See the Frontiers of the Roman Empire on the Limes

Like Hadrian’s Wall, the Limes is a System of Roman Fortification:

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Saalburg Roman Fort - Courtesy GNTB

For anyone interested in the history of the Roman Empire in Germany, the German Limes Road (Deutsche Limes-Strasse) is a fascinating and impressive archaeological monument that should not be missed. The Upper-Germanic Roman Limes covers a total distance of 550 kilometres with 900 watchtowers and 120 large and smaller sized forts.

Some Early History

When the Romans waged war with the Germans in the 1st century BC, they conquered the territories west of the Rhine. Towns like Trier, Mainz and Cologne were settlements founded by the Romans. Roman attempts to conquer the eastern region between the Rhine and the Elbe were eventually defeated. A system of fortifications, or limes, was built along the course of the Danube and the Rhine which divided the region into Germania Romana (the Roman province) and Germania Libra (Free Germany). The line of forts, watchtowers, walls and palisades protected the mighty Roman Empire from independent Germania.  Monuments like the enormous Porta Nigra in Trier is a fine example of a Roman gateway into the city.

The Limes today is the longest and one of the most impressive archaeological monuments in Europe, marking the Frontiers of the Roman Empire where the highly developed civilisation of ancient Rome met ‘barbaric’ Germania.  It runs from the spa resort of Bad Hönningen am Rhein/Rheinbrohl on the River Rhine to the Regensburg area on the River Danube. Alongside Roman remains preserved in their original condition, visitors will see restored buildings, excavations and reconstructions. The course of the border wall can still be made out in places as it stretches in a long, straight line across forests and pastureland.

Highlights of the Limes

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Saalburg Main Gate - Saalburg

The Limes runs through some beautiful and generally unspoilt German countryside. Special highlights along the route include the reconstructed Roman fort at Saalburg in Bad Homburg, the Roman Museum in Osterburken, the Limes Museum in Aalen with an archaeology park, fort and Roman baths as well as the Roman Museum and Limes information centre in Weissenburg.

The Limes-Strasse website has excellent historical information as well as maps, information on the cycling path and guided tours that are available. Unfortunately most of the brochures and maps are in German only.

The Hessen Central Limes information centre at the entrance area of Saalburg Roman Fort in Bad Homburg provides information, photos and illustrations about the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes. Take time to stop at the centre as they have information about the Limes which will enhance your appreciation as you travel along the Limes Road – information such as why the Limes defences were built, their course, history and function . Reconstruction drawings help to demonstrate the various construction phases and illustrate the watchtowers and forts.  Information on the Limes in Hessen, especially the Upper Taunus Limes trail and Saalburg Roman Fort, are also on show.

The Hessen centre also covers the history after the end of Limes, research that’s been carried out and the inclusion of the Limes in the UNESCO world heritage listing.

Limes information centres can be found in the Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria.

Information Offices:

Saalburg Roman Fort
Archaeological Park
Saalburg 1
61350 Bad Homburg
www.saalburgmuseum.de/

Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße
St. Johann Straße 5
73430 Aalen
www.limesstrasse.de/

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