Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Roman Sites in Germany

Running diagonally across Germany is the Limes Germanicus, a defensive boundary of natural and built features that separated the Roman provinces from the Germanic tribes to the north. Today, the ruins of forts and reconstructed watchtowers are popular visitor attractions. South of the German limes were many important Roman towns and provincial capitals, today’s Xanten and Regensburg, Trier and Cologne. A number of Germany’s older towns and cities were established by the Romans. Between these towns are the remains of rural estates and temples, thermal baths and aqueducts. 

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An artists impression of what the Roman town of Cologne looked like.

Cologne:
Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium

Cologne was an important city on the Rhine River during Roman times; then called Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. And besides one of Germany’s most impressive collections of local Roman artefacts in the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, there are still many Roman remnants dotted about the city for visitors to see. Here we provide a guide with an interactive map to this period of the city’s history some 2,000 years ago.

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Archäologische Park Ostkastell - Roman Fort

The Archaeological Park of Ostkastell (east castle) has been developed on the site of a Roman fort built on the Limes. The fort was built in 160 AD and covered an area of 1.6 ha, housing a garrison of between 150 and 200 men. The site has been known since the mid 19th century at least, with the first excavations taking place at the end of that century. They continue until very recently. Some of the features of the site have been left exposed, including the foundations of a bath house. The west gate has been reconstructed. Interestingly, the fort was located just beyond the Limes, technically outside the Roman Empire.

Boppard Roman Fort

The centre of present-day Boppard on the Rhine River is built on the remains of a mid 4th century AD Roman fort, named Bodobrica. This was one of the most important military camps on the Middle Rhine. The settlement was founded by the Celts, named Baudobriga. The size attests to the fort’s importance, at 308 × 154 m covering an area of 4,7 ha. The walls were 3 metres thick facing land sides,  and 2,5 metres thick facing the Rhine side, reaching to a height 9 m with 20 towers – this was a formidable fort and is today one of the best preserved Roman forts in Germany.

Cambodunum Archaeological Park

At the Cambodunum Archaeological Park in Kempten, visitors can explore the Roman town of Cambodunum, the administrative centre of the Rhaetia province during the 1st century AD. Many features of the town are visible in the park. The foundations of the forum and basilica are set out in the grass. A small thermal bath has been excavated and enclosed in a protective building. A number of features have also been reconstructed, including an impressive Gallo Roman temple. Parts of the site are freely accessible.

Cologne - Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium

Colonia was always an important town for the Romans; the capital of the province of Germania Inferior and later the capital of Germania Secunda. The regional headquarters of the military in the region was based here. There are a number of features to see in the city, including sections of the wall and towers. The Roman museum, exhibitions are currently in a temporary location, was built on the foundations of a townhouse and displays its mosaic floor of Dionysius.

Divitia Fort in Deutz

At the beginning of the 4th century AD, Emperor Constantine built a fort on the right bank of the Rhine, opposite Colonia. Part of the Roman Limes, it was intended to strengthen the Empire’s border. A textbook example of a late Roman fort, it is well known as a result of numerous excavations, despite there being very little to see. The preserved walls of the east gate are visible. Where possible, the outline of the fort is marked in the pavement. In 1002 AD Deutz Abbey was built on the remains, and much later a Prussian fortification incorporated the NW Roman tower. The western half was destroyed during the construction of a 19th century river embankment.

European Archaeological Park of Bliesbruck-Reinheim

The German-French border between Gersheim (Saarland) and Bliesbruck (Moselle) has a wonderful concentration of Iron Age and Roman archaeological sites. Consequently the European Archaeological Park of Bliesbruck-Reinheim is a cross-border venture between the two countries. The park is well set up for visitors. On view are excavations and reconstructions of Iron Age and Roman villages, an Iron Age tomb and a Roman villa.

Limes Watch Tower, Lorch

Just to the east of Lorch, near the 12th century Lorch Monastery, what is called the Upper German Limes meets the Raetian Limes. And almost at that intersection stands a reconstructed timber watchtower, with a small section of the palisade that would have demarcated the border. This is the spot where a stone tower is supposed to have stood. The reconstruction is not historically accurate, as there is no evidence of wooden towers in this part of the Limes. Nevertheless, it gives an idea of the watchtowers, and the view is spectacular. Visitors are able to climb the tower to the landing.

Limeskastell, Pohl

The replica of the Limes fort at Pohl is based on excavations and up-to-date research. The Roman fort was on the northern border of the Empire, and was built around 100 CE. Today this open air museum is part of the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reconstructed buildings within the earth and wood rampart house permanent exhibitions showing what the living conditions at the fort were like for soldiers, as well as displaying artefacts from nearby Roman sites.

LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten

The archaeological park on the edge of the medieval town of Xanten was built on the ruins of the Roman settlement Colonia Ulpia Traiana, on the banks of the Lower Rhine. Founded in 70 AD, the Roman town was the second most important commercial post in Germania Inferior, after Cologne. In 275 AD it was completely destroyed by Germanic tribes, and rebuilt as Tricensimae. That too was destroyed by local tribes. A number of features have been reconstructed in the park, including an amphitheatre, bath house and defensive wall.

Nennig Roman Villa

In 1852 a farmer came across tesserae while he was digging a pit. This led to the discovery of the Roman villa, and one of the most outstanding mosaic floors north of the Alps. At 15.65 x 10.30 metres, this mosaic is certainly one of the biggest. The mosaic depicts the various activities that take place in the amphitheatres, including a somewhat graphic scene of gladiators fighting each other, men hunting wild animals, as well as animals hunting other animals. Also, on the edge of town there is an Iron Age tumulus.

Porta Praetoria, Regensburg

Casta Regina was the Roman name for a 2nd century AD military fort on the Danube River, a city we know today as Regensburg. Very little of this fort has survived. One feature being a gate from the northern walls of the fort; one of the few surviving Roman gates north of the Alps. The stone from much of the Roman fort, like elsewhere, was used in the construction of later buildings. The reason the north gate survived is because it was partly integrated into the Bishop’s court in the mid 17th century. The distinctive Roman masonry can still be seen from the street.

Roman Cavalry Fort, Aalen

This cavalry fort, situated along the Rhaetian Limes, was the largest such fort in Europe north of the Alps. The fort was built in the mid 2nd century CE, and abandoned by circa 260 CE. Over 1,000 soldiers of the Ala II Flavia Miliaria were stations here. As part of the defensive system along the northern edge of the Roman Empire in what is upper Germany today, the Rhaetian Limes is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site. Next to the ruins of the fort is one of the biggest Roman museums in Germany.

Roman Mainz - Mogontiacum

What started out as a strategically positioned Legionary base developed into a regional administrative and military centre. Mogontiacum often served as a military base for Roman incursions into the north and east of Germany. Its position on the Rhine, at the mouth of another major navigable river – the Main, made the town very attractive to traders who set up a port. Besides a few good museums, there are a number of Roman ruins to see in Mainz, including the remnants of an aqueduct, and the foundations of a temple.

Roman Mine, Meurin

Vulkanpark is a rural geo-attraction focussed on a volcanic region in the eastern Vulkan Eifel area of Germany. A series of self-guided routes enable visitors to explore volcanology, archaeology and industrial history – and understand how the exploitation of volcanic rock has shaped the landscape since Roman times. Besides the Roman mine, the routes also take in a section of Roman walls near the town of Mayen and two Roman mound graves just outside the towns of Nickenich and Ochtendung.

Roman Trier - Augusta Treverorum

Founded by the Romans around 16 BC Trier is said to be the oldest city in Germany. By the 4th century AD, as one of the tetrarchy, it was one of the largest cities in the Empire, and known as ‘the second Rome’. Trier also has some extremely well preserved Roman remains. These include a bridge over the Moselle, an amphitheatre, bath houses and the basilica built for Constantine at the beginning of the 4th century AD. Together with two medieval cathedrals these Roman monuments have been included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.