Roman sites in 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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.