Frontiers of the Roman Empire in Germany
All roads might not lead to Rome anymore, but in the 2nd century A.D., they did lead to Rome during the height of the Roman Empire. The most powerful military force in the world extended its unbeatable and unparalleled reign over much of Europe and Africa during that time, making all manners of fortresses and walls to keep out their enemies. Soon the "Roman Limes" formed a borderline spanning from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, to Europe, the Black Sea, and then to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast. While there's proof of their rule throughout these regions, no other part of Europe was more occupied than Germany. So if you ever want to explore Deutschland, make sure to travel the border the Romans built to keep out the ancient "savage" natives.
The Germanic Frontier is Immense
The German-Roman frontiers remind us that the Romans weren't just military masterminds. They were educated in all matters, especially politics, architecture, engineering, government, and law.
The frontiers also remind us that the Roman Empire's outreach was just as impressive as anything else they accomplished. Here are some of the best Roman sites along the Germanic frontier that still stand today:
There are many sites throughout Trier, Germany's oldest city, founded by the Romans in 16 B.C. In 306 A.D., Constantine the Great lived there after becoming emperor of the western region of the Roman Empire. He eventually brought Christianity to Rome when he became emperor of the entire Roman Empire.
Inside the city is Porta Nigra, or "The Black Gate," one of the best-preserved Roman gates in the world. St. Peter's Cathedral sits on Constantine's original castle and basilica complex and houses the Holy Tunic relic.
There's also the Basilica of Constantine; the Imperial Baths of Trier; the Roman Amphitheatre, still used for events; and St. Matthias Abbey, which holds a Roman cemetery. Finally, the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, or The Rhineland Museum, has one of Germany's best collections of Roman artifacts.
The Romans also founded the city of Cologne in 50 A.D. It was initially an outpost, but it later became the capital of the Empire's Lower Germany.
Inside Cologne, the Romans definitely left their influence following occupation by the Franks in 462. There's the Praetorium, the parliament building in the Empire's military command center now housed in the Alt Rathaus; the Weiden Roman Burial Chamber; and the Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne, which houses all the Roman artifacts from the area.
Xanten was originally a military camp founded by the Romans in 12 B.C. Now, the city is home to Germany's largest open-air museum, the Xanten Archaeological Park. The park showcases the entire Colonia Ulpia Traiana settlement, some reconstructions, amphitheater ruins, temples, city hall, bathhouse, and homes.
The German Limes
One of the most significant intact Roman structures in Germany is the German Limes, or the Limes Germanicus, which span from Rheinbrohl on the Rhine in the north-west Rheinbrohl to Eining on the Danube in the south-west.
These frontiers along the borderline used both artificial and natural barriers to protect areas or entire military zones. They used the Danube, Rhine, and North Sea as natural boundaries to connect fortified walls that protected them from invasion.
A road was built for tourists to visit all of the Limes in one exciting expedition. Along the road is the Romans' original fort in Saalburg near Bad Homburg.
Many ancient Roman settlements, fortresses, walls, and other structures were left to ruin in Germany alone. Still, it is possible to visit all of the sites in one go.
You might not even feel like you're in Germany anymore. Exploring these ruins may very well make you feel like you're in ancient Rome. Are you ready to transport back in time?