Ancient Roman sites

Hadrian's Villa

The Villa Adriana (Hadrian"s Villa) is an exceptional complex of classical buildings created in the 2nd century A.D. by the Roman emperor Hadrian. It combines the best elements of the architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece and Rome in the form of an "ideal city". The villa was constructed at Tibur (modern-day Tivoli) as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian during the second and third decades of th ...
Founded: c. 128 AD | Location: Tivoli, Italy

Walls of Seville

The Walls of Seville are a series of defensive walls surrounding the Old Town. They were built in times of Julius Caesar, approximately between the years 68 and 65 BC, when he was quaestor of the city. This new fortification was aimed at replacing the old Carthaginian stockade of logs and mud. The walls were expanded and refined during the rule of his son Augustus due to the growth of the city. The city has been surround ...
Founded: 68-65 BCE | Location: Seville, Spain

Cemenelum

The Roman city of Cemenelum was founded in the 1st century AD as a staging post for Roman troops in the Alpes Maritime region and it later became the regional capital. Favorably located, Cemenelum was chosen as the principal seat of the province of Alpes Maritimae by Augustus in 14 BC. Later, the Romans settled further inland, on the opposite side of the river Paillon. Remains of the town on the Hill of Cimiez date to the ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Nice, France

Astorga Roman Walls

The Roman walls of Astorga were built at the end of the 3rd century AD or beginning of the next century. The reasons that caused its construction are related to a period of instability experienced in the last years of the Roman Empire, especially originated by the incursions of the barbarian towns from the center of Europe. The walls has a length of 2,2 km. At the end of the thirteenth century, repairs were documented by ...
Founded: 3rd century AD | Location: Astorga, Spain

Le Mans Roman Walls

The Roman wall in the old town of Le Mans is one of the best of its type still extant in France. The 1300m long construction is laid out with 12 towers wraps around the immaculately preserved and restored Plantagenet Old City. There are only two longer ancient Roman walls left, in Rome and Istanbul (Constantinopole). These walls are highlighted every summer (July and August) evening in a light show that tells the history ...
Founded: 300 AD | Location: Le Mans, France

Emperor's Palace Ruins

The Emperor"s Palace in Milan was founded in about 291 AD by emperor Diocletian. Here Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. Residential and ambassadorial sectors, private baths and the circus, where the Emperor appeared solemnly to his subjects, and victory in chariot races became symbolic of Imperial victories, took up an entire sector of the city. The only visible traces of this vast ...
Founded: c. 291 AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Arènes de Lutèce

The Arènes de Lutèce are among the most important remains from the Gallo-Roman era in Paris (known in antiquity as Lutetia, or Lutèce in French), together with the Thermes de Cluny. Lying in what is now the Quartier Latin, this amphitheater could once seat 15,000 people, and was used to present gladiatorial combats. Constructed in the 1st century AD, this amphitheater is considered the longest of its ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Paris, France

Villa Poppaea

The Villa Poppaea is an ancient Roman seaside villa situated in the ancient Roman town of Oplontis (the modern Torre Annunziata). Evidence suggests that it was owned by the Emperor Nero, and it is believed to have been used by his second wife, Poppaea Sabina, as her main residence when she was not in Rome. Like many of the other houses in the area, the villa shows signs of remodeling, probably to repair damage fro ...
Founded: 100-0 BCE | Location: Torre Annunziata, Italy

Roman Remains in Nyon

Little remains of Nyon’s Roman past. Apart from the Roman museum, a few Roman items can be seen around Nyon. Some decorative stones were used in later buildings but the most visual are the pillars erected above Parc du Bourg-de-Rive. These three pillars (well two and a third pillars) were discovered buried horizontally in old town Nyon and moved to overlook Lake Geneva in 1958. Here, they can easily be seen by travelers ...
Founded: 45 BC | Location: Nyon, Switzerland

Trier Imperial Baths

The Trier Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen) are a large Roman bath complex, designated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The impressive ruins of the baths, along with the derelict rooms and the walls of previous structures, are among the most important to have been discovered in Trier. Today a visit to the thermal baths, which can also be explored below ground, is like stepping back in time. The walls of the hot bat ...
Founded: 0-200 AD | Location: Trier, Germany

Avenches Amphitheatre

Avenches (earlier known as Aventicum) became the capital of the Roman Helvetia province around 15-13 BC. The heyday of the city was in the 2nd century AD when it had over 20,000 inhabitants. The amphitheatre was also erected in the early 2th century. Today it is Switzerland's best preserved amphitheatre.
Founded: 2th century AD | Location: Avenches, Switzerland

Butrint Roman Forum

In 44 BC, Rome colonized Butrint. One of the city"s greatest periods of prosperity occurred under the Roman Empire. The Roman Forum was constructed in the Augustan period (27 BC-AD 14) and later aggrandized in the 2nd century AD. Numerous baths, fountains, and public buildings were constructed during this period. A prominent and wealthy woman, named Junia Rufina, adorned in marble a spring dedicated to nymphs bearing ...
Founded: 27 BCE - 14 AD | Location: Sarandë, Albania

Roman Amphitheatre

The Teatro Romano in Trieste was built in the first century BC and expanded in the second century AD. It had seats for from 3,500 to 6,000 visitors. It was probably built by the Trieste Quinto Petronio Modesto , prosecutor Emperor Trajan. Over the centuries, the theater was left under the houses that were built above. Considered lost, it was identified in 1814 and unearthed in 1938 during the demolition of this part of ...
Founded: 100-0 BC | Location: Trieste, Italy

Roman Baths

Roman thermal baths in Como date back to the 1st century AD. They are situated in a large area (about 1500 square meters). Thanks to a recent renovation, they are now open to the public. Visitors can see finds and recent discoveries with specific explanations and information about the site. 
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Como, Italy

Roman Bridge of Salamanca

The Roman bridge of Salamanca crosses the Tormes River. Actually it is a construction of two separated bridges by a central fortification: the old bridge which extends along the portion near the city and it is of Roman origin, and the new bridge. Of the twenty-six arches, only the first fifteen date from Roman times. The bridge has been restored on numerous occasions and has survived several attempts demolition. ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Salamanca, Spain

Ponte Milvio

The Milvian (or Mulvian) Bridge was an economically and strategically important bridge in the era of the Roman Empire and was the site of the famous Battle of the Milvian Bridge. A bridge was built by consul Gaius Claudius Nero in 206 BC after he had defeated the Carthaginian army in the Battle of the Metaurus. In 115 BC, consul Marcus Aemilius Scaurus built a new bridge of stone in the same position, demolishing the old ...
Founded: 115 BC | Location: Rome, Italy

Amphitheatrum Castrense

The Amphitheatrum Castrense is a Roman amphitheatre next to the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. It is dated to the first decades of the 3rd century AD. It was part of an Imperial villa complex which was built by emperors of the Severan dynasty. The open arches of the outer walls were walled up when the building was incorporated into the Aurelian Walls (271-275 AD), at which point it stopped being used for spectacles ...
Founded: c. 220 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Carnuntum

Carnuntum was a Roman Legionary Fortress and also headquarters of the Pannonian fleet from 50 AD. After the 1st century it was capital of the Pannonia Superior province. It also became a large city of 50,000 inhabitants. In Roman times Carnuntum had a history as a major trading centre for amber, brought from the north to traders who sold it in Italy; the main arm of the Amber Road crossed the Danube at Carnuntum. Its impr ...
Founded: 50 AD | Location: Petronell-Carnuntum, Austria

Arch of the Sergii

Arch of the Sergii is an Ancient Roman triumphal arch located in Pula, Croatia. The arch commemorates three brothers of the Sergii family, specifically Lucius Sergius Lepidus, a tribune serving in the twenty-ninth legion that participated in the Battle of Actium and disbanded in 27 BC . This suggests an approximate date of construction to 29-27 BC. The arch stood behind the original naval gate of the early Roman colony. T ...
Founded: 29-27 BC | Location: Pula, Croatia

Pula Roman Theatre

The smaller Roman Theatre of Pula from the 1st century AD was erected on the slope underneath the Venetian fortress. The area was divided into the stage and the proscene where the acting took place, the orchestra and the viewing area or the cavea. The theatre lied on the hill slope, which was the characteristic of Greek theatres. Only the stage foundations and a part of the semi-circular viewing area of the Small Roman Th ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Pula, Croatia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.