Ancient Roman sites

Archeological Garden of Cybèle

Jardin de Cybèle park presents the complicated remains of a portion of the Gallo-Roman city including the arcades of the forum portico, the wall of a municipal assembly hall, and houses and terraces.
Founded: 27 BC | Location: Vienne, France

Tropaeum Alpium

The Tropaeum Alpium ('Victory Monument of the Alps'), was built by the Romans for the emperor Augustus to celebrate his decisive victory over the ancient tribes who populated the Alps. The monument"s remains are in the commune of La Turbie, a few kilometers from the Principality of Monaco. The Trophy was built c. 6 BC in honor of the emperor Augustus to celebrate his definitive victory over ...
Founded: 6 BC | Location: La Turbie, France

Temple of Neptune

The Temple of Neptune was erected on the Poreč forum in the 1st century. It is thought to be the biggest in Istria, although only a portion of its walls and the foundations have been preserved. During the Antiquity, Poreč as well as all Roman towns, had a forum, the main town square known today as Marafor, and a Capitoline temple facing it. It was believed that the temple was dedicated to God Mars in light of interpret ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Poreč, Croatia

Milan amphitheatre

The Milan amphitheatre was built near the Porta Ticinese in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD when Mediolanum grew as economical and political importance while Rome declined. It remained in use until the city was one of the capitals of the Western Roman Empire (4th or 5th centuries). Later it was abandoned after Christianity imposed an end to arena games, but also as, in the wake of the imperial crisis, animals to be used in the ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Milan, Italy

Roman mausoleum of Córdoba

The Roman mausoleum of Córdoba is an ancient structure in the Jardines de la Victoria, Córdoba. It is a funerary monument of cylinder-shaped that corresponded to a group of funerary monuments of the Republican era, built in the 1st century AD. It was discovered in 1993 during archaeological excavations. It includes the chamber tomb that housed the Urn, as well as remains of the basement, cornices, and crenellated pa ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Córdoba, Spain

Flavian Amphitheater

The Flavian Amphitheater is the third largest Roman amphitheater in Italy. Only the Roman Colosseum and the Capuan Amphitheaters are larger. It was likely built by the same architects who previously constructed the Roman Colosseum. It was begun under the reign of the emperor Vespasian and probably finished under the reign of his son Titus. The arena can hold up to 50,000 spectators. The interior is mostly intac ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Pozzuoli, Italy

Mausoleum of Valerius Romulus

Valerius Romulus (c. 292/295 - 309) was the son of the Caesar and later usurper Maxentius and of Valeria Maximilla, daughter of Emperor Galerius. He was buried in a tomb along the Via Appia. The restored tomb stands within a grand sporting arena known as the Circus of Maxentius, itself part of a broader imperial complex built by the emperor Maxentius in the early fourth century AD.
Founded: 309 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Hercules Gate

Hercules Gate is the oldest standing Roman monument in Pula, dating from the 1st century BC.
Founded: 100-0 BCE | Location: Pula, Croatia

Théâtre Antique

Théâtre Antique is a Roman age a mphitheatre in Vaison-la-Romaine, near other significant Roman ruins. It was built around the year 20 AD, due to the marble statue of the Emperor Tiberius was found in front of the royal entrance to the Theatre. It is thought that the stage wall came to 25 meters high, with a depth of 8 meters and a width of 23 meters. In 1912, many sculptures were found in the twelve pits which had been ...
Founded: 20 AD | Location: Vaison-la-Romaine, France

Durrës Roman Amphitheatre

The Amphitheatre of Durrës was built in the beginning of the 2nd century AD. It was used for performances until the 4th century AD. The earthquake of 345/346 likely damaged the monument and closed it. An early Christian chapel was constructed on the amphitheatre in the second half of the 4th century. The chapel was initially decorated with frescoes; in the 6th century, mosaics were added. A medieval chapel was built in t ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Durrës, Albania

Capitolium of Brixia

The Capitolium of Brixia was the main temple in the center of the Roman town of Brixia (Brescia). It is represented at present by fragmentary ruins, but is part of an archeological site, including a Roman amphitheatre and museum in central Brescia. The temple was built in 73 AD during the rule of emperor Vespasian. The prominent elevated location and the three identifiable cellae, each with their own polychrome marbl ...
Founded: 73 AD | Location: Brescia, Italy

Augusta Raurica

Augusta Raurica is a Roman archaeological site and an open-air museum in Switzerland located on the south bank of the Rhine river about 20 km east of Basel near the villages of Augst and Kaiseraugst. It is the oldest known Roman colony on the Rhine. Ancient history Augusta Raurica was founded by Lucius Munatius Plancus around 44 BC in the vicinity of a local Gallic tribe, the Rauraci, relatives of ...
Founded: 44 BC | Location: Augst, Switzerland

La Villasse

The Roman ruins of Vaison-la-Romaine are among some of the most important in France. Easily accessible, the two main sites that are open to the public - Puymin and La Villasse - can be found in the town centre. At la Villasse there is a Roman street leading to more baths, and the Maison au Buste d’Argent, an impressive villa with mosaic floors and its own baths.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Vaison-la-Romaine, France

Apollonia

Apollonia was an ancient Greek city located on the right bank of the Vjosë river. Apollonia was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, on a site where native Illyrian tribes lived, and was perhaps the most important of the several classical towns known as Apollonia. Apollonia flourished under Roman rule and was noted by Cicero in his Philippicae as magna urbs et gravis, a great and important ...
Founded: 588 BCE | Location: Fier, Albania

Caños de Carmona Roman Aqueduct

The Caños de Carmona (Pipes of Carmona) are the remains of a Roman aqueduct 17.5 kilometres long, later rebuilt by the Almohads, which connected the cities of Carmona and Seville, and which was fully operational until its demolition in 1912. It was primary constructed from bricks, and consisted of approximately 400 arches standing on pillars, with additional upper arcade sections in some places. It is believed to be the ...
Founded: 68-65 BCE | Location: Seville, Spain

Via Appia Antica

The Appian Way was a Roman Road built in the 4th century BC. It led from Rome to Brindisi, and the section leading away from Rome is lined with the mausolea of weathy Roman citizens.
Founded: Early Roman | Location: Rome, Italy

Roman Bridge

The Roman Bridge (Römerbrücke) is an ancient structure in Trier over the Moselle river. It is the oldest standing bridge in the country. The nine bridge pillars date from the 2nd century AD. The upper part was renewed twice, in the early 12th and in the early 18th century, after suffering destruction in war. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier U ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Trier, Germany

The Seven Halls

The Seven Halls, or Sette Sale, is the name of the complex of cisterns located on the Oppian Hill. Previously believed to be connected to Nero"s Domus Aurea, they were later found to be a large cistern supplying the Baths of Trajan. The cisterns were fed by a branch of the Trajanic Aqueduct. Found beneath the complex were the remains of a grotto lined with slabs of marble belonging to the Domus Aurea. In the fourth c ...
Founded: c. 100 AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Neptune Roman Tower

At the end of the 3rd century Arlon was fortified with the construction of ramparts. This castrum was 800 metres in circumference with walls that were 4 metres thick and 8 metres high with two gateways and around 20 watch towers. The Neptune tower was identical to the Jupiter tower recently discovered near to the Town Hall. The small museum consists of remains of the tower which were discovered during archaeological exca ...
Founded: 200-300 AD | Location: Arlon, Belgium

La Olmeda

The palatial Late Antique Roman villa at La Olmeda was built in several stages, beginning in the second quarter of the fourth century and extending in use at least to the end of the fifth. The villa complex centers on the elite quarters of rigorously symmetrical disposition, wherein twenty-seven rooms, twelve with mosaic floors, are disposed around a central patio crossed with mosaic paths in geometric patterns and ...
Founded: 350-400 AD | Location: Pedrosa de la Vega, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.