Category Archives: World Heritage Sites

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 unrivalled 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.

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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!

Tower of Hercules

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re staying in Hispania for another week as we explore the Tower of Hercules!

That’s right, a tower for the divine hero Hercules and it’s not in Rome or even Greece.

The Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse and landmark at the entrance of La Coruña Harbor in north-western Spain since the late 1st Century AD when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium.

The Tower, built on a 187 foot high rock, rises a further 180 feet, of which 112 feet correspond to the Roman masonry and 69 feet to the restoration directed by architect Eustaquio Giannini in the 18th Century, who augmented the Roman core with 2 octagonal forms.

Immediately adjacent to the base of the Tower, is a small rectangular Roman building. The site also features a sculpture park, the Monte dos Bicos rock carvings from the Iron Age and a Muslim cemetery.

The Roman foundations of the building were revealed in excavations conducted in the 1990s. Many legends from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century surround the Tower of Hercules, which is unique as it is the only lighthouse of Greco-Roman antiquity to have retained a measure of structural integrity and functional continuity.

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!

Historic Walled Town of Cuenca

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re staying in Hispania as we explore the Historic Walled Town of Cuenca!

Built by the Moors in a defensive position at the heart of the Caliphate of Cordoba, Cuenca is an unusually well-preserved medieval fortified city. Conquered by the Castilians in the 12th Century, it became a royal town and bishopric endowed with important buildings, such as Spain’s first Gothic cathedral, and the famous casas colgadas (hanging houses), suspended from sheer cliffs overlooking the Huécar River.

Taking full advantage of its location, the city towers above the magnificent countryside.

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!

Historic City of Toledo

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re heading to Hispania as we explore the Historic City of Toledo!

Successively a Roman Municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian Kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th Century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history. Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of 3 major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was a major factor.

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!

Archaeological Site of Mystras

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re heading to Peloponnese (Greece) as we explore the Archaeological Site of Mystras!

Mystras, the ‘wonder of the Morea‘, was built as an amphitheater around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

From about 200 BC the Roman Republic became increasingly involved in Greek affairs and engaged in a series of wars with Macedon. In 146 BC Macedonia was annexed as a province by Rome, and the rest of Greece became a Roman protectorate.

The process was completed in 27 BC when the Roman Emperor Augustus annexed the rest of Greece and constituted it as the senatorial province of Achaea. Despite their military superiority, the Romans admired and became heavily influenced by the achievements of Greek culture, hence Horace‘s famous statement: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit (Greece, although captured, took its wild conqueror captive).

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 City of Dubrovnik

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we’re heading to the Adriatic Sea, in the region of Dalmatia, as we explore the Old City of Dubrovnik!

The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ became an important Mediterranean Sea power from the 13th Century onward. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains.

Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration program coordinated by UNESCO.

Historical lore indicates that Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th Century on a rocky island named Laus, which is said to have provided shelter for refugees from the nearby city of Epidaurum. The refugees from Roman Epidaurum built their new settlement on the small island of Lausa off the shore while other populations (primarily Croats) settled along the coast in the following centuries, directly across the narrow channel, and named their settlement Dubrovnik.

 

Initially the populations were skeptical of each other, but over time they grew closer and finally in the 12th Century the settlements merged. The channel that divided the city was filled creating the present-day main street (the Stradun) which became the city centre.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

Dalmatia was part of the Illyrian Kingdom between the 4th Century BC and the Illyrian Wars (220, 168 BC) when the Roman Republic established its protectorate south of the Neretva River. The name “Dalmatia” was in use probably from the latter half of the 2nd Century BC.

It was slowly incorporated into Roman possessions until the Roman Province of Illyricum was formally established around 32-27 BC. In AD 9 the Dalmatians raised the last in a series of revolts together with the Pannonians but it was finally crushed, and in 10 AD, Illyricum was split into 2 provinces, Pannonia and Dalmatia which spread into larger area inland to cover all of the Dinaric Alps and most of the eastern Adriatic coast.

The historian Theodore Mommsen wrote in his book, The Provinces of the Roman Empire, that all Dalmatia was fully Romanized by the 4th Century AD. While urban centers, both coastal and inland, were almost completely Romanized, the situation in the countryside was completely different.

The collapse of the Western Roman Empire, with the beginning of the Migration Period, left the region subject to Gothic rulers, Odoacer and Theodoric the Great. They ruled Dalmatia from 480 to 535 AD, when it was restored to the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire by Justinian I.

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!