Ancient Roman sites

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

Lilibeo

Lilibeo or Lilybaion was originally a Carthaginian city founded around 397 BCE. It became soon a dynamic trade and handicraft centre. In the Hellenistic period it was a multiethnic town where Punic, Greek and Roman people lived together. After a long siege, it was subdued by the Romans in the first Punic war in 241 BCE. Cicero mentioned Lilibeo in 76-75 BCE as a 'magnificient town'. During the age of Emperor Se ...
Founded: 397 BCE | Location: Marsala, Italy

Santa Eulalia de Bóveda

Santa Eulalia de Bóveda was a worship or religious building in Roman times. Probably it belongs to the third and fourth centuries AD although it was renovated and re-used in later times. It is near Lugo (Lucus Augusti) in a turning from the road to Friol. The road to Lucus Augusti and Bracara Augusta was very close to the group of Bóveda in ancient times. It had two floors. The lower one is kept relatively complete an ...
Founded: 3rd century AD | Location: Bóveda de Mera, Spain

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 Gymnasium

The monumental complex known as Gymnasium, probably built in the second half of the 1st century AD, consists of various constructions. Surrounded by the remains of a quadriportico are the ruins of the temple preceded by an altar, and a theatre. There was also, from Greek times, the sacellum with the remains of Timoleon.
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Syracuse, 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 nineteenth an ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Vienne, France

Villa Romana del Tellaro

The Villa Romana del Tellaro is a Roman villa dating from the late Roman Empire. The remains of the villa were found in 1971 in a fertile agricultural area, on a low elevation near the Tellaro river. The central building was constructed around a large peristyle. The section of the porch on the north side had a floor which was decorated with mosaics. They show laurel wreathes forming circles and octagons with geometri ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Noto, Italy

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

Circus of Maxentius

The Circus of Maxentius is an ancient part of a complex erected by emperor Maxentius on the Via Appia between AD 306 and 312. It is situated between the second and third miles of the Via Appia between the basilica and catacombs of San Sebastiano and the imposing late republican tomb of Caecilia Metella, which dominates the hill that rises immediately to the east of the complex. The Circus itself is the best preserved in ...
Founded: 306-312 | Location: Rome, Italy

Echternach Roman Villa

On the outskirts of Echternach is located one of the largest and richest estates of the northwestern provinces of the Roman Empire. The completely excavated manor house, measuring 118 x 62 m, was probably a palace. It had 40-70 rooms on the ground floor alone, provided with peristyles, courtyards, basins, marble facing, mosaic pavement and underfloor heating. This magnificent estate consisted of at least ten more building ...
Founded: 0-200 AD | Location: Echternach, Luxembourg

Río Verde Roman Villa

The ancient site at Rio Verde was once part of the great Roman city of Cilniana. It now houses the remains of a late 1st century AD Roman villa. Sadly all that is left is the floor and a small portion of the walls of the villa. However, fortunately for us it is a floor unlike any other - embellished with black and white mosaic tiles in patterns never before seen in a Roman Villa, and intricately encased by a border of the ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Marbella, Spain

Castelseprio

Castelseprio or Castel Seprio was the site of a Roman fort in antiquity, and a significant Lombard town in the early Middle Ages, before being destroyed and abandoned in 1287. It is today preserved as an archaeological park. Castelseprio originated as a Roman fort that commanded an important crossroad. During the early Middle Ages, the Lombards occupied the Roman fort, turning it into a fortified citadel or smal ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Castelseprio, Italy

Gennes Amphitheatre

Remains of the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre date from the 2th century AD. The venue built for gladiator and huntings shows had originally seats for 5000 spectators.
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Gennes, France

Séviac Gallo-Roman Villa

Set on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards and cypresses, the Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac was a luxurious residence, spread over almost 6500m2. It is today one of the largest Gallo-Roman villas known in the south-west of France. The villa was built in the 2nd century AD and reconstructed in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Later in the 8th and 9th centuries the place was used for a church, burials and necropolis. The villa is ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Séviac, France

Lugdunum Convenarum

In 72 BCE the Roman General Pompey, while on the way back to Rome after a military campaign in Spain, founded a Roman colony in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges. The goal was to defend the passage to the Aran Valley and the Iberian peninsula. The colony was named Lugdunum Convenarum and had reached around 30,000 people at its highest point. It belonged to the Roman province of Novempopulana and had a growing Christi ...
Founded: 72 BCE | Location: Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, France

Diana Archaeological Park

The Archaeological Park of Lipari is located at the Diana district. In the park there are the remains of walls for a length of about 50 m, a tower of the 4th century BCE and some Roman fortifications built by Sextus Pompey. Behind the Greek walls there are buildings of the Imperial-Roman period (2nd century AD). Within the walls there is a street with some home facades of the Imperial-Roman period, mainly located under t ...
Founded: 4th century BCE | Location: Lipari, Italy

Vieux-la-Romaine

During the 1st century AD, Aregenua (Vieux) became the capital of the Viducasse tribe. Situated at the crossroads of two Roman roads it became an important commercial staging town. Aregenua and Lillebonne are the only two capital towns in Gallo-Roman Normandy that did not become Medieval towns. A number of buildings have been excavated, and some have been partially reconstructed.
Founded: 0 - 200 AD | Location: Vieux, France

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.