In 9 AD, the largest army of the Roman Empire 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.
Nestled safely behind this border, the Roman cities of the region prospered. Grand villas and exquisite mosaics were left behind, which can be seen today. This is a delightful tour in a beautiful and accessible part of Europe, often overlooked by tourists.
- Explore military history in beautiful countryside
- Follow the story of early Roman pioneers
- Walk along the longest frontier Europe has ever seen
- Discover a collection of mosaics at Villa Nennig
- Visit the reconstructed watchtower of Zugmantel
- Historic Churches
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We journey to Cologne from London and check into our hotel. From the second we arrive, we’re greeted by stunning Gothic architecture in every direction. The skyline is dominated by the twin spires of its magnificent cathedral, and ancient Roman walls to avant-garde structures decorate the banks of the Rhine.
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, before Feldburg.
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.
Here, we tour the Museum für Antike Schiffahrt and visit the Roman remains. We have some free time to visit the Gutenberg Museum before we head 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 Museum am Dom and then visit the galleries of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum. In the afternoon, we view Constantine’s Basilica, which contains the largest extant hall from antiquity.
This morning, we visit the famous Porta Nigra in Trier, followed by a visit to remains of Trier’s Amphitheatre set into the hillside. 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 will enjoy a walking tour through the city and then visit the Treasury, the richest in Western Europe with gifts and acquisitions made by Holy Roman Emperors throughout the Middle Ages. Afterwards, we will spend time in the 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 - Most meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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