Category Archives: World Heritage Sites

Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in the Roman Gaul as we explored the Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the Triumphal Arch of Orange.

Today we’re headed back to Croatia as we check out the Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards!

Stećci is the name for monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the border parts of southern Croatia, western Montenegro and western Serbia. An estimated 60,000 are found within the borders of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of 10,000 are found in what are today Croatia (4,400), Montenegro (3,500), and Serbia (4,100), at more than 3,300 odd sites with over 90% in poor condition.

Stećci were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. It includes a selection of 4,000 Stećci at 28 necropolises – of which 22 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2 from Croatia, 3 from Montenegro, and 3 from Serbia.

Appearing in the mid-12th Century, with the first phase in the 13th Century, the tombstones reached their peak in the 14th and 15th Century, before disappearing during the Ottoman occupation in the very early 16th Century.

The Stećci, mostly carved from limestone, are laid out in rows, as was the common custom in Europe from the Middle Ages. They feature a wide range of decorative motifs and inscriptions that represent iconographic continuities within medieval Europe as well as locally distinctive traditions.

They were a common tradition amongst Bosnian, Catholic and amongst BosnianCatholic and Orthodox Church followers alike, and are often related to the autochthonous Vlach population. The epitaphs on them are mostly written in extinct Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet.

How This Relates to Rome:

In 9 AD, the territory of today’s Croatia became part of the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire). Emperor Diocletian built a large palace in Split when he retired in AD 305.

During the 5th Century, one of the last Emperors of the Western Roman EmpireJulius Nepos, ruled his small empire from the palace. The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the first half of the 7th Century and destruction of almost all Roman towns.

Roman survivors retreated to more favorable sites on the coast, islands and mountains. The city of Dubrovnik was founded by such survivors from Epidaurum.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey. Hopefully you’ll join us again soon to check out another World Heritage Site, or just to see where we’ll be off to.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the “Triumphal Arch” of Orange

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in the fatherland of Latium as we visited the Historic Centre of Florence.

Today we’re headed back Roman Gaul as we check out the Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the Triumphal Arch of Orange!

Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the Triumphal Arch of Orange (France).

Situated in the Rhone Valley, the ancient theatre of Orange, with its 338 foot long facade, is one of the best preserved of all the great Roman theatres.

Built between AD 10 and 25, the Roman arch is one of the most beautiful and interesting surviving examples of a provincial triumphal arch from the reign of Augustus. It is decorated with low reliefs commemorating the establishment of the Pax Romana.

Triumphal Arch of Orange (France)


We hope you enjoyed today’s journey. Hopefully you’ll join us again soon to check out another World Heritage Site, or just to see where we’ll be off to.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Historic Centre of Florence

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Graecia as we visited the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae.

Today we’re headed home to the fatherland of Latium as we check out the Historic Centre of Florence!

Piazza del Duomo

Florence was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and the later ancient Roman Colony (Colonia) of Florentia (founded in 59 BC). This Tuscan city became a symbol of the Renaissance during the early Medici period (between the 15th and the 16th Centuries), reaching extraordinary levels of economic and cultural development.

The present historic centre covers 1,249 acres and is bounded by the remains of the city’s 14th Century walls. These walls are represented by surviving gates, towers, and the 2 Medici strongholds: that of Saint John the Baptist in the north, popularly known as “da Basso”, and the Fort of San Giorgio del Belvedere located among the hills of the south side.

The Arno River runs east and west through the city and a series of bridges connects its 2 banks including Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) and Ponte Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity Bridge).


Seven hundred years of cultural and artistic blooming are tangible today in the 14th Century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), the Uffizi gallery, and the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace). The city’s history is further evident in the artistic works of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo.

The Historic Centre of Florence can be perceived as a unique social and urban achievement, the result of persistent and long-lasting creativity, which includes museums, churches, buildings and artworks of immeasurable worth. Florence had an overwhelming influence on the development of architecture and the fine arts, beginning in Italy, and then in Europe.

It is within the context of Florence that the concept of the Renaissance came to be. This heritage bestows upon Florence unique historical and aesthetic qualities.

Thanks for stopping by. We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and look forward to having you back again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Belgium as we visited the Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels).

Today we’re headed to Graecia as we check out the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae!

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae

This famous temple to to Apollo Epikourios (Apollo the Helper), the god of healing and the sun, was built towards the middle of the 5th Century BC in the lonely heights of the Arcadian mountains. The temple, which has the oldest Corinthian capital yet found, combines the Archaic style and the serenity of the Doric style with some daring architectural features.

The temple is aligned north-south, in contrast to the majority of Greek temples which are aligned east-west. This temple’s principal entrance is from the north.

This was necessitated by the limited space available on the steep slopes of the mountain. To overcome this restriction a door was placed in the side of the temple, perhaps to let light in to illuminate the cult statue.

Floor plan of the Temple of Apollo (1 = Opisthodomos, 2 = Adyton, 3 = Naos, 4 = Pronaos).

It was relatively sparsely decorated on the exterior. Inside, however, there was a continuous Ionic frieze showing Athenians in battle with Amazons and the Lapiths engaged in battle with Centaurs.

The temple had been noticed first in November 1765 by the French architect J. Bocher, who was building villas at Zante and came upon it quite by accident. The site was explored in 1812 with the permission of Veli Pasha, the Turkish commander of the Peloponnese, by a group of British antiquaries who removed 23 slabs from the Ionic cella frieze and transported them to Zante along with other sculptures.

The temple’s remoteness has worked to its advantage for its preservation. Due to its distance from major metropolitan areas it also has less of a problem with acid rain which quickly dissolves limestone and damages marble carvings.

How This Relates to Rome:

The Greek peninsula first came under Roman rule in 146 BC after the Battle of Corinth when Macedonia became a Roman province, while southern Greece came under the surveillance of Macedonia’s Praefect.

Life in Greece continued under the Roman Empire much the same as it had previously. Roman culture was highly influenced by the Greeks.

Many temples and public buildings were built in Greece by Emperors and wealthy Roman nobility. Greece remained part of the relatively unified eastern half of the empire, which eventually became the center of the remaining Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you join us again soon. Be sure to check us out again since you never know where we’ll wind up.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Switzerland as we visited the Abbey of Saint Gall.

Today we’re headed from WesternCentral Europe into true Western Europe, specifically Belgium, as we check out the Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)!

Hôtel Tassel

The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta – Hotel Tassel (1893), Hotel Solvay (1894), Hotel van Eetvelde (1895) and the House and Workshop of Victor Horta – located in Brussels, are outstanding examples of Art Nouveau. These 4 houses, that bear testimony to the immense talent of this Belgian architect, achieve a remarkable sense of unity with meticulous attention to the smallest detail of the building, from the door handle or bell to the least piece of furniture.

Horta, one of the earliest instigators, heralded the modern movement of Art Nouveau architecture. The stylistic revolution represented by these works is characterized by their open plan, diffusion and transformation of light throughout the construction, the creation of a decor that brilliantly illustrates the curved lines of decoration embracing the structure of the building, the use of new materials (steel and glass) and the introduction of modern technical utilities.

Through the rational use of the metallic structures, often visible or subtly dissimulated, Victor Horta conceived flexible, light and airy living areas, directly adapted to the personality of their inhabitants.

The principle of a double house connected by a glass-covered circulation area is adopted for the Hotel Tassel and the Hotel van Eetvelde. This area, that generally contains a winter garden, is enchantingly represented at the Hotel Solvay, the most ambitious and spectacular work of Horta in the Art Nouveau period.

The staircase of its house-workshop is decorated and enjoys this type of particularly elegant arrangement. The interior decors benefited from surprising inventiveness, with the motifs flowing smoothly from the mosaic floor to the painted walls, including the wrought iron work and the custom furniture.

These 4 houses revived the tradition of the Bourgeois houses and private mansions of the 19th Century, combining residential and representational functions which require a subtle organization of spaces and differentiated circulation. Revisited by the creative genius of Victor Horta, each one of them represents the personality of their owners and forms a coherent ensemble that illustrates the willingness to treat the architecture and decoration as a whole.

How This Relates to 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.

Before we leave you today, we be remiss if we failed to wish Mrs. Carolyn Norris (aka my mother) a very Happy Birthday. We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure, and we hope you check us out again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Abbey of Saint Gall

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Hispania, more specifically Portugal, as we visited the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture.

Today we’re headed to Switzerland as we check out the Abbey of Saint Gall!

The Abbey of Saint Gall is located in the town of St. Gallen in the north-eastern part of Switzerland, and largely owes its present appearance to the construction campaigns of the 18th Century. It is an impressive architectural ensemble comprising different buildings regrouped around the main square of the abbey: The west side includes the ancient abbatial church (the present cathedral), flanked by two towers and the ancient cloister, which today houses the abbatial Library; located on the east side is the “Neue Pfalz”, the present seat of the canton authorities.

The northern part of the square is composed of buildings of the 19th Century: the ancient arsenal, the Children’s and Guardian Angels’ Chapel and the former Catholic school.

The Abbey of St Gall is an outstanding example of a large Carolingian monastery and was, since the 8th Century until its secularization in 1805, one of the most important cultural centers in Europe. It represents 1200 years of history of monastic architecture and is a typical and outstanding ensemble of a large Benedictine convent.

Almost all the important architectural periods, from High Middle Ages to historicism, are represented in an exemplary fashion. Despite the diversity of styles, the conventional ensemble gives the impression of overall unity, bordered on the north and to the west by edifices of the town of St Gall that are, for the most part, intact.

The High Baroque library represents one of the most beautiful examples of its era, and the present cathedral is one of the last monumental constructions of Baroque abbatial churches in the West. In addition to the architectural substance, the inestimable cultural values conserved at the Abbey are of exceptional importance, notably: the Irish manuscripts of the 7th and 8th Centuries, the illuminated manuscripts of the St Gall School of the 9th and 11th  Centuries, documents concerning the history of the origins of Alemannic Switzerland as well as the layout of the convent during the Carolingian Era (the only manuscript plan of that time remaining worldwide, conserved in its original state, representing a concept of monastic organisation of the Benedictine order).

How This Relates to Rome:

One of the most important tribal groups in the Swiss region was the Helvetii. Steadily harassed by the Germanic tribes, in 58 BC the Helvetii decided to abandon the Swiss Plateau and migrate to western Gallia, but Julius Caesar‘s Legions pursued and defeated them at the Battle of Bibracte, in today’s eastern France, forcing the tribe to move back to its original homeland.

In 15 BC, Tiberius, who was destined to be the 2nd Roman Emperor and his brother, Drusus, conquered the Alps, integrating them into the Roman Empire. The area occupied by the Helvetii—the namesakes of the later Confoederatio Helvetica—initially became part of Rome’s Gallia Belgica province and then of its Germania Superior province, while the eastern portion of modern Switzerland was integrated into the Roman province of Raetia.

Sometime around the start of the Common Era, the Romans maintained a large military camp called Vindonissa, now a ruin at the confluence of the Aare and Reuss rivers, near the town of Windisch, an outskirt of Brugg.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. Thanks for stopping by and we hope  you check us out again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture

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 Old Town of Cáceres.

Today we’re headed to Hispania, more specifically Portugal, as we check out the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture!

The Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture is an outstanding example of the adaptation of farming practices to a remote and challenging environment. Pico Island is 1 of 9 volcanic islands in the Azores Archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

The island contains spectacular evidence of grape-growing and wine-making (viticulture), with an imposing pattern of orderly, long, linear walls running inland from, and parallel to, the rocky coastline around its northern and western edges. The stone walls form thousands of small, contiguous, rectangular plots built to protect crops from wind and salt spray.

Vines were, and continue to be, planted within the small and soilless plots (locally called currais). The extensive system of small fields, as well as the buildings (manor houses, wine cellars, warehouses, conventional houses, and churches), pathways and wells, ports and ramps, were produced by generations of farmers enabling the production of wine.

Begun in the 15th Century, wine production on Pico Island reached its peak in the 19th Century and then gradually declined due to plant disease and desertification (loss of soil and reduced rainfall). However, a low level of grape vine growing and high-quality wine production continues to be undertaken and expanded, especially around the village of Criação Velha.

How This Relates to Rome:

Romans originally invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 219 BC. During the last days of Julius Caesar, almost the entire peninsula had been annexed to the Roman Republic.

Rome installed a colonial regime, with the complete Romanization of Lusitania taking place in the Visigothic era. In 27 BC, Lusitania gained the status of Roman province.

Ancient Rome played a pivotal role in the history of wine. The earliest influences on the viticulture of the Italian Peninsula can be traced to Ancient Greeks and the Etruscans.

The rise of the Roman Empire saw both technological advances in and burgeoning awareness of winemaking, which spread to all parts of the Empire. Rome‘s influence has had a profound effect on the histories of today’s major winemaking regions in France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. Thanks for stopping by and we hope  you check us out again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

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!