Hüfingen Roman Bath Ruins (Römische Badruine Hüfingen) are an extraordinary testimony to the Roman culture of bathing and one of the oldest examples of baths in a fortress north of the Alps.
Around 70 AD, Roman legions crossed the Alps to construct and secure the Danube Limes, or Roman frontier. At the western end, in today’s Hüfingen, the Brigobannis fortress was built. This boasted a sophisticated road network, an adjoining settlement for civilians and a balineum – a bathhouse for the soldiers.
The Roman baths in Hüfingen are slightly west of the fortress, situated in a valley beneath Galgenberg hill. Not long after their construction, members of the public from the nearby settlement began paying a small fee to come and enjoy the hot waters and steam baths alongside Roman soldiers. A hypocaust, an ingenious Roman underground heating system, ensured the water was warm and kept the floors and walls at an agreeable temperature.
The baths in Hüfingen are an example of a balineum with a blocklike structure, where all rooms were built as compactly as possible. The entire complex – excluding annexes – has an area of around 570 m². Around half of this space was taken up by a generously sized room for undressing and relaxation: the apodyterium, which had a cool-water pool at its centre.
Around 30 years after the baths were constructed, the 11th legion was forced to move on as the Danube frontier was shifted. But the settlement at the foot of the fortress remained intact – as did the 600 m² bathing complex. In 1820, Prince Karl Egon II ordered the excavation of the site and the construction of a protective outer building. Its shape is similar to the barns characteristic of this Black Forest region. Today, visitors to the ruins can gain fascinating insight into the history of the Romans and their bathing customs.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.