Category Archives: World Heritage Sites

Old Town of Cáceres

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Turkey as we visited the Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia.

Today we’re headed to Hispania as we check out the Old Town of Cáceres!

The city’s history of battles between Moors and Christians is reflected in its architecture, which is a blend of Roman, Islamic, Northern Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles. Of the 30 or so towers from the Muslim period, the Torre del Bujaco is the most famous.

Cáceres has been a trade route city and a political center of the local nobles for many centuries. Since prehistoric times, people from different cultures have gathered in Cáceres and have shaped its strong historical roots.

The influence and remains of these cultures can be observed and studied in the walled ensemble of Cáceres, with a wide typological and constructive variety ranging from popular architecture to palace-houses, with their characteristic sobriety and towers of the nobility of Gothic and Renaissance times. This property also includes noteworthy religious buildings such as churches, hermitages and convents.

Cáceres is an outstanding example of a city that was ruled from the 14th to 16th Centuries by powerful rival factions, reflected in its dominant spatial configuration of fortified houses, palaces and towers. This city in Extremadura bears the traces of highly diverse and contradictory influences.

Multidisciplinary research of the last decades has allowed to gain a better understanding of the evolution and substantial transformations of Cáceres, documented construction techniques in the walled city and identified a rare structural unity in the west of the historic ensemble.

We hope that you enjoyed today’s journey, and look forward to having you back again. Be sure to check us out again soon for we never know where or when we’ll end up.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Romania as we visited the Wooden Churches of Maramureş.

Today we’re headed to Turkey as we check out the Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia!

Göreme town panorama

Located on the central Anatolia plateau within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion to form a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” or hoodoos, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia cover the region between the cities of Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos, the sites of Karain, Karlık, Yeşilöz, Soğanlı and the subterranean cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu.

The area is bounded on the south and east by ranges of extinct volcanoes with Erciyes Dağ at one end and Hasan Dağ at the other. The density of its rock-hewn cells, churches, troglodyte villages and subterranean cities within the rock formations make it one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes.

Though interesting from a geological and ethnological point of view, the incomparable beauty of the decor of the Christian sanctuaries makes Cappadocia one of the leading examples of the post-iconoclastic Byzantine art period.

It is believed that the first signs of monastic activity in Cappadocia date back to the 4th Century at which time small anchorite communities, acting on the teachings of Basileios the Great, Bishop of Kayseri, began inhabiting cells hewn in the rock. In later periods, in order to resist Arab invasions, they began banding together into troglodyte villages or subterranean towns such as Kaymakli or Derinkuyu which served as places of refuge.

Cappadocian monasticism was already well established in the iconoclastic period (725-842) as illustrated by the decoration of many sanctuaries which kept a strict minimum of symbols (most often sculpted or tempera painted crosses). However, after 842 many rupestral churches were dug in Cappadocia and richly decorated with brightly coloured figurative painting.

Those churches in the Göreme Valley include Tokalı Kilise and El Nazar Kilise (10th century), St. Barbara Kilise and Saklı Kilise (11th century) and Elmalı Kilise and Karanlık Kilise (end of the 12th – beginning of the 13th Century).

How This Relates to Rome:

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, which had been founded as Byzantium). It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th Century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both Byzantine Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire or Romania, and to themselves as Romans.

We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Wooden Churches of Maramureş

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Hungary as we visited the Old Village of Hollókő and its Surroundings.

Today we’re headed to Romania as we check out the Wooden Churches of Maramureş!

The Maramures wooden churches are outstanding examples of vernacular religious wooden architecture resulting from the interchange of Orthodox religious traditions with Gothic influences in a specific vernacular interpretation of timber construction traditions, showing a high level of artistic maturity and craft skills.

These 8 churches are outstanding examples of a range of architectural solutions from different periods and areas. They show the variety of designs and craftsmanship adopted in these narrow, high, timber constructions with their characteristic tall, slim clock towers at the western end of the building, either single- or double-roofed and covered by shingles. As such, they are a particular vernacular expression of the cultural landscape of this mountainous area of northern Romania.

How This Relates to Rome:

Romania derives from the Latin romanus, meaning “citizen of Rome“. Prior to the Roman conquest of Dacia, the territories between the Danube and Dniester rivers were inhabited by various Thracian peoples, including the Dacians and the Getae.

Roman incursions under Emperor Trajan between 101–102 AD and 105–106 AD resulted in half of the Dacian kingdom becoming a province of the Roman Empire called Dacia Felix. The Roman rule lasted for 165 years.

During this period the province was fully integrated into the Roman Empire, and a sizable part of the population were newcomers from other provinces. The Roman colonists introduced the Latin language.

According to followers of the continuity theory, the intense Romanization gave birth to the Proto-Romanian language. The province was rich in ore deposits (especially gold and silver in places like Alburnus Maior).

Roman troops pulled out of Dacia around 271 AD, then the territory was invaded by various migrating peoples. Burebista, Decebalus and Trajan are considered the Romanians’ forefathers in Romanian historiography.

We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Old Village of Hollókő and its Surroundings

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re headed to Hungary as we check out Old Village of Hollókő and its Surroundings!

The Old Village of Hollókő is a Palócz settlement located in the County of Nógrád in Northern Hungary, about 62 mi north-east of Budapest. The Old Village, which has been deliberately preserved, is a living example of rural life before the agricultural revolution of the 20th Century.

The rural architectural ensemble, which covers 358 acres, consists of 55 residential buildings, farm buildings and the church. Together, the traditional Palócz use of architectural forms and materials form a harmonious unit with the surrounding landscape and natural environment, characterized by strip-field farming, orchards, vineyards, meadows and woods.

The property also includes the medieval castle ruins situated on the hill perched above the village, which is mentioned as early as 1310. This castle played a decisive part in the feudal wars of the Palóc and the Hussite and served as protection for the village whose ruins have been found a little way from its walls.

At the end of the Ottoman occupation (1683) the castle and the village were finally abandoned and the present village established below. It developed gradually throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries.

As was customary in the region, the initial generation of inhabitants settled on either side of the main street. In this 1-street village, subsequent generations built their houses at the back of the narrow family plots, thus progressively enlarging the built-up area.

The barns were built apart from the village, on the edges of the fields, according to Palócz custom.

The development of the village and the agriculture can be traced from various documents. In 1782, Hollókő was still a typical 1-street village.

Later, another street developed to the east of the main street. A plan from 1885 shows that the topography was already like that of the present-day plan.

The amount of cultivated land had reached its maximum by the mid-19th Century and the village could therefore grow no further. Some limited growth started again in 1960 and is now strictly controlled.

The inhabitants of Hollókő never heeded a 1783 decree prohibiting the use of wood for building as the decree considered it to be too inflammable. Consequently, the village was periodically devastated by fire.

The last of these fires dates back to 1909, after which houses were rebuilt mostly according to the traditional techniques of Palóc rural architecture: half-timbered houses on a stone base with roughcast, white-washed walls, enhanced by high wooden pillared galleries and balconies on the street side protected by overhanging porch roofs.

The church with its shingled tower is simply a transposition of this domestic architectural style. Hollókő is a living community that provides an exceptional and maybe unique example of voluntary conservation of a traditional village.

How This Relates to Rome:

The Roman Empire conquered the territory west of the Danube between 35 and 9 BC. From 9 BC to the end of the 4th Century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire, located within part of later Hungary’s territory.

Here, a 600-strong Roman Legion created the settlement Aquincum in AD 41–54. A civil city grew gradually in the neighborhood of the military settlement, and in AD 106 Aquincum became the focal point of the commercial life of this area and the capital city of the Pannonia Inferior region.

This area now corresponds to the Óbuda district of Budapest, with the Roman ruins now forming part of the modern Aquincum museum. Later came the Huns, the Germanic Ostrogoths, Lombards, Gepids, and the polyethnic Avars.

We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re in the countryside of Belgium as we explore The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainaut)!

The 4 hydraulic boat-lifts on the short stretch of the historic Canal du Centre are industrial monuments of the highest quality. Together with the Canal itself and its associated structures, they constitute a remarkably well preserved and complete example of a highly technical industrial landscape at the end of the 19th century.

The construction of the Canal du Centre to ensure the liaison between the Meuse and the Escaut basins was part of the opening-up programme of Hainaut, a rich industrial region, notably coal, but with very few natural navigable waterways for coal export. Digging work began in 1884 and the opening to navigation took place in 1917.

At the very beginning of the project, the architects were confronted with a 2-fold problem: the large distance in height over a short distance and the small quantity of water available. The most adapted technique to overcome these constraints was that of boat lifts, developed by English engineers using only hydraulic power.

Over a distance of 4.35 mi, a series of 4 boat lifts, unique worldwide, were built, each one covering a change in level of 23 feet. The stretch is bordered by a series of art works including 2 fixed bridges and 2 lift or swing bridges.

The property also comprises the ancient lock No.1 of Thieu, today disaffected, as well as 3 buildings housing the necessary hydraulic machinery for the good functioning of the lifts. Also, there are several 2-story houses to accommodate the work staff.

In 1911, at the time of the construction of the canal, a tree-planting program on the banks was initiated. Various types of trees were planted: American elm and white ash, oak, poplar, maple and sycamore, with copses of elder, sometimes mixed with willow, silver birch and false acacia.

A variety of  species (black pine, false acacia, maple, hazel, elderberry and poplar) were planted around the lifts. Today, the most common species are lime, maple, chestnut and ash.

Of the 8 hydraulic boat-lifts constructed at that time and at the beginning of the 20th century, the 4 lifts of the Canal du Centre are the only ones worldwide remaining in their functioning original state and still in use.

The canal that can accommodate 300 ton boats is currently used for leisure navigation.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

The name Belgium is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae (a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples).

A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th Century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings.

A gradual shift of power during the 8th Century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire.

 

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. We look forward to sharing more World Heritage Sites, along with many other explorations.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Wartburg Castle

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re in the countryside of Germania as we explore Wartburg Castle!

Wartburg Castle blends superbly into its forest surroundings and is in many ways “the ideal castle”. Although it contains some sections of great antiquity, it acquired the current layout over the course of 19th Century reconstructions.

Today the castle continues to be a symbol of the nation’s past and present, standing as a splendid example of what this fortress might have been at the peak of its military and seigneurial power. What makes Wartburg Castle such a magnet for memory, tradition, and pilgrimage is that it stands as a monument to the cultural history of Germany, Europe, and beyond.

Wartburg Castle is perched at a height of some 1,312 feet above the delightful countryside, south of the city of Eisenach in Thuringia in central Germany. Its varied aspect and the sense of harmony it evokes are only 2 of its attractions for visitors.

Lutherans the world over know of the castle as the very place where Martin Luther made his translation of the Bible. The veneration of Saint Elizabeth, which extends far beyond the frontiers of Germany, includes Wartburg Castle where she lived and worked.

 

The patronage of Hermann I, Landgrave of Thuringia, occupies an extraordinary place in the creation of a national literary tradition. In poetry and in legends, Wartburg Castle, the medieval Court of the Muses, bears an undying reputation through the names of Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach.

 

Wartburg Castle is also associated with the beginnings of a bourgeois and democratic nation, through the content and effects of the Wartburg festival of German students’ associations. From the very earliest days of its existence, this fortress of the Landgraves of Thuringia has repeatedly acted as a venue for and witness of historic events and activities worthy of renown as a monument to national and world history.

 

The artistic and architectural importance of the palace, built in the latter half of the 12th Century, is no less significant. In execution and ornamentation, it is unrivaled and represents one of the best-preserved secular constructions from the late Norman period to be found on German soil. Thanks to this broad range of religious content and historic data, and because of its significance in the history of the arts, Wartburg Castle attracts around half a million visitors every year, from all over the world.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

Germania was the Roman term for the geographical region in north-central Europe inhabited mainly by Germanic peoples.

It extended from the Danube in the south to the Baltic Sea, and from the Rhine in the west to the Vistula. The Roman portions formed two provinces of the EmpireGermania Inferior to the north (present-day Netherlands, Belgium, and western Germany), and Germania Superior to the south (Switzerland, southwestern Germany, and eastern France).

Germania was inhabited mostly by Germanic tribes, but also Celtsearly SlavsBalts and Scythians. The population mix changed over time by assimilation, and especially by migration. The ancient Greeks were the first to mention the tribes in the area.

Later, Julius Caesar wrote about warlike Germanic tribesmen and their threat to Roman Gaul, and there were military clashes between the Romans and the indigenous tribes. Tacitus wrote the most complete account of Germania that still survives.

The origin of the term Germania is uncertain, but was known by Caesar’s time, and may be Gallic in origin.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. We look forward to sharing more World Heritage Sites, along with many other explorations.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re back in Britannia as we head explore the Frontiers of the Roman Empire!

The Roman Limes represents the border line of the Imperium Rōmānum at its greatest extent in the 2nd Century AD. It stretched over 3,107 miles from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, through Europe to the Black Sea, and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast.

 

The remains of the Limes today consist of remnants of built walls, ditches, forts, fortresses, watchtowers, and civilian settlements. Certain elements of the line have been excavated, some reconstructed and a few destroyed.

The 2 sections of the Limes in Germania cover a length of 342 miles from the north-west of the country to the Danube in the south-east. The 73-mile-long Hadrian’s Wall (UK) was built on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian c. AD 122 at the northernmost limits of the Roman provincia of Britannia.

It is a striking example of the organization of a military zone and illustrates the defensive techniques and geopolitical strategies of Ancient Rome. The Antonine Wall, a 37-mile-long fortification in Alba was started by Emperor Antoninus Pius in AD 142 as a defense against the “barbarians” of the north. It constitutes the northwestern-most portion of the Roman Limes.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey. We look forward to you joining us again soon for further adventures.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re back in Europe as we head to Croatia to explore the Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč!

The group of religious monuments in Porec, where Christianity was established as early as the 4th Century, constitutes the most complete surviving complex of its type. The basilica, atrium, baptistery and episcopal palace are outstanding examples of religious architecture, while the basilica itself combines classical and Byzantine elements in an exceptional manner.

 

The present basilica, dedicated to Mary, was built in the 6th Century during the period of Bishop Euphrasius. It was built in AD 553 on the site of the older basilica that had become dilapidated.

For the construction, parts of the former church were used and the marble blocks were imported from the coast of the Sea of Marmara. The wall mosaics were executed by Byzantian masters and the floor mosaics by local experts.

The construction took about 10 years. Euphrasius, holding the church in his arms, is represented on one of the mosaics on the apse, next to St. Maurus.

Following the earthquake of 1440 the southern wall of the central nave of the basilica was restored. In place of the windows which were destroyed, others were built in the Gothic style.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

The earliest basilica was dedicated to Saint Maurus of Parentium and dates back to the second half of the 4th Century. The floor mosaic from its oratory, originally part of a large Roman house, is still preserved in the church garden.

This oratorium was already expanded in the same century into a church composed of a nave and one aisle (basilicae geminae). The fish on the floor mosaic dates from this period. Coins with the portrayal of Emperor Valens (365–378), found in the same spot, confirm these dates.

We hope you enjoyed today’s travel. We look forward to having you back again soon for more adventures.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re back in Europe as we head to Hungary to explore the Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment!

The monastery of the Benedictine Order at Pannonhalma, founded in AD 996 and gently dominating the Pannonian landscape in western Hungary, had a major role in the diffusion of Christianity in Medieval Central Europe. The Archabbey of Pannonhalma and its environment (the monastic complex, the Basilica, educational buildings, the Chapel of Our Lady, the Millennium Chapel, the botanical and herbal gardens) outstandingly exemplifies the characteristic location, landscape connections, original structure, design and a thousand year history of a Benedictine monastery.

The community of monks still functions today on the basis of the Rule of St. Benedict, and sustains with a unique continuity one of the living centers of European culture.

The present church, the building of which began in 1224, is the third on the site and contains remains of its predecessors. The elevated 3-aisled choir, the oldest part of the building, overlies a similarly 3-aisled crypt, probably an element of the earlier church on the site.

The main south door, known as the Porta Speciosa, is faced with red marble and flanked by 5 pairs of columns. It has undergone several transformations and reconstructions since it was originally built in the 13th Century.

This door gives access to the Cloister, a typical square Late Gothic ensemble built in 1486. The vaulting springs form consoles that are elaborately decorated with symbolic motifs. The doors and windows were given their present form in the 1880s. Sculptured stones from the Romanesque cloister were found during studies carried out in the 1960s, when the door leading into the medieval refectory, with small red marble columns, also came to light.

The Millenary Monument is 1 of 7 erected to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the conquest of Hungary in AD 896. It is located at the crest of the central hill, where it replaced the Calvary that is now located in front of the Chapel of our Lady.

It consists of a single block, constructed in brick and limestone. The stone portico is formed of a tympanum bearing a symbolic relief, supported on 2 pairs of Ionic columns. It was originally surmounted by a dome 85 feet high on a high drum, but this had to be removed in 1937-38 because of its severe deterioration.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

The Roman Empire conquered the territory west of the Danube between 35 and 9 BC. From 9 BC to the end of the 4th Century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire, located within part of later Hungary’s territory.

Here, a 600-strong Roman Legion created the settlement Aquincum in AD 41–54. A civil city grew gradually in the neighborhood of the military settlement, and in AD 106 Aquincum became the focal point of the commercial life of this area and the capital city of the Pannonia Inferior region.

This area now corresponds to the Óbuda district of Budapest, with the Roman ruins now forming part of the modern Aquincum museum. Later came the Huns, who built a powerful empire, followed by the Germanic Ostrogoths, Lombards, Gepids, and the polyethnic Avars in the Carpathian Basin.

We appreciate you stopping by and look forward to having you back again. Make sure to check us out daily for you never know what’s in store.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Archaeological Site of Carthage

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we broke our rules about staying within Europe as we cross the Mediterranean Sea into Tunisia as we explore the Archaeological Site of Carthage!

Founded by the Phoenicians, Carthage is an extensive archaeological site, located on a hill dominating the Gulf of Tunis and the surrounding plain.  Metropolis of Punic civilization in Africa and capital of the Roman Province of Africa (Provincia Africa Proconsularis), Carthage has played a central role in Classical Antiquity as a great commercial empire.

During the lengthy Punic Wars, Carthage occupied the territories that belonged to Rome, which then destroyed its rival in 146 AD.  The town was rebuilt by the Romans on the ruins of the ancient city.

An exceptional place of mixing, diffusion and blossoming of several cultures that succeeded one another (Phoenico-Punic, Roman, Paleochristian and Arab), this metropolis and its ports have encouraged wide-scale exchanges in the Mediterranean.

Founded at the end of the 9th Century BC by Dido and having sheltered the mythical love of Dido and Aeneas, Carthage produced a warrior and strategy genius in the person of Hannibal, the navigator-explorer Hanno, and a famous agronomist, Mago. Carthage has always nourished universal imagination through its historic and literary renown.

The property comprises the vestiges of Punic, Roman, Vandal, Paleochristian and Arab presence. The major known components of the site of Carthage are the Acropolis of Byrsa, the Punic ports, the Punic tophet, the necropolises, theater, amphitheater, circus, residential area, basilicas, the Antonine baths, Malaga cisterns and the archaeological reserve.

Although its integrity has been partially altered by uncontrolled urban sprawl during the first half of the 20th Century, the site of Carthage has essentially retained the elements that characterize the antique town: urban network, meeting place (forum), recreation (theater), leisure (baths), worship (temples), residential area, etc.

The conservation of the site guarantees the maintenance of the intact character of the structures.  However, it continues to face strong urban pressure that has, for the most part, been contained thanks to the national listing of the Carthage-Sidi Bou-Said Park.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

The Roman province of Africa Proconsularis was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day Tunisia, the northeast of modern-day Algeria, and the small Mediterranean Sea coast of modern-day western Libya along the Syrtis Minor.

It was one of the wealthiest provinces in the western part of the Empire, second only to Italia.

We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!