Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Germany

Hedeby

Hedeby is the Southernmost Nordic town, and played an important role as a key trading center in the viking age. It is at the crossroads of the Slien Fjord and the Baltic Sea to the East, streams that led to the Atlantic running close by to the West and the main land route, the Army Road running along the Jutland high ridge up along the Eastern side of Jutland. The city area is surrounded by a 1300 meter long city wall in ...
Founded: c. 770 AD | Location: Schleswig, Germany

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC. In a popular tradition g ...
Founded: 10000 BC | Location: Horn-Bad Meinberg, Germany

Hohle Fels

The Hohle Fels is a cave in the Swabian Alps that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating to the Upper Paleolithic age. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered. The cave consists of a tunnel of about 15 m (50 ft) and a hall holding about 6,000 m3, making the cave hall one of the largest of Southern Germany. The fi ...
Founded: 40,000-30,000 BC | Location: Schelklingen, Germany

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

Trier Amphitheater

The Roman Amphitheater in Trier is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The arena, built in the 2nd century A.D. for cruel games with gladiators and animals, had a seating capacity of about 20,000. When you enter the premises you walk through the ruins of the entrance gate. This was used as a quarry in the Middle Ages. The arena itsel ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Trier, Germany

Boppard Roman Fort

Boppard’s most famous sight is a castrum, a Roman Fort. The military camp of Bodobrica was established here in 360 AD. It is thought to be the best preserved example north of the Alps today. It once had 28 towers, and was a commercial centre as well as a fort. It was 308 × 154 metres and formed a rectangle of 4,7 hectare. The walls were 3 metres thick to the land side and 2,5 metres thick to the Rhine side. W ...
Founded: 360 AD | Location: Boppard, Germany

Roman Theater

Mainz, known as Mogontiacum, was Rome’s most important city in Germania. In fact, the stage and auditorium of the Mainz theater was the largest anywhere north of the Alps. More than 10,000 audience members could be accommodated. The theater proportions were gigantic: The stage measured 42 meters wide. The audience area was 116 meters in width. The Roman Theater is located just above the Mainz-South Station adjacent ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Mainz, Germany

Garz Slavic Fort

Garz Slavic fort was an ancient burgwall. The earthworks have an oval shape, are about 200 metres long and 140 metres wide. There is an entrance roughly in the middle of the western side. Towards the lake of Garzer See to the south the ramparts are lower. The castle was mentioned in 1165 as Borgar Gardz, when there were small-scale skirmishes with Danish warriors in front of the castle. The castle itself does not appear ...
Founded: 8th-9th century | Location: Garz, Germany

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

Jaromarsburg

Jaromarsburg was a cult site for the Slavic tribe of Rani dedicated to the god Svantovit and used from the 9th to the 12th century. It was located on the northeastern tip of the German Baltic Sea island of Rügen at Cape Arkona, and was protected on two sides by the cliffed coast and from the land side by a Slavic burgwall. The name of the temple hill is derived from the Rani prince, Jaromar I, who became a vassal of ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Arkona, Germany

Pfünz Roman Fort

Pfünz Roman Fort, Castra Vetoniana, was a Roman cohort camp near Pfünz, a village in the municipality of Walting. It was built in about 90 AD on a 42-metre-high Jurassic hillspur between the valley of the Altmühl and that of the Pfünzer Bach stream. it is a component of the Rhaetian Limes which was elevated in 2005 to the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of historical importance are the remains of the double V ...
Founded: 90 AD | Location: Walting, Germany

Drususstein

The Drususstein (Drusus stone) is a nearly 20 metres high masonry block of Roman origin on the grounds of the citadel of Mainz. It was originally cast in marble. Researchers now largely accept that this is the structural remnant of the cenotaph mentioned by writers like Eutropius and Suetonius, erected in 9 BC by Roman troops in honour of the deceased general Drusus, in Mogontiacum (now Mainz) as part of the roman funerar ...
Founded: 9 BC | Location: Mainz, Germany

Heidetränk Oppidum

The Heidetränk Oppidum near Oberursel is one of Europe"s most important Celtic oppida. The oppidum was surrounded by ramparts which encircled the settlement of opposite sides of a ravine called the Heidetrankthal. This imposing rampart where 10 km long and had six gates. The high point of the settlement was in the late La Tène period, but lost its importance in the mid first century BC. Archaeological finds fr ...
Founded: 200-300 BC | Location: Oberursel, Germany

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is a Neolithic circle structure. It may be the oldest and best known of the Circular Enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. It also may be one of the oldest Solar observatories in the world. It consists of a set of concentric ditches 75 metres across and two palisade rings containing gates in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the solstice days. Its construction is dated to c. ...
Founded: 4900 BC | Location: Goseck, Germany

Badenweiler Roman Baths

The Badenweiler Roman bath ruins (Römische Badruine Badenweiler) are among the most significant Roman remains in Baden-Württemberg. To this day, the complex remains the best pre-served Roman spa north of the Alps. When the Romans conquered this region in what is now southwestern Germany, they brought with them their established custom of bathing. Many of the thermal springs that had been used by the Celts becam ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Badenweiler, Germany

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

Burghalde

Once an island in the river Iller, Burghalde hill is one of the oldest settlements of Kempten, first a late-Roman castellum, in the Middle Ages the fort of the monastery’s abbots. In 1488 the tower was added and the whole structure was incorporated into the city’s fortifications. Dismantled in 1705; open-air stage since 1950. Since 2004 home to the Allgäu Castle Museum.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kempten (Allgäu), Germany

Kastell Biriciana

Kastell Biriciana was a former Roman military camp. It was occupied from the 1th century AD to the mid-3rd century as a part of Limes Germanicus (a line of frontier fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces). There was first a wooden fortifications, which were later replaced with a square stone fort. The known internal buildings are marked by stone slabs. There is today a reconstructed north gate, the large ...
Founded: 90 AD | Location: Weissenburg, Germany

Ipf Hill Fort

The Ipf is a mostly treeless mountain (668 metres)with a prehistoric hill fort on its top. The fort is situated on an isolated hill, with a flattened summit surrounded by a stone wall, ditch and large counterscarp (outer bank). The overall diameter is about 180 metres. There are also extensive ramparts traversing the slopes to protect a large enclosed area and entranceway. There is evidence of occupation from the Bronze A ...
Founded: 1200-300 BC | Location: Bopfingen, Germany

Aalen Kastell

After abandoning the Alblimes (a Limes generally following the ridgeline of the Swabian Jura) around 150 AD, Aalen"s territory became part of the Roman Empire, in direct vicinity of the then newly erected Rhaetian Limes. The Romans erected a castrum to house the cavalry unit Ala II Flavia milliaria; its remains are known today as Kastell Aalen. The site is west of today"s town centre at the bottom of the Schille ...
Founded: c. 150 AD | Location: Aalen, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cochem Castle

The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.

In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.

The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.

In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.

Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.

In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.