In the first century BC. the Romans set their sights on the Lower Rhineland. They erected a military camp on the Fürstenberg so that they could advance into Germania to the east of the Rhine by crossing the river Lippe.
After the devastating defeat of Varus by the Germanic forces led by Arminius in 9 AD, the river Rhine became the eastern frontier of the Roman empire. A port and a settlement developed north of the camp. About 98 AD Emperor Traian granted the settlement colony status, and this became Colonia Ulpia Traiana.
Streets in a grid pattern, sewers, town walls, a forum, temples, baths and an amphitheatre were built, and all from stone that had to be hauled more than 100 kilometres down the Rhine.
In the Xanten Archaeological Park, some buildings have been partly reconstructed, some rebuilt and furnished to give visitors an idea of what the settlement would have been like. Original remains of Roman buildings can also be seen.
The modern steel and glass building is situated on the historic site of the major Roman settlement Colonia Ulpia Traiana. It is built on the excavated foundations of the entrance hall of the public baths. The size and the shape of the modern building correspond to the ancient Roman original.
Among the exhibits on display are the remains of a Roman boat, suspended from the ceiling at a height of 12 metres. Further highlights are a stunning, large mural and the oldest and best preserved Roman cannon yet discovered. Spanish oil amphorae, silver tableware, pottery and a considerable collection of Roman army weapons and equipment are also on display.
The municipal public baths of Colonia Ulpia Traiana were built under Emporor Hadrian around A.D. 125. The complex comprised hot, warm and cold baths, changing rooms, saunas and a sports-field.
The baths, destroyed in 275, were rediscovered in 1879. The museum building was openend in 1999. The building, combining glass and steel, reflects the design and dimensions of the original, allowing visitors to get a good impression of the imposing size of these ancient baths.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.