Ancient Roman sites

Gortyn

Gortyn or Gortys was a city that flourished particularly during the Roman era. It was the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica. It had its origins in the Minoan era (around 3200 BC). The most distinctive monuments are the Praetorium, the residence of the Roman governor of the province, and the Nymphaion (both dating from 2nd century AD), where the Nymphs were worshipped. There is also a temple of Pythian ...
Founded: 3200 BC | Location: Górtyn, Greece

Caviclum

Caviclum was an Roman living site dating back to the 1st or 2nd century BCE. The latest foundings from the Antiquity age date from the 6th century AD.
Founded: 2nd century BCE | Location: Torrox, Spain

Durrës Roman Baths

The Roman baths of Durrës, dating back to the first century AD, were discovered in the 1960s, during the excavations that also revealed more of the amphitheatre. The ruins are situated just off the big square at the back of the Alexsander Moisiu Theatre, and entrance is free. The pool, 7 metres long by 5 metres wide, was heated by a hypocaust, a form of early central heating used in Roman baths across the empire. Natural ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Durrës, Albania

Baelo Claudia

Baelo Claudia is a well preserved Roman city in Andalucia, Spain, founded in the 2nd century BC. The town was important for fish processing. It was also a centre for trade with Roman towns in North Africa. The life of the inhabitants reached its greatest splendor during the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. In the middle of the 2nd century, however, the town declined, probably as a result of a major earthquake whi ...
Founded: Roman | Location: Tarifa, Spain

Villa Jovis

Villa Jovis is a Roman palace on Capri, southern Italy, built by emperor Tiberius and completed in AD 27. Tiberius mainly ruled from there until his death in AD 37. Villa Jovis is the largest of the twelve Tiberian villas on Capri mentioned by Tacitus. The entire complex, spanning several terraces and a difference in elevation of about 40 m, covers some 7,000 m² (1.7 acres). While the remaining eight levels of w ...
Founded: 27 AD | Location: Capri, Italy

Aquileia Roman Ruins

Today, Aquileia is a town smaller than the colony first founded by Rome. Over the centuries, sieges, earthquakes, floods, and pillaging of the ancient buildings for materials means that no edifices of the Roman period remain above ground. The site of Aquileia, believed to be the largest Roman city yet to be excavated, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Excavations, however, have revealed some of the layout ...
Founded: 181 BC | Location: Aquileia, Italy

Macellum of Pozzuoli

The Macellum of Pozzuoli was the market building of the Roman colony of Puteoli, now the city of Pozzuoli. The city of Dicearchia, founded by Greek refugees escaping dictatorship on Samos, was integrated into the Roman Empire as the city of Puteoli in 194 BC. The macellum was built between the late first and early second century AD, and restored during the third century AD under the Severan dynasty. The buildi ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Pozzuoli, Italy

Arch of Augustus

The Arch of Augustus was erected in 25 BC on the occasion of the Roman victory over the Salassi and was the work of Aulus Terentius Varro Murena. Constructed from conglomerate, the arch has a single vault, with a height to the keystone of 11.4 metres. Its span is a barrel vault, constituting an extension in width of a round arch. In the monument, various styles can be recognised: The ten engaged columns which deco ...
Founded: 25 BC | Location: Aosta, Italy

Pont-Saint-Martin Roman Bridge

The Pont-Saint-Martin is a Roman segmental arch bridge in the Aosta Valley in Italy dating to the 1st century BC.
Founded: c. 25 BC | Location: Pont-Saint-Martin, Italy

Cumae

Cumae was an ancient city of Magna Graecia on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Founded by settlers from Euboea in the 8th century BC, Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl. It spread its influence throughout the area over the 7th and 6th centuries BC, gaining sway over Puteoli and Misenum and, thereafter, founding Neapolis (Naples) in 470 BC. The Greek pe ...
Founded: 8th century BCE | Location: Bacoli, Italy

Las Médulas

Las Médulas is a historic gold mining site near the town of Ponferrada. It was the most important gold mine (and largest open pit gold mine) in the entire Roman Empire. Las Médulas Cultural Landscape is listed by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites. The spectacular landscape of Las Médulas resulted from the ruina montium (wrecking of the mountains), a Roman mining technique described by Pliny the ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Las Médulas, Spain

Lumone Tomb

Lumone Tomb is the only remaining vestige of the Roman way station Lumone. The front is in three vaulted arches and traces of fresco decoration are still visible. The tomb was built in the 1st century AD as a way station at the junction of the Via Aurelia and the Via Julia Augusta, and forms part of the Via Julia Augusta archaeological trail.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Fréjus Roman Amphitheatre

Fréjus Roman Amphitheatre was built at the end of the 1st century AD. This structure, made of small tiles of local green sandstone, could accommodate up to 10,000 spectators. It most likely hosted gladiator fights and wild beast hunts. Today, this building comes to life every summer: large concerts, dancefloors and various performances form a rich and diverse program.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Fréjus, France

Gonio Castle

Gonio fortress (previously called Apsaros, or Apsaruntos), is a Roman fortification in Adjara, at the mouth of the Chorokhi river. The oldest reference to the fortress is by Pliny the Elder in the Natural History (1st century AD). There is also a reference to the ancient name of the site in Appian’s Mithridatic Wars (2nd century AD). In the 2nd century AD it was a well-fortified Roman city within Colchis. The ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Adjara, Georgia

Posillipo Archaeological Park

The archaeological park is one of the most beautiful places in the city and along the coast of Posillipo. Among the most important sites are the Seiano cave, the underwater park of Gaiola, the imperial villa of Pausilypon, the Odeon, the theatre and the Palace of the Spirits. The ruins of the Roman villa of Vedius Pollio, also known as the Imperial Villa, include a 2000-seat theatre on the rocky promontary at the end of ...
Founded: 1st century BCE | Location: Naples, Italy

Barbara Baths

The Barbara Baths (Barbarathermen) are a large Roman bath complex designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Barbara Baths were built in the second century AD. The extensive ruins were used as a castle in the Middle Ages, then torn down and recycled as building material until the remains were used for constructing a Jesuit College in 16 ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Trier, Germany

Piscina Mirabilis

The Piscina Mirabilis was a freshwater cistern on the Bacoli cliff at the western end of the Gulf of Naples. One of the largest freshwater cisterns built by the ancient Romans, it was situated there in order to provide the Roman western imperial fleet at Portus Julius with drinking water. The cistern was dug entirely out of the tuff cliff face and was 15 metres high, 72 metres long, and 25 metres wide. It was ...
Founded: 27 BCE - 14 AD | Location: Bacoli, Italy

Roman Pyramid

The Roman Pyramid in Vienne is an emblematic building of the architectural heritage of the city together with the Roman Theatre. It is an unique remain of a Roman circus, where racing took place. The pyramid was the central building of the Roman 'circus maximus'. The 25 meters high obelisk stood in the center of the sand track. Its location on an axial platform (Spina) was confirmed by excavations in the nin ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Vienne, France

Pont de Pierre

The Pont de Pierre, meaning 'Stone Bridge', is a Roman segmental arch bridge in Aosta. The bridge crossed the Buthier about 600 m from the eastern exit of the Roman colony Augusta Praetoria; in later times the torrente changed its course, leaving the ancient bridge today without water. The structure is dated to the second half of the reign of Augustus (30 BC–14 AD), who had earlier founded the ...
Founded: 25 BC | Location: Aosta, Italy

Acinipo

Acinipo was a city about 20 kilometers from Ronda, believed to have been founded by retired soldiers from the Roman legions more than 2,000 years ago. The remaining ruins include a Roman theater still in use today. Some historians assert that Acinipo was created after the battle of Munda (45 BC), fought between the armies of Julius Caesar and the army of Pompey"s two sons, Gnaeus and Sextus. To Caesar, Munda ...
Founded: 45 BCE | Location: Ronda, Spain

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.