In 9AD the largest army of the Roman Empire was amassed along the Rhine frontier, preparing to march into what the historian Tacitus described as ‘the bristling forests and foul swamps’ of Germany. They suffered a huge and unprecedented defeat. In response, the Limes was constructed - a defence system of bank, ditch, wall, towers and forts built along the Rhine and Danube.
Safe behind this border, Roman cities prospered. Left behind are grand villas and exquisite mosaics. This is a delightful tour in a beautiful and accessible part of Europe often overlooked by tourists.
- Explore a frontier five times longer than Hadrian’s Wall, the Rhine and Danube - the longest structure Europe has ever seen
- Meet military history at its most exciting, in unexpectedly beautiful countryside and handsome German cities
- Follow the story of early Roman pioneers and entrepreneurs through to the creation of an Imperial capital at Trier
- Historic Churches
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Cologne via Eurostar.
We drive north to Xanten where the Roman town of Colonia Ulpia Traiana has been reconstructed, controversially overlying the archaeological remains.
We explore the remarkable and prolific remains of Roman Cologne. This was the capital of the province of Germania Inferior and we visit the excellent collections of the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, which was built on the site of an opulent Roman villa. After lunch we visit the governor’s residence (the Praetorium) and walk along the Roman sewers.
Today we pay a visit to the opulent Ahrweiler villa where the fortuitous discovery of a large ‘executive’ house, possibly the home of a local official, has been transformed into an excellent museum. On to Boppard, a charming, mostly medieval village on the Rhine, where we seek out the remains of the walls and towers of the late Roman fortifications. We travel by boat on the Rhine to our next hotel in Braubach.
We reach the Limes – a 500km boundary of cleared land fortified with great banks and ditches overlooked by 900 watchtowers and patrolled from 60 forts backed up by the legionary bases. We visit the reconstructed watchtower at Zugmantel and then on to Saalburg.
A beautiful drive along the Rhine, dotted with castles and pretty towns, to Mainz. This was the capital of Germania Superior, its administrative centre and, at times, a double legionary base.
This afternoon we visit the Schiffahrtsmuseum for a special guided tour of the excavated ships and their reconstructions.
We continue to Trier.
Today is our first day in imperial Roman Trier, one of the Late Roman capital cities of the Western Empire which is now an iconic German Rhineland town. We begin with the Episcopal museum and Constantine’s basilica, and then the packed galleries of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum.
This morning, we visit the remains of Trier’s Amphitheatre set into the hillside, followed by a visit to Porta Nigra. On to the funerary monument of Igel, decorated with remarkable detail of wool merchants’ lives. We visit the Villa Nennig, with a collection of mosaics, followed by the enterprising reconstruction of the Villa Borg.
We drive to Aachen, the capital of Charlemagne’s renewed Roman Empire of the 8th century. We visit the treasury, the richest in western Europe with gifts and acquisitions made by Holy Roman Emperors throughout the Middle Ages. We continue to Dom.
Before returning home, we enjoy a final visit to the Gothic Rathaus. The town hall began its life as part of the early medieval palace complex and was the audience chamber of Charlemagne himself.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
3 nights in a centrally located hotel in Cologne, with sleek, modern rooms
2 nights in a charming half-timbered inn in Braubach
3 nights in a Parisian boulevard-style 19th century hotel in Trier
1 night in a 5* hotel in an elegant, neoclassical-inspired hotel in Aachen
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