The Trip
The Saalburg II
Cologne II
Southwestern Black Forest
Schwäbisch Hall  Berlin

Tracing Roman Germania 1999
Tracing Roman Germania 2003 in the works
Ancient Rome as seen in the year 2001

Objects which are usually the motives of our travels by land and by sea are often overlooked and neglected if they lie under our eye…We put off from time to time going and seeing that we know we have an opportunity of seeing when we please.
Pliny the Younger

Castrum Biricina, Weissenburg


Links above and below lead to more detailed descriptions of what I saw, and often photographed, and to Internet sites – some of those in German where nothing was available in English, to accommodate readers who may speak the language.

Note: Links have been checked and upgraded December 2008.

At the end of the 1999 trip I wrote: “Literature about the German Limes whetted my appetite for [a trip] along the Limes, beginning in Regensburg on the Danube and going Northwest from there. Another year…”

Well, the year has come, and I spent close on six weeks in Germany, much of it along the Limes, mostly as I had planned it – largely with the help of that marvel, the Internet – and the weather too cooperated most of the time. Again I took the trains, in fact I bought a GermanRail Pass which allowed me unlimited travel during 10 days within a month. I loved the ICEs, the fast InterCity Express trains, and also the double-decker Regional-Expresses! I also liked the change-over to the Euro! Much less calculations in one's head. On the other hand, it wasn't as easy as before taking pictures in museums. I was often followed around to make certain I did not use a flash, and at one place one wasn't allowed any photography at all. I asked for an exception to photograph an excavation site in the basement there, but unfortunately, there was no one in authority available. Oh well. Still, I managed to use up 17 films…

I should add that, in all the Roman history related places, I also enjoyed the medieval and baroque churches and streets as well as the plentiful museums, not to speak of food and drink …so this travelogue again will be a mix of the old and the not so old…

I started out in Freiburg at the foothills of the Black Forest, visiting friends for a few days, with a side trip on my own across the border into Switzerland to Kaiseraugst, Augusta Raurica, near Basel, an archaeological park smack in the middle of a residential area.

Having gotten over the jet lag and seen quite a bit of the Black Forest, I started out in earnest, again “tracing Roman Germania.”

The Roman/Limes trip took me through the South-German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bayern (Bavaria), the only exceptions being the Saalburg near Frankfurt, and Cologne and Neuß in the West. I was mainly interested in cities and towns which had been sites of castra, because they usually have well documented information and museums, and could be easily explored without a car. Here is a nice site about the Limes in English. And here is an interesting map from Nova Roma, Provincia Germania, depicting the various phases of the Limes.

My first destination was Augsburg, Augusta Vindelicum, one of the three large cities in Roman Germania besides Cologne and Trier.

Next I went to my first stop on the Limes, Regensburg, Castra Regina, on the Danube. From there, after a brief day visit with friends in the Erlangen/Nürnberg area, to Weissenburg i. Bayern, Castra Biriciana, and a side trip to Eichstätt. Both towns are situated in the Altmühltal, a large nature preserve along the Altmühl river and valley. There are plenty of remnants there of the Limes proper, but one would have to have a car to visit them all. The museum in Weissenburg displays a wonderful treasure found some years back in a backyard, and next to the castrum are the well preserved remnants of a large Roman bath, where two building phases are displayed and explained in a roofed-over area.

Augsburg, Regensburg, and Weissenburg were all free imperial cities of the Holy Roman Empire.

My next stop was Aalen, which housed the largest equestrian camp north of the Danube. However, I got sick with some kind of summer flu and made a detour to a charming town called Schwäbisch Hall, where I have family, and where I recuperated in nice surroundings. I visited the archaeological park in Aalen later on, taking the fast train from Cologne for a day trip. Gotta be flexible…

Then on to Aschaffenburg, which boasts a replica of a Pompeiian villa, commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. A side trip to Miltenberg, another Limes site with a prize winning little museum, was already a bit cumbersome because of an annoying heat wave, and I had to scrap a day trip to Osterburken for that very reason. However, I found artifacts from Osterburken later on view in Aalen.

From Aschaffenburg it is a small distance the other side of Frankfurt to Bad Homburg spa and the Saalburg, another archaeological park, where I was able to spend more time than I did in 1999.

I then interrupted – or thought I did – my “Roman” sightseeing by taking the train to Hannover, where I picked up a friend for a visit to Berlin, a place I hadn't been to since 1963. But the Romans wouldn't leave me alone: there were the Gate of Miletum and plenty of other artifacts in two Berlin museums! I enjoyed the big city atmosphere of Berlin, a city in transition, as evidenced by the numerous construction cranes towering over everything else. You either hate Berlin or love it. Unfortunately, my notes got lost, and I'm still assembling information for a webpage.)

Meanwhile, the country was in the throws of the World Cup – soccer mania ruled…

Then on to my home town and a high school reunion, and finally to Cologne, where I have family and stayed another six days. Of course I visited the Roman Germanic Museum – I always find new things there to look at, and made side trips to Aalen, as mentioned above, Neuß, Castra Novaesium, and Bonn, where I met friends and was taken to a marvelous exhibition of Alex Katz paintings.

Then back home and back to earth…

© Irene B. Hahn 2002

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