence of early Christian worship in Britain, with the remains of an ancient Christian chapel.
Other features at Lullingstone Roman Villa include Roman artefacts, video recreations and interactive attractions for children such as Roman board games and costumes.
Lyon Cathedral was constructed between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries and has a famous astronomical clock.
Lyon Cathedral, also known as St Jean Cathedral or “Cathédrale St-Jean”, is Lyon’s main Roman Catholic church and the seat of the city’s archbishop. Since the eleventh century, the Archbishop of Gaul has also been known as the Primate of All the Gauls, a status granted by the Pope at that time and endowing this office with authority over all of France’s archbishops.
Construction of Lyon Cathedral began in the early twelfth century and was only completed in the late fifteenth century, sometime around the 1470’s. A mostly Gothic, but partially Romanesque structure, one of the most striking features of Lyon Cathedral is its fourteenth century astronomical clock, which indicates feast days.
Next to Lyon Cathedral is a reminder that it is one in a long line of churches built in Lyon since Roman times. In fact, it was built on the ruins of three other churches, the remains of which now stand behind it.
The Lyon Gallo-Roman Museum displays exhibits relating to the city’s time under the Roman Empire.
The Lyon Gallo-Roman Museum, known as “Musee Gallo-Romain” chronicles five centuries of the city’s history under Rome.
From its founding as Lugdunum in 44 BC under Julius Caesar to how it flourished, becoming a thriving capital of the Empire, the Gallo-Roman Museum houses an extensive collection of archaeological finds from ancient Lyon.
Displaying artefacts ranging from statues and sculptures to mosaics and inscriptions, the Lyon Gallo-Roman Museum is also a great place to go either before or after visiting Lyon’s many archaeological sites.
The Lyon Roman Baths are the remains of a second or third century public baths complex.
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.
MÃ¡laga's Roman Theatre - dating to the 1st century BC - lies at the foot of the Alcazaba fortress in the historical center of Malaga, Spain.
Malaga Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano de Málaga) is a picturesque surviving vestige of ancient Malaga. Constructed in the first century AD, during Augustus’ reign, this picturesque theatre rose approximately 16 metres in high and spanned 31 metres in diameter. In use until the third century, Malaga Roman Theatre was used for its materials over the years, particularly for the Alcazaba fortress which overlooks it.
Unexcavated until 1951, today Malaga Roman Theatre is open to the public with an interpretative centre on site.
Mamertine Prison was an Ancient Roman prison in which Saints Peter and Paul may have been held.
The Mamertine Prison in Rome, also known as Carcere Mamertino, is an ancient prison thought to date back to perhaps as early as the seventh century BC. The Romans continued using the Mamertine Prison throughout the Republican and Imperial eras as late as the fourth century AD, with executions also taking place there.
Christian legend says that the Mamertine Prison was the site where Saints Peter and Paul were incarcerated. According to these accounts, Peter managed to create a spring in his cell, allowing him to perform baptisms on his cellmates and guards.
Today, the remains of the Mamertine Prison are found under the church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami near the Roman Forum. Dark and dank, the dungeons are accessed via a winding staircase and offer a glimpse into the horrors experienced by criminals of Ancient Rome.
It is also worth noting that, near the Mamertine Prison (some say right next to it) would have been the location of the Gemonian Stairs, also notorious as a site of executions in Ancient Rome.
Mamshit in Israel is the site of one of four UNESCO listed Nabatean cities which prospered as part of the Incense trading route.
Mamshit was an ancient Nabatean city which formed part of the Incense Road, a trading route of various spices in the Mediterranean and south Arabia.
In fact, it is one of four such cities in the Negev Desert in Israel which form the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Incense Route. It is arguably the best preserved out of the four.
Founded in approximately the first century BC, Mamshit was later occupied by the Romans, after which its prosperity began to decline. In addition to a caravanserai and several large homes, Mamshit’s remains include a bathhouse, a market and many intact frescoes and mosaics.
The Marseille History Museum chronicles the city’s history since Ancient Greek times.
The Marseille History Museum (Musee d’Histoire de Marseille) chronicles the city’s past since its founding by the Greeks in 600 BC up to the eighteenth century.
Adjacent to the archaeological site of Jardin de Vestiges, the Marseille History Museum houses a series of finds, including from ancient Greek and Roman times as well as a nod to the history of the city’s ancient port with the very well-preserved remains of a third century ship.
The exhibits continue into early Christianity, medieval times and beyond, offering a good overview of Marseille’s development.
The Roman Docks Museum has a collection of artefacts from Marseille’s thriving ancient port.
The Roman Docks Museum (Musée des Docks Romains) in Marseilles is an archaeological museum located on the site of a former Ancient Roman dock warehouse.
One of the main exhibits is the set of ceramic jugs or “dolia” which were probably made in the Roman warehouse. Visitors can also see the remains of some other buildings and homes from this period.
Amongst its collection, the Roman Docks Museum shows the ruins of this warehouse and archaeological finds from within the site as well as from underwater excavations. All of these exhibits together portray the Marseille’s ancient port as a thriving centre of commerce.
The exhibits at the Roman Docks Museum are not only Roman, but also Greek in origin, reflecting the fact that Marseille was first a Greek settlement before being taken by the Romans in the first century BC.
Mount Masada hosts the remains of an ancient Jewish fotress which served as the last outpost for the Zealots from the Romans in the Jewish Wars.
The fortress of Masada, which rises majestically above the Dead Sea, was originally built in 150BC. The original structure was renovated by Herod the Great in 43BC in order to improve its capacity to withstand drawn-out sieges.
In 66AD, Masada was the site of the last stand of the Jewish Zealots against the Romans after they had fled Jerusalem. According to the Roman historian Flavius Josephus, Masada was the site of a mass suicide when over 960 Jews took their own lives. Rather than being enslaved by the Romans - who after a long seige had finally completed a vast ramp to reach the fortress - ten men killed those residing in the fortress and then each other. In order to compound this defiance the Zealots burned everything except their own food supply.
The site of Masada, which was unearthed in 1968, clearly marks out the passage of the siege. Visitors can see the archeological remains of the fortress and those of the surrounding Roman camps. The site, which has a breathtaking view of the area, is regularly walked in the early hours of the morning in order for visitors to witness the rising of the sun.
Today, visitors can view a wealth of ruins at Masada, a sound and light show telling the story of the siege as well as visiting the new Masada Museum. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Israel.
The Mausoleum of Augustus was the tomb of Rome’s first emperor.
The Mausoleum of Augustus (Mausoleo di Augusto) was constructed in approximately 28 BC as the tomb of the first emperor of Rome.
When it was created, the Mausoleum of Augustus was a large circular building intended to be the final resting place of both Augustus and his family. Those buried at the Mausoleum of Augustus other than the emperor himself included his wife Livia, Germanicus, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Britannicus, Nero Claudius Drusus, Agrippina the Elder and Tiberius.
Augustus (63BC – 14AD) was the great nephew of Julius Caesar and the named successor in his will. When Julius Caesar was assassinated in 43 BC, Augustus became the ruler of Rome, a position he solidified in the Battle of Actium in which he defeated Anthony and Cleopatra. Augustus transformed Rome from a republic into what became effectively a dictatorship as well as implementing many social, administrative and military reforms.
Today, the Mausoleum of Augustus is among the most famous surviving ancient mausoleums but sadly is just a shadow of its former grandeur and is no longer open to the public. However, some of its relics, notably two obelisks which once decorated it, now stand in Piazza del Quirinale and Piazza dell Esquillino.
The Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella is a 1st century BC tomb turned medieval fortress.
The Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella (Mausoleo di Caecillia Metella) is a large well-preserved tomb along Rome’s Via Appia.
The Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella is thought to have been built in the late first century BC and incorporated into a medieval fort in the fourteenth century.
Whilst little is known about its namesake, the inscription on the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella indicates that she was from a prominent Roman family. Her father, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus was a senior magistrate who played an important role in the capture of the island of Crete. Cecilia Metella’s husband Marcus Licinius Crassus the Younger was also an important political figure in the time of Caesar.
Vast, cylindrical and turret-like, the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella is visible from around Via Appia. There is little to see inside the mausoleum, although there is a frieze depicting, amongst other things, the skulls of oxen.
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is an early 5th century Christian chapel in Ravenna that was thought to hold the tomb of Roman Empress Galla Placidia.
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is an early 5th century Christian chapel in Ravenna that is thought to have been commissioned by Roman Empress Galla Placidia and, until recently, was believed to house her tomb.
Galla Placidia was the daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I and a major player in the politics of the Western Roman Empire in the first half of the fifth century AD. She was also one-time regent of the Western Empire.
Known for its stunning early- Byzantine style mosaics, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a hidden gem which delights and surprises visitors with its remarkable artistry. The eye-catching mosaics adorn the floors, ceilings and walls and include the ‘cupola’, a striking mosaic of the night sky. All this in a tiny building which, from the outside, is rather unassuming.
Inside the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia are three tombs which folklore stated contained the remains of Galla Placidia herself, Emperor Constantius III and either Emperor Valentinian III or Emperor Honorius. However, modern historians doubt these claims and they are not generally accepted.
Along with other early Christian sites in Ravenna, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Merida Amphitheatre is an Ancient Roman ruin and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Merida Amphitheatre is a reasonably well preserved Ancient Roman amphitheatre in the Spanish city of Merida.
The Emperor Augustus (63 BC - AD 14) established the Roman colony known as Augusta Emerita - later to become modern Merida - in 25 BC. Soon after its founding, Augusta Emerita became the capital of Lusitania and, as an important city of the empire, had several impressive public buildings. Merida Amphitheatre was one of these.
Completed in 8 BC and able to seat up to 15,000 spectators, this elliptical amphitheatre was finally abandoned in the fourth century AD. Today, the walls of Merida Amphitheatre are still intact together with some of its seats and it gateways, showing a detailed outline of what it would have looked like in its day.
Together with other sites, such as the Merida Roman Theatre and the Guadiana Bridge, Merida Amphitheatre is a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
The Merida Roman Circus was an Ancient Roman chariot racing arena which remains well preserved.
The Merida Roman Circus or “Circo Romano de Merida” was built in the time that the city, then known as Augusta Emerita, was part of one of the colonies of the Roman Empire.
A vast sports arena able to accommodate up to 30,000 people, Merida’s Roman Circus would have been the site of chariot races and even naval games. It is considered to be one of the largest of its kind and, whilst it is unclear as to when the circus was constructed, it may have been around 25 BC, when Merida itself was founded.
Today, Merida’s Roman Circus is in fairly good condition for a ruin of this type, still having its original track, stands and gateways. There is now a visitor centre where tourists can learn about its history. Like other historic sites in Merida, the Roman Circus is part of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Merida Roman Theatre is a well-preserved first century BC structure and a UNESCO site.
The Merida Roman Theatre or “Teatro Romano” is one of the most impressive of the ruins of this former colony of the Roman Empire. Together, these ruins, which include Guadiana Bridge and Merida Amphitheatre, form the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
Constructed in approximately 15-16 BC and able to accommodate almost 6,000 people, the Merida Roman Theatre would have been one of many public buildings erected in the area. At the time, Merida was known as Augusta Emerita and was the capital of Lusitania.
Now partially reconstructed, the Merida Roman Theatre is extremely well preserved, particularly its lower levels. The semi-circular walls are intact and the back wall of the stage or “frons scenae” with its double-tiered columns has been beautifully restored.
The Merida Roman Theatre also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Spain.
Miletus was an important ancient Greek then Roman city, which still has an impressive theatre, but relatively few other ruins.
Miletus was an important ancient Greek then Roman city, which still boasts an impressive ancient theatre among its ruins.
With a history thought to date back as far as the 16th, perhaps even the 17th, century BC, Miletus eventually became a thriving hub from the 8th to 7th centuries BC until suffering significant destruction during its capture by the Persians in the 5th century BC. It was rebuilt on a new site after this and once again became an important centre.
During Alexander the Great’s campaign against the Persian Empire, in 334 BC, the Macedonian conqueror undertook a short siege of the city before its capture. Another great leader, Julius Caesar, also visited this city when, upon his release after being kidnapped by pirates in 75 BC, he headed to Miletus to raise a fleet to pursue his former captors, whom he swiftly defeated and executed.
In its heyday, Miletus was a magnificent city, renowned for its great philosophers. The city’s success was due in large part to its port, which eventually silted up, contributing greatly to its decline. Sadly, today’s ruins of Miletus are barely a shadow of its former glory.
The 15,000-seater Roman theatre is definitely the star attraction. One fascinating aspect of this theatre, other than its excellent state of preservation are the inscriptions which are said to reserve seating for certain groups, including one for "Jews and G-d fearers". This is said by some to show Miletus to be a tolerant, multicultural society. Make sure you explore the covered walkways within the theatre, which are great fun to wander through.
Though the site has suffered greatly through the centuries, there are a handful of other highlights to be found at Miletus. These include the small remains of a colonnaded covered walkway, the Baths of Faustina and a reasonably well preserved temple to Apollo.
Mirobriga was once a thriving Roman town, the ruins of which can now be seen in Portugal.
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.
Mithraeum House in Merida was a grand Roman home dating back as far as the late first century.
Mithraeum House (Casa del Mitreo) in Merida was an impressive Roman home built sometime in the late first, early second century. Centred on three main courtyards and with some of its intricate decoration still evident, it is clear that Mithraeum House would have been a grand residence.
The current name of Mithraeum House derives from the artefacts found there relating to the cult of Mitra.
Mons Claudianus is an Ancient Roman quarry in the Egyptian dessert.
Mons Claudianus in Egypt houses an Ancient Roman quarry, the remains of which can still be seen today.
Mons Claudianus was one of a few Roman quarries used to mine for granodiorite, a type of quartz only found in Egypt and which was used in many of the empire’s most famous buildings, including the Pantheon and the Temple of Venus, both in Rome.
Established and used in the first century AD, it is thought that Mons Claudianus may also have been a penal colony.
What remains today are several fallen columns, a staircase which was to lead to an (unfinished) temple and the ruins of a fort. Evidence of the quartz for which the Romans mined can also be seen at Mons Claudianus.
The Multangular Tower is a third century AD ten-sided stone tower originally forming part of York’s Roman legionary fortress and now located in the gardens of the York Museum.
The Multangular Tower is an imposing third century AD ten-sided stone tower originally forming part of York’s Roman legionary fortress and now located in the gardens of the York Museum.
The original Roman walls of York probably included eight defensive towers and were built in the late second or early third centuries AD. The tower has ten sides and is nine metres high. Originally there would have been three floors on the inside and a roof on top.
Today the Multangular Tower still forms part of the York City Walls. The lower half of the tower as it stands today contains the original Roman masonry while the upper half was reconstructed in the medieval period.
Musee de Cluny houses Ancient Roman baths and the national medieval museum in Paris.
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.
Musee du Louvre is a twelfth century fort turned palace and today stands as one of the world’s foremost art museums.
Musee du Louvre, also known as, the Grand Louvre or just The Louvre, is one of the world’s foremost art museums, exhibiting over 35,000 works from around the globe and throughout history.
The Louvre’s eight departments cover an extensive array of historical periods and artistic genres, each represented through the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibits. Amongst these exhibits, The Louvre holds Near Eastern and Egyptian antiquities, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities, Islamic art, sculptures and paintings as well as decorative arts, prints and drawings.
Some of the most famous pieces held by The Louvre include the Jewels of Rameses II and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Set over 60,000 square meters, Musee du Louvre can be fairly daunting, but guided tours and audio tours are available in English and French lasting ninety minutes. Tours can be historically themed.
The building in which Musee du Louvre is housed has a fascinating history of its own, having started life as a fortress built by Philippe Auguste to protect Paris from the Anglo-Normans. It later became a royal palace of Louis XIV. The Louvre opened as a museum in 1793. The history and archaeology of The Louvre is explored on the lower ground floor of the museum in room 3.
The Musei Capitolini in Rome host a huge wealth of artifacts and exhibits from the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods.
Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums) stand on the ancient Capitoline Hill in the centre of Rome and host a huge wealth of artifacts and exhibits from the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods.
Among Musei Capitolini’s many wonders are collections of classical sculptures and statues, exhibits on ancient mythology, medieval and renaissance artworks as well as many bronzes and portraits.
At the centre of the courtyard surrounded by the buildings of the Musei Capitolini stands a replica statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the original can be found inside the museum.
Comprised of three main buildings, namely Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Senatorio, the Musei Capitolini are located near the Roman Forum and a short walk from The Colosseum.
Museo del Sannio is an historical museum in Benevento which displays ancient and medieval artefacts from the local area.
Museo del Sannio (The Samnite Museum) in Benevento is an archaeological and historical museum housing a series of finds from this area of Campania.
Amongst its collections, Museo del Sannio houses Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman pieces as well as those from the Samnite era and includes its Room of Caudium, Room of Isis and the Trajan exhibition.
Museo del Sannio also has medieval exhibitions dating from the fifth to the eleventh centuries, such as art, weaponry and everyday tools.
The Museum of London explores the history of the UK’s capital city.
The Museum of London explores the history of UK’s capital city through a series of exhibitions.
The contents of some galleries at the Museum of London are constantly changing, although there are nine permanent collections. These look at the development of the city since prehistoric times, through to Roman London, the medieval period, the Great Fire of London in 1666 and onwards, right up to present day.
Ranging from archaeological finds such as Roman ceramics to historic objects such as Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, the artefacts at the Museum of London offer an interesting and comprehensive insight into the city’s past.
There are also recreations of rooms and streets from different periods plus the chance to see an authentic medieval dungeon.
The Museum of Orange is a museum of mostly Roman, but also prehistoric, artefacts found in the region.
The Museum of Orange (Musee D’Orange) is an archaeological museum across the road from the UNESCO-listed Roman Theatre of Orange.
The Museum of Orange displays a series of artefacts found in the area, dating from prehistoric to Roman times.
Amongst its most celebrated items, the Museum of Orange houses a series of objects which originally formed part of the Roman theatre, including friezes which once would have adorned its spectacular stage wall.
Upstairs, the Museum of Orange has a more modern collection of paintings, furniture and other objects which formed part of a private collection.
Myra has one of the best-preserved collections of ancient ruins, and is a perfect place to experience an illustrious period of Greek and Roman history being brought back to life.
The ancient town of Myra in Lycia gives a unique insight into Turkey’s history and the many different civilisations which influenced the area.
Today a collection of mostly Roman ruins remain which give visitors the opportunity to envisage the bustling centre that is thought to have been established up to 2,500 years ago. Strolling through the Acropolis, the amphitheatre and the Roman baths, visitors can get a tangible feel for daily life in the ancient world.
According to Strabo, Myra was once a large city, making up one of the most influential parts of the Lycian League in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. This League brought self-rule and semi-independence to Lycia under permission from Rome.
Among the most impressive structures of the ancient city are the two necropoli of Lycian rock-cut tombs carved into Myra’s vertical cliff faces. The most remarkable tomb is known as the ‘Lion’s Tomb’ or the ‘Painted Tomb’, which still has eleven life-size figures in relief on its wall. And these tombs are likely to have been even more extraordinary in the past; when the traveller Charles Fellows visited the site in 1840, all of the tombs on the cliff face were painted in the bright colours of yellow, red, and blue.
Myra’s history has also been marked by a number of notable visitors. In around 60 AD, Saint Paul stopped at the city’s port on his journey to Rome, where he was to face trial after having been arrested for inciting a riot in Jerusalem. In 131 AD, the Emperor Hadrian paid a visit to Myra and built a large granary at Andriace. This granary can still be seen today by driving along the D400 highway into Demre.
However, Myra is perhaps best known for its Byzantine-era Church of St Nicholas (often associated with Santa Claus), who was bishop of Myra in the 4th century AD. Placed on the outskirts of Demre, the church has been a popular site of pilgrimage since it was built in the 6th century and remains a fascinating place of historical and religious interest today. Such was the church’s popularity that it played a role in Myra becoming the leading city for religion and administration in Lycia. Unfortunately Myra’s notability wasn’t to last; in 808 AD Myra was besieged and captured by Abbasid Caliph Harun ar-Rashid, after which it fell into decline. In the 11th century, Myra was once again subjected to invasion, this time by the Seljuk Turks, at which time the relics of St Nicholas were also taken from the city.
The ancient features of the city thankfully survived these invasions, and now help to make Myra an unmissable destination for anyone with an interest in developments in the area from the Ancient Greek period right up to the Byzantine Empire.
Contributed by Siobhan Coskeran
Naples Cathedral was completed in the fourteenth century and houses the relics of San Gennaro.
Naples Cathedral, translated as Duomo di Napoli, was initially commissioned by King Charles I of Anjou in 1294 and took almost thirty years to complete.
Whilst originally a thirteenth to fourteenth century church, earthquakes and other factors have meant that Naples Cathedral has undergone a series of renovations and rebuilding projects. This is demonstrated by the fact that its façade dates to the nineteenth century.
Also known as Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Naples Cathedral is often attributed as being dedicated to San Gennaro (Saint Januarius), whose relics are buried there. However, as its alternative name indicates, Naples Cathedral was actually dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.
Nevertheless, it is the chapel of San Gennaro, with its pretty frescos and fifteenth century tomb, that forms one of the highlights of Naples Cathedral. San Gennaro was the Bishop of Naples and is now its patron saint, thought to have been martyred in the fourth century AD perhaps under Diocletian. His crypt is also said to contain a vial of his blood, which is brought out on specific holy days (such as the first Sunday of May) and liquefied, this being considered a good omen.
Naples Cathedral is also connected to the archaeological site of Santa Restituta, a fourth century church which is accessible from the north aisle of the cathedral. Housing a museum and containing archaeological excavations from Greek and Roman times including an early Christian crypt, Santa Restituta has an impressive set of ancient artefacts.
The Naples National Archaeological Museum holds comprehensive collections from the Greek, Roman and Egyptian eras.
The Naples National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli) holds a comprehensive collection of Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts, including most of the pieces found in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae.
Some of the most famous exhibits at the Naples National Archaeological Museum include mosaics from the Roman towns and cities destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 AD, Greek sculptures by artists such as Calamis and Nesiotes and the third largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world. Also popular is the Secret Cabinet, an exhibit of erotic Roman art and The Placentarius sculpture.
Look out for the mosaics of the House of the Faun, which include depictions of Alexander the Great battling Darius III.
The building which houses the Naples National Archaeological Museum was constructed in the 16th century and was used in the 1750’s by King Charles III of Spain as a cavalry barracks.
The Narbonne Archaeological Museum displays Ancient Roman artefacts.
Narbonne Archaeological Museum (Musée Archéologique de Narbonne) in southern France is a museum of this town’s Ancient Roman past, displaying everything from sarcophagi to frescos and furniture.
The finds come from the ancient Roman city of Narbo-Martius, the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis.
The museum contains a collection of Roman statues and inscription tablets from the area as well as sarcophagi decorated in the pagan tradition. Also on display are informative panels describing the history of this ancient Roman city.
The National Museum Cardiff has a diverse collection ranging from art to natural history and archaeology.
The National Museum Cardiff has a diverse collection ranging from art to natural history and archaeology.
The art collections at the National Museum Cardiff spans over 500 years and a range of countries.
Meanwhile, history fans can also head to the Origins gallery, which chronicles the history of man in Wales from the Stone Age to medieval times. Neolithic tombstones, Britain’s earliest human remains, Roman cups and medieval weapons are all on display in this interesting exhibit.
Nea Pafos is an archaeological site near Paphos Harbour which served as the capital of Cyprus from the fourth century BC.
Nea Pafos is an archaeological site near Paphos Harbour in Cyprus housing the remains of what was once the capital of the island. Founded in the fourth century BC by Nikokles, the last king of nearby Palaipafos, Nea Pafos then went from strength to strength, particularly under the Ptolemaic kingdom from the third century BC.
One of the main remnants of the earliest stages of Nea Paphos – albeit with changes made to it over the centuries - is its ancient theatre, probably built around the time that the city was founded. This was in use until the fifth century AD.
However, the most famous sites at Nea Pafos are its Ancient Roman villas, mostly dating to the second century AD. Amongst them are the House of Dionysos, the House of Orpheus and the Villa of Theseus, all of which have impressive mosaics depicting mythological scenes. There are also the remaining foundations of an Agora.
The Byzantine and medieval stages of Nea Paphos are represented by other sites such as the initially fourth century AD Basilica of Chrysopolitissa, later altered and added to in the sixth, twelfth and sixteenth centuries.
Also of interest is the Castle of Forty Columns, a Byzantine fortification known locally as “Saranda Kolones”. Constructed in the seventh century AD, this castle is known – and named after - the many granite columns which still remain there today.
The Nice-Cimiez Archaeological Museum houses artefacts from the ancient Roman city of Cemenelum.
The Nice-Cimiez Archaeological Museum houses artefacts from the ancient Roman city of Cemenelum, some ruins of which can be seen in a nearby park.
The Nora Archaeological Site in Sardinia houses ancient Phoenician and Roman ruins.
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.
North Leigh Roman Villa was a first century villa, the remains of which can be seen in Oxfordshire.
North Leigh Roman Villa was built in the first century in what is now modern day Oxfordshire, UK.
Archaeologists believe that North Leigh Roman Villa was once a substantial building made up of approximately sixty rooms, however all that remains today are its ruins.
The main feature of the site is its preserved brown and red mosaic floor, which is now covered and is almost complete. North Leigh Roman Villa is an English Heritage site.
Novae was a Roman town and military camp, the ruins of which are now found in Bulgaria.
Novae, also known as Nove, was a Roman town and military camp and the headquarters of the 8th Augustan Legion, the ruins of which are now found in Bulgaria .
Established in around 45AD, at its peak, Novae was of vital strategic importance for guarding from eastern attacks and grew to a size of around 27 hectares.
Sadly, relatively little remains of Novae today and the scant ruins of this settlement can be seen near Svishtov. There is a visitor centre at the site, housing excavated finds such as coins and statues and explaining the history of Roman Novae.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is a world-class museum of art containing a myriad of ancient works in Copenhagen.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen in Denmark is a museum of art with a world-class collection of over 10,000 works from the ancient world.
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded in 1888 by the brewer Carl Jacobsen - the man who made Carlsberg beer known worldwide. A new wing was added in 1996, and all of the galleries were thoroughly modernised in 2004-6.
6000 years of Mediterranean art and history
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek collection of antiquities has a wide selection of art and artefacts, allowing the visitor to enjoy delightful, thought-provoking strolls through 6000 years of art and history, including the Ancient Near East, Ancient Greece and Egypt, Greek and Etruscan Italy and, finally, Rome.
Explore ‘The Ancient Mediterranean’
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek includes newly restored galleries with works of art ranging from the early high cultures of the Middle East to the fall of the Roman Empire. Of particular note is the collection of Roman artefacts, including a host of ancient marble sculptures and statues gathered from sites across the Roman world and covering everything from 600BC to 500AD. Included within this collection are finds from important Roman villas as well as the rich Palmyrene selection from the Roman city of Palmyra – it is one of the largest such collections outside Syria and includes remarkable funerary busts and grave stones. Don’t miss the bust of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus – a marble version of a bronze statue from Pompey’s own lifetime.
Impressionists and the art of Paul Gauguin
Visiting one of Denmark’s most beautiful museums you can also appreciate an important assembly of paintings by the French Impressionists, with a large gallery containing works by Monet, Sisley, Degas, van Gogh, Cézanne and many others. The Glyptotek has one of four existing complete sets of Degas’ bronze sculptures, and 45 works of art by Paul Gauguin, one of the world’s most important collections by this artist.
The Glyptotek offers free guided tours throughout the year, however guided tours in English are generally conducted from June to September at 2pm on Wednesdays. Danish speaking tours are conducted all year round on Sundays at 2pm. There are also children’s tours.
The Nymphaeum of Kos was actually an Ancient Roman luxury public lavatory.
The Nymphaeum of Kos was an Ancient Roman building and its name is something of a misnomer.
Called the Nymphaeum because its opulence initially led archaeologists to think it was a sanctuary dedicated to the Nymphs, it has since been determined that this would have been a very luxurious set of lavatories.
Also on this site was the Ancient Roman gymnasium or ’Xysto’, the ruins of which are quite impressive and include several columns, and not far from the Odeon of Kos is also close by.
The Odeon of Kos dates back to the second or third century and would have served as a Roman theatre.
The Odeon of Kos dates back to the second or third century and would have served as a Roman theatre.
Today, several of its original rows remain and it is certainly possible to imagine how the Odeon of Kos would have looked in its heyday.
Beyond the original rows, the Odeon of Kos has also undergone restoration and the site is in excellent condition, even though it is no longer all original. There are also the remains of a Roman gym and bathhouse nearby.
Along with other Roman sites in Kos, such as the Nymphaeum of Kos and the Casa Romana, the Odeon of Kos is well worth a visit when staying on the island.
The Odeon of Lyon is a well-restored Ancient Roman theatre and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Odeon of Lyon is the smaller of two Ancient Roman theatres built in what was then the Roman city of Lugdunum.
It is unclear as to when exactly the Odeon of Lyon was constructed, some dating it back to the mid-first or second century AD. Nevertheless, the beautifully restored 3,000-seater Odeon of Lyon, which once played host to grand musical and theatrical performances, is well worth seeing alongside its larger counterpart, the Grand Roman Theatre of Lyon.
The Odeon of Lyon is particularly famous for its distinctive flooring, which is decoratively tiled to form geometric shapes. In 1998, Lyon’s historic centre, which includes the Odeon, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Old Town of Caceres embodies centuries of conquest and re-conquest in its winding streets.
The Old Town of Caceres in Spain is an embodiment of centuries of conflict, with its winding streets, palaces and general style telling the stories of those who fought for its conquest. Founded by the Romans under the name Norbensis Caesarina in the 1st century BC, medieval Caceres was the subject of a constant tug of war between the Moors and the Christians, eventually and finally conquered by Alfonso IX of León in 1229.
Whilst some remains of the Roman walls can be found by those who seek them out, most of the imposing towers and walls can be dated back to the 12th century under the Almohads. The most famous of the thirty or so towers is the Bujaco Tower, which is found at the epicentre of the Old Town of Caceres, its main plaza. There are historic houses and sites at every turn in the Old Town of Caceres – indeed it is all an UNESCO World Heritage Site - but highlights include the Gothic Palace of Los Golfines de Abajo and the Procathedral of Santa María.
For the local information, head to Plaza de Santa María, where the Carvajal Palace – which has its origins in the 15th and 16th centuries - plays host to the tourist board.
Olympia was a city in Ancient Greece from which today’s Olympic Games originate and is now an important archaeological site protected by UNESCO.
Olympia was a vibrant Ancient Greek city. It is believed that the site of Olympia was inhabited from 3000 BC, however it was after the fall of the Mycenaean civilisation that the city began to flourish and, by 900 BC it was already considered an important religious site.
The Olympic Games
In 776 BC the first Olympic Games were held in the city in honour of the Greek deity, Zeus. The games at Olympia were a national event and attracted participants and spectators from around the country, raising Olympia’s status. They would continue until 394 AD when Roman Emperor Theodosius I, seeing them as a "pagan cult", put them to an end.
Over time, the city began to develop and grow. Today the result of this gradual growth can be seen at Olympia through sites such as the Treasuries, the Temple of Hera, both of religious importance and contained in the sacred precinct known as the Altis and the Pelopion, the supposed tomb of the mythical Pelops. These were built in around 600BC.
Even the stadium in which the Olympic Games were played was upgraded, a purpose built area being built in around 560 BC and able to seat approximately 50,000 people. The remains of this impressive stadium are still visible today.
Olympia reached its peak during the classical period and it was at this time that many of the other sites which can be seen there now were built, most notably the Temple of Zeus. This was a vast religious structure the ruins of which were located in the Altis area.
The Temple of Zeus was later entirely destroyed, first by fire and then in an earthquake. Archaeologists were however able to excavate several sculptures and artefacts believed to have originated from the building, which are now on show at the nearby Olympia Archaeological Museum.
Other impressive sites at Olympia were built later during the Hellenistic Period. These include the remains of the fourth century BC Philippeion memorial to the family of Alexander the Great and the Leonidaion. There are also several other impressive sites, many of them built during the Roman period.
Olympia is well signposted, making it easy to tour the site and understand how it might have looked in its heyday. If you want to know more about Olympia, you can visit the Olympia Archaeological Museum.
Olympos is truly a stunning destination, a playground for pirates; these ancient ruins tell a story that blurs the line between myth and reality.
Nestled amongst undisturbed white beaches and plush, tropical forest terrain, the trek to discover the ruins of ancient Olympos is an adventure in itself. Vibrant with wildlife and greenery the site, originally attracting exclusively backpackers, is now popular with couples and families alike.
Dating back far into antiquity, Olympos had risen to prominence by at least the second century BC, when it formed part of the important Lycian league. Later used as a base by powerful groups of pirates, Rome was forced to take the city in order to counter this threat. Olympos remained an active settlement throughout the Roman period but gradually declined thereafter and was abandoned entirely by the 15th century AD.
The ruins themselves are quite large and much of the original Lycian city remains. However, most of the ruins are Roman and there are remnants of a theatre, harbour, temple and roman baths. A particular highlight that attracts visitors is the huge stone entrance gate which was dedicated to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius c172AD during his campaigns in Germania and the Danube. Accents of Byzantine artwork also complete the visual journey through the site’s history.
One of the most important attractions of a trip to Olympos is to observe the natural gas-fuelled dancing flames that burn eternally on the nearby mountainside - Çakaltepe. Tales have attributed the phenomena to the myth of the Chimera and Homer’s Iliad depicts the creature as a fearsome beast of ‘race divine, made up of lion, dragon and of goat, her jaws emitting dreadful flames.’ Whether you believe the myth or not, the flames are a spectacular sight and well worth the visit.
Furthermore, Olympos was also the famed home of the renowned pirate Zeniketos who controlled much of the Lycian coastline. Its location meant the town became an important hub for piracy during the Graeco-Roman period and visitors can experience this through a visit into the caves where Captain Eudomus’ sarcophagus awaits their discovery.
Olympos is a site of both natural and historical beauty. Journey back through time while en-route to take in some water sports and activities. If you time your visit right you may even see some native Caretta turtles at the nearby Çıralı beach; there’s something for everyone - eco-lovers and history buffs alike.
Contributed by Rebecca Lewis
Paestum is a Greco-Roman site in Italy containing the stunning remains of three ancient Greek temples.
Paestum is a Greco-Roman site located south of Naples which contains the stunning remains of three ancient Greek temples which still stand tall today.
Founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century BC, Paestum was originally known as Poseidonia, named for the Greek god Poseidon. The city was captured by the Romans in 273BC after the Pyrrhic Wars and became the thriving Roman settlement of Paestum.
However, the changing climate and political upheavals of the later Roman Empire saw Paestum begin to decline in the early medieval period and by the turn of the millennium the site had been abandoned – it was not rediscovered until the 18th century.
Today, visitors to Paestum can still see the spectacular temples – the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Neptune and the Temple of Ceres (thought by some to be a temple of Athena).
The site also contains impressive defensive walls, a Roman forum, the basic remains of a Roman amphitheatre and a number of ancient tombs. Paestum also boasts an early Christian church and Paestum Museum, which has a wealth of information about the local sites. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
The Palace of Septimius Severus was magnificent extension of the Domus Augustana on the Palatine.
The Palace of Septimius Severus on the Palatine Hill was an extension of the Domus Augustana and was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus (193 - 211 AD).
The Palatine Hill was closely linked with the foundation of ancient Rome and housed some of its most lavish and important buildings, including the homes and palaces of the Imperial family.
Overlooking the Circus Maximus, the remains of the Palace of Septimius Severus are some of the most impressive found on the Palatine Hill.
Palaipafos in Cyprus contains ruins dating back as far as the Late Bronze Age.
Palaipafos, also known as Palaepaphos, is an archaeological site near Kouklia village, Paphos, in Cyprus linked to the ancient cult of the “Great Goddess” of fertility. The oldest and most revered site at Palaipafos is the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, built by the Mycenaeans in circa 1200BC, around the time at which they settled in Cyprus.
Palaipafos remained a centre of religion and culture until the 4th century BC, when its last king, Nikokles, moved the capital to nearby Nea Paphos. Under the Romans, Palaipafos again became a focal point for culture and religion, then known as “Koinon Kyprion”.
The sites at Palaipafos come from a mix of historic periods including from the Late Bronze Age and Ancient Rome. There are the ruins of the second century AD Roman House of Leda, so named because its mosaics (housed at the Kouklia Museum) depict a scene from the tale of Leda and the Swan, remains of the ancient fortifications of Palaipafos, which were originally built in the eighth century BC and some ruins of a fifth century BC building, probably the palace of the Persian governor of Palaipafos, Hadji Abdulla.
There are also remnants of the medieval period of the history of Palaipafos, including the Church of Panagia Katholiki (circa 12th-13th century AD) and the Lusignian Manor House, built as an administrative centre in the thirteenth century.
The Palatine Hill is known as the birthplace of Rome. It houses some of the city’s most impressive ancient sites.
The Palatine Hill (Palatino) is considered to be the place where Rome was born. One of Rome’s seven hills, the Palatine Hill is closely linked with the city’s history and houses some of its most ancient and important sites.
Legend says that the twins Romulus and Remus were taken to Palatine Hill by a she-wolf who raised them. Here they founded a village which would become Rome.
In a dispute over who was the rightful leader of the new settlement, Romulus eventually killed his brother at the Palatine Hill. Romulus thus became the namesake of Rome. Indeed, the Palatine Hill is where the earliest huts of Rome were found, supposedly built under the remit of Romulus.
As it developed, the Palatine Hill became one of the most affluent areas in Ancient Rome and was already a coveted address by the first century BC during the Republic. This continued under the Roman Empire, when the Palatine Hill was home to Rome’s most prominent figures. It was also where the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus was born in 63 BC.
Today, the Palatine Hill offers some of Rome's best ancient sites and is a must-see, especially for history enthusiasts. Amongst the buildings excavated at the Palatine Hill are the House of Augustus, the House of Livia (Augustus’s wife), the home of several of Rome’s emperors - the Domus Augustana - and the Palace of Septimius Severus. There is also a large stadium.
Palazzo dei Conservatori displays numerous important classical pieces. Part of the Musei Capitolini.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori is one of the buildings of Rome’s Capitoline Museums or “Musei Capitolini”. Like its counterpart Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori displays classical pieces as well as paintings.
Highlights of Palazzo dei Conservatori include a first century AD bronze sculpture known as the Spinario, which depicts a boy trying to take a thorn out of his foot and the fifth century BC Capitoline Wolf, which shows the she-wolf from the legend of Romulus and Remus.
Palazzo dei Conservatori also houses an impressive array of paintings by some of the biggest names in the art world, such as Caravaggio and Titian.
The building of the Palazzo dei Conservatori has an impressive history too, its façade having been designed by Michelangelo and it having served as Rome’s medieval magistrates court.
The Palazzo Nuovo is an archaeological museum of Ancient Greek and Roman art. Part of the Musei Capitolini.
The Palazzo Nuovo is part of the Capitoline Museums, known in Italian as Musei Capitolini, which is a famous museum complex in Rome housing an incredible array of artwork and artefacts spanning much of Rome’s history.
Originally established in 1471, when Pope Sixtus I donated a series of bronze statues to the city, the Capitoline Museum is separated into two main buildings – Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori. Palazzo Senatorio is also considered part of the site.
Palazzo Nuovo displays the Capitoline Museum’s Ancient Greek and Roman art, mostly sculptures such as the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (there is also a copy of this in the square outside).
Containing some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world, Palmyra was an ancient city which became a strategically vital part of the Roman Empire. Its remains are located in Syria.
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.
The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most famous and well-preserved ancient buildings in the world.
The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most famous and well-preserved ancient buildings in the world.
Originally built by Marcus Agrippa in 25BC, the Pantheon served as a temple to the many gods of Rome. The original Pantheon was destroyed by the great fire of 80AD and the structure which stands today was completed around 125AD during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
In 609AD the Pantheon was converted to a Church and this helped preserve the building from the destruction of later times. In the middle ages the Pantheon was also used as a burial chamber for notable figures and even Italian kings.
Today, the Pantheon stands as a magnificent site in central Rome, and one of the most popular destinations for tourists. The Pantheon’s vast structure is topped by the spectacular original domed roof which contains a circular opening (oculus) at the peak. Made of cast concrete, it is a monumental engineering feat that is a testament to the technical expertise of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the roof of the Pantheon remained the largest dome in the world until the 15th century.
The Pantheon is free to visit and is a must-see for both the general tourist and the history enthusiast.
Patara not only has a rich and varied history, the former Lycian port town is situated in a beautiful corner of Turkey, alongside a 20km long white sand beach.
Located on the Mediterranean coast, and boasting a beautiful white sand beach, the ruins of ancient Patara nestle behind the sand dunes and combine that truly idyllic mix of sun, sea and wonderful history.
This ancient city was originally a Lycian settlement and then served as an important naval base during the wars of Alexander the Great’s successors. It later became part of the Lycian League and then a thriving port within the Roman Empire. In fact, Patara was originally considered as simply an extension of next door Xanthos and, despite its size, Patara was only the city’s second port.
However, over the centuries the harbour of Patara eventually silted up – sometime during the Middle Ages. Until recently the site had been completely abandoned, before excavations were begun in 1998 led by Akdeniz University Antalya.
Patara’s most famous son is perhaps St. Nicholas, born in the city in the 4th century AD. Better known today as Santa Claus, St. Nicholas was known to contemporaries as the Bishop of Myra. Patara was also notable in antiquity as the home of the temple and oracle of Apollo. The Greek god of the sun was said to spend the winter in the nearby Xanthos valley. Although no evidence of such a temple has been found in Patara’s ruins, legend attributes it as a rival to the oracle at Delphi.
Part of the Empire for hundreds of years, Patara also played a role in Roman history. One anecdote recalls the capture of the city by Marcus Junius Brutus – he of stabbing Caesar fame. The Roman general and politician threatened to massacre the Patarans if they did not surrender to his forces. The Patarans initially refused, but in a piece of diplomatic manoeuvring, Brutus released all the hostages he had taken from his recent conquest of Xanthos. As the Xanthians and Patarans had such close ties, this act of clemency endeared Brutus to the Pataran population, who promptly opened their gates to him.
Today, while the ruins of Patara are a little jumbled and have not survived in the best state of preservation, the location of the city itself is particularly spectacular. Flanking the white sand beach, the ruins are partially covered by tall grass, bushes and sand; and the overall effect is simply beautiful. While there are certainly more intact Roman ruins elsewhere, the simple beauty of Patara is hard to beat.
In terms of what there is to explore at Patara, one of the best elements is a 1st century AD Roman triumphal arch, which once marked the entrance to the city, and the colonnaded main street, which is also worth a look.
Nearby, under the shadow of the palm trees, lie the Roman baths as well as a Byzantine basilica. There’s also a second set of baths at Patara, which were built by the Emperor Vespasian. Located alongside Vespasian’s baths are the ruins of a reasonably well preserved theatre, erected in honour of Antoninus Pius, which is marked by a Greek inscription, still visible today. This is perhaps the most beautiful of Patara’s ruins.
To the west of the basilica, one can see the best preserved sections of the city walls and a picturesque temple dating from the second century, which is undergoing restoration work. . Visitors to the site can also follow a path up the hill to the city’s acropolis and view the remains of Hadrian’s granary.
Contributed by Chris Reid
Pella in Greece was the capital of ancient Macedonia and the birthplace of Alexander the Great.
Pella, near a small town in Greece by the same name, is an archaeological site which was once the thriving capital of ancient Macedonia.
Established by King Amyntas III at the end of the fifth, beginning of the fourth century BC, Pella took over this role from the former capital, Aigai.
As well as being a cultural and commercial hub, Pella was also a place of great historical significance, it being the birthplace of Alexander the Great. By the time of its peak, from the late fourth to second century BC, Pella would have been brimming with public, religious and commercial buildings as well as monuments and homes all carefully organised according to Hippodamian urban planning principles.
The Romans captured Pella in around 168 to 167 BC and it was incorporated into the Empire’s third regio. Thus began the decline of Pella’s political importance, quickened by the selection of Thessaloniki as the new capital of Roman Macedonia in 148 BC and finalised by an earthquake which destroyed it in the first century BC.
Whilst excavations have uncovered an archaeological site of over four square kilometers, little of this is open to the public. Nevertheless, visitors can see several sites at Pella, including a series of remains of houses, mostly dating back to the Hellenistic period and the marketplace or "agora". There is also a museum housing artifacts from the site.
Pergamum was a thriving ancient Greek then Roman city, home to famous sites such as its Asclepion, theatre and library.
Pergamum, which is also spelt Pergamon, is a famous archaeological site in Turkey which developed under the Attalid dynasty following the death of Alexander the Great.
When Alexander died, one of his generals, Lysimachus, took control of the region. When Lysimachus died in 281BC, Pergamum and the surrounding area fell into the hands of the man he had charged with protecting it, Philetarus.
Through a series of successions, Pergamum fell under the rule of Attalus I and then his son Eumenes II. Both of these kings were part of the Hellenistic Attalid dynasty and it was during this time that the majority of Pergamum’s most celebrated buildings and monuments were constructed, especially under Eumenes II (197-159 BC). Pergamum thrived, becoming the centre of the Pergamese kingdom.
In 129 BC, Pergamum became part of the Roman Empire, accounting for the presence of Roman artwork and temples, and later became part of the Byzantine Empire. It remained an important city (later a metropolis) throughout both of these periods. Indeed, Julius Caesar himself once visited the city and it was here that Caesar imprisoned and executed the very pirates who had kidnapped him in 75 BC, after he had hunted them down following his release.
The historic ruins of Pergamum are split into three main areas. In the Acropolis, one can find sites such as its library, gymnasium, very steep theatre and arsenal as well as the Roman Temple of Trajan. This was also once the site of the incredible Altar of Pergamum, now controversially located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Now only its base remains at Pergamum.
The other two areas of Pergamum are its lower city and its stunning health centre or Asclepion, where a variety of treatments were offered, such as mud baths.
Pergamum has a small archaeological museum, with some of the finds excavated from the site.
Perge is a Turkish archaeological site containing mostly Roman ruins, but has a history dating back to Ancient Greece.
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.
Perperikon was an important Thracian sanctuary turned Roman town then medieval fortress.
Perperikon was an important Thracian holy sanctuary which became a Roman town around the first century BC and was later the site of a medieval fortress.
Inhabited since 5000BC, Perperikon became home to the Temple of Dionysus, legendary for being the place of great prophecies. One of the most famous of these involved Alexander the Great, who was told that he would conquer the world in 334BC, prior to his invasion of Persia.
In a later continuation of the theme, Gaius Octavius - father of the Emperor Augustus - is also said to have consulted the oracle in 59BC, and was told his son would rule the world.
Whilst it was the Thracians who built the sanctuary, it was preserved and expanded under the Romans, who developed Perperikon into a larger settlement with an acropolis and even notable palaces. The remains of these structures have been excavated and can still be explored today.
Destroyed by the Goths in the fourth century AD, Perperikon experienced a resurgence in the sixth century under Emperor Justinian. At this time, the town's defensive elements were reinforced. Perperikon would continue to be an important site over the centuries, with further temples and Christian churches built there. It was also a medieval military stronghold, particularly in the thirteenth century.
Today, visitors can wander through historic Perperikon to see its fascinating ancient ruins including the remains of important public buildings, houses, stairways, altars, tombs and walls.
Perperikon features as one of our top ten Bulgarian Visitor Attractions.
Petra is a famous UNESCO-listed ancient Nabataean city which later formed part of the Roman Empire.
Petra is an iconic ancient site in southern Jordan. A secret to all but the Bedouins until 1812, Petra’s incredible monuments are now considered to be one of the wonders of the world.
Petra was established by the once nomadic Kingdom of the Nabataeans. Carving a city out of the sandstone rocks and cliffs, the Nabataeans settled and made Petra into their capital. The Nabataeans chose this site carefully, selecting a place which was located along the paths of numerous strategic caravan trails.
It is unknown when Petra was first founded, but it was inhabited from prehistoric times and fully established by the fourth century BC, by which time it had achieved fame as an incredible feat of architecture. In 312 BC, Petra was attacked in by Antigonus I Monophthalmos, who had once been a general of Alexander the Great, although he failed to capture it.
Petra continued to thrive under the Nabataeans, growing into a centre of trade with around 300,000 citizens and becoming extremely prosperous. It managed to resist numerous invasions and conquests, including by the Hasmonean Jewish Commonwealth and by the Romans. However, in 106 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan, Petra lost its independence as it was absorbed into the Roman Arabian territory.
Petra maintained its status as an important trading centre throughout its time under the Roman Empire. It was only as the empire fell and following a series of earthquakes that Petra declined, at one point being a Crusader stronghold, but eventually forgotten.
Today, visitors to Petra cannot help but be inspired by its incredible remains. Intricate temples and tombs emerge from rocks and cliffs together with later additions from the Roman era and even a Byzantine church resplendent with mosaics. Other Roman remains include the tomb of the Roman governor Sextius Florentinus, the remains of a Roman palace and the remains of the main colonnaded road.
However, it is Petra’s most impressive and well-preserved monument, The Treasury, which is the first site to greet most visitors. Comprised of an elaborate façade hewn into the rock, The Treasury is thought to date back to the first century BC although its actual purpose is unknown (it may have been a temple, perhaps a tomb).
If the façade of Petra’s Treasury looks familiar, this might be because of its prominent appearance in the film ’Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. Sadly, the inside of this monument does not meet the expectations created by its exterior – it is in fact remarkably bare.
There are several other sites to see along the way including Petra’s theatre and an array of rock-carved tombs. Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is well served by the Jordanian tourist industry.
Pevensey Castle is a picturesque ruin of a medieval castle built in the place where William the Conqueror landed in 1066.
Pevensey Castle is a Norman castle built upon the fourth century AD Roman fort of Anderida, the substantial remains of which are still visible today. Indeed, the main outer defensive walls of the larger Roman fortification have survived very much intact, forming a wider outer ring within which the main castle now stands. These Roman walls are among the very best Roman remains to have survived in the UK.
Pevensey Castle itself, found within the south-east corner of the Roman walls, mostly dates back to the Norman invasion of 1066. In fact, Pevensey was the site where William the Conqueror landed in Britain on 28 September of that year. There the Normans found the fourth century AD Roman fort, upon which they built the first incarnation of Pevensey Castle in timber. Pevensey Castle was actually the first castle that William built.
Later under the Normans, in the twelfth century, the timber castle was replaced by a stone structure, the beginnings of the Pevensey Castle we see today. With an imposing gatehouse, bailey wall and square keep, Pevensey Castle was a mighty fortification. So much so that, despite several attempts to breach its walls - most notably in a siege carried out Simon de Montfort against the sheltering supporters of King Henry III in 1264 - Pevensey Castle survived the medieval period.
Over the centuries, Pevensey Castle would continue to be reinforced several times, including in the sixteenth century and during the Second World War. Now a picturesque ruin under the remit of English Heritage, Pevensey Castle is open to visitors. Amongst its attractions are the remaining elements of the Roman fort, which includes the majority of the original outer walls and towers, as well as the medieval dungeons.
Pharsalus Battlefield was the setting for the most decisive battle of Caesar’s civil war and saw the final defeat of Pompey the Great.
Pharsalus Battlefield was the setting for one of the most decisive and important battles of ancient Rome – the defeat of Pompey the Great by Julius Caesar. It was a battle which Caesar won against the odds and it all but confirmed his position as ruler of Rome, a key moment in the transition from Republic to Empire.
The civil war between Caesar and his senatorial enemies had been underway for over a year when this decisive clash took place. Caesar had followed the senatorial armies, led by Pompey, to Greece and had generally come off second best in the sparring which had taken place since crossing the Adriatic. Most notably Caesar had suffered a defeat at the Battle of Dyrrhachium and his forces were slowly being hemmed in and stripped of supplies by the far larger senatorial army.
While Pompey was in favour of starving Caesar out, his compatriots from the senate favoured a decisive engagement and, against his better judgement, Pompey relented. The Battle of Pharsalus took place on the 9th August 48 BC and saw Pompey’s army decisively defeated and routed. Pompey himself fled the battlefield and was later killed when attempting to find sanctuary in Egypt.
The exact location of Pharsalus Battlefield has been the subject of much debate and there is no absolutely definitive setting which is universally accepted. Likewise, today there are no monuments to the battle and there is nothing to see at the most accepted location, marked on the map, which is just outside the modern Greek city of Farsala.
Phaselis is an exquisite ancient site, where the ruins lie scattered amongst pine trees and the beautiful Mediterranean coast.
The ruins of Phaselis lie to the west of Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, boasting a beautiful contrast of a mountain backdrop and an attractive white sand beach. The site is distinguishable by three natural harbours, and is located in the Olympos National Park.
Phaselis is said to have been founded around 700BC by settlers from Rhodes. Legend states that these newcomers bought the land from the locals by answering a demand for dried fish. Whatever the truth of the tale, the city's location lent itself to trading - Phaselis had trade links stretching as far as Egypt, and the inhabitants even accepted Persian rule in order to gain additional lucrative trading posts. The city's great wealth has been attributed to the pragmatism of its many able merchants, but it also had a reputation as a greedy and corrupt city. As a means of raising funds, Phaselis offered citizenship for 100 drachmas, which had the result of attracting many disagreeable characters from across Asia.
Phaselis changed hands numerous times during its history. The city was ruled by Persia on several occasions, being ‘liberated’ by Athens in 469BC, albeit against the wishes of its inhabitants who enjoyed the benefits of Persian rule. After returning to the hands of the Persians, Phaselis was then conquered by Alexander the Great in 334BC. In the second century BC Phaselis became a member of the Lycian League, before falling victim to attacks from pirates, notably Zeniketes who was eventually killed by the Romans in 78AD. By then however, Phaselis had been reduced to a shadow of its former glory.
The city recovered under Roman rule and on into the Byzantine period and enjoyed several hundred years of stability and growth. In 129 AD the Emperor Hadrian visited the city and several monuments were erected in his name. In the seventh and eighth centuries AD, like much of the region Phaselis suffered due to the turmoil of the period and repeated attacks from the Arab armies. The struggling settlement was eventually abandoned in the thirteenth century AD after earthquakes destroyed the area.
Today, the beautiful scenery and extensive pine forests are at risk of overshadowing what is left of the ruins. One of the best preserved ancient structures on the site is the Roman aqueduct, which runs alongside the bay by the north port. Another highlight is the main avenue leading into the heart of the city, a wonderful ten metre wide road stretching for some distance.
There are also a number of beautiful mosaics which can be seen in the Roman public baths, as well as a basilica dating from the Byzantine period in the sixth century AD. At the end of the main avenue, the main plaza still retains some of its original marble covering. There is little remaining of the city's main port, which one enters through the remains of Hadrian's gate, although there is a beautiful beach there. Ships weighing up to 100 tonnes would once have docked in this harbour, a stop on the important trade route running between Greece and Syria. There is also a second century AD theatre, which would have accommodated up to 1,500 people.
A small museum can be found within the Phaselis Archaeological Site and showcases a number of artefacts found among the ruins. The site is open to visitors throughout the year.
Contributed by Chris Reid
Philippi Battlefield is the location of the Battle of Philippi, where Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the forces of those who had assassinated Julius Caesar.
Philippi Battlefield in modern Greece is the location of one of the most important engagements in Roman history, where Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the forces of those who had assassinated Julius Caesar – notably Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.
After Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC a short, uneasy truce between those who supported Caesar and those who killed him soon denigrated into open conflict. The forces of the two sides eventually met in Greece near the ancient city of Philippi.
The battle actually took place in two separate engagements, one on October 3rd 42 BC and one on October 23rd. The first engagement saw successes for both sides – though Cassius took his own life believing the battle to be lost. The second engagement was a victory for Antony and Octavian and Brutus also committed suicide in the battle’s aftermath.
Today the battlefield of Philippi is believed to be located outside the modern town of Krinides in north-west Greece. The important archaeological site of Philippoi (Filippoi) is located at the site and contains the impressive remains of the ancient city which thrived here both before and after the battle.
Philippopolis, in the modern city of Plovdiv, was an ancient city ruled by various civilisations. Highlights include the Ancient Forum, Theatre and Roman Stadium.
Philippopolis, in the modern city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, was an ancient city ruled by Thracians, Macedonians and Romans, all of whom have left their mark on this historic city.
Originally the Thracian city of Eumolpins, Philip of Macedon pushed out the Thracians and founded his namesake city in 342 BC.
The city saw various periods of conflict and was conquered several times over the centuries. There was a little back and forth between the Greeks and Thracians until Rome eventually conquered the area.
The later Roman period saw the construction of a typical city with portos (gates) and a beautiful theater. On an adjacent hill an ancient Thracian fort still stands with some help from later Roman architects who rebuilt the walls.
A magnificent mausoleum celebrating the life of one of Athens’ most important benefactors, Julius Antiochus Philopappos, and built by the citizens of the city after his death in 116 AD.
The Philopappos Monument is a magnificent mausoleum celebrating the life of one of Athens’ most important benefactors, Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos, and built by the citizens of the city after his death in 116 AD.
When Philopappos died, the citizens of Athens built a spectacular two-storey Pentelic marble mausoleum and monument close to the Acropolis to honour his name. He was the textbook polymath – a massive benefactor to the city of Athens, patron of the arts, a games magistrate and a member of the Roman Senate.
The monument was preserved virtually intact up until at least the late fifteenth century and, though degraded by the years, today visitors can still see elements of the lavish decoration and burial chamber of this famous Athens patron.
Plovdiv Amphitheatre is a beautifully preserved Roman site which dates back to the 2nd century AD.
Plovdiv Amphitheatre is a beautifully preserved Roman site which dates back to the 2nd century AD, during the reign of the Emperor Trajan.
Although known as Plovidiv Amphitheatre, it is in fact an ancient theatre, not an amphitheatre. It would remain in use for several hundred years, right up until the 5th century AD.
Also known as Trimontium Amphitheatre, at its peak Plovdiv Amphitheatre could have seated between 6,000 and 7,000 people. Rediscovered in the 1970s, this magnificent site still plays host to events throughout the year.
Plovdiv Ancient Forum contains mostly Roman ruins including an odeon.
Plovdiv Ancient Forum contains the mostly Roman ruins of Plovdiv. Once known as Philipopolis, its Greek name, Plovdiv has a range of ancient sites.
Much of the structure of Plovdiv Ancient Forum dates to the 1st century AD. It spans an area of 11 hectares and contained the beating heart of the city, with public buildings, shops and markets.
Arguably the highlight of the forum is the restored Odeon, which was initially built between the 2nd and 5th centuries and was once the seat of the ancient city council. Today, this site hosts various events.
Plovdiv Roman Stadium was built in the 2nd century AD, although little remains of it today.
Plovdiv Roman Stadium was an ancient sports arena built in the 2nd century AD. At its peak, Plovdiv Roman Stadium had a capacity of some 30,000 spectators and, though little remains today, there is an ongoing renovation project in place.
The main surviving remnants are an area of seating and track as well as the northern entrance. Various sports would have been played there as well as gladiatorial matches.
Pollentia is an Ancient Roman site in Alcudia in Majorca.
Pollentia is an archaeological site in Alcudia, Majorca housing the remains of an Ancient Roman city.
It is thought that the Romans established Pollentia in either the first or second century BC and that the city was thriving by the second century AD.
Sadly, Pollentia has been the subject of significant looting over the centuries, but there are still several monuments to see. The most significant of these is Pollentia’s first century AD Roman Theatre. This is Spain’s smallest surviving Ancient Roman theatre and would have held around 2,000 spectators. It is still used for shows today.
Visitors can also make out the foundations of the forum of Pollentia including some temples and shops.
Pompey’s Pillar is a third century Ancient Roman column in Alexandria in Egypt.
Pompey’s Pillar is a solitary granite column in Alexandria, Egypt and one of the few Roman remains to have survived in the city.
Whilst called “Pompey’s Pillar”, this 25 metre tall structure was actually dedicated to the Emperor Diocletian, who ruled Rome from from 284 to 305 AD. Completed towards the end of the third century AD, it was one of the largest of its type to be built anywhere in the Empire.
Pont du Gard is a famous Ancient Roman bridge and aqueduct once used to supply Nimes with water.
Pont du Gard is an iconic Ancient Roman bridge and aqueduct built in first century AD and located near Nimes in France. In fact, it was the tallest bridge ever built by the Romans, rising 160 feet.
Nimes had been a major city of Gaul before 45BC, when it was incorporated in the Roman Empire. As the city’s population grew, exceeding 20,000, the need for water surpassed the available supplies of the Nemausus spring. Thus, from 40AD, over 1,000 workers were engaged in building Pont du Gard in order to transfer water from the Gard River (the Eure) to the city. Upon its completion, it would stay in use until the sixth century, when it was finally abandoned.
Since then, Pont du Gard has undergone a series of restoration projects and is now a spectacular place to visit. In 1985 it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Today guided tours of Pont du Gard take visitors right to the very heart of this iconic structure to see the how such an engineering feat was achieved and how the aqueduct operated. Visitors can also walk the full length of the bridge itself and explore this Roman marvel up close. These tours last approximately 1.5 hours.
There is also a Pont du Gard museum on site that explores the engineering techniques used by the Romans to build the bridge as well as the history of the area in which it is built, which actually stretches back to prehistoric times. Other exhibits found within the museum also focus on the history of Nimes and the surrounding area during the Roman era.
Ponte Rotto is the remaining arch of a second century BC Roman Republic bridge.
Ponte Rotto, originally known as Pons Aemilius is Rome’s oldest, albeit defunct, stone bridge.
Built in the second century BC to replace its wooden predecessor, Ponte Rotto, meaning the “broken bridge” is indeed missing most of its original structure.
Today, only an arch remains of Ponte Rotto, worth seeing if you are passing nearby.
Porta Nigra is a late second century Roman gate in Trier in Germany.
Porta Nigra, translated as the “Black Gate” is a magnificently well-preserved second century Roman gate in Trier, Germany.
Originally constructed of large blocks of light sandstone, the darkening of its appearance by the Middle Ages led to it being called Porta Nigra, with its original name unknown.
By the mid-second century AD, Trier – then known as the Roman city of Augusta Treverorum – was fortified by a vast defensive wall. Porta Nigra is thought to have been constructed in the latter half of the second century, perhaps completed in 200 AD and would have been one of four city gates.
It is thought that the hermit monk Simeon lived in Porta Nigra’s east town sometime in the eleventh century, an event commemorated by the building of the adjacent monastery in his name - Simeonstift. Simeon’s residence in the gate saved it from major destruction and it was soon incorporated into a church, partially accounting for its excellent state of preservation.
When Napoleon saw Porta Nigra in 1804, he demanded that it be restored to its original state as it would have looked in Roman Trier. Today, Porta Nigra still bears the marks of its medieval conversions but it is still clearly an Ancient Roman creation. Inside, there are various Roman and medieval remnants. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Trier.
Portchester Castle has been a Roman fort, a Norman keep and even a wartime prison.
Portchester Castle in Hampshire offers a fantastic insight into various periods of British history and originally dates back to the Roman era.
Built during Roman times, probably in the third century AD, Portchester Castle is the country’s only example of a Roman fort whose walls still stand complete up to around six metres.
Over the centuries, Portchester Castle has been renovated and rebuilt many times and its use has altered to suit the needs of its owners. In the eleventh century, parts of Portchester Castle were rebuilt into a Norman keep and in the fourteenth century Richard II transformed it into a palace. Like their Roman predecessor, both of these incarnations served a defensive function.
Yet, during the Napoleonic Wars, the role of Portchester Castle changed, as it became a prison for around 7,000 French prisoners of war. This change was due in large part to the reduced importance of Portchester Castle as a defensive structure following the building of the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard by King Henry VII.
Today, Portchester Castle is run by English Heritage who offer audio tours and exhibitions about the site as well as children’s activities.
Porte de Mars is an ornate third century Roman arch in Reims.
Porte de Mars is a well preserved third century AD ancient Roman triumphal arch in Reims.
Comprised of three wide arches and still adorned with many friezes portraying ancient legends, including that of Romulus and Remus, Porte de Mars was dedicated to the Roman god of war.
At the time of its construction, Porte de Mars would have been one of four arches which would have led to the Gallo-Roman settlement of Durocortorum, as Reims was then known.
Priene is a quiet, picturesque ancient Greek city in Turkey which boasts some amazing historical remains without the crowds of the nearby sites.
Priene is an ancient Greek city which lies between the popular holiday resorts of Kusadasi and Bodrum.
It is one of many important ancient sites in the area and is close to both Miletus and Ephesus. However, though smaller than other nearby historical attractions, the real charm of Priene lies in its quiet appeal and off-the-beaten-track atmosphere.
The original origins of Priene are unknown, though legend dates the city’s founding to Athenian settlers in the 11th or 10th centuries BC.
Although Priene itself may have never been a major power, it’s location in the heart of a region that constantly witnessed the clashes of empires ensured it saw an almost continual flow of conquerors, occupiers and ‘liberators’.
Originally an ally of Athens, Priene was conquered by the Lydians and then by the Persians in the 6th century BC. The city fought in the ill-feted Ionian Revolt against Darius (which would eventually lead to the Persian invasion of Greece and their defeat at Marathon) and, to punish the rebels, Priene was devastated. This destruction prompted one of many re-locations of the city that took place over the centuries, and the new Priene was founded in around 350 BC.
Built on a steep hillside to an innovative grid-pattern design, Priene was a more ordered construct than many contemporary ancient settlements. However, this new incarnation of Priene did not have to wait long for the next regime change, with Alexander the Great conquering the region in around 334 BC. In fact, Alexander himself dedicated a temple to Athena, the remains of which can still be seen at Priene today. A stone inscription recording this event can be found in the British Museum.
Further rule by the Seleucids and Pergamon followed, before Priene was incorporated into the Roman Republic and Empire. The city suffered during the invasions of King Mithridates of Pontus in the first century BC but recovered to prosper in the early Imperial period under the Emperor Augustus.
In the Byzantine era Priene became the seat of the local Bishop and an important local Christian centre. However, after the Muslim conquest, Priene began a gradual decline which, combined with the slow silting of the coast and harbour led to the eventual abandonment of the city.
Today the ruins of Priene are located next to the modern village of Güllübahçe near the town of Söke. The site remains relatively free of tourists, though several tour companies offer trips from local resorts.
Visitors to Priene can view the Temple of Athena, the ancient theatre and the well preserved council chamber (Bouleuterion). Also found at the site are the remains of Roman baths and gymnasiums, the ruins of an ancient Synagogue and the ‘House of Alexander the Great’ - where it is reported that the young conqueror stayed during his siege of Miletus in 334 BC.
As well as these historic sites, visitors to Priene can simply wander the side streets and houses of this Hellenistic city to explore the ruins in peace and quiet.
Puente de Alcantara is a Roman bridge crossing the Tagus River in Spain.
Puente de Alcantara (Alcantara Bridge) in Spain is an impressive stone arch structure crossing the Tajo River and acting as the entrance to Alcantara.
Puente de Alcantara was originally built by the Romans, but much of it has since been the subject of reconstruction, mostly due to damage caused during battles.
In 1214, the Moors destroyed one of its arches, which was reconstructed in 1543 and, in 1762, King Charles III repaired another Puente de Alcantara arch which the Spanish had destroyed to keep Portuguese forces out during the War of the Spanish Succession.
In the middle ages, Puente de Alcantara was a checking point for merchants and visitors and included a fortified entrance way. The centre of the bridge contains an arch dedicated to the Emperor Trajan.
Pula Arena is a dramatic first century AD Roman amphitheatre in Croatia.
Pula Arena, also known as Pula Amphitheatre, is a dramatic historic Roman amphitheatre in Croatia.
Built in the first century AD, Pula Arena was constructed during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian, who was also responsible for founding the Colosseum.
Able to accommodate approximately 20,000 spectators, Pula Arena would have played host to gladiatorial battles under the Romans and the tournaments of knights in medieval times. Now restored with a capacity of 5,000 people, Pula Arena’s shows are far more docile in nature and are mostly operas and film festivals.
The Pyramid of Cestius is a tomb dating back to Ancient Rome.
The Pyramid of Cestius is the tomb of affluent magistrate, Caius Cestius which was built between 18 and 12 BC.
Constructed of white marble and brick, this ostentatious 35-metre high tomb was likely built in this style due to the popularity of all things Egyptian which swept Rome after Egypt was incorporated into the Empire.
Inside the tomb contained a number of frescoes depicting scenes from Roman mythology while an inscription still visible on the exterior gives details about its construction and dedication. This pyramid-tomb was later set into the Aurelian Walls, helping to ensure its preservation through the ages.
Qasr Bashir (Q’Sar Bashir) is an exceptionally well preserved fourth Century Roman fortress that lies in the Jordanian desert.
Qasr Bashir (aka Q’Sar Bashir or Qasr Al Bashir), is an extremely well preserved Roman fortress that lies in the Jordanian desert. Unlike many Roman remains, Qasr Bashir is exceptionally well preserved, having never been re-built by later civilisations.
Built at the beginning of the fourth Century AD and known as Mobene, the walls of Qasr Bashir still stand intact, at a height of up to 20 feet in places, while the main entrance remains to this day. The huge corner towers still rise up two stories from the ground.
It is likely that Qasr Bashir was originally home to an auxiliary cavalry unit, charged with defending the Roman frontier and keeping the peace in the surrounding area. For lovers of well-preserved Roman architecture Qasr Bashir is certainly a hidden gem. Standing within the solid walls of Qasr Bashir, you will certainly be able to feel the living history of life on the edge of the Roman Empire.
Fans of Simon Scarrow’s Eagle series may be interested to note that Qasr Bashir (described as Q’Sar Bashir in the author's comments) was the setting for his novel, The Eagle in the Sand.
The Rheinisches Landesmuseum chronicles the history of Trier and the region as far back as the Stone Age.
The Rheinisches Landesmuseum (Rhenish State Museum) of Trier is a large archaeological museum which exhibits pieces from throughout the history of the city and its region.
Starting with the Stone Age and up to the medieval era, the Rheinisches Landesmuseum offers an overview of the development of Trier and its surrounding areas such as the Eifel region. The main exhibition at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum is dedicated to Ancient Rome and particularly the role played by Trier during the Roman period. This is widely considered to be one of Germany’s most important Ancient Roman collections.
In Roman times, Trier was an important centre of trade which later became the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. Established in circa 15 BC, Trier was known as Treverorum Augusta and later became home to emperors such as Constantine the Great, who was responsible for building many of its now UNESCO-listed sites.
From Stone Age tools to Roman reliefs and medieval ecclesiastical pieces, the Rheinisches Landesmuseum has a wide ranging permanent exhibitions as well as temporary exhibits. Audio guides are available in several languages.
Richborough Roman Fort in Kent marks the site where the Romans successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD.
Richborough Roman Fort, originally called “Rutupiae”, in Kent marks the site where the Romans successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD.
Known by many as the “gateway to Britain” and also Richborough Castle, Richborough Roman Fort is thought to have begun as a military stronghold for the invading Roman soldiers and developed into a civilian town and one of the country’s main ports. One reminder of the leisure facilities of this historic town can be seen around five minutes away in the form of the vague remnants of an amphitheatre.
When visiting Richborough Roman Fort, it is hard to believe that this now very much land-based site was a coastal defensive structure. However, in 2008, archaeologists discovered the location of the original Roman coast.
The impressive stone walls that still stand at Richborough Roman Fort are the remains of a wall fort built by the Romans in the late third century AD to protect against the Saxons. Visitors can also see remaining defensive ditches and the ruin of a first century triumphal arch.
The Rimini City Museum is this city’s most extensive history museum.
The Rimini City Museum is an historical and archaeological museum with a series of collections from throughout the city and the region.
Located in a former eighteenth century Jesuit monastery and then hospital, the Rimini City Museum traces the history of the city back to Ancient Roman times, with exhibitions ranging from tomb inscriptions to coins. It even has surgical tools found in the nearby “Surgeon’s House” archaeological site.
Spanning over 3,000 square metres and arranged over forty galleries, the Rimini City Museum has many different collections. Medieval and Renaissance pieces form a large part of its exhibits, mostly comprised of paintings, frescoes and sculptures.
The Rimini Roman Amphitheatre dates back to the second century.
The Rimini Roman Amphitheatre is a second century Ancient Roman arena which would have held up to twelve thousand spectators. It is the sole surviving amphitheatre of its kind in the region of Emilia Romagna.
Having suffered a series of destructive events, including World War II bombardment, little remains of the Rimini Roman Amphitheatre except its elliptical outline and small sections of the main stands.
Having said this, that which does survive, which includes some of its walls and gates, is worth seeing when in Rimini. Guided tours of the site are offered by the Rimini Museum.
The Rio Verde Roman Villa was a first to second century Roman home in Marbella.
The Rio Verde Roman Villa (Villa Romana de Rio Verde) was a first to second century AD Roman home and villa complex in Marbella, Spain.
Today, the highlight of a visit to the Rio Verde Roman Villa are the impressive Roman mosaics, which depict mostly culinary and religious imagery. These mosaics are comprised of intricate patterns of black and white tiles and have survived in truly excellent condition.
The Roman Agora of Athens contains some of the city’s Ancient Roman ruins.
The Roman Agora of Athens - also known as the Roman Forum of Athens - was founded in the late first century BC / early first century AD and its construction was funded by Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus.
Probably the most impressive historic site at the Roman Agora of Athens is what is known as the Tower of the Winds. A clock, weather vane, sundial and compass all in one, this monument is generally thought to date to the first century BC and is very well preserved.
The Roman Agora of Athens is also home to the Gate of Athena Archegetis (circa 11BC) as well as the remains of some ancient public toilets.
The Ancient Roman amphitheatre in Alexandria is the only one of its kind found in Egypt and is one of the many roman ruins in the region.
The Roman amphitheatre in Alexandria in Egypt is a large circular Roman theatre and the only one of its type to be found in the country. Though often referred to as an amphitheatre, the site is actually that of a small Roman theatre rather than a larger sporting arena.
Excavations at the site – initially undertaken in search of the grave of Alexander the Great – uncovered the original Roman marble seating, a number of courtyard mosaics and even graffiti relating to the rivalry of supporters of local chariot teams. As well as the theatre itself, there are also the remains of a baths complex on the site and several other chambers and living quarters.
Further research and excavations are still being carried out, with these finds shedding new light on the complex. Some of the latest theories are centred around the idea that the theatre was actually a small lecture hall, and indeed that the complex as a whole was an academic institution - perhaps even an ancient university linked to the Great Library of Alexandria.
The Roman Amphitheatre in Saintes was built in around 40AD in the Roman settlement of Mediolanum Santonum.
The Roman Amphitheatre in Saintes is a 1st century AD construction built around 40AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius.
Saintes was then known as Mediolanum Santonum and was a thriving Roman settlement in modern day France which was founded around 20BC. The amphitheatre itself would have had space for several thousand spectators and would have been the venue for ancient Roman games.
Along with the Arch of Germanicus, the Roman Amphitheatre in Saintes gives visitors a glimpse of the historic ancient Roman city and is certainly worth a visit for anyone exploring the area.
Once holding over 30,000 spectators, the Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage was one of the biggest ancient stadia in North Africa. Today much of the site lies in ruins but it is still worth a visit.
The Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage was once a major Roman stadium, the ruins of which can be found near modern-day Tunis.
Probably built at the end of the first century AD, it is believed to have been able to hold up to 35,000 spectators.
Unlike other Roman Amphitheatres in North Africa, such as El Jem, the Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage has been mostly lost to ruin. Although there are sources which intimate it was still intact in the early middle ages, its materials were systematically looted for other building projects and little remains today.
A Roman circus near the site was thought to be able to hold at least double the number of spectators but has been all-but-lost to history and there is little if nothing to see.
The Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage is about 1.5km from Byrsa Hill and the National Museum of Carthage.
In 1930 in the basement of the Mail Coach Inn in St. Sampson’s Square in York, renovators stumbled across the 1,900 year old remains of a Roman ‘caldarium’, or steam bath.
In 1930 when the Mail Coach Inn in St. Sampson’s Square in York was undergoing renovations, builders uncovered the 1,900 year-old remains of a Roman ‘caldarium’, or steam bath. The bath house was used by the soldiers of the Legio XI Hispana (Spanish Ninth Legion) who were stationed in Eboracum – modern day York – from 71AD to c.121AD.
The caldarium and the neighbouring plunge pools were excavated and the small museum, now in the basement of the Roman Bath pub displays a snapshot of the life of a Roman legionnaire.
Roman ‘caldaria’ were not just for bathing. They were more like a cross between a leisure centre and a casino where cleaning the body and dirtying the mind were de rigeur. Deals were agreed, games were played for money, exercise was done and the atmosphere was rowdy. Not too far removed from modern day pubs…
Today visitors can see the well-preserved remains of a semi-circular bath, the hypocaust – the underfloor heating system where steam from the furnaces is pushed through, warming up the floor tiles – and the apsidal walls as well as armour and weapons. Some of the tiles appear to show the official seal of the Legio XI Hispana and you can clearly see the imprints in the tiles of nails from the sandals of the soldiers.
Rumours of recent patrons hearing the ghostly sounds of splashing water and the clunk of a spear or shield are largely unfounded but for an up close and personal look at Roman life in York almost 2,000 years ago, visit the Roman Baths pub. You’re assured of a lot more than a pint and a pie!
One of the best known Roman sites in the UK, the Roman Baths in Bath is an Ancient Roman thermal spa and one of the best preserved examples of its kind.
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 Roman Necropolis of Barcelona contains 95 Ancient Roman tombs.
The Roman Necropolis of Barcelona (Necrópolis Romana) is a realtively obscure site which contains 95 second and third century Roman tombs.
As with most Roman cities, Barcino (Barcelona) required all burials to take place outside of its city walls. Today, the Roman Necropolis can be seen in a small park within Barcelona, each grave marked with a small monument known as a “cupae”.
The Roman Pyramid of Vienne is a monument which would once have formed the centrepiece of Vienne’s Roman Circus.
The Roman Pyramid of Vienne (La Pyramide de Vienne) is a monument which would once have formed the centrepiece of Vienne’s Roman Circus.
While described as a pyramid, this is infact more of a triumphal monument made up of an arched base topped with a steep-sided square-based pyramid tower. Modelled after the one the monuments found at Rome’s Circus Maximus, La Pyramide de Vienne dates back to the 2nd century AD.
The remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Ribchester Roman Bathhouse can be seen alongside the Ribchester Roman Museum.
The modern day village of Ribchester is situated on the site of what was once a large Roman fort and settlement known as Bremetennacum Veteranorum. Today, the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Ribchester Roman Bathhouse can be seen alongside the Ribchester Roman Museum, which showcases the best of the history of the site.
It is believed a first incarnation of Ribchester Roman Fort was built in 72AD as a timber fortification. This Roman fort would have housed a military garrison and would have been used to secure the local area as well as provide a strategic link to other Roman military fortifications in the area. The fortress was built at a crossing over the River Ribble, at a point where the Roman roads from Chester, York, and Carlisle converged. The fort was later rebuilt in stone, probably in the mid-to-late second century AD.
Excavations of Roman Ribchester have revealed ruins of the Ribchester Roman Fort itself, as well as uncovering the remains granaries, timber buildings, a kiln, roman bath house and pottery dating from 69 AD to the 4th century.
Today visitors can see the remains of the fort itself as well as the Ribchester Roman Baths. The interesting Ribchester Roman Museum contains many artefacts from Neolithic to Roman times and beyond as well as showcasing an interactive 3D model of 3rd Century AD Ribchester.
The Roman Ruins of Milreu are an important Portuguese archaeological site in the Algarve.
The Roman Ruins of Milreu (Ruinas Romanas de Milreu) are an important Portuguese archaeological site in the Algarve housing remains dating from the first to the sixth centuries AD.
A luxurious manor house turned thriving farm in the third century, the Roman Ruins of Milreu are quite extensive and include agricultural buildings, a temple and a baths complex - with several of the original rooms - as well as several well-preserved mosaics.
The Roman Ruins of TrÃ³ia were the largest salted fish and fish sauces production complex built in the first half of the 1st c. AD. It developed into an urban settlement probably occupied until the 6th c. The different areas opened to the public are two large fish-salting workshops, the baths, the mausoleum, its cemetery and the residential quarter of rua da Princesa. The visiting circuit, installed in 2010, has interpretation panels in seven observation points and signs indicating the possible ways. The early Christian basilica can only be visited in guided tours.
The ruins of the Roman settlement of Troia in Portugal contain the remains of an important trading centre that grew into a small residential settlement.
Probably built in the first half of the 1st century AD, Troia was known for its production and trade in the popular Roman fish-based sauce Garum as well as for producing salted fish. It is likely that the settlement remained active until the 5th or 6th centuries AD, when the upheaval of the Germanic invasions changed the political and cultural destiny of the region.
Today visitors to the Roman ruins of Troia can explore the large fish-salting complex, a set of Roman baths, an ancient mausoleum and cemetery and the remains of the residential areas of the settlement. The site also boasts an early Christian basilica, though this can only be visited on guided tours.
There is an informative visitor track around the ruins which is dotted with explanatory panels.
The Roman Temple of Evora was an impressive Roman monument and is now a pretty ruin.
The Roman Temple of Evora was an impressive Roman monument which dates back to the second - maybe even the first - century AD and is now a pretty ruin.
Often known as the Temple of Diana (Templo de Diana), The Roman Temple of Evora has been attributed to this Roman deity as well as to the Emperor Augustus and to Jupiter.
Whatever the original use of this now-picturesque ruin, the Roman Temple of Evora is one of the most important sites in this UNESCO-listed city centre. It is comprised of several Corinthian columns rising out of a large base.
The Roman Theatre of Benevento is a well-preserved semi-circular Roman theatre that was built under the Emperor Hadrian.
The Roman Theatre of Benevento, known locally as Teatro Romano di Benevento, is a well-preserved semi-circular ancient theatre built during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian.
Measuring 295 feet in diameter and constructed of rock, brick and cement, the Roman Theatre of Benevento was completed in approximately 126AD and would have held up to 10,000 spectators.
Today, the lower part of the façade of the Roman Theatre of Benevento stands intact, with a series of twenty-five archways. Some of the stage scenery or “frons scenae” can still be discerned, notably parts of its doorways.
One of the best Roman ruins in France, the Roman Theatre of Orange is a stunningly well-preserved first century theatre in France and is UNESCO listed.
The Roman Theatre of Orange, known locally as the Theatre Antique, is a stunningly well-preserved first century theatre and one of the best preserved Roman sites in the world.
Dating back to the rule of Augustus (31 BC to 14 AD), the Roman Theatre of Orange is an incredible site and one of the largest existing theatres of its kind, able to hold up to 10,000 spectators.
The façade wall of the Roman Theatre of Orange is an impressive 338 feet long and 121 feet high and the structure still retains its original stage. This is despite the fact that the Prince of Orange, Maurice of Nassau, damaged it in the seventeenth century by using it as a quarry for building materials.
Today, the Roman Theatre of Orange is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage historic site together with the Triumphal Arch of Orange. It is still used as a theatre, meaning that visitors can enjoy a play in its incredible and historically evocative surroundings. There are also audio guides included in the entry prices (seven languages) and guided tours are offered.
The Romano-Germanic Museum is a museum of Ancient Roman history in Cologne.
The Romano-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Museum) in Cologne houses an extensive collection of ancient Roman finds from around Germany, particularly from the local area which was occupied by the Romans for a considerable time.
During the Roman era, Cologne was known as “Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium” and was the capital of the Imperial province of Lower Germania. From artwork and jewellery to glass, ceramics and pieces of Roman structures, the Romano-Germanic Museum exhibits a wide range of historic pieces dating back to this era and beyond into the Middle Ages.
One of the most famous exhibits at the Romano-Germanic Museum is the tomb of the Poblicius, a soldier who served in the fifth legion and whose large and elaborate tomb dates back to approximately 40AD.
However, it is the Dionysus Mosaic which is the star attraction of the Romano-Germanic Museum. Thought to have been created in around 220 to 230AD, this extremely well preserved mosaic floor measures approximately 750 square feet and is comprised of an incredibly intricate collection of over a million pieces of glass, stone and ceramics. In fact, the Romano-Germanic Museum was built around this floor, which was housed in a villa on the site.
Public tours of the Romano-Germanic Museum take place on Sundays at 11:30am.
Romerbrucke is a second century UNESCO-listed Roman bridge in Trier which is still in use.
Romerbrucke is an ancient Roman bridge which crosses the Mosel River in Trier in Germany.
Built between 144 and 152 AD, much of the original structure of Romerbrucke still survives, although some of it – notably the road and its arches – date back to the eighteenth century.
Still an active bridge, Romerbrucke is said to be the oldest bridge in Germany and is a UNESCO World Heritage historic site.
A picturesque ancient city on Libya’s coast, Sabratha contains some excellent Roman ruins.
Once a thriving Roman city, the impressive ruins of Sabratha lie approximately fifty miles west of Triopli, alongside the modern town of the same name.
Remarkably picturesque, the ruins of Sabratha look out across the Mediterranean and give modern visitors an insight into why this location served the ancient trading routes so well.
Much like Leptis Magna, Sabratha itself was a Roman conquest rather than a Roman creation, starting life as a Phoenician city before becoming part of the Numidian Kingdom and eventually falling under Roman control. The city flourished throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries before a series of elements combined to cause its decline and eventual abandonment. A devastating earthquake struck Sabratha in the late 4th century (likely to have been around 365 AD) while the city suffered during the Vandal invasions and Byzantine Reconquest.
Much of what can be seen at Sabratha today was partially or wholly reconstructed by the Italians in the early 20th century – particularly under Mussolini who gave speeches from the ancient theatre.
Today, visitors can explore an impressive set of ruins, including the three-storey theatre, several temples and the remarkable remains of luxury Roman villas, which boast well preserved mosaics. Also found at Sabratha is the Byzantine-era Basilica of Justinian.
A good place to start your exploration is at the museum, which contains background information, exhibits and artefacts.
Check the official advice of your country’s foreign office before considering travelling to Libya.
Sagalassos is an active archaeological site in southwest Turkey which contains mostly Hellenistic and Ancient Roman ruins, some of them very well preserved. It is one of many Roman sites in the area.
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.
Sagunto Castle was a large Moorish citadel, the impressive remains of which overlook the modern town.
Sagunto Castle (Castillo de Sagunto) is a vast ruin spread over a kilometre and overlooking the town.
The most impressive parts of Sagunto Castle date back to around the eighth century and were built by the Moors as an imposing fortress. However, the site also shows signs of previous inhabitants of Sagunto, namely the Iberians and the Romans.
In particular, the site of Sagunto Castle houses the remains of a Roman forum.
The Sagunto Roman Theatre dates back to the first century, when it was built into the side of a mountain.
The Sagunto Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano de Sagunto) dates back to the first century, when it was built into the side of a mountain.
The site has the honour of being the first ever to be declared a Spanish National Monument, an accolade it achieved in 1896. However, while the initial incarnation of the Sagunto Roman Theatre would have been an Ancient Roman creation, the theatre seen today has undergone significant - and controversial - renovations, making it appear brand new.
Today, the 8,000-seater Sagunto Roman Theatre plays host to events and shows as well as generally being open to the public for visits.
The Salamanca Roman Bridge is said to date back to the first century AD.
The Salamanca Roman Bridge (Puente Romano de Salamanca) is a picturesque stone arched bridge said to date back to the first century AD. This would place it in the reign of Marcus Ulpius Traianus, when the bridge was part of the 'Plata' or ‘silver’ route between Merida and Astorga.
Much of the Salamanca Roman Bridge was rebuilt in the 18th century, but its city-side arches remain original.
Salona is an impressive Roman site which bears the remains of this once great ancient capital and believed birthplace of Diocletian.
Salona, or Solin, was an administrative hub of Ancient Rome, the capital of Dalmatia and is believed to have been the birthplace of the Emperor Diocletian, under whom it flourished. An important city, Salona is well preserved and well signed. Access is along the top of the defensive wall giving a superb overview of the ruins.
Part of the Salona site can be seen from the main road north out of Split to the airport. Salona retains all the main buildings to be expected of such a site. Apart from the remains of the city wall, there are several basilicas, an amphitheatre, entry gates, the forum, the theatre and baths. Salona has a number of very early churches, including an early baptistery built by Bishop Honorius in the 6th Century.
Despite the walls, the attacks by Avars and Slavs became too much and in the 7th Century the population moved to the safety of the Palace of Diocletian in Split. Outside the entrance is an early cathedral. Its development over the years makes Salona a fascinating puzzle.
Among the most interesting Roman sites, San Clemente is a church built atop a series of fourth and third century BC ruins.
San Clemente is a beautifully frescoed twelfth century historic basilica in Rome. However, whilst interesting in its own right, it is what lies underneath San Clemente which is a highlight to historians.
In the mid-nineteenth century, when San Clemente was excavated, it was discovered to have been built over both a fourth century church and a third century Temple of Mithras.
The former site is extremely well preserved and lined with faded frescos, whilst only one of the rooms of the Ancient Roman Temple of Mithras remains. There are also ruins of some Roman houses.
Visitors can descend under San Clemente to view these sites.
San Giovanni in Laterano is Rome’s cathedral, originally founded by Constantine the Great.
San Giovanni in Laterano, or Rome Cathedral, is a basilica known to many as the “cathedral of the world”, by virtue of the fact that it is the cathedral of Rome and thus the seat of the Pope.
Founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in the early fourth century BC, San Giovanni in Laterano was dedicated to John the Evangelist and John the Baptist.
The current structure mostly dates to the late sixteenth century, the cloisters to the thirteenth century and its façade is an eighteenth century creation. In fact, San Giovanni in Laterano was rebuilt several times over the centuries including a controversial redecoration during the papacy of Innocent X which obscured many original frescos.
The San Lorenzo Maggiore ruins in Naples are the underground remains of a Greek colony then Roman city.
What seems to be the attractive thirteenth century church of San Lorenzo Maggiore in Naples in fact contains a startling secret – the amazing underground remains of the Greco-Roman city of Neapolis. For lovers of ancient Rome it's simply unmissable.
Established in approximately 470 BC by the Cumans, Neapolis would later become the Roman city of Naples and the remains reflect this change as well as development into medieval times.
The main find at the San Lorenzo Maggiore Ruins are the remains of the Greek meeting place and marketplace, known as the Agora. A Roman food market or “Macellum” has also been found, partially incorporated into the cloisters of a church, the cloisters themselves dating back to the fourteenth century.
Visitors to the San Lorenzo Maggiore Ruins can also see public buildings such as what would have been the public treasury or “Aerarium” and a series of roads and “tabernae” or shops including a laundrette and a bakery.
Beneath the thirteenth century church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, there are also the remnants of a sixth century AD Christian basilica. This truly remarkable place is also an informative museum, with exhibits and historical information covering the archaeological excavations at the site. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy, best known for being the home of Michelangelo's statue of Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II.
The beautiful San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome is a quiet, inconspicuous ancient church containing several stunning sculptures by the famous artist Michelangelo as well as famed religious artefacts said to date back to St Peter.
Originally built in the 5th century AD by Empress Eudoxia - wife of Roman Emperor Valentinian III - the church was constructed to house the shackles of St Peter, an ancient relic believed to have been those used to imprison St Peter during his time in Jerusalem and Rome. This original church was rebuilt over the centuries, with major works in the 8th century AD and then again around 1500 AD. Today visitors can see what is said to be the chains themselves, which are located under the main altar.
However, it was with the contribution from Michelangelo that San Pietro in Vincoli really gained its iconic status - with the artist being commissioned to produce the tomb for Pope Julius II. Though this work was never fully completed, the astounding Moses sculpture remains a key draw for visitors to the site today.
San Saturnino Basilica is one of Sardinia’s oldest churches.
San Saturnino Basilica (Basilica di San Saturnino) is one of Sardinia’s oldest churches. San Saturnino Basilica was definitely in existence by the sixth century AD and perhaps even as early as the fourth.
In fact, the namesake of San Saturnino Basilica is said to have been executed here during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian and may also be buried within the church.
Built in the shape of a cross, the current structure of San Saturnino Basilica was consecrated in the twelfth century and has a Roman necropolis, dating back to the early Christian era.
Santa Eulalia Basilica was an Ancient Roman church, the remains of which are located in Merida.
Santa Eulalia Basilica in Merida, known locally as Basílica de Santa Eulalia, is an Ancient Roman church the remains of which lie under the present eighteenth century church.
The namesake of Santa Eulalia Basilica was a girl who was martyred upon being burnt at the stake during the Christian persecutions under the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. According to legend, she is buried nearby.
Santa Eulalia Basilica is one of an ensemble of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Merida.
An impressive 16th century church in Rome, built by Michelangelo using the structural remains of the ancient Baths of Diocletian.
The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs) is a large and impressive 16th century church constructed within the remains of the Baths of Diocletian and masterminded by renowned renaissance artist Michelangelo.
Though centuries had passed since the fall of the Roman Empire, the massive Baths of Diocletian were still standing in the 16th century. Taking advantage of the huge structural shell, the new Christian basilica was built inside the great hall and frigidarium. It was to be the last great work of Michelangelo, who began the project in 1563 but died in 1564, before its completion by Jacopo Lo Duca, a pupil of Michelangelo’s.
One notable feature of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is the meridian line built into its floor and gaps in the ceiling used to measure the passage of the stars.
The sheer scale of the build is not only impressive in its own right, but also gives a good indication of the size of the original baths, of which this is only one part. Those looking to find a more unaltered view of the original baths should visit the nearby Aula Ottagona.
Santa Maria in Trastevere is thought to have been the first Christian church in Rome.
Santa Maria in Trastevere is thought to have been one of the first – if not actually the first – of the Christian churches in Rome.
Whilst most of the building and works contained in Santa Maria in Trastevere date back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the church itself may date back as far as the third century, when it is thought to have been founded by Pope Callixtus. Others believe it was established in mid-fourth century by Pope Julius I.
Legend has it that an oil fountain miraculously appeared on the site of Santa Maria in Trastevere on the date of the birth of Christ.
Today, Santa Maria in Trastevere houses a series of colourful medieval frescos.
Sao Cucufate Roman Villa is a two-storey Roman ruin in Portugal dating mostly to the fourth century AD.
Sao Cucufate Roman Villa, also known as Villa Aulica, in Portugal dates back as far as the first century AD, although most of what can be seen there today dates to the fourth century. At this time, the Sao Cucufate Roman Villa may have operated as a farmhouse.
The name "Sao Cucufate" derives from the medieval monastery that was built here at a later date.
The ruins of the Sao Cucufate Roman Villa are quite impressive and distinctive, even rising up to a second storey. Visitors can also see the remains of the hot and cold baths situated within the villa complex.
Sbeitla in Tunisia flourished as a Roman city from the 1st century AD.
Sbeitla in Tunisia was once a flourishing ancient city, the spectacular remains of which are among the best Roman ruins in the world.
This startling site, also at times known as Sufetula, thrived as a Roman settlement from the 1st century AD before becoming a Christian centre, a Byzantine city and - after a brief period under Prefect Gregory - being taken by the Muslims.
Today, Sbeitla’s ruins hint at the great city that once stood here. Most of the sites date back to the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD. The highlights include its Temples of Jupiter and Minerva, both located in the beautiful forum. There are arches dedicated to Diocletian and Antionius Pius, a bath vessel complete with colourful mosaics and evidence of street planning including dwellings and roads.
There is also a museum at the site which examines the history of the area and includes an array of finds from Sbeitla. This incredible site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions of Tunisia.
Segedunum Roman Fort was one of the Ancient Roman wall forts 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.
The Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best preserved Roman structures in Spain. UNESCO listed.
Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best preserved Roman structures in the world and represents a brilliant feat of engineering.
Built at around the end of the first / beginning of the second century AD, the Segovia Aqueduct still stands tall and includes two levels of granite arches to a total length of 800 metres.
Despite suffering damage under the Moors, this stunning site now weaves through Segovia, looming over the urban sprawl at a maximum height of almost 30 metres. The best place to see Segovia Aqueduct is probably at the Plaza de Azoguejo.
Segovia Aqueduct is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct.
Impressive ruins and a fascinating museum, Side hosts a wealth of Graeco-Roman remains and the impressive amphitheatre is a particular highlight.
The ruins of ancient Side are among of the most spectacular that remain in the modern world and showcase hundreds of years of Greek life in the Roman Empire.
Its coastal location made Side a desirable trading port and, despite the prominence of piracy, Greek settlers flocked to the city around the sixth century BC. Unusually, this resulted in the preservation, rather than destruction, of the native culture and Side became a cultural melting pot - indeed, many original inscriptions found at the site today are written in the indecipherable native language.
Hellenic influence in Side grew, however, and it was under Roman rule that the city really flourished - even gaining repute as the best slave market of the period. Many of the Roman ruins still remain, and the city has become a popular destination for eager explorers interested in discovering the rich history of the ancient Mediterranean.
Today, this ancient metropolis showcases the skill with which the Romans were able to seamlessly combine elements of Greek culture, which they so admired, with their own recognisable Roman stamp of identity. Certainly, when Titus Flamininus declared the ‘freedom of the Greeks’ in 196BC he would not have imagined that the two cultures would have merged so comprehensibly centuries later.
Reflecting this combined cultural legacy, and ranking among the most prominent sites at Side is the 2nd century AD ancient theatre. A unique example of fusion design, it was born out of this combination of Hellenic plans and Roman construction. Moreover, the theatre’s decoration dates to the period of the Antonine Emperors and the exterior columns tell the story of Dionysus (or Bacchus in Roman), the Greek God of wine and patron of the theatre.
Among Side’s other fascinating remains are the temples to Apollo and Athena, which are picturesquely perched at the very tip of Side’s harbour. The sight of these ancient columns set against the picture-perfect Mediterranean sea makes for an ideal sightseeing spot.
If that isn’t enough, the archaeological site at Side also features the remnants of the colonnaded main street, Roman baths, a nymphaeum and a Hellenic gate that decorates the exterior walls. The nearby museum is an ancient site in itself, being housed within a baths complex dating back to the second century AD, and contains many of the finds discovered during excavations of the ruins in the mid-twentieth century.
With ancient ruins dotted among the thriving modern city, Side truly combines a hands-on and hands-off approach to understanding the site’s jaw-dropping history and is well worth a visit to those seeking ancient exploration.
Contributed by Rebecca Lewis
Silchester Roman Town flourished from the mid-first century AD and was eventually abandoned.
Silchester Roman Town is home to the remains of Calleva Atrebatum, a town which flourished under the Romans in the mid-first century AD. Built on the site of what had been an Iron Age trading hub, Calleva Atrebatum itself became a busy town crammed with shops, homes and several public amenities including a forum basilica, temples, public baths and an amphitheatre.
It is unclear as to when and why exactly Silchester Roman Town was abandoned. Estimates place its decline somewhere between 550 and 650 AD, much after the erection of the town walls in the third century and the end of Roman rule in the fifth century. Much has been made of the fact that no medieval settlement took its place.
Today, visitors to Silchester Roman Town can see its remaining ruins, those a mile and half walk of the walls and the amphitheatre. There is an audio guide to download from the English Heritage website. During six weeks of the summer, the main excavation site, run by Reading University, is also open.
Silves Archaeological Museum offers an insight into the history of Silves and its surrounding area.
Silves Archaeological Museum (Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves) offers an insight into the history of Silves and its surrounding area, with a collection spanning from prehistory to the seventeenth century. This collection is divided into four main sections, namely the prehistoric, Roman, Moorish and the Portuguese periods.
The building in which Silves Archaeological Museum is located is also of interest, having been a nineteenth century home and the site where a Moorish water reservoir was uncovered. Visitors can see this today.
The ruins of Simena are spread along beautiful beaches and submerged under crystal clear waters. Enjoy spectacular views from the crusader castle or explore an authentic Lycian Necropolis.
The remains of ancient Simena, now modern Kaleköy in the Kekova region, form one of the most impressive historical places in Turkey. The city’s striking crusader castle combines with a wealth of partly submerged ancient ruins and the beautiful Mediterranean waters to produce a truly inspiring place to explore.
Indeed, it comes as no surprise that Simena is an environmentally protected site; this unspoilt harbour town is surrounded by blue skies, white sand and a wealth of archaeological wonder. The surviving ancient ruins date to as far back as the 4th Century BC but most of the sites to have survived are from the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Although a member of the Lycian League, Simena’s coastal location afforded it a degree of independence from Lycian affairs, instead Simena was a small port town for traders of the wider Mediterranean. Certainly pirates saw promise in the treasures of Simena and the problem of piracy is prominent throughout the town’s history. The coastline was militarised to deal with the threat and Simena boasts the remnants of a crusader castle, erected by the Knights of Rhodes (an order of the Knights Hospitaller) atop earlier fortifications.
Today this historic castle is probably the most renowned of Simena’s sights and tourists can visit the castle which also possesses its own small ancient theatre among other remains. The well preserved ruins also offer great views of the surrounding countryside and the idyllic coastline.
While many of the ruins were submerged when Simena was prey to earthquakes in the 2nd century AD, many points of historical note still remain. It is evident, for example, that Roman Baths c79AD were dedicated to the Flavian Emperor Titus during his short reign by the townsfolk of Simena, and inscriptions that decorate the ruins are ready to be deciphered by the eager Latin historian.
If you’re brave enough, Simena is also home to a Lycian necropolis or burial ground. The sarcophagi are large structures which can be accessed on foot; many of them still remain scattered along the nearby hill side. A Byzantine wall also surrounds the village, while the remnants of a Temple to Poseidon can be discovered nearby.
However, one of the most fascinating aspects of site are the numerous remains which are now underwater. Visitors can see Lycian tombs protruding from the coastal waters along with half-submerged ancient houses. In fact, a small but thriving boat-tours industry has now established itself to serve the needs of visiting tourists – though more challenging canoeing tours are also available in the village while renting a yacht is another option for tourists looking to get the most out of their visit to this spectacular site.
Today, Simena provides a scenic backdrop for visitors that travel year round by both land and sea to experience the awe inspiring history of the city; what was once a small fishing village is now an idyllic coastal treasure trove for the tourist and the historian alike.
Contributed by Rebecca Lewis
The Sirmium Imperial Palace complex holds the remains of a Roman imperial palace which was home to several Roman Emperors in the middle and late empire.
The Sirmium Imperial Palace complex in Serbia contains the remains of a Roman imperial palace which was home to several Roman Emperors, including Constantine I.
Built at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth century AD, the complex has now been opened to the public as a museum.
The ancient Roman settlement of Sirmium was founded in the first century AD and grew to become one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire. Indeed, by the end of the third century Sirmium had become one of four designated capitals of the Empire. The city was a major centre of trade and home to many of the middle and latter Emperors. In fact, several Roman Emperors were born in Sirmium.
Discovered in the 1950s, the Sirmium Imperial Palace complex has been carefully excavated over the years, revealing a multitude of finds including remnants of the private rooms of the Emperors and even a Roman circus. The site also contains a number of well preserved mosaics, frescos and ornaments as well as the underground heating systems employed by the Romans.
Today the Sirmium Imperial Palace complex is one of the most important Roman sites in Serbia and is a testament to the central role this area played in the middle and late Roman Empire.
The Spanish National Museum of Archaeology displays historical artefacts from throughout the country’s history as well as from around the world.
The Spanish National Museum of Archaeology (Museo Nacional de Arqueologia) in Madrid displays historical artefacts from throughout the country’s history as well as from around the world.
The periods covered by the Spanish National Archaeological Museum range from prehistory to the nineteenth century and include Ancient Roman and Greek works, Egyptian mummies, Moorish objects and Iberian pieces such as the famous Lady of Elche and Lady of Baza sculptures.
The ancient Greek city of Sparta was one of the most famous city-states of the ancient world and became a popular Roman city.
Sparta was one of the most famous city-states of the ancient world and left not only a mark in our historic records, but its very culture at the heart of modern language – the English word 'Spartan' reflecting their very way of life – simple, basic, severe.
Rising to power in the late 7th Century BC, Sparta produced the most powerful land-army of the Hellenic world. Spartan soldiers led the Greek coalition during the Greco-Persian War, becoming legendary in their heroic last stand at Thermopylae and the eventual victory of the Greeks at Plataea.
Sparta’s star continued to rise in the following century, with victory over Athens in the long-running Peloponnesian War and a brief spell of hegemony over all Greece and even parts of Asia Minor.
However, it was their constant military involvements combined with their elitist, purist approach to citizenry which led to their downfall.
Sparta’s conflict with a resurgent Thebes, particularly their defeat at the Battle of Leuctra, crippled Spartan power, a blow from which they never recovered. Their own discriminatory nature left Sparta without the capacity to suffer losses, and therefore one or two severe defeats crippled Sparta’s military manpower.
Sparta did live on as an independent power for the next two centuries, but the city never wielded real power again. Sparta had no part in the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the city was eventually conquered, along with the rest of Greece, by the Romans in the mid-second century BC.
Today, the ruins of ancient Sparta exist on the outskirts of the modern city of Sparti – founded by King Otto of Greece in 1834. A good proportion of the remains you see today are actually from the Roman period and few are well preserved.
Unlike Athens, Spartan culture never led to grand building projects and consequently few historic structures remain. Visitors to Sparta can see the remains of the ancient theatre of Sparta, the nearby Roman shops, the partially-preserved sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, and the site that is said to be the tomb of Spartan King Leonidas.
The Sparta Archeological Museum is also worth a visit and contains artifacts from the various archeological digs.
Located in London’s journalistic heartland of Fleet Street, St Bride’s is a restored 17th century church, steeped in history and originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
Located in London’s journalistic heartland of Fleet Street, St Bride’s is a restored 17th century church, steeped in history and originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
A succession of churches has existed on the site for over 1,000 years and the site’s history stretches even further into the past right back to the Roman era. Located in the heart of London, an early medieval incarnation of St Bride’s Church was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666 before Wren’s design was built as a replacement. In more modern times St Bride’s Church was severely damaged during the bombing of London in the Second World War.
Today the restored St Bride’s forms a well-known part of the centre of London and visitors can not only see the church itself but also the underground crypt - including the Roman mosaic pavement - as well as the subterranean Medieval Chapel.
St Matthias Abbey houses the grave of its namesake, the apostle, St Mathias.
St Matthias Abbey (Benediktiner abtei St. Matthias) is a twelfth century church and the site of the tomb of the apostle St Matthias, who succeeded Judas.
Also located at St Matthias Abbey, which was consecrated in 1148, is a Roman cemetery housing the final resting places of the first bishops of Trier, probably dating back to the third century.
Much of the building of St Matthias Abbey was reconstructed in the nineteenth century, having been subject to several invasions and occupation as a private home.
St Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest of Christian sites with a history dating back to Ancient Rome.
St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is one of the most important Christian sites in the world and is a church (rather than a cathedral) with a long and illustrious history.
Also known as the 'Papal Basilica of Saint Peter' and in Italian as 'Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano', St Peter’s Basilica sits over the site of the tomb of its namesake.
St Peter was one of the twelve apostles in Christianity and is believed to have been crucified at the Circus of Nero, on which St Peter’s Basilica was constructed. At that time, the Circus of Nero also had a cemetery.
The first basilica to be built over the Circus of Nero was constructed in 324 AD by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Visitors to St Peter’s Basilica can still see the shrine in his honour. The saint himself is thought to be buried under the Papal altar.
The current form of St Peter’s Basilica began to form in the fifteenth century and was expanded and added to by various popes and architects over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Whilst much of the building was designed by Bernini, the most celebrated architectural aspect of St Peter’s Basilica is probably its vast dome. Designed by Michelangelo in the mid-sixteenth century, but not finished until after his demise, the dome of St Peter’s rises a magnificent 448 feet in height.
Inside St Peter’s Basilica, visitors can view a wealth of historical art, mostly Renaissance, and the tombs of popes such as Pope Pius XI (d.1939), Pope John XXIII (d. 1963) and Pope John Paul II (d. 2005). Many of their tombs are located in the basilica’s Grottoes.
Some of the highlights in respect of the artistic masterpieces at St Peter’s Basilica include Michelangelo’s statue Pieta, Arnolfo di Cambio’s Statue of St. Peter Enthroned, the foot of which pilgrims traditionally touch and Bernini’s golden Monument to Pope Alexander VII.
St Peter’s Basilica is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Historic Centre of Rome. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
The St. Sebastian Catacombs are some of the earliest of the Christian catacombs in Rome.
The St Sebastian Catacombs (Catacombe di San Sebastiano) are fourth century AD underground Christian burial tombs. They are some of the earliest of their kind in Rome.
The many catacombs of Rome are the remnants of early Christianity, a reminder of a time when persecuted Christians would bury their dead in underground chambers outside the city walls. Several examples of these subterranean cemeteries still exist, with the St Sebastian Catacombs listed among the best known.
Comprised of four levels of burial passages, the St. Sebastian Catacombs are believed to have once held the remains of their namesake, but he is now buried in the basilica above. Creepy but fun, it's certainly worth a look if you haven't seen any other catacombs on your trip to Rome.
Entry to the St. Sebastian Catacombs also includes a guided tour.
Stabiae contains the ruins of both ancient Roman and Oscan civilizations, dating back as far as the 7th century BC.
Stabiae, today contained in the modern town of Castellammare di Stabia, was an Ancient Roman town which, along with Pompeii and Herculaneum, was engulfed in lava and ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. In fact, it was during this natural disaster that Pliny the Elder was killed in Stabiae.
Despite originally being discovered in 1749, Stabiae was only completed excavated in 1950, upon which archeologists found the remains of not one, but two ancient civilizations. The older of the two civillisations was that of the Oscan people, who lived there between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC. The main remains from this Italian tribe are contained in a necropolis which houses over 300 tombs.
However, the more famous ruins at Stabiae are the Roman villas which were constructed there in around 89 BC when the town became something of a Roman holiday resort. Amongst these are the 11,000 square foot Villa San Marco with its beautiful frescos and mosaics, Villa Arianna - so named for its magnificent fresco of Ariadne being saved by Dionysus - with its underground tunnel and Villa Del Pastore, which was most likely a bath house.
Stabiae is far less well-known than Pompeii, but offers visitors a great tour of authentic Roman ruins in a quieter environment.
The Stari Grad Plain is a prime example of ancient Greek agricultural practices and organisation.
The Stari Grad Plain is a prime example of ancient Greek agricultural practices and organisation dating back to the Greek colony of Pharos.
Inhabited by Ionian Greeks in the 4th century BC, the Stari Grad Plain became an important farming landscape, where mainly grapes and olives were grown. Remarkably, the land has continued to serve these purposes for centuries and still does so today.
In 2008, the Stari Grad Plain was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Amongst the reasons for its inclusion was the excellent state of preservation of its “chora”, geometrical shaped plots each enclosed by stone walls. These agricultural practices - ways of splitting or organising the land - were an important method used by the ancient Greeks to parcel up land in the course of farming.
Other aspects of the Greek town are also visible including the ruins of fortifications and some houses.
It is worth noting that, under the Romans in around the 2nd century BC, the port of Pharia became an important military base.
Stobi in Macedonia was an ancient settlement of Paeonia before becoming a Roman city.
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.
The Syracuse Archaeological Site contains the impressive remains of an ancient city dating as far back as the eighth century BC.
The Syracuse Archaeological Site (Siracusa) in Sicily contains the impressive remains of the ancient city of Syracuse dating as far back as the eighth century BC. The city of Syracuse was founded by Greek colonists - heralding from Corinth - in 734 BC.
At its height, Syracuse was the most powerful city in Sicily and, according to Cicero, was the “most beautiful” of all Greek cities. By the fifth to fourth century BC, Syracuse controlled Sicily, especially during the reign of Dionysus the Elder (405BC-367BC).
In the third century BC, the Romans laid siege to Syracuse and, after three bitter years, it came under Roman rule in 212 BC as a province. One of the most famous residents of Syracuse, the mathematician Archimedes, died during this attack.
Remaining a part of the Roman Empire, the city remained stable for hundreds of years until the fall of the Western Empire. Over the following centuries, Syracuse was invaded, conquered and occupied several times, leading to it being inhabited by several peoples including the Vandals and Byzantines (5th-6th centuries) as well as the Muslims (9th-10th centuries). It also came under Norman rule for thirty years from 1061.
From 1197 to 1250, Syracuse experienced resurgence under the rule of Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty.
Today, visitors to the Syracuse Archaeological Site can enjoy the spectacular remnants of its past, the most famous of which is its Ancient Greek theatre. There is also a Roman amphitheatre (pictured on the map), a sanctuary to Apollo, an altar to Sicilian King Hieron II (265-215BC), a set of ancient quarries and a fort known as the Castle of Euryalus (although the latter is located around 8km north of the main site).
Together with the Necropolis of Pantalica, the Syracuse Archaeological Site is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Taormina Amphitheatre was first built by the Ancient Greeks in the third century BC and reconstructed by the Romans.
Taormina Amphitheatre (Teatro Greco Romano) was initially built by the Greeks in the third century BC before being rebuilt and enlarged by the Romans.
While known as an amphitheatre, the site is actually an ancient theatre, not an arena of the type normally meant by the term.
Parts of the Taormina Amphitheatre, such as its scenery, are still quite well-preserved, although some would say that the modern seating ruins the effect.
Today, as well as being a major draw for tourists to the city, the theatre is still used for concerts, plays and other event.
Tarragona Amphitheatre is a second century AD construction would once have played host to gladiatorial battles.
Tarragona Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Romano de Tarragona) is a second century AD sports arena in Spain which would once have played host to the pastimes of the Ancient Romans, particularly to gladiatorial battles.
It was probably built during the reign of Trajan or Hadrian. At the time, Tarragona Amphitheatre was part of the Roman city of Tarraco, the remains of which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The elliptical structure and seating plan of Tarragona Amphitheatre can still be seen. It would once have held up to 14,000 spectators.
Tarragona Amphitheatre was in use until the fourth century AD, after which it was abandoned. Later, a sixth century basilica and a twelfth century gothic church were built on the site - the remains of which can be seen today.
The stunning Tarragona Aqueduct is the last remaining section of the ancient aqueduct which served the Roman city of Tarraco.
The stunning Tarragona Aqueduct is the last remaining section of the ancient aqueduct which served the Roman city of Tarraco.
Also known as Pont de les Ferreres or Pont del Diable, it is believed to have been built in the first century AD during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. The original Roman aqueduct ran for over 25km and took water from the river Francoli all the way to the city of Tarraco.
Most of the aqueduct fell to ruin after the fall of the Empire but the impressive surviving section, which spans a small valley about 4km to the north of modern Tarragona, was preserved and restored over the centuries - including by caliph Abd-el Rahman III and later repairs in the 18th century.
Today the Tarragona Aqueduct is a beautiful site to visit, nestling as it does in the green valleys and picturesque hills of the Spanish countryside. The remaining section rises a colossal 90 feet from the ground at its highest point, and has an upper tier containing 25 arches with 11 underneath. Tours are available to take visitors across the bridge, though they’re not for the faint-hearted!
As an interesting side-fact, the Pont de les Ferreres is also widely known as the or Pont del Diable - meaning the Devil’s Bridge because of a local legend which says it was constructed by the Devil after winning a bet in which a fair lady bet her soul. Dark stuff…
Tarragona Roman Circus was built in the first century AD and is one of the best preserved Roman sites in this Spanish city.
Tarragona Roman Circus (Circo Romano de Tarragona) is an ancient racing arena, probably built under the Emperor Domitian in the first century AD, which still contains some astonishing subterranean Roman tunnels.
When Tarragona Roman Circus was constructed it would have been able to accommodate up to 30,000 spectators and was just one of a series of impressive public buildings serving the Roman settlement of Tarraco. It was in use until the fifth century AD, when it was abandoned and slowly fell to ruin.
Today, though little of the original structure survives, visitors can still get an insight into the original scale and setting of this ancient chariot racetrack. Most of the circus is now buried under the more modern buildings which were built atop the ruins, largely in the 19th century, though the small exposed area is actually quite well preserved.
At one end of the Circus complex stands the Praetorium, a Roman tower which once formed the corner of the large Roman forum. This forum was connected to the circus complex below via a series of passageways and tunnels, which were also used to service the games held at the circus. Miraculously, some of these underground tunnels have actually survived and are now open to the public – making a visit to this site a genuinely impressive experience.
Tarragona Roman Circus is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco.
The Tarragona Roman Forum houses the ruins of what was the central square of the Ancient Roman city of Tarraco.
The Tarragona Roman Forum houses the ruins of what was the central square of the Ancient Roman city of Tarraco. The site is UNESCO listed.
A major Roman city, Terraco was the capital of the province of Nearer Spain. Operating at the very heart of this ancient city, the Forum was the cultural and political hub of Roman life here and stood as a mixture of public and religious buildings.
Today, little remains at this site beyond a scatterting of ruins and a few standing columns, a mere shadow of its former glory.
The ruins of a temple built atop a mountain called Puy de Dome outside the Gallic city of Augustonemetum (now Clermont-Ferrand).
The ruins of a temple built atop a mountain called Puy de Dome outside the Gallic city of Augustonemetum (now Clermont-Ferrand).
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The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is one of the best preserved of the structures in the Roman Forum and one of the most interesting Roman ruins in the area.
Initially constructed in 141 AD, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was built by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in honour of his wife, Faustina. It is one of the best preserved structures in the Roman Forum.
Faustina was deified following her death and the temple – then just the Temple of Faustina – was the place of worship of the cult of Faustina.
When the emperor died in 161 AD, he too was deified and Faustina’s temple became the joint Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.
The primary reason that the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina has survived in such a good state of preservation is that it was incorporated in the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda sometime between 600 AD and 800 AD.
A flight of stairs leads up to the ten standing columns of the original temple, which is now part of the church.
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae is often said to be one of the best examples of its kind in the Peloponnese.
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, also known simply at the Temple of Bassae, is not just beautifully preserved, but is often said to be one of the best examples of its kind in the Peloponnese. Built sometimes from the middle to end of the 5th Century (estimates range from 450-400 BC), the magnificent Temple of Apollo Epicurius is the highlight of the site of the former sanctuary of Bassae and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right.
Set amidst the rocky, mountainous and quite remote location, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae is oft praised for its unique blend of styles and has been linked – albeit not confirmed - to the famed architect Ictinos (Iktinos). The entire Temple of Bassae is now in a covered tent-like structure and contains many wonderful architectural features.
A frieze from the Temple of Apollo Epicurius can be found at the British Museum.
The Temple of Augustus is a first century Ancient Roman ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets.
The Temple of Augustus is a poorly preserved first century AD Roman ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets.
Built in honour of the Emperor Augustus in the first century AD, all that remains of this temple are four main columns, hidden away within the medieval quarter in the courtyard of the Centro Excursionista de Cataluña.
When it was built, the Temple of Augustus would have been far more prominent and would have formed part of the Forum of Barcelona.
The Temple of Augustus and Livia is a very well preserved Roman temple in Vienne.
The Temple of Augustus and Livia (Temple d'Auguste et de Livie) is a very well preserved Roman temple in Vienne.
Whilst probably first built sometime between 20BC and 10BC, several aspects of the Temple of Augustus and Livia date to the first century AD. Yet, the main reason for the great state of preservation of the Temple of Augustus and Livia is that it was incorporated into a church perhaps as early as the fifth century and restored in the nineteenth century.
The Temple of Caesar was built in honour of Julius Caesar. Its altar remains in the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Caesar (Tempio del Divo Giuli), the remains of which can be seen in the Roman Forum, was dedicated to the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar (100BC - 44BC).
Caesar, who was murdered by the senators Cassius, Brutus and their supporters on 15 March 44BC, was cremated. Following his death, he was deified and the Temple of Caesar was constructed on the site of his cremation to house his cult. It was completed in 29BC.
All that remains of the Temple of Caesar today is its altar.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum was built following a military victory.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Templum Castoris) was an ancient Roman temple in Rome’s Forum. First constructed in the fifth century BC, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was then rebuilt in the early first century AD.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux was dedicated to Helen of Troy’s twin brothers. Legend had it that Castor and Pollux helped the Romans in their victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (499 BC) and had appeared to them nearby.
It is the remains of this second incarnation of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, rebuilt under the Roman Emperor Tiberius, that visitors to the Roman Forum can see today. These comprise of an ornate podium with several standing columns.
The Temple of Concord was an Ancient Roman temple in Rome’s Forum.
The Temple of Concord (Tempio della Concordia) was an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Concordia, the godess of harmony.
It is unclear when the Temple of Concord was first constructed. Roman statesman Marcus Furius Camillus vowed to build it in 367 BC, although there is little evidence as to whether he fulfilled this promise. However, the Temple of Concord was almost certainly in existence in 121 BC (this may have been when it was either built or rebuilt).
Used in part as a place for the senate to hold meetings, the Temple of Concord would have been a grand structure. Today, only meagre ruins of this temple survive and can be found in the northwest of the Roman Forum, next to the Tabularium.
One of many Roman sites in the city, the Temple of Diana is a very well-preserved UNESCO-listed Ancient Roman temple in Merida.
The Temple of Diana (Templo de Diana) in Merida was a sacred site constructed by the Romans in the early first century AD, after the conquest of the area by the Emperor Augustus.
Roman Merida, known as Emerita Augusta, became an important centre of Roman power in the region. Originally formed of veterans of the Roman conquest, the city quickly grew to become a thriving metropolis. Within this ancient city, the Temple of Diana would have formed a central part of the Roman Forum, where the principle civic buildings of the city originally stood.
Incredibly well-preserved, probably due to its incorporation into a sixteenth century palace, the Temple of Diana’s Corinthian columns still stand in their original rectangular formation. It is part of UNESCO’s Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
The Temple of Diana is a Roman site in Nimes whose ultimate purpose remains a mystery.
The Temple of Diana (Temple de Diane) is a Roman site in Nimes whose ultimate purpose remains a mystery, as does the origin of its name.
Believed by some to have been originally built sometime during the reign of Augustus - others say in the 2nd century - it has been suggested that the Temple of Diana may have been a library.
Whatever its original function, this stunning site boasts well-preserved vaulted ceilings, grand archways and enticing passageways. Apparently, the reason for its excellent state is that the Temple of Diana was used as a medieval church, only to be damaged in the French Wars of Religion.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the most impressive ancient temples in Greece.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympeion is one of the biggest - if not actually the biggest - ancient temples in Greece.
Vast and impressive, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was begun by Peisistratus the Young in the sixth century BC but various events and circumstances meant it took hundreds of years to construct. It was the Roman emperor Hadrian who finally completed it in around 132AD.
The archaeological site of the Temple of Olympian Zeus contains not just the ancient temple but also other ruins. Amongst these are some other ancient temples, the remains of a defensive wall, some Roman baths and even homes.
The Temple of Saturn was the site of the national treasury of Ancient Rome, the ruins of which stand in the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum was a sacred ancient Roman temple dedicated to Saturn, the god of seed-sowing.
One of the oldest of the Roman Forum structures, the Temple of Saturn was originally built sometime between 501 BC and 497 BC and reconstructed in the fourth century BC. However, this second incarnation burned down and the Temple of Saturn was restored in 42 BC by Roman senator Lucius Munatius Plancus.
Used as the treasury and the seat of the financial overseers of the Roman Republic, the quaestors, the Temple of Saturn was also closely linked with the celebration of Saturnalia, during which slaves and masters would dine together.
Largely destroyed in the mid-fifteenth century, all that remains of the Temple of Saturn are six of its Ionic granite columns crowned with a frieze thought to date to approximately 30 BC.
Temple of Taffeh, built by Roman Emperor Augustus in Egypt.
The Temple of Taffeh, was ordered to be built by Roman Emperor Augustus in Egypt, after his defeat of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. It was built between AD 1 and AD 14.
The temple survived in good condition in Egypt for several centuries. However, due to the construction of the Aswan Dam, many ancient sites in the area had to be moved to secure their preservation. Several of these sites, including the Temple of Taffeh, were gifted by the Egyptian government to other nations in gratitude for their assistance in this project.
Today the Temple of Taffeh can be found in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities.
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The Temple of Venus and Rome was created under Hadrian and is located in the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Venus and Rome, known in Latin as Templum Veneris et Romae, in the Roman Forum was built in approximately 135 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
Hadrian himself is thought to have heavily influenced the design of this temple, although it was later renovated by the emperor Maxentius after it was damaged in a fire.
Dedicated to the godesses of love and of Rome, the Temple of Venus and Rome would have comprised two main chambers and would have been an impressive structure. Its remains are found at the far east end of the Forum, near the Colosseum.
The Temples of the Forum Boarium are two second century BC Roman republic temples.
The Temples of the Forum Boarium are two of the best preserved Roman temples to have survived from the Republican era.
Comprised of two temples, the Temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus, the Temples of the Forum Boarium date back to approximately the second century BC.
The Temple of Hercules Victor (or Ercole Vincitore) is a round structure with twenty columns dedicated to Hercules, while the larger of the two, the Temple of Portunus, is a square building dedicated to the Roman deity of rivers, ports and harbours.
The Forum Boarium was itself originally part of the Roman cattle market before becoming a commercial centre.
In medieval times, both of the Temples of the Forum Boarium were incorporated into churches, probably accounting for their excellent state of preservation.
Nestled on the slopes of the Güllük Mountain the majestic ruins of the ancient city of Termessos are surrounded by outstanding natural beauty.
Located high in the mountains at Güllük National Park, the picturesque city of Termessos is perhaps one of the best preserved Roman/Hellenistic ruins in Turkey.
Founded by the Solyms, an ancient Anataolian community, the early history of the inhabitants of this city is relatively obscure, however it is known that the city successfully defended itself against Alexander the Great in c333 BC. The city later became an ally of Rome and was effectively part of the Roman Empire.
In addition to its natural defences the city of Termessos boasted an impressive gate, built in 130AD in honour of the Roman emperor Hadrian. As the city’s influence declined after the third century AD the three-arched opening to the gate was used less and less frequently, resulting in a perfectly preserved architectural monument, complete with reliefs and engravings that are visible today.
The theatre at Termessos is one of the most significant attractions at the National Park. With a capacity of 4,200 it suggests that the population at any one time was small, much smaller than the ancient theatres of neighbouring cities (for example the theatre at Perge held at least 12,000). The Gymnasium and cemeteries are also well worth a visit, the latter offering a diverse and richly decorated set of tombs.
Other ruins at Termessos include a large temple to Zeus Solymeus, which was originally decorated with ornate scenes of gods and monsters of which a few remains can still be seen. In addition there is a smaller temple, although it is not known what gods were worshipped here. Inscriptions on the northern stoa date to the first century AD and would have surrounded the central open space, originally used for markets and other public activities.
Today the site has fallen victim to its surroundings. The natural defences that were so essential in protecting the city from Alexander the Great have proved too effective and many of the ruins are now hidden beneath dense foliage; the “Royal Road” or “King’s Road” is almost impossible to make out due to the dense foliage that makes Güllük National Park such an exceptional natural wonder.
At an altitude of over 1,000m the ruins of Termessos are only accessible by a steep path, but one that winds its way up the Güllük mountainside, offering vistas of the National Park. Once at the site, many of the ruins require further trekking and it takes some time to explore it all; it’s therefore advisable to bring a lot of water. The National Park itself offers an ecosystem, home to many endangered species including the Golden Eagle. As such, it has been on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage since 2000.
Contributed by Ros Gammie
Tharros, in Sardinia, was founded by the Phoenicians and contains mostly Roman ruins.
Tharros is an archaeological site in Sardinia brimming with centuries of history.
Founded in the eighth century BC by the Phoenicians, Tharros would be inhabited by the Carthaginians and the Romans, leaving behind a series of ancient structures, especially its two standing Corinthian columns.
Among the other highlights of the ruins at Tharros are the remains of the Carthaginian tophet – a sacred space sometimes used for burials – as well as the remains of the thermal baths and the foundations of temples, houses and shops.
Later abandoned due to Saracen raids, Tharros is one of Sardinia’s best ancient sites.
The Altes Museum in Berlin contains a collection of Ancient Greek and Roman artifacts.
The Altes Museum is part of Germany’s National Museum and is located in Berlin. Displaying part of the National Museum’s collection of classical antiquities, even the building of the Altes Museum has been built in a style inspired by Ancient Greece.
One of the main collections at the Altes Museum is its Etruscan Art. It also exhibits a series of Roman portraits including those modelled on of the sarcophagi of Caesar and Cleopatra.
It is worth noting that the National Museum has made several changes to the arrangement of its classical antiquities collection and many pieces have moved to the Neues Museum.
One of the largest ancient bath complexes ever built, the ruins of the second century Antonine Baths are a real treasure to explore.
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 Antonine Wall was a Roman defensive wall, the remains of which can now be seen in Scotland.
The Antonine Wall was a Roman defensive wall which ran from Old Kilpatrick to Carriden, along what is now Scotland’s central belt.
In 138AD, under the orders of Emperor Antoninus Pius, the Roman 6th and 20th legions began building The Antonine Wall. They would complete it a mere two years later, eighteen years after Hadrian’s Wall was built. The main function of The Antonine Wall was a defensive one - mostly to offer protection from Caledonian tribes - but it may also have served as a customs station.
The Antonine Wall would continue to be occupied until the late 160s AD when, under Marcus Aurelius, the Romans began to retreat to its more famous counterpart. Whilst far less well-known than Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall is still a marvel of Roman engineering and many parts of it - and some of its approximately twenty forts - can still be discerned today. Amongst them are Bar Hill Fort, Croy Hill and the Bearsden Bath House.
The map for this site is located at the former Roman fort of Rough Castle, the earthworks of which can still be seen. This is also considered one of the most intact sections of the Antonine Wall, with a ditch and rampart both visible.
The Ara Pacis Museum displays the Emperor Augustus’s Altar of Peace.
The Ara Pacis Museum (Museo dell Ara Pacis) in Rome houses the Altar of Peace, which was built under instructions from the Emperor Augustus and sanctioned by the Senate.
Augustus decided to build the Ara Pacis to celebrate his military campaigns which resulted in the outbreak of peace in the Mediterranean.
Dedicated on 30 January 9 BC, the Ara Pacis was originally located on a site known as the Field of Mars. The altar itself is surrounded by marble walls adorned with elaborate friezes of various figures, including senate members and members of Augustus’s family. These carved figures take part in a procession celebrating the peace brought about by Augustus.
The Barbara Baths were a second century baths complex of Roman Trier. UNESCO listed.
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.
The Bardo Museum is an archaeological museum in Tunisia most renowned for its Roman mosaic collection.
The Bardo Museum (Le Musee National du Bardo) in Tunis is Tunisia’s national archaeological museum and contains artefacts from throughout the country’s history.
From prehistoric items to Punic ceremonial artefacts believed to be connected with practices of human sacrifice and right through to art from the Islamic era, the Bardo Museum offers a great overview of Tunisia’s past and the development of its culture.
The most celebrated exhibit at the Bardo Museum is its collection of Roman mosaics. Mostly dating from the second and third centuries, but going up to the seventh century AD, this collection has been amassed from Tunisia’s many archaeological sites, including El Jem, Dougga and Sousse.
Vibrant and intricate, the mosaics at the Bardo Museum depict everything from nautical scenes of boats and fish to images of deities and legends. One of the most famous mosaics is that of Virgil shown between the Muse of Tragedy and the Muse of History.
The Roman items do not stop at these famous mosaics however. Visitors can see numerous Roman sculptures and artefacts, many from Roman Carthage.
The Bardo Museum’s building has a long history of its own, having been a Hafside Dynasty palace originally built in the thirteenth century and renovated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Bardo Museum also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Tunisia.
The Beule Gate was built in the third century AD as part of a defensive wall.
The Beule Gate is one of the first things you see when entering the Acropolis complex and was built in the third century AD as part of a defensive wall.
Discovered in 1852, the Beule Gate was named after archaeologist Ernest Beule.
The Caesarea Aqueduct is the remaining section of the aqueduct that supplied the Roman city of Caesarea.
The Caesarea Aqueduct is the picturesque, well-preserved ruin of the ancient Roman aqueduct which served the city of Caesarea.
Mostly constructed during the reign of King Herod the Great, the majority of the great public buildings, infrastructure and monuments of Caesarea were built from around 22 BC onwards.
The city became a thriving commercial hub which hosted sporting events and which flourished further under the Byzantines. However, the city had no reliable fresh water supply at the time of construction and the growing population demanded greater supplies of water to furnish the various public and private demands of a Roman city. The aqueduct was therefore built to provide this supply and was further expanded as the city grew in the following centuries.
In later years Caesarea's importance diminished and, though the aqueduct fell in to disuse, it has remained in a relatively good state of preservation to this day.
The Claudio Aqueduct is an Ancient Roman aqueduct which served Rome from 52 AD.
The Claudio Aqueduct (Acquedotto Claudio) was one of Rome’s ancient aqueducts.
Whilst it was the Emperor Claudius, after whom it is named, who completed the Claudio Aqueduct in 52 AD, it was his predecessor, the Emperor Caligula who began its construction in 38AD.
Today, parts of the Claudio Aqueduct are fairly well preserved and can be seen within the Appia Antica Regional Park.
The Coenaculum in Jerusalem is a Crusader-built structure at the believed location of The Last Supper.
The Coenaculum in Jerusalem is a room built by the Crusaders in the fourteenth century, later taken over by the Franciscans and then transformed into a mosque by the Ottomans in the sixteenth century.
However, for Christians, it is best known as the “Last Supper Room”, the upper room where Jesus Christ had his final supper before being crucified.
In fact, the site of the Last Supper has never been definitively verified and the date in which this particular room was built means that it is not the actual room in which this iconic event took place. However, it is believed to be built on the same site where the original room stood.
Situated on the second floor, the Coenaculum also sits above the site where Jews believe King David was buried, King David’s Tomb.
The Cryptoporticus of Reims is a very well preserved third century AD Roman passageway.
The Cryptoporticus (Le Cryptoportique) of Reims is is a very well preserved third century AD Roman passageway. At the time, Reims was a Gallo-Roman town known as Durocortorum.
Like other structures of this kind, the Cryptoporticus of Reims was a semi-subterranean arched passageway, the roof of which would have been a walkway. It would have been one of three such passageways surrounding the forum of Durocortorum.
The Cryptoporticus of Reims is an excellent example of this type of Roman architecture, particularly as it is so very well preserved.
The Gier Aqueduct near Lyon served its Roman counterpart, Lugdunum.
The Gier Aqueduct was a Roman aqueduct used by the Gallo-Roman city of Lugdunum, which would later become the city of Lyon.
At the time, the Gier Aqueduct would have been one of four aqueducts supplying water to this important and highly populated city.
Today, the impressively restored remains of the Gier Aqueduct, with its stone arches, can be seen just south of Lyon, on the roadside in Chaponost.
The Hermitage is a world renowned museum in St Petersburg which includes a vast array of global exhibits ranging from ancient artefacts and archaeological finds to modern history.
The Hermitage is a vast museum complex in St. Petersburg housing around three million historic and archaeological artefacts, paintings, sculptures, numismatics and other works.
It is one of world’s most well-renowned museums, with an astonishing array of exhibits ranging from the art and culture of ancient civilisations such as the Romans, Greeks and those of the Orient to Western European art and Numismatic coins.
The Hermitage is made up of six buildings, each consisting of exhibits relating to different eras and specialities. The main buildings are called the New Hermitage, the Small Hermitage and the Old Hermitage. These house, amongst other things, Greek and Roman artwork and artefacts, including vases, sculptures and gems dating back as far as 2000 BC, antiquities from Siberia and exhibits of Russian culture dating back to the 10th century.
The Treasure collection is also fascinating, showing diamonds, jewels and precious materials going back as far as the seventh century BC. For the military historian, the Arsenal provides an array of arms and armour from around the globe and throughout history.
The Winter Palace of Peter I, also known as Peter the Great, is another building in the Hermitage complex and displays pieces relating to the life and times of this monarch in his eighteenth century palace. Amongst this collection is Peter I’s own incredible collection of prehistoric art, mostly gold pieces taken from ancient burial grounds and dating back as far as the sixth century BC.
Other buildings in the Hermitage complex include the beautiful Menshikov Palace, being the former home of St Petersburg’s first governor-general, Prince Alexander Menshikov, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, The Hermitage Theatre and the Reserve House and the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre.
With so much to see, it’s probably best to join in one of the tours, available in many European languages including in English. For those wishing to see the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre, visits must be booked in advance and must be by guided tour.
The Hermitage also features as one of our top ten Russian visitor attractions.
The House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill was the home of Rome’s first emperor.
The House of Augustus, located on the eminent Palatine Hill, was the modest home of Ancient Rome’s first emperor, Augustus.
The grandnephew and heir of Julius Caesar, Augustus lived in this house for many years. The House of Augustus should not be confused with Domus Augustana, which was the later palace of the emperors of Rome.
Whilst considered to be relatively small, especially when compared to the Imperial Palace built at a later date, the House of Augustus does contain a vivid collection of frescos.
Open to the public since 2008, the House of Augustus has been carefully restored and offers a fascinating insight into the life of one of ancient Rome’s most prominent figures.
One of the most interesting Roman sites for fans of the famous I Claudius novels, the House of Livia was the home of Augustus’s third wife.
The House of Livia, also known as Livia’s House or Livia’s Villa, was the home of the third wife of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, and the mother of its second emperor, Tiberius.
Powerful and formidable, Livia was an important figure of Ancient Rome, a status she managed to maintain even after Augustus’s death. It even became treasonous to speak against Livia. Robert Graves memorably portrayed the figure of Livia in his I Claudius series.
Set on the Palatine Hill, Ancient Rome’s most desirable location, the House of Livia is currently being excavated by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma and so is usually only accessible by prior appointment.
The Iseum is a 2nd century AD Roman temple site dedicated to the Egyptian godess Isis.
The Iseum, also known as the Isis Szentély Romkertje, in Szombathely is a restored 2nd century AD Roman temple site dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Excavated since the 1950’s, the ruins of the two temples of the Iseum can be seen today and part of the site has been reconstructed. The remains of the original site, some of which have undergone significant modern restoration, are now contained within a wider museum complex.
The Los Milagros Aqueduct in Merida supplied water to the Ancient Roman city of Augusta Emerita.
The Los Milagros Aqueduct (Acueducto de Los Milagros) is an incredibly well-preserved Roman water supply system in Merida, Spain.
Comprised of a trio of levels of looming brick arches, the remains of the Los Milagros Aqueduct are a fantastic example of Roman engineering. In ancient Roman times, the Los Milagros Aqueduct would have supplied water to Augusta Emerita, which was the capital of Roman Lusitania and which would become modern Merida. Today, it is visible from afar and can be viewed from the roadside and surrounding fields.
Together with other sites such as the Merida Roman Circus and Merida Amphitheatre, the Los Milagros Aqueduct is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Lyon Gallo-Roman Tombs are a trio of reconstructed first century burial chambers.
The Lyon Gallo-Roman Tombs (Tombeaux Gallo-Romain) are three reconstructed ancient burial chambers displayed at Place Eugène-Wernert.
Dating from the 1st century AD, these tombs were discovered in the late 19th century during works constructing the railway system. In order to ensure their preservation, the tombs were painstakingly moved brick by brick to their current location.
Today, these ancient tombs are an interesting site and, in places, the original inscriptions giving details about the occupants of the tombs can be seen.
The Magne Tower in Nimes is a well preserved Roman tower built under the Emperor Augustus.
The Magne Tower (Tour Magne) is an impressive Roman tower built under the Emperor Augustus in the 1st century BC as part of the fortifications of Nimes. In fact, it is the town’s sole remaining tower from this period.
Beyond its Roman roots, the Magne Tower also played a role in the Hundred Years’ War, acting as a stronghold against the English.
Despite the loss of its top storey, the Magne Tower is still an imposing sight, rising some 112 feet in height at the town’s highest point. With its prime location overlooking Nimes, visitors to the Magne Tower can climb its many steps for fantastic views and a map of Roman Nimes.
The Palatine Hill Stadium was part of the imperial palace of Ancient Rome’s emperors.
The partially-intact Palatine Hill Stadium once formed part of Domus Augustana, the imperial palace of Rome’s emperors.
Built by the Emperor Domitian, the Domus Augustana was a magnificent palace used as the primary residence of many of Rome’s emperors.
The exact purpose of the Palatine Hill Stadium itself is unknown, with some historians saying it was a private garden and other thinking it was a place for the emperors to exercise their horses.
The Palatine Museum exhibits ancient finds from the famous Palatine Hill in Rome.
The Palatine Museum (Museo Palatino) on Rome’s Palatine Hill houses a collection of finds from this incredible archaeological site.
With artefacts dating back as far as the Middle Palaeolithic era, the Palatine Museum offers a good overview of the area considered to be the birthplace of Rome.
The main exhibits at the Palatine Museum date back to ancient Rome, particular between the first and fourth centuries AD, when the Palatine Hill was the best address in the city and home to Rome’s emperors.
The Regia in Rome’s Forum was a royal residence turned office of the Pontifex Maximus.
The Regia, the remains of which are located in the Roman Forum, was initially the royal residence of the first kings of ancient Rome. It later became the seat of Rome’s most high ranking priest, the Pontifex Maximus.
Among many notable names to hold this position, Julius Caesar would have conducted his official business from this spot during his time as Pontifex Maximus.
The Regia would have been built and reconstructed several times and today little remains of this structure. In fact only its ground works, next to the much better preserved Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, are visible.
The Roman Lighthouse in Dover is a ruined first century AD Roman tower which is one of the best-preserved of its kind anywhere in the world.
The Roman Lighthouse in Dover is a ruined first century AD Roman tower which originally served to guide shipping into the ancient Roman port of Dubris. Today it is one of the best-preserved of its kind anywhere in the world.
The original octagonal structure was 24m tall and consisted of six to eight storeys of which only four remain today. The Roman Lighthouse has also been repaired and reconstructed over the centuries with the uppermost masonry being mostly medieval.
Today the Lighthouse sits directly alongside the late Saxon church of St Mary-in-Castro, which is itself constructed from Roman building materials.
The Surgeon’s House is an archaeological site which uncovers Rimini’s past from Ancient Roman times.
The Surgeon’s House (Domus del Chirurgo) in Rimini, Italy, is an archaeological site known locally as “little Pompeii”.
Spanning an area of over 700 square metres, the Surgeon’s House is a collection of archaeological sites discovered in 1998 and excavated over the course of almost a decade.
This attraction is known as “The Surgeon’s House” due to its main find, the second century AD home of an ancient Roman doctor by the name of Eutyches. Over 150 medical instruments were found among the ruins (housed in the museum) together with the remains of the building itself, which is thought to have been razed to the ground by fire in the 2nd or 3rd century AD. The Surgeon’s House also has some well-preserved and restored mosaic floors.
However, beyond the actual “Surgeon’s House” there are other notable historic ruins at this site. One such building is known as the Palace of Late Antiquity and was built sometime after 260 AD. The extensive ruins of this site, which include several rooms and a sophisticated heating system, indicate that it would have been the lavish home of a lord or “dominus” although it was entirely abandoned by the fifth century.
The displays at the Surgeon’s House also look at the site post the fifth century AD, when it was used as a Christian cemetery. Visitors can even see exposed graves and tombs with bodies still inside. This was an active cemetery until the seventh century.
The Temple of Vesta was an Ancient Roman shrine now found on the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Vesta was an ancient Roman shrine dedicated to the goddess of the hearth, the remains of which are found in the southeast of the Roman Forum.
Serving as the temple of the Vestal Virgins, the priestesses dedicated to Vesta, the Temple of Vesta housed an eternal flame which represented the everlasting nature of the state. If the flame were extinguished, this would indicate doom for Rome.
As with other temples of this kind, the Temple of Vesta would have been a circular structure facing east. It burned down several times, including in the Great Fire of Rome.
Today, the remains of the Temple of Vesta hint at its former grandeur, made up of three main standing columns and part of a fourth with steps leading up to it.
Built by the Emperor Hadrian, the Zaghouan Aqueduct supplied water to the Roman city of Carthage and stretched for over 100 miles.
The Zaghouan Aqueduct - or Aqueduct of Hadrian - was a Roman aqueduct which supplied water to the ancient city of Carthage, the ruins of which can still be seen today.
Built around 130 AD, during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, the Zaghouan Aqueduct was constructed as a response to a number of years of drought which had hit the area.
The aqueduct was partially restored in the 19th century but today lies mostly in ruins. Some of the best remains can be found about 3km south of the village of Mohammedia (marked on the map).
The Theatre of Herodes Atticus is a Roman amphitheatre built in Athens in 161AD.
The Theatre of Herodes Atticus, also known as the Odeon, is a Greco-Roman theatre built in 161 AD.
It is named after an affluent Greek-born Roman senator, Herodes Atticus, who constructed it in commemoration of his wife, Regilia.
Able to seat up to 5,000 people, the Theatre of Herodes Atticus was mostly used for music shows and festivals, a function which the now restored structure still performs today.
The partially-preserved remains of one of the most important theatres in ancient Rome, built by Julius Caesar and Augustus.
Though only partially preserved, the ruins of the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome are among the oldest remains of an ancient Roman theatre to have survived.
One of the most important ancient Roman public buildings, the Theatre of Marcellus was the brainchild of Julius Caesar himself, though the Roman dictator did not live to see its completion. In fact, after Caesar’s assassination work on the theatre was halted and it was not until his great-nephew Augustus was in power that the work was completed in 13 BC.
According to the ancient historian Livy, the Theatre of Marcellus was constructed on the site of an earlier theatre, built by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. The theatre was dedicated to Augustus’s own nephew and heir, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who died at a young age.
Built in a grand style, with three distinct columned levels, it is believed the Theatre of Marcellus could originally hold as many as 11,000 people. Throughout the Roman period the theatre survived in its original form, with occasional renovation, such as that provided by the Emperor Vespasian.
After the fall of the Empire however, the Theatre of Marcellus fell into decline and was slowly buried and robbed for its masonry. In the 13th century the theatre was converted into a fortress and its purpose was altered once again in the 16th century when it became the palace of the Savelli family.
In the 1920s the lower sections of the building were bought by Rome’s city council and restored. Today, while the interior is not open to the public, the lower levels and striking architecture can be observed from the street. The upper levels still function as private apartments.
Tiberius Bridge is a first century Roman Bridge in Rimini.
Tiberius Bridge (Ponte di Tiberio) in Rimini is an Ancient Roman arched bridge begun by the Emperor Augustus and completed by Emperor Tiberius in approximately 20 AD.
Crossing the Marecchia River, the extremely well-preserved Tiberius Bridge is still in use today.
The Roman ruins of Timgad are the extremely well-preserved remains of an Ancient Roman military encampment in Algeria.
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 Tomb of Eurysaces the Baker is an impressive ancient tomb dating back to 30BC.
The Tomb of Eurysaces the Baker is an impressive and peculiar ancient tomb in Rome dating back to around 30BC.
The tomb was built by a former slave turned wealthy freeman named Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces – who made his fortune as a grand baker and contractor.
Unique in shape and design, it is believed that the Tomb of Eurysaces was constructed to fit this unique plot of land and also to highlight the tools of the baking trade – such as grain measures and dough-kneading machines.
It was built at the junction of the Via Labicana and the Via Praenestina – meaning a host of visitors and locals would have passed it every day.
The frieze at the top of the tomb depicts various elements of the bread-making process and is quite unique – certainly a world away from depictions of great conquests and brutal battles which can often be found on other Roman remains.
The tomb was later enclosed by the Aurelian Wall – and stands alongside the Porta Maggiore – but has now been excavated.
The Trajan Arch of Ancona is an Ancient Roman monument to the Emperor Trajan.
The Trajan Arch of Ancona (L’Arco di Traiano di Ancona) is a second century monument built in honour of the Emperor Trajan.
Designed by Apollodorus of Damascus and constructed in 115 AD to thank the emperor for his renovation of the local harbour, the Trajan Arch of Ancona would have been adorned with friezes and statues.
However, despite the fact that many of the decorations of the Trajan Arch of Ancona have now disappeared, it is still an impressive monument, looming over the city.
The Trajan Arch of Benevento is a 2nd century AD triumphal arch built for the Emperor Trajan.
The Trajan Arch of Benevento (Arco di Traiano di Benevento) is one of several Arches of Trajan built in honour of this famous Roman emperor.
Originally located along the Appia Antica, one of the oldest roads leading to Rome, the Trajan Arch of Benevento was constructed between 114 AD and 116 AD and, like its counterparts, was built in honour of Rome’s thirteenth emperor, Trajan, who reigned from 98 AD to 117 AD.
A marble structure depicting events in the emperor’s life, including real as well as mythological depictions, the Trajan Arch of Benevento is very well preserved.
The Trajan Arch of Merida is a UNESCO listed Ancient Roman granite gateway.
The Trajan Arch of Merida is part of UNESCO’s Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida and has in the past been said to have been a triumphal arch to the Emperor Trajan.
However, this has been cast into doubt and historians now think it may have been the entry gate to the nearby Temple of Diana.
A rounded, five metre high arch made of granite and probably once lined with marble, the Trajan Arch of Merida is inconspicuously located on a normal pedestrian street.
Trajan’s Markets was an Ancient Roman administrative centre located on Trajan’s Forum.
The site of Trajan’s Markets, located in the Forum of Trajan in Rome, is one of the best preserved elements of the ancient city to have survived, and is an oft-overlooked gem in the heart of the Eternal City.
The impressive semi-circular remains of this grand structure, built between 100 and 110 AD and designed by Apollodorus of Damascus, are very much still intact. Once thought by historians to have been an ancient Roman shopping centre, more recent evidence has pointed to Trajan’s Markets also having been a centre of administration and finance.
Today, not only is the site of Trajan’s Markets open to explore, but it also houses the Museo dei Fori Imperiali. Opened in 2007, this museum was the result of several years of careful restoration and is dedicated to showcasing and recreating the Imperial Forums, which were the beating heart of ancient Rome for hundreds of years.
The museum takes the visitor through an exhibit of each individual forum based on the most important finds discovered within it. This journey through ancient Rome includes areas devoted to the forums of Caesar and Augustus, Nerva and Trajan as well as the Templum Pacis or Forum of Vespasian. As well as exhibiting original artefacts found in the individual forums, there are also descriptive panels and multimedia displays in each section.
However, the true highlight of a visit to this site is the chance to explore the structure itself. Remaining extremely well preserved, the chance to wander through Trajan’s Markets and onto Trajan’s Forum is one not to miss. You can explore the Via Biberatica, which was the main high street, as well as strolling the ancient corridors, offices and hallways and entering the shops and chambers themselves.
Trasimene Battlefield is the location of major defeat of the Roman army by Hannibal during the Second Punic War.
Trasimene Battlefield marks the site of the Battle of Trasimene, fought in 217 BC between Hannibal of Carthage and the Consul Flaminius of Rome. It was one of the major battles of the Second Punic War and a crushing defeat for Rome.
During the encounter, Hannibal - a gifted strategist - tricked the Roman consul into following him along the northern side of Lake Trasimene through thick fog. Meanwhile the Carthaginian general had ranged his troops along the slope above the lake's edge where Flaminius marched, and the Roman army walked straight into a trap. The Romans were attacked on all sides and, with no visibility, re-organising and issuing effective orders was impossible.
As the trap was sprung, the Romans were in complete disarray and Polybius says “death took them unawares while they were still wondering what to do” (III. 84). The Romans were slaughtered where they stood or forced back into Lake Trasimene where they were picked off by the cavalry or drowned. Fifteen thousand Romans died, Flaminius among them.
Today there are picture boards describing the events of the battle all along the former coast of Lake starting from the coordinates marked on the map. Winding to Sanguineto (named after the battle literally meaning ‘running with blood’) and on to Tuoro.
It is a beautiful area with many fantastic towns within easy reach including Cortona and Perugia and there are many Roman/Hanniballic references in the area, such as streets being named after the historical figures involved. Furthermore excavations both terrestrial and underwater are on-going here to locate the exact site of the battle.
Contributed by Sam Wood, Ride and Seek Historical Bike Tours
Location of the first major battle of the Second Punic War between Hannibal and the Roman consuls Scipio and Longus.
Trebbia Battlefield marks the location of the Battle of Trebbia, the first significant clash of the Second Punic War. Fought in 218 BC, it was a resounding defeat for the Roman armies under the consuls Scipio and Longus and a major victory for the great Carthaginian general Hannibal.
A resounding defeat for Rome, the Battle of Trebbia was the first real example of Hannibal’s ingenuity. Hannibal took advantage of the impetuous nature of the Roman consul Longus and drew him into a battle he had little chance to win. At first light, the Carthaginian general sent his Numidian cavalry in to action to harass the Roman camp and lure them out. Longus eagerly complied and sent his men across the swollen and freezing river towards the Carthaginian army. The Romans were now cold, wet and hungry (they hadn’t even had breakfast) and for these reasons they were perhaps beaten before they had even started to fight. They were so cold in fact, that they had trouble drawing their weapons when they reached the other side of the river after wading through its freezing rapids.
Waiting for the Romans on the other bank the Carthaginians were fresh, had breakfasted and had kept warm around their campfires. They had already gained the upper hand in the early engagements before Hannibal’s brother, Mago, sprung from his hiding spot - “a manouevre which threw the whole Roman army into confusion and dismay” (Polyibus III.74) and all was lost for the Romans.
The river is little more than a stream now, but the area is very atmospheric. A lovely green valley extends upriver - it so captivated Ernst Hemingway when he was here during World War II that the local sparkling water quotes him as describing it as ‘the most beautiful valley in the world.’
The exact location of Trebbia Battlefield on the river is not known, however it is thought to be somewhere north of Rivergaro. There are however numerous references to Hannibal and his passing including a Hannibal winery! A war elephant also stands as monument to the battle at the co-ordinates marked.
Contributed by Sam Wood, Ride and Seek Historical Bike Tours
Trier Cathedral is a mostly medieval, UNESCO-listed church with a history dating back to Roman times.
Trier Cathedral, called Trierer Dom in German, is the main church of the city of Trier. The site of Trier Cathedral has a rich Christian history dating back to at least 270 AD, when worshippers attended what was probably the first church to have existed at this location – a house church.
In the fourth century the then ongoing persecution against Christians began to decline. With this increase in religious freedom came the opportunity to worship more openly. Thus, from 340 AD, the site of Trier Cathedral became home to a construction known as “The Square”. Some remains of this structure are still visible today, its outer walls now forming part of Trier Cathedral.
This predecessor of Trier Cathedral was destroyed in the fifth and ninth centuries, respectively by Germanic and Viking tribes. Most of the current Trier Cathedral dates back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when a Romanesque church was built. It has also been remodelled and altered at various stages, including in a Baroque style in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Few remnants of the original Ancient Roman church are viewable today in the church itself, however there are extensive underground excavations which can be seen as part of a guided tour (book in advance on the official site). Along with these underground remains, a section of the original Roman walls surives in the main structure, rising to a height of almost 30 metres. A few additional Roman elements and columns are visible and the rest of Trier Cathedral – which appears seemingly more like a citadel than a house of worship – beautifully preserves the medieval history of this site.
Trier Cathedral is also the home of the Holy Tunic, a robe which is said to have been worn by Jesus when he died, however this is rarely exhibited.
Trier Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Trier Roman Amphitheatre is a well preserved UNESCO site in use as early as the first century.
Trier Roman Amphitheatre may have been constructed as early as the first century AD, but was certainly in use by the second century.
Able to hold around 20,000 spectators, Trier Roman Amphitheatre would have been the site of fierce gladiatorial battles, also involving animals. In fact, tunnels have been found under Trier Roman Amphitheatre which would have been used to house these animals together with unfortunate prisoners of the Roman Empire.
Beautifully preserved, the Roman Amphitheatre of Trier now hosts open-air events and even the city’s antiquity festival. It is part of Trier’s UNESCO World Heritage sites list.
The Roman fort of Trimontium no longer stands, but the nearby museum uses artefacts and replicas to tell a story of a military power and the struggles that took place on the border with Scotland.
Unfortunately no upstanding stones remain of the Roman fort at Newstead, but visitors to the Trimontium Museum in nearby Melrose can still get a tangible insight into life in the Roman frontiers through a wide variety of artefacts and reproductions.
A guided walk run by the Trimontium Museum also points out visible features in the landscape of Newstead, such as the ploughed-out rampart and the amphitheatre, to give visitors as much of a sense of the former structure as possible.
Derived from ‘trium montium’ (or ‘three mountains’), the fort of Trimontium took its name from its position nestled in between the three Eildon Hills. Its advantageous placing made it a perfect advance post for the Roman province, and its design was geared towards this purpose. Central earthen defences, crafted in the first century, were strengthened by four outer ditches at the end of the second century. The western annex was also given a series of wall and trenches for further protection. Supplies and men reached the fort from a series of roads that extended outwards from the fort, giving it a wheel-like appearance from an aerial perspective.
Trimontium is thought to have been occupied by the Romans three times, with a garrison that numbered between 2000 and 5000 at any given time. First between 80 and 105 AD, then in around 140 AD as a support centre when Hadrian's successor Antoninus Pius brought an army back into Scotland, and finally from the desertion of the Antonine Wall in the 160s AD until the withdrawal of the army in around 185 AD. After this, the fort was no longer an occupied stronghold, but may have been visited by troops inspecting the buffer zone north of Hadrian’s Wall.
Since the site was first excavated in 1905, a wealth of artefacts has been discovered charting the extensive use of the fort. Now housed in the museum, they include items ranging from shoes and tools to armour and arrowheads. As well as gaining an impression of the military prowess of the Roman army, visitors can see some of the finer details of daily life that help to bring the past to life.
The Triumphal Arch of Orange is a first century Roman arch built during the reign of Augustus.
The Triumphal Arch of Orange (Arc de Triomphe d’Orange) is an Ancient Roman monumental gate, probably built during the reign of Augustus.
Originally built on what was via Agrippa, it is thought that the Triumphal Arch of Orange was built in honour of those who fought in the Gallic Wars, particularly the Second Legion.
Today, the Triumphal Arch of Orange is a UNESCO World Heritage site together with the nearby Roman Theatre of Orange. Extremely well preserved with its relief scenes of military events still decipherable, the Triumphal Arch of Orange is considered to be one of the most important existing relics of Roman Gaul.
The Tropaeum Alpium, also known as Trophee des Alpes or the Trophy of Augustus, is a Roman monument dedicated to the Emperor Augustus.
The Tropaeum Alpium, also known as Trophee des Alpes or the Trophy of Augustus, is a Roman monument dedicated to the Emperor Augustus built to commemorate his victories over the various tribes who inhabited this region.
Built in approximately 6 BC, the Tropaeum Alpium was built on the highest point of the via Julia Augusta, an important Roman thoroughfare in Gaul. It was built at the border of ancient Gaul and signified the subjugation of the area under Rome.
Today only part of this monument survives – though a section of the original construction still stands to a significant height and elements of the original colonnaded tower also survive.
The underground library of Alexandria once formed part of the city’s famous Great Library and can be found under the ruins of the Serapeum.
The underground library of Alexandria, found underneath the ruins of the Serapeum, consists of a series of subterranean tunnels and storerooms where it is believed part of the collection of the Great Library of Alexandria was stored.
The Great Library itself was constructed in the third century BC and was the most famous library of the ancient world. The date of its destruction is disputed but may have been during Julius Caesar's time in the city.
However, the underground library of Alexandria - or at least the construction itself - remained in use until the destruction of the Serapeum in 391AD and may have been used for religious purposes by worshippers of Serapis.
Today visitors can explore these underground chambers and see the niches in the walls where the documents were stored. This site also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions in Egypt.
The Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO-listed site in Sicily housing the very well-preserved remains of several Ancient Greek temples.
The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) is a famous archaeological site in Sicily housing some of the best preserved Ancient Greek ruins in the world, especially outside Greece.
Agrigento, in which they are located, had been a Greek colony since the 6th century BC. Really more of a ridge than a valley, the Valley of the Temples is mainly comprised of the beautiful ruins of nine sacred temples.
The majority of the sites at the Valley of the Temples were initially constructed in the fifth century BC. However, having been destroyed first by the Carthaginians (circa 406 BC) and then the Christians (in the 6th century AD) they are now partly made up of reconstructions. Nevertheless, of the ten original temples, the remains of nine can now be seen.
The oldest of the temples, the Temple of Herakles, was constructed in the sixth century BC and is made up of several Doric columns. The best preserved of the ruins is the fifth century BC Temple of Concorde, saved from destruction when it was incorporated into a Christian church. The other temples are dedicated to Juno, Olympian Zeus, Hephaistos, Hera Lacinia and Castor and Pollux.
Beyond the temples, the Valley of the Temples has numerous other archaeological sites, including the 1st century AD Tomb of Theron and several sanctuaries, the oldest of which was built sometime around the sixth century BC. This UNESCO World Heritage site also has an on-site museum.
Varna Roman Baths is one of the biggest surviving Roman baths complexes in Europe.
Varna Roman Baths are a large semi-ruined set of public baths from Roman times believed to have been built in the 2nd century AD.
In fact, with their span of over 7,500 square metres, it is said that Varna Roman Baths are Europe’s largest baths after Rome’s baths of Diocletian and Caracalla and those in Trier, Germany.
When the baths were built, Varna was known as Odessos and its people would congregate at the complex not just for bathing, but also socialising. In use until at least the 3rd century AD, Varna Roman Baths now lie in a semi-ruined state and visitors can see their various rooms, from the cold water bathing and hot water bathing rooms to the sports hall.
The Velia Archaeological Site contains Greek, Roman and medieval ruins of the city initially founded as Elea.
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.
Verona Arena is a stunning Roman amphitheatre built in 30AD.
Verona Arena (Arena di Verona) is a stunning Roman amphitheatre built in 30AD and said to have been the third largest of its time after the Colosseum and Campania Amphitheatre, which served ancient Capua.
Built during the first half of the 1st century AD, Verona Arena was originally made up of three elliptical rings of arches, of which the second is the best preserved and little remains of the first. During its prime, the arena could hold up to 30,000 people and would have played host to an array of ancient entertainment, including the famous gladiatorial games.
As with many similar Roman constructions, the arena suffered during the decline and fall of the Empire and was pillaged for masonry during the middle ages. Despite this however, and with a certain amount of restoration, Verona Arena stands in an excellent state of preservation today and still hosts a number of events, operas and open-air performances.
Verulamium was a Roman settlement near modern day St Albans in England.
Verulamium was a prominent Roman settlement near modern day St Albans in England. Formerly the tribal capital of the native Catuvellauni tribe, Verulamium was conquered by the Romans during their invasion of the island in 43 AD.
By 50 AD, Verulamium had become a major Roman town, and as such was a prime target during the revolt of Boudica in 61 AD, when the town was burnt to the ground. However, never ones to be perturbed, the Romans crushed the revolt and re-built Verulamium, and it remained a central Roman town for the next four hundred years.
The Roman remains at Verulamium consist of a variety of buildings - a basilica, bathhouse and part of the city walls to be found in Verulamium Park, but the most impressive are the remains of the roman theatre which lie across the road from Verulamium Park.
As well as the site itself, Verulamium Museum stands on St Michael’s St, with displays of Roman everyday life. There are some impressive murals and mosaics and a variety of interactive displays.
Via Appia Antica, built in 312 BC, is one of the most important roads leading to Rome.
Via Appia Antica, also known as the Appian Way, is one of the oldest and most important roads leading to Rome. Built in 312 BC, it was slowly extended and, by 191 BC, it reached the port of Brindisi, over 550km southeast of the city (along the “heel” of Italy). Thus, Via Appia Antica became a gateway to the east.
In 66 BC, Julius Caesar became the curator of the Appian Way and, to gain crucial electoral votes, borrowed significant sums to restore the ancient highway.
Over the centuries, several important events are said to have occurred along Via Appia Antica and, perhaps most notably, Christian legend has it that it was the road on which Christ appeared to a fleeing St. Peter, convincing him to return to Rome thereafter being executed and martyred.
In ancient Rome, the Via Appia Antica was a popular location for tombs and catacombs, many of which are scattered along the road today, including the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. Christian catacombs such as the Catacombs of San Callisto and the St. Sebastian Catacombs can also be found there.
Other impressive monuments on the Via Appia Antica, which became the route to the affluent suburbs of Rome, include the Villa and Circus of Maxentius, the Villa dei Quintili and the Baths of Caracalla.
With such a clear route to so many incredible monuments, the Via Appia Antica offers tourists a great way to explore the road’s history, which is so inextricably intertwined with that of Rome. Today, the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica oversees much of the site.
Probably the best way to travel along Via Appia Antica is by public transport. Indeed, it is closed to private traffic on Sundays and on holidays. For itineraries along Via Appia Antica, check the official website.
Vienne Roman Theatre is a first century theatre said to have once been amongst the largest in Gaul.
Vienne Roman Theatre (Theatre Antique de Vienne) is a first century AD theatre said to have once been amongst the largest in Gaul.
Built sometime around 40 to 50AD, it was originally able to house 13,000 spectators. From games and shows to public meetings, at its peak Vienne Roman Theatre hosted a variety of events, making it very much a social hub.
Now restored, Vienne Roman Theatre is full of life once again as the site of everything from plays to opera and jazz festivals.
Villa dei Quintili is an extremely well-preserved second century AD villa in Rome’s suburbs.
Villa dei Quintili, translated as the Villa of the Quintili, was one of the most lavish homes along the famous road that leads to Rome, the Via Appia.
In 151 AD, the main part of the Villa dei Quintili was owned by the senior officials, the Quintili brothers. Consuls under the rule of Marcus Aurelius, the Quintili brothers built their luxurious villa, complete with thermal baths, in the countryside of Rome. However, when Emperor Commodus came to power the brothers fell from favour and Villa dei Quintili became his property. It is said that this infamous emperor actually executed the brothers specifically so he could get his hands on their villa.
Today, far from the intrigues and plots of ancient Rome, Villa dei Quintili stands as a slightly more serene place; indeed it has survived in an extremely good state of preservation. The original baths are still clearly discernible, as are several of its buildings.
Villa Gregoriana is a park in Tivoli which mixes natural and archaeological beauty to great effect.
Villa Gregoriana is a park in Tivoli, Italy which seamlessly blends natural and man-made wonders. Commissioned by Pope Gregory XVI, from whom it takes its name, in 1835, Villa Gregoriana was laid-out in the bed of the Aniene River at the foot of Tivoli's Acropolis. Its aim was to protect Tivoli from the force of the floods of the Aniene. Ideally bucolic, it became the landmark and favourite landscape of poets and painters in the 19th century.
The main attractions at Villa Gregoriana are the caves of Neptune and the Sirens, the many gorges and cascades and the 100 meters waterfall, all of which are complemented by the ancient treasures including Roman remains. Amongst these are the villa of Roman consul Manlius Vopiscus and the Temple of Vesta overlooking the ravine.
Villa Jovis was the cliff-top Capri home of Roman Emperor Tiberius.
Villa Jovis, meaning the Villa of Jupiter, on the island of Capri was the home of the Roman Emperor Tiberius for ten years from 27 AD until his death in 37 AD.
Built by Tiberius in a secluded part of the island amidst cliffs and steep slopes, Villa Jovis was well protected and many historians speculate that this was due to the emperor’s security concerns. Even today, getting to Villa Jovis is tricky and access is only available on foot up a steep hill.
Comprised of a maze of sections, rooms, passageways and corridors, Villa Jovis spanned an area of over 75,000 square feet (7,000 square metres) plus its extensive gardens, which add considerably to its size.
The ruins of Villa Jovis offer an insight into the former grandeur of the complex, with the remains of many of its limestone walls showing an outline of the rooms. From the dining room (triclinium) and the emperor’s apartments to the baths (thermae) and even his astronomical observatory (specularium), Villa Jovis had all the trappings of opulent luxury. Visitors can also see the innovative rain water collection system created for Tiberius, used to provide water to this difficult location.
The position of the site also accounts for the structure of Villa Jovis, the inclines on which it was built requiring it to be set on several levels, which was unusual at the time.
Villa Poppea was the home of the second wife of the Roman Emperor Nero.
Villa Poppaea contains the remains of a grand ancient Roman residence in the Oplontis site, near Pompeii in Italy.
Dating back to the 1st century AD, Villa Poppaea was expanded in the Claudian era and was believed to have belonged to Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of the emperor Nero. However, when it was excavated, archeologists found no furnishings or bodies in Villa Poppaea, indicating that it was uninhabited in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted, shrouding it in mud and ash. Instead, on the day of the eruption, it is thought that Villa Poppaea was undergoing renovations to fix damage caused to it by frequent earthquakes in the area.
Today, Villa Poppaea sits in the modern town of Torre Annunziata and is the only part of the Oplontis site open to the public. Villa Poppaea is magnificent both in terms of its large size and because of the beautiful marble sculptures and frescos which it contains. Only the eastern part of Villa Poppaea is fully excavated, the western half lying under the modern city.
Villa Romana del Casale is a UNESCO-listed Roman villa in Sicily containing some of the world’s best preserved Roman mosaics.
Villa Romana del Casale is a UNESCO-listed Ancient Roman villa in Piazza Armerina in Sicily, containing some of the world’s best preserved Roman mosaics.
Thought to have been built sometime between 310 AD and 340 AD, Villa Romana del Casale was constructed atop an earlier (probably first century AD) villa which was destroyed by an earthquake in the early fourth century.
Extremely luxurious and built on a vast scale (covering a known area of 4,000 square metres), Villa Romana del Casale was probably built for a member of ancient Rome’s elite. It may even have been built under the orders of Marcus Aurelius Maximinianus (Maximian), co-emperor with Diocletian.
Maximian is certainly believed to have owned Villa Romana del Casale in the fourth century, perhaps even when its first incarnation was destroyed. Upon his death, it would have passed to Maxentius, his son and also a Roman emperor. Villa Romana del Casale was then inhabited up to the ninth century and finally destroyed – probably during the reign of William I of Sicily – in the twelfth century.
Villa Romana del Casale is truly one of the most lavish of Roman villas. UNESCO even describes it as more of a palace than a villa. Even the first impression, its triumphal arch of an entrance, is impressive.
Whilst much of the structure of the villa - such as that of its thermal baths complex, courtyards, private and public rooms - is in a more ruined state, its glorious mosaics make it very much a site worth seeing, especially for the history enthusiast.
Vindolanda was one of the main Ancient Roman wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall in Britain.
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.
Volubilis near Meknes in Morocco was an Ancient Roman city developed in the first century BC.
Volubilis in Morocco is a UNESCO-listed ancient Roman site housing extensive ruins dating back to the first century BC.
Already a thriving town, the Romans developed Volubilis from approximately 25 BC, during the reign of Juba II, a Berber prince appointed as the ruler of the region by the Emperor Augustus. Juba II was married to the daughter of Anthony and Cleopatra.
The residents of Volubilis were a diverse people and included Africans, Syrians, Spaniards and Jews, amongst others and would have numbered up to 20,000 at its peak.
Development continued to 40 AD, when Volubilis became a minicipium (a self-governing Roman city) of the Roman African region of Mauretania Tingitana. The fortifications of Volubilis were erected in approximately 168 AD, during the rule of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, known as Caracalla.
Amongst the ruins of Volubilis, visitors can see an array of public buildings, olive mills, houses, temples and defensive walls with many mosaics dotted throughout.
One of the most famous structures at Volubilis is the Triumphal Arch of Caracalla, built for the Roman Emperor upon his death in 217 AD. The Triumphal Arch of Caracalla is very well preserved, and although its top section is now gone, it is still an incredibly impressive structure and a treat for any history enthusiast.
The Wales National Roman Legion Museum explores the history and legacy of the Roman Empire’s furthest outpost.
The Wales National Roman Legion Museum explores the history and legacy of the Roman Empire’s furthest outpost - Wales.
This small museum houses a range of artefacts including everyday utensils and pottery. Amongst its main highlights, the Wales National Roman Legion Museum has an impressive Roman gemstone collection, the remains of a 2nd-3rd century man together with his funereal items and coffin and a first century Roman tablet inscribed in ink - this latter item being the oldest recorded piece of writing in Wales.
Even the location of the Wales National Roman Legion Museum - on the site of a first century Roman fortress - is significant. The ruins of this fort are located nearby, but the museum also includes a recreation of what these Roman barracks would have looked like.
Also located within the museum complex are the remains of the impressive Roman baths, which formed part of the legionary barracks. The ruins of the bathhouse are now housed within a protective modern structure and include reconstructions of the baths as well as a detailed model of their original design.
During the holidays, children are also afforded the opportunity to dress up like Romans.
The Wall Roman site in Staffordshire houses the ruins of an Ancient Roman inn.
The Wall Roman site in Staffordshire houses the remains of what was a Roman military staging site, essentially an inn or “mansio” along the ancient route towards Wales.
Then known as Letocetum, the Wall Roman site was a convenient stop along this important military road.
Visitors to the Wall Roman site – now managed by English Heritage – can see the foundations of this Roman hotel as well as those of its Roman baths. There is also an on-site museum displaying finds from the Wall Roman site.
The Weiden Roman Burial Chamber is an Ancient Roman tomb on the outskirts of modern day Cologne.
The Weiden Roman Burial Chamber (Römische Grabkammer in Weiden) is a second century tomb found on the outskirts of modern day Cologne.
As was typical at the time, the Roman Burial Chamber in Weiden was built on the way out of the city, then known as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium.
Elaborate and containing a series of sculptures, the Weiden Roman Burial Chamber is open to the public.
The Welwyn Roman Baths complex houses the remains of a Roman bathhouse dating back to the 3rd Century AD.
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.
This little-known, remote Roman fort in the North Pennines bordering Cumbria and Northumberland is not only the highest stone-built Roman fort in Britain, it has the most complex defensive earthworks of any known fort in the entire Roman Empire.
Stewart Ainsworth from Channel 4’s Time Team called Whitley Castle ‘the best preserved fort in the Roman Empire’ and it’s hard to disagree. Also known as Epiacum (the first town in northern England occupied by the Celtic, pre-Roman Brigantes tribe and probably named for a local chief), Whitley Castle in the North Pennines is not only the highest stone-built Roman fort in Britain, it has the most complex and elaborate defensive earthworks of any known fort in the entire Roman Empire.
The uniquely lozenge-shaped fort was built to fit the knoll on which it was constructed and interestingly, there were small site digs in the early 19th century, then in the 1930s and again in the 1950s but it wasn’t until 2012 that funding to the tune of £49,200 was secured to raise awareness of the site.
Built in the second century (around the same time as Hadrian’s Wall), demolished soon after and rebuilt not long after that, it’s a relatively typical Roman fort in terms of layout. There are straight roads, a headquarters building, barracks, a bath house and a temple and one of the many inscriptions reads ‘DEO HERCVLI C VITELLIVS ATTICIANVS > LEG VI V P F’ or ‘To the God Hercules, Gaius Vitellius Atticianus, Centurion of the Legio VI Victrix, Loyal and Faithful.’
It was garrisoned until about 400AD and while the Romans used Epiacum ostensibly as a base from where to control the area, also it seems they used it to take control of the profitable local lead mining industry.
Today, Whitley Castle is on private land and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument which means that no digging can be done (frustratingly for archaeologists) and nothing can be taken from the site so when you come and visit ‘the best preserved fort in the Roman Empire’, don’t take anything!
Wroxeter Roman City houses the remains of what was once Roman Britain’s fourth largest city.
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.
Xanten Archaeological Park houses the remains of the former Roman settlement of Colonia Ulpia Traiana.
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.
The York City Walls are England’s most intact set of city walls and one of the city’s most popular attractions.
The York City Walls are England’s most complete set of city walls and one of the city’s most popular attractions. Made up of structures built at different times of the city’s history, resplendent with four main ornate stone gateways known as “bars” and 34 towers and offering a great way to see the historic sites of York, these walls are an integral part of the city.
The first incarnation of the York City Walls were originally established in 71 AD during Roman times, built to protect the 9th Legion from the locals. This leads some to call them the Roman City Walls, but very little of the Roman walls remain. One structure which can be found is the Multangular Tower, an imposing third century AD ten-sided stone tower located in the gardens of the York Museum.
Anglo Saxons and Vikings
The Romans left Britain in around 400 AD, ushering in the Anglo Saxon age, during which time the exact fate of the York City Walls is unknown. However, there are some records from the time when the Vikings captured York in 866 AD, showing that the walls still existed but were in a bad state of repair. It is thought that the Vikings added to and strengthened the walls, although this too is uncertain.
The Normans and up to the 16th century
Renovated, fortified and extended under the Normans, the York City Walls continued to be added to up to the sixteenth century. Their gateways or “bars” were also used from the mid-thirteenth century onwards as a way to control who came in and out of the city, even as types of medieval toll booths to levy entry fees for non-freemen bringing goods to market.
English Civil War
In 1644, during the English Civil War, the Parliamentarians laid siege to the York City Walls, trying to capture the city from the Royalists. On 16 July 1644, the city fell to the Parliamentarians, but only after severe clashes which caused damage to the walls.
However, some of the greatest destruction caused to the York City Walls was not committed by act of war, but by administrative action. In the nineteenth century, it was found that the upkeep cost of York’s walls was very high, especially as they were in a bad state of repair. As a result it was decided to demolish parts of the walls.
Amongst other things, both Skeldergate Postern and Micklegate barbican were destroyed, despite the fact that Parliament had not given the requisite permission for this action. Reconstruction was later undertaken to repair many of the demolished sections.
The Victorians also made their mark on the York City Walls, adding, amongst other things a further bar (Victoria Bar) and the Robin Hood Tower.
Modern Times and the Gateways
Today, visitors can walk along the York City Walls, which run for some 2.5 miles and enclose the historic part of the city. The main gates to see are Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar, all mostly constructed in the fourteenth century with later additions. Micklegate is the most important of the gates, and is the site where Richard, Duke of York was beheaded in 1461 and his head was displayed.
York Minster is one of the largest gothic cathedrals in northern Europe, built by the Normans and expanded over the centuries.
York Minster is a vast gothic cathedral – one of the largest in Northern Europe – officially known as The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York. The term “Minster” is attributed to the cathedral as it was a teaching church founded by the Anglo Saxons.
In fact, the first church built on the site of York Minster was a small wooden one constructed in the seventh century for the baptism of the Anglo Saxon monarch, King Edwin of Northumbria. This was soon replaced by a stone church, however this was destroyed in a fire in 1069.
It was the Normans who began building the basis of the York Minster which exists today. Begun in 1080 and completed in 1100, the Normans built a vast cathedral, the remnants of which can be viewed in the undercroft of the current cathedral together with the remains of ancient buildings from the Roman era.
Over the next centuries, York Minster was enlarged and renovated, much of the work being instigated by Archbishop Walter Gray. By 1472, the structure of York Minster was complete with the addition of the north and south transepts, the nave, the Lady Chapel, the Quire, rebuilding the collapsed central tower (this had to be supported once again in the twentieth century) and the western towers.
Since these major works, York Minster has changed little. Some reconstruction works had to be undertaken due to outbreaks of fire at the cathedral (one such fire being set deliberately in 1829).
There is much to see at York Minster. In addition to admiring its beautiful architecture and imposing proportions, one can visit the undercroft to see ancient Roman and Norman ruins and climb the 275 steps of the central tower for great views of the city.
Exhibitions within York Minster focus on the long and vibrant history of the site. Of particular interest is the section dedicated to Roman history, from the Roman barracks first establishment here to the life of Constantine the Great, who was declared Emperor in York. In addition to these displays, under foot are glass floors which reveal the ruins of the original Roman buildings.
As well as individual passes, there are various types of guided tours available (mostly for group booking) including a free guided tour of up to 1.5 hours which details the history of York Minster.
The Yorkshire Museum is a true celebration of two thousand years of history of one of the UK’s most beautiful, traditional and influential cities.
The Yorkshire Museum was opened in 1830 by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and is a celebration of two millennia of history of one of the UK’s most beautiful, traditional and influential cities. One of the UKs first purpose-built museums, it reopened in 2010 after a £2m refurbishment project.
The Yorkshire Museum is home to around a million exciting archaeological finds including the skeletal remains of the Roman ‘Ivory Bangle Lady’; the Bedale Hoard; the thousand year old Cawood Sword; the Anglian Gilling Sword; the 4.5 billion year old Middlesbrough Meteorite, the Middleham Jewel and the York Helmet. There are also amazing collections of stained glass, coins, Iron Age jewellery, dinosaur skeletons and extinct Auks and the world-famous York Observatory.
There are some great activities for kids as well as competitions and downloadable resources and you can all walk on a genuine Roman mosaic floor and discover what Yorkshire was like when it was still underwater!
This is one of the best regional museums in the UK and if you are in the city discovering it’s wonders, including the magnificent York Minster, make sure the Yorkshire Museum is on your ‘to do’ list.
Zadar Roman Forum dates back as far as the 1st century BC and is an excellent example of its kind.
Zadar Roman Forum was built between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD and would have been the centre of everyday life in Roman Zadar. An excellent example of its kind, the Zadar Roman Forum is still home to several monuments as well as being found at in front of the famous St Donatus Church.
The remains of this important Roman city are under excavation in Turkey. Though not open to the public, many finds from the site can be seen in the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum.
Zeugma was one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire in the East. Originally founded around 300 BC by one of Alexander’s successors, his general Seleucus Nicator, the city was a vital trading point across the Euphrates River.
The military and commercial importance of Zeugma led to major growth and wealth, with as many as 70,000 people living in the city at its peak. This strategic crossing became a military centre for Roman forces in the east, with thousands of Roman soldiers based in the city.
As such a crucial strategic strongpoint, Zeugma was always a target in times of war and a devastating sack of the city at the hands of Sassanid king, Shapur I, in 256 AD led to the city’s decline. Indeed, one of the reasons for the good state of preservation of some areas of Zeugma was that entire neighbourhood’s sacked by Shapur’s forces were never reoccupied.
Though Zeugma was still an important Roman and subsequently Byzantine city well into the 6th century, the mounting pressure on the Empire’s borders and later Arab raids led to its eventual abandonment.
Today much of the site is now underwater due to modern dam building projects. Amazingly, what is left of Zeugma itself has been protected to ensure it will survive the waters and be preserved for the future. The higher areas of the ancient city are also under renewed excavation, and protective structures have been put in place to cover the newly discovered remains of this ancient city.
Though not open to the public at this stage, those interested in seeing the remains of this ancient city should head to nearby Gaziantep where the impressive Zeugma Mosaic Museum contains an amazing number of brilliantly preserved mosaics from the site.