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

Hannibal's Bridge

Hannibal's Bridge (Ponte Annibale) is apparently one of the oldest structures in Rapallo. This bridge was possibly used by Carthaginian commander Hannibal during his campaign against Rome in the second Punic War, where he possibly unloaded supplies on the Tigullia coast (region from Portofino to Anzo di Framura). The bridge could also be connected to the Battle of Trebbia (218 BC). The structure's name first appears in a ...
Founded: 3rd century BCE | Location: Rapallo, Italy

Cambodunum

In 15 BC Roman troops led by Nero Claudius Drusus and his brother Tiberius conquered and destroyed an existing Celtic settlement, later named Cambodunum (today Kempten). In the following years the city was rebuilt on a classical Roman city plan with baths, forum and temples. Initially in wood, the city was later rebuilt in stone after a devastating fire that destroyed almost the entire city in the year 69 AD. The city pos ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Kempten (Allgäu), Germany

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

Roman Bridge of Lugo

The Roman bridge of Lugo is a bridge of Roman origin, that has been reconstructed and repaired several times. The bridge crosses the Minho river.
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Lugo, Spain

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

Aquis Querquennis

Aquis Querquennis is the ruins of a Roman military camp sit along a flooded section of a river. The construction of the barracks dates back to the reign of Vespasian, around the year 75, when it was likely used as a base from which to defend newly built roads connecting other, larger roads in this remote province. The walls, arches and moat that form the foundations of this former Roman military camp can sometimes be fou ...
Founded: c. 75 AD | Location: Ourense, Spain

Cercadilla

The archaeological site of Cercadilla includes a complete chronological sequence from the 3rd to 12th centuries. The most relevant monument is a Roman palace dated between the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th century AD. It is believed that it was the headquarters of the Emperor Maximiano Herculeo. A bathtub with mural paintings has been found in the thermal zone of the palace. Regarding the occupation ...
Founded: 3rd century AD | Location: Córdoba, Spain

Roman Fish Salting Factory

The Roman fish salting factory (Factoría romana de salazones) was a salting factory established on the seafront of Algeciras by the Romans. It belonged to the fishing village of San Nicolás, part of what was called Caetaria.
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Algeciras, Spain

Turris Libisonis

The ancient Roman town of Turris Libisonis, located at the mouth of the Rio Mannu was the precursor to the current Porto Torres. This had been a Roman colony since the 1st century BC and, of all the estates belonging to the Republic and the Empire, it was the only one inhabited by Roman citizens: it proudly held the name of Iulia, linked to the figure of Julius Cesar or of Augustus. Under the long Roman dominion, the tow ...
Founded: 1st century BCE | Location: Porto Torres, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.