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The UNESCO gave in 2005 the recognition as "WeltErbe" or World Heritage to the Roman Limes, stretching over 550 km, and with the remains of more than 90 forts and 900 watch towers. Beside the ruins by the line of castles and towers, there are highlights not to miss. First of all the Museums, both Regional and local, of which fine examples are Osterburken or Aalen. There are also very interesting museums in Mainz (the romanships museum, remembering the one south of Rome) and the Roman Museum at the city. Also, and off the real Limes, the Glypotek museum in Munich is a must see. Finally, the Museum at Berlin, at the museums islands, there are interesting pieces of the roman past in Germany (as well as the Pergamum Temple, but that is another story...)

To have a "real" idea of what the Roman life was like, there are three life-scale reproductions worth seeing: The Saalburg legionary fort, north of Frankfurt; the Asschafenburg reconstructed Pompeian house in North West Bavaria; and the Roman Baths, Thermae, at Petronell-Carnutum in Austria, near Vienna. 

 Just partially reconstructed are the fort gates at Welzheim and Pfünz (Vetoniana Fort). Then, the reconstructed towers, both in wood or stone like the ones in Rheinbrohl, Rainau, Grab, Pohl, etc.


As for the monuments and ruins, maybe Trier and Mainz, together with Köln, are the best cities to visit. 





 It is located to the west of the Rhine river, in which now is Luxembourg, the south of Holland and part of Belgium and Germany. Its name must to its geographic position near the opening of the Rhine (in the north) by contrast to the Germany Superior (in the south), more near the birth of the river. During the wars of the Gauls, Julius Caesar invades this zone. Celts eduos inhabits that it requests aid to Rome in 58 us before the invasion of the Germanic suevos and its allies that, commanded by Ariovistus had crossed the Rhine. And with that excuse, Caesar takes his legions towards the north, defeats Ariovisto, and expels them to the other side of the Rhine and soon annihilates the eburones tribes and the menapios again. When new germanic tribes return to cross the Rhine, Caesar constructs a bridge on the river to go after and persecute the ones who won the fight.  The conquered territory is annexed to the Galtic Belgium.

53 BC _ Julius Caesar once again passed to the other side of the Rhine to fight against the Germans but they flee, without presenting a fight.

50 BCs _ The first Roman settlements were created in the region even though Julius Caesar had abandond them in order to concern himself with the civil war against Pompeii. The capital was Colonia Agrippinensis (Colonia) Various permanent military settlements existed and the fleet “Classis Germanica” that controlled the Rhine and the Northern sea had their first base in Castrates Vetera (near the present Xanten) and in Colony

69-70 AD_ The revolt of the “Batavios”, tribes that inhabited the Delta wetlands, under the command of the king Gaius Juilius Civilis (Roman name), subranking officer of the Roman army. The “batavios” had been for a long time allies of Rome to which they provided soldiers and arms. Their soldiers are famous for being great riders and excellent swimmers. After a pair of Roman defeats, the Empire overcomes to the Batavia coalition to which it imposes a humiliating surrender. From that moment, in its territory a legion is based there permanently to regulate the stability of the area.

Near Xanten: Vetera Castra and Cologne Ulpia Traiana

Herleen (Coriovallum)

Alphen aan give Rijn (Albaniana)

Katwijk (Lugdunum Batavorum)

Voorburg (Forum Hadriani)

Nijmegen (Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum)

Utrecht (Traiectum)

Tongeren (Atuatuca Tungrorum)

Bonn (Bonn)

Colony (Agrippinensis Colony)



It occupies the west of present Switzerland, the present French regions of Alsace and the mountains of Jura and the southwest of Germany. It is located to the south of Germania inferior, in the average and high course of the Rhine. At the outset, they inhabit diverse Gallic tribes (celtas) like the Sequani, or Leucos Helvetii. Then, from 3rd century BC whole germanic towns like teutones and the cimbrios, emigrate from the north from Europe to the northern regions of Rome and they are based in Helvecia and Galia.

In 113 B.C. The Cimbri defeated the consul Ceno Papinio Carbon and solicited permission from Rome to place themselves in the territory of the celtas alobroges. When their request was denied, they were forced to face Rome and over the course of the next ten years they freed themselves of the different battles of the Cimbri War. It had been the first time, since the Second Punic War, in which the Italian Peninsula and the city of Rome had been directly threatened.

 The battle of Noreai (112 B.C.) and especially the battle of Arausio (105 B.C.), constituted grand defeats for Rome. However, the Cimbris, led by Boriorix, decided to depart towards Hispania and their two-year absence allowed the Romans to reorganize their armies and re-strategize.

Upon the return to Gaul, the Cimbris, expelled from Hispania by the Celtiberos, allied themselves with the Teutones and marched towards Rome. Being too numerous to effectively maneuver, they divided themselves and decided to unite once again in the Po valley. With the armies of the invaders separted, in the same year (1 or 2 B.C.) Cayo Mario conquered the teutones en Aqu Sextae and, alongside Quintus Luttisu)defeated the Cimbris of Boiorix in the battle of Vercelae. This event would bring nearly fifty years of peace to the region until the time of the new Germanic invasions and the various campaigns of Julius Caesar.

The history of Germania Superior (“Upper Germania”)is in certain way the history of Germanic Limes, whose construction began by August Octavio in 9 AD and that was not overflowed definitively until century IV AD. The capital is Mainz (Mogontiacum) and the main enclaves, Besancon (Vesontio), Strasbourg (Argentorate), military base of the Rhine Stop, and Wiesbaden (Matticae)


Augustus Octavio organized the conquered territories for  Julius Caesar in the provinces of Germania Inferior and Germania Superior. They would add other territories later to form, between the Rhine, the Danube and the Elbe, the Great Germania Inferior, that they could only maintain for three years until the Roman defeat in the forest of Teotoburgo. The Limes of Germania Inferior bordered the Rhine from the North Sea all the way to Katwijk in Holland. Germania Superior follows the Rhine from Rheinbrohl and crossed the Taunus mountains to the Main river. Afterwards, it followed the course of the Main until Miltenberg and later descended until Lorch.

The Limes constituted on a large scale by means of the systematic fortification of the borders of the Roman Empire with a new vision for defense: It must constitute a protection of the Roman territories altogether, instead of limiting the shield to certain military establishments or border steps. For that reason it included, besides the rise of castles and strongholds as it bases for the legions, the construction of towers for good watch and to communicate with each other and roadways to be able to transport troops quickly.

The Limes were not impenetrable but they were a deterrent. It served as an indication and warning for which great contingents of Roman troops can be concentrated quickly in a certain points.  Between a great strength and another one one extends, throughout the border line, a succession of watchtowers that maintain visual contact among them. Although they cannot do against an ample attack, they serve to warn of any aggression for the main body of the army. The towers work in addition as customs allowing the transfer to Roman citizens and Barbarian allies, mainly retailers, in one or the other direction.

In order to build it, they took advantage of the natural borders of  rivers and mountains, which made fortification of very simple construction. Basically the lime is build by digging a great ditch and using the extracted dirt to form a high knoll. In the superior part to the east they nailed  stakes establishing a fence, sometimes build near rock or an earth wall. Behind were constructed the watch towers out of wood or stone and more to the interior of the forts where great military establishments. You Germanic Limes got to extend to 568 km and included nearly 900 watchtowers and at least 60 castles or strongholds.

Augusto Octavio began the construction of the Germanic limes in 9 AD, after the terrible defeat of Teotoburgo. Several walls and fences rise that soon are connected to each other to form Limes of the Germania Superior following the course of the Rhine and later the Raetia Limes bordering the Danube. In a following stage, the borders of these two provinces are united forming a solid continuous line of trenches of defenses. After the death of Augusto in 14 AD and during the following sixty years, the limit of the Roman Empire is constituted by the natural borders of the Rhine and the Danube. In fact, the course of the Rhine in the Germania Inferior, where the width and depth of the river make it very difficult to penetrate, it continues being the Roman border until the dissolution of the Empire.

In the Germania Superior, however, the Rhine and the Danube can be crossed comfortably and the course of these rivers surrounds a Barbarian enclave that is entered with more or less triangular form in the Roman territories between Baden and Wurtemberg. In 74 AD, Vespasiano annexes part of the territory of Baden and constructs a road that unites the Roman establishment of Strasbourg in the Rhine with Ulm in the Danube. Domiciano, in 83 AD, invades the zone to the east of Mainz and fortifies the new border intensely. The construction of the Germanic Limes continues with the connection of these two borders new line, following the course of the Main until the high course of the Neckar. And Adriano raises a wood fence that forms a solid continuous line of trenches from the Rhine to the Danube. His successor, Antonino Pío, extends the border of the Empire beyond the Danube and the plain of Odenwald and the new Limes passes in a practically parallel line to the previous one that is conserved for the next hundred years.

Today two different construction styles can be seen that were part of Germanic Limes. The Pfalhgraben is very visible in Saalsburgo. It descends from the Rhine towards the south, it is formed by a ditch and a knoll finished off by pointed stakes and the last part is completely straight, following the direction of the polestar during almost 50 km. The Teufelsmauer, continues to the west following the course of the Danube until Heinheim, next to Ratisbona, where there is an earth wall. As of 2nd century AD, new invasions of germanic towns take place every time with greater intensity and from 254 Roman Limes continues to back down by the loss of the North zone of the Danube and the east of the Rhine. The system of the watchtowers continues  with maintaining contact with each other visually and cities that had little protection before like Augusta Raurica are widely fortified (next to Basel) that now becomes Castrates Rauracense.

In the 4th century A.D, the germanic tribes definitively overflow the Limes and in 406, Vandals, Swabians and the Alans cross the Rhine to begin a new invasion of Gaul.






Augusto continues the fortification of Germanic Limes in the Rhine rising the strengths of Mainz (Mogontiacum) and Xanten (Castra Vetera). When, in 11 BC, germanic towns cross the Rhine, invade Gaul and defeat to 5th Legion, Augusto personally takes control of the Roman troops next to Druso. The Barbarians are overcome and the borders of the Empire are extended until the Elbe river.  On his return to Rome to receive the victory celebration, Druso dies after falling from his horse. His work is continued by his brother Tiberio and his Germanic son. However they spend the following three years fighting against Illyrians and Pannonians following a violent rebellion in Dalmacia and Rome that does not finish holding fast through the Great Germania inferior.

In 9 BC, takes place the battle of Teutoburgo. The new governor of the Great Germania inferior is Publio Quintilio Varo, previous Roman representative in the province of Syria where he did not leave good memories of his diplomatic work. He is married with the niece of Augusto and becomes a disappointment because, without any military experience, he goes to direct an unstable and still militant province. Arminius, leader of the Cherusci and ally of the Empires is instead a seasoned strategist who has struggled with Rome in Dalmatia. Varo, insisting on applying Roman Rights and imposing new taxes, brings about the malaise among the inhabitants of the Great Germania Inferior. Varo returns in the autumn to its winter quarters on the Rhine with three legions, Arminio, together with the leaders of other germanic tribes, tends to an ambush. With the false news on a supposed rebellion in the South zone Varo is turned aside of his route until the forest of Teutoburgo, where they hope to hide him, Cherusci armies and some of their allies.

The XVII, XVIII and XIX Legions move due to their military supplies and to the great number of civilians (families, merchants, craftsmen, prostitutas etc) who accompany them slowly. In defile or in forests they are disadvantaged in front of the germanic soldiers who have better light arms with greater rapidity of action. Even so the battle lasts several days and perhaps it would have had another result if Varo and his officials had not committed suicide. It was well-known that the Germans did not take prisoners and would torture their prisoners before killing them. This explains why the suicide of Vera is comprehensible but nonjustifiable: Without hardly officials to the control, the three legions and their fellow travellers are massacreed. In the battlefield, the Romans will be tortured, crucified and sacrificed in the altars of germanic Gods. And those that manage to flee are catched in the following days. The corpse of Vera is mutilated and its head sent to Rome. Arminio takes the three eagles sea breams, standard of the legions which loss is considered an enormous military shame. The battle of Teutoburgo has important psychological consequences. Rome suddenly lives to fear a new invasion from the Germanic and Gallic Italian peninsula if there is an alliance of Germans and Gauls. And the disaster of Teutoburgo publicly shows enemies and allies that the Empire can be defeated.

The XVII, XVIII and XIX Legions that were destroyed will not return to be used for the rest of Roman military history.

Augusto is affected very personally by this and it is told that he spent months without shaving his beard or cutting his hair and, from time to time, he struck his head shouting “Quintilio Varo, return my legions to me.” He dismisses the Germanic Gauls that are part of his personal guard and, finally decides to send to his Germanic nephew the control of eight legions to locate the battlefield, to award honors to the deceaseds and to recover the armament or left material. The expedition has a sense of repair more than of fight. Later in 16 AD, when Germanic wins in the battle of Idistaviso, definitively defeating Arminio, he reclaims the standards of the legions. However, Augustus orders the evacuation of the Germania Magna, evaluating the high costs of maintaining the domination of Rome in the area.  And is limited to slightly advance the limes which now includes the Champs Decumano.  At his death he recommended to his successor, Tiberius, to turn back the fortifications to the Rhine and the Danube and not retry the expansion beyond these natural boundaries. Thus, Germany lacked the Romanization process that occurred in other places


You may also like to visit the following link http://www.viatorimperi.com/lugares/europa/alemania