Romano-Germanic Museum

Cologne, Germany

The Roman-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Museum) has a large collection of Roman artifacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, on which modern Cologne is built. The museum protects the original site of a Roman town villa, from which a large Dionysus mosaic remains in its original place in the basement, and the related Roman Road just outside. In this respect the museum is an archaeological site.

The Römisch-Germanisches Museum is near the Cologne Cathedral on the site of a 3rd-century villa. The villa was discovered in 1941 during the construction of an air-raid shelter. On the floor of the main room of the villa is the renowned Dionysus mosaic. Since the mosaic could not be moved easily, the architects Klaus Renner and Heinz Röcke designed the museum around the mosaic. The inner courtyards of the museum mimic the layout of the ancient villa.

In addition to the Dionysus mosaic, which dates from around A.D. 220/230, there is the reconstructed sepulcher of legionary Poblicius (about A.D. 40). There is also an extensive collection of Roman glassware as well as an array of Roman and medieval jewellery. Many artifacts of everyday life in Roman Cologne are displayed, ncluding portraits (e.g., of Roman emperor Augustus and his wife Livia Drusilla), inscriptions, pottery, and architectural fragments.

The museum has the world's largest collection of locally produced glass from the Roman period.

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Details

Founded: 1974
Category: Museums in Germany
Historical period: Cold War and Separation (Germany)

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kieran Choquet (2 months ago)
I could only see the roman floor mosaic and the reconstituted monument in memory of a roman man. That was very nice, and the guide spoke a good english so it was cool. The two things are very impressive, by the way.
Monika van Hoeve (2 months ago)
Closed! For maybe years! Big renovations. Fortunately, on set times you can visit for only 3 euros the museum's two highlights. A wellspoken guide will explain Roman life in 20 min. You can not miss this gem.
r kennedy (4 months ago)
I was somewhat unimpressed by this museum, but to be fair, I lived in Tunisia for a couple of years, and there were lots of places there that had more impressive collections of Roman artifacts, and most of those places were free to enter. The high point of this museum is some of the small bronze castings, which are very nice. It's a fairly small museum, so the admission fee seemed relatively steep.
Jan Thomas (6 months ago)
Nice Museum of Roman and Germanic history right next to the Cologne dome. A huge amount of ancient findings are exhibited. Almost too much to go digest everything properly.
Dick Nicholson (7 months ago)
This is a great Museum, in the truest sense of the word. Incredible collection of Roman relics, reconstructions, maps etc. Also much older stuff from Germanic tribes and earlier inhabitants. A full day would not be enough to see everything. This museum is worth a trip to Cologne just to see it, but no trip to this city would be complete without a visit to one of the beer halls. Go to the tourist office, get a map, and explore.
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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

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