Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Switzerland

Lindenhof Hill

The Lindenhof is a moraine hill and a public square in the historic center of Zürich. It is the site of the Roman and Carolingian era Kaiserpfalz around which the city has historically grown. The hilltop area includes prehistoric, Roman and medieval remains. Prehistory At the flat shore of Lake Zurich were Neolithic and Bronze Age (4500 to 850 BC) lakeside settlements. Lindenhof was largely surrounded ...
Founded: 1500 BC | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Roman Remains in Nyon

Little remains of Nyon’s Roman past. Apart from the Roman museum, a few Roman items can be seen around Nyon. Some decorative stones were used in later buildings but the most visual are the pillars erected above Parc du Bourg-de-Rive. These three pillars (well two and a third pillars) were discovered buried horizontally in old town Nyon and moved to overlook Lake Geneva in 1958. Here, they can easily be seen by travelers ...
Founded: 45 BC | Location: Nyon, Switzerland

Avenches Amphitheatre

Avenches (earlier known as Aventicum) became the capital of the Roman Helvetia province around 15-13 BC. The heyday of the city was in the 2nd century AD when it had over 20,000 inhabitants. The amphitheatre was also erected in the early 2th century. Today it is Switzerland's best preserved amphitheatre.
Founded: 2th century AD | Location: Avenches, Switzerland

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

Lausanne-Vidy Roman Ruins

Lousonna was a Gallo-Roman port during Roman times. The port town was important for commerce with links on Lake Geneva to Roman towns such as the present-day Geneva, Nyon, and Villeneuve. However, during Roman times, Lausanne was never of political or military importance. Although borders shifted, Lausanne was mostly a backwater at the southern most parts of Germania, ruled from Mainz. Political and military power in the ...
Founded: 15 BC | Location: Lausanne, Switzerland

Chur Roman Ruins

Several prehistoric settlements and remains of a Roman road station have been discovered in Welschdörfli, the old town district in Chur. You can visit the excavations and discoveries on the Ackermann grounds on Seilerbahnweg. The protective structures covering the archaeological sites from the Roman era were built in 1986 according to designs by local architect Peter Zumthor. They do not only protect the finds, they are ...
Founded: 15 BCE | Location: Chur, Switzerland

Windisch Roman Amphitheatre

The Roman amphitheatre in Windisch was built in the first half of the 1st century AD in the immediate vicinity of the Roman legion camp Vindonissa. It is the largest ancient amphitheatre in Switzerland. During the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14 to 37 AD), when the Legio XIII Gemina was stationed in Vindonissa, a first wooden amphitheatre was built. It was destroyed by fire around 45 AD. The camp was rebuilt of st ...
Founded: c. 50 AD | Location: Windisch, Switzerland

Gallo-Roman Villa of Orbe-Boscéaz

Orbe-Boscéaz, also named Boscéay, is an archaeological site located at the territory of the town of Orbe (Vaud). On the site of Boscéaz, five pavilions protect the largest site of Roman mosaic in Switzerland. These mosaics decorated a vast Roman villa built between the first and the third century AD, including private baths and a temple dedicated to Mithra. The first known mosaics are discovered in 1841. Between 1986 ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Orbe, Switzerland

Vitudurum

Vitudurum is the name of a Roman Vicus, those remains are located in Oberwinterthur, a locality of the municipality of Winterthur. The majority of the remains of commercial, residential, religious and public buildings are situated around the St. Arbogast church. Vitudurum was established nearby productive resources and a prehistorican route from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance in the late first century BC or early f ...
Founded: around 4 BC | Location: Winterthur, Switzerland

Irgenhausen Castrum

Irgenhausen Castrum is a Roman fort situated on Pfäffikersee lake shore. It was a square fort, measuring 60 metres in square, with four corner towers and three additional towers. The remains of a stone wall in the interior were probably a spa. In the Roman era, there was a Roman road from Centum Prata (Kempraten) on Obersee–Lake Zürich via Vitudurum (Oberwinterthur) to Tasgetium (Eschenz) on the Rhin ...
Founded: 294-375 AD | Location: Pfäffikon, Switzerland

Engehalbinsel Roman Vicus

A sanctuary with three fana (Gallo-Roman temples), a small bath building, an amphitheatre, several necropolis and remains of buildings where discovered in 1763 and excavated in 1956 near Bern. It has an ellipsis shape arena, whose axis are 28 x 26 metres, two walls which could be an entry at one end, and a niche at the other end. Its blenches were probably wooden made. Long regarded as an amphitheatre (it would one of th ...
Founded: 1st century BCE | Location: Bern, Switzerland

Mont Terri Archaeological Site

Mont-Terri Castle is a ruined medieval castle above a prehistoric hillfort on Mont Terri, located in the municipality of Cornol. Mont Terri forms a buttress of the Lomont ridge (part of the Jura mountains), and is separated from it by a saddle called Derrière Mont Terri. The wooded summit forms a plateau four hectares in area. It is bounded on the west and southwest sides by steep cliffs, the remaining si ...
Founded: 100-0 BC | Location: Cornol, Switzerland

Pierre-Percée (Courgenay)

The front stone of a Schwörstadt type dolmen.
Founded: Neolithic | Location: Porrentruy, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.