Category Archives: World Heritage Sites

Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last week we were in Greece to uncover the Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika.

Today we’re traveling all the way to the Ukraine as we check out the Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora!

Remains of the theatre from the ancient city of Tauric Chersonese.

Tauric Chersonese and its chora are the remains of an ancient city, founded in the 5th Century BC as a colonial settlement of the Dorian Greeks, located on the Heraclean Peninsula in south-west Crimea. The polis and extended chora of Tauric Chersonese form an outstanding example of an ancient cultural landscape, consisting of a Greek polis and its agricultural hinterland established as part of colonist activities in the 4th and 3rd Century BC.

The significant archaeological ruins of the city retain physical remains constructed between the 5th Century BC and the 13th Century AD laid out on an orthogonal grid system. The basic orientation of this orthogonal grid continues into the wider landscape where fragments of a vast land demarcation system of 400 equal allotments in an area of 24,710 acres have been preserved.

The Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its chora is an exceptional example of a peripheral center of movement of people which acted as an important gateway to the north-eastern parts of the Greek trade influence, including the Crimea and the Scythian state. The city maintained its strategic role over almost 2 millennia and provides a unique example for the continuity and longevity of a mercantile outpost connecting the different Black Sea trade routes.

The site features several public building complexes and residential neighborhoods, as well as early Christian monuments alongside remains from Stone and Bronze Age settlements; Roman and Medieval tower fortifications and water supply systems; and exceptionally well-preserved examples of vineyard planting and dividing walls.

How This Relates to Rome:

Beginning in the 6th Century BC, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia and Chersonesus, were founded on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. These colonies thrived well into the 6th Century AD being known as the most productive wine center of the Black Sea and remained a hub of exchange between populations north of the Black Sea.

The 1935 Basilica, named as such since the true name has never been discovered.

Chersonesus was subject to Rome from the middle of the 1st Century BC until the 370s AD, when it was captured by the Huns.

It became a Byzantine possession during the Early Middle Ages and withstood a siege by the Göktürks in 581. Byzantine rule was slight, and there was a small imperial garrison more for the town’s protection than for its control.

Its isolation made it a popular place of exile for those who angered the Roman and later Byzantine governments. Among its more famous “inmates” were Pope Clement IPope Martin I, and the deposed Byzantine Emperor Justinian II.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures within the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last week we were in Croatia to uncover the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik.

Today we’re traveling all the way to Greece as we check out the  Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessalonika!

Rotunda of St George

Founded in 315 BC, the provincial capital and sea port of Thessalonika was one of the initial bases for the spread of Christianity. Among its Christian monuments are fine churches, some built on the Greek cross plan and others on the 3-aisled basilica plan.

Constructed over a long period, from the 4th to the 15th Century, they constitute a diachronic typological series, which had considerable influence in the Byzantine world. The mosaics of Thessalonika’s monuments (such as the Rotunda, Saint Demetrius and Hosios David [Latomou Monastery]) are among the great masterpieces of Early Christian art.

The monuments of Thessalonika inscribed on the World Heritage List are public edifices of various functions, religious, secular, military, including the 2.5 mi long city walls. Because of their outstanding design and major artistic value these monuments are included among the most significant of the Byzantine period.

Walls of Thessaloniki

Throughout the Byzantine era, the city constituted a cultural center that determined the developments not only in immediately surrounding but also in neighboring areas. It played an active or even competitive role in artistic trends originating in Constantinople.

The monuments of Thessalonika reveal a continuous artistic exchange with the greatest cultural centers of each era (Rome, Constantinople). The city itself was an important artistic center, from its foundation and throughout the Byzantine period.

Wall painting ensembles, mosaics and frescoes, preserved in Thessalonika’s monuments, represent some of the major artistic trends, that have been developed in Byzantine monumental painting from its beginnings (the Rotunda, Saint Demetrius, Hosios David), through the first period after iconoclasm (Saint Sophia) and the Comnenian period (Hosios David frescoes) to its culmination known as the Palaeologan Renaissance (late Byzantine period).

To this last period belong significant monuments such as the Holy Apostles, the chapel of Saint Euthymios in the Church of Saint Demetrius, Saint Nikolaos Orphanos, Saint Panteleimon, the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Saint Aikaterini, Prophitis Ilias, the Katholikon (main church) of the Vlatadon Monastery which reflect all the tendencies of the Palaeologan Renaissance.

How This Relates to Rome:

The city of Thessaloniki in Macedonia, Greece, for several centuries the second-most important city of the Byzantine Empire, played an important role for Christianity during the Middle Ages and was decorated by impressive buildings.

The Battle of Corinth (146 BC) was a battle fought between the Roman Republic and the Greek city-state of Corinth and its allies.

Roman Greece as described here is the period of Greek history affecting its subsequent constituent Roman provinces that followed the Roman victory over the Corinthians, at the Battle of Corinth (146 BC), until the adoption of the city of Byzantium by the Emperor Constantine the Great as the capital of the Roman Empire (as Nova Roma, later Constantinople) in AD 330.

During the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, Greece was divided into provinces including Achaea, Macedonia, Epirus vetus and Thracia. During the reign of Diocletian in the late 3rd Century, the western Balkans were organized as a Roman diocese, and was ruled by Galerius.

Arch of Galerius and Rotunda, Thessaloniki.

Under Constantine I Greece was part of the dioceses of Macedonia and Thrace. The eastern and southern Aegean islands formed the province of Insulae in the Diocese of Asia.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures within the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last week we were in Britannia to uncover the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

Today we’re traveling all the way to Croatia as we check out the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik!

 

The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik (1431-1535), on the Dalmatian coast, bears witness to the considerable exchanges in the field of monumental arts between Northern Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

The Cathedral of St. James is a triple-nave basilica with 3 apses and a dome (105 ft high inside) in the city of Šibenik. It is the church of the Catholic Church in Croatia, and the see of the Šibenik diocese.

It is also the most important architectural monument of the Renaissance in the entire country. The 3 architects who succeeded one another in the construction of the Cathedral – Francesco di Giacomo, Georgius Mathei Dalmaticus and Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino – developed a structure built entirely from stone and using unique construction techniques for the vaulting and the dome of the Cathedral.

It is often mistakenly known as “St Jacob’s”, because Croatian, like many other languages, uses the same name for both “James” and “Jacob”. Dedicated to Saint James the Greater, the Cathedral has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000.

The form and the decorative elements of the Cathedral, such as a remarkable frieze decorated with 71 sculptured faces of men, women, and children, also illustrate the successful fusion of Gothic and Renaissance art.

 

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 Empire, Julius Nepos, ruled his small empire from the palace. The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the earlier 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.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures within the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last week we were in Britannia to uncover the Ironbridge Gorge.

Today we’re staying in Britannia as we check out the Heart of Neolithic Orkney!

The Standing Stones of Stenness

The Orkney Islands lie 9.3 miles north of the coast of Scotland. The monuments are in 2 areas, some 4.1 miles apart on the island of Mainland, the largest in the archipelago.

The group of monuments that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney consists of a remarkably well-preserved settlement, a large chambered tomb, and 2 stone circles with surrounding henges, together with a number of associated burial and ceremonial sites. The group constitutes a major relict cultural landscape graphically depicting life five thousand years ago in this remote archipelago.

The 4 main monuments, consisting of the 4 substantial surviving elliptical stones of the Standing Stones of Stenness and the surrounding ditch and bank of the henge, the 36 surviving stones of the circular Ring of Brodgar with the 13 Neolithic and Bronze Age mounds that are found around it and the stone setting known as the Comet Stone, the large stone chambered tomb of Maeshowe, whose passage points close to midwinter sunset, and the sophisticated settlement of Skara Brae with its stone built houses connected by narrow roofed passages, together with the Barnhouse Stone and the Watch Stone, serve as a paradigm of the megalithic culture of north-western Europe that is  unparalleled.

Excavated dwellings at Skara Brae, Europe’s most complete Neolithic village.

The property is characteristic of the farming culture prevalent from before 4000 BC in northwest Europe. It provides exceptional evidence of, and demonstrates with exceptional completeness, the domestic, ceremonial, and burial practices of a now vanished 5000-year-old culture and illustrates the material standards, social structures and ways of life of this dynamic period of prehistory, which gave rise to Avebury and Stonehenge (England), Bend of the Boyne (Ireland) and Carnac (France).

How This Relates to Rome:

Scotland comes from Scoti, the Latin name for the Gaels. The Late Latin word Scotia (Land of the Gaels) was initially used to refer to Ireland.

By the 11th Century at the latest, Scotia was being used to refer to (Gaelic-speaking) Scotland north of the River Forth, alongside Albania or Albany, both derived from the Gaelic Alba. The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages.

The written protohistory of Scotland began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in southern and central Great Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a province called Britannia. Roman invasions and occupations of southern Scotland were a series of brief interludes.

Tablet found at Bo’ness (ca. AD 142) depicting Roman Cavalryman trampling Picts.

According to the Roman historian Tacitus, the Caledonians attacked Roman forts and skirmished with their Legions. In a surprise night-attack, the Caledonians very nearly wiped out the whole 9th Legion until it was saved by General Gnaeus Julius Agricola‘s Cavalry.

The Romans erected Hadrian’s Wall to control tribes on both sides of the wall so the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the Roman Empire. Although the Roman Army held the Antonine Wall in the Central Lowlands for 2 short periods, the last during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus from 208 until 210, Rome would never control the land known today as Scotland.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures within the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Ironbridge Gorge

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Last week we were in France to uncover the Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne.

Today we’re crossing the Chanel from France as we head to Britannia to check out the Ironbridge Gorge!

The Ironbridge Gorge is a deep gorge, containing the River Severn in Shropshire, England. It was first formed by a glacial overflow from the long drained away Lake Lapworth, at the end of the last ice age.

The deep exposure of the rocks cut through by the gorge exposed commercial deposits of coal, iron ore, limestone and fireclay, which enabled the rapid economic development of the area during the early Industrial Revolution.

Originally called the Severn Gorge, the gorge now takes its name from its famous Iron Bridge, the first iron bridge of its kind in the world, and a monument to the industry that began there. The bridge was built in 1779 to link the industrial town of Broseley with the smaller mining town of Madeley and the growing industrial center of Coalbrookdale.

The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage property covers an area of 550 ha and is located in Telford, Shropshire, approximately 31 mi north-west of Birmingham. The Industrial Revolution had its 18th Century roots in the Ironbridge Gorge and spread worldwide leading to some of the most far-reaching changes in human history.

The site incorporates a 3 mi length of the steep-sided, mineral-rich Severn Valley from a point immediately west of Ironbridge downstream to Coalport, together with 2 smaller river valleys extending northwards to Coalbrookdale and Madeley.

How This Relates to Rome:

The area around Telford was an early settlement in the area thought to be on the land that sloped up from the Weald Moors (an area north of the town center) towards the line along which the Roman Watling Street was built.

The greater area of  Shropshire was listed in Ptolemy‘s 2nd Century Geography names one of their towns as being Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter), which became their capital under Roman rule and one of the largest settlements in Britain. After the Roman occupation of Britain ended in the 5th Century, the Shropshire area was in the eastern part of the Welsh Kingdom of Powys.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures within the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in France to uncover the Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments.

Today we’re headed back to France as we check out the Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne!

Since the pre-Roman period, a fortified settlement has existed on the hill where Carcassonne now stands. In its present form it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, with its massive defenses encircling the castle and the surrounding buildings, its streets and its fine Gothic cathedral.

Carcassonne is also of exceptional importance because of the lengthy restoration campaign undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation. The Committee decided to inscribe this property on the basis that the historic town of Carcassonne is an excellent example of a medieval fortified town whose massive defenses were constructed on walls dating from Late Antiquity.

It is of exceptional importance by virtue of the restoration work carried out in the second half of the 19th  Century by Viollet-le-Duc, which had a profound influence on subsequent developments in conservation principles and practice.

How This Relates to Rome:

Carcassonne became strategically identified when Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC and eventually made the colonia of Julia Carsaco, later Carcasum (by the process of swapping consonants known as metathesis). The main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times.

In 462 the Romans officially ceded Septimania to the Visigothic king Theodoric II who had held Carcassonne since AD 453. He built more fortifications at Carcassonne, which was a frontier post on the northern marches; traces of them still stand.

Theodoric is thought to have begun the predecessor of the basilica that is now dedicated to Saint Nazaire. In AD 508, the Visigoths successfully foiled attacks by the Frankish king Clovis.

Saracens from Barcelona took Carcassonne in 725, but King Pepin the Short (Pépin le Bref) drove them away in 759-60. Though he took most of the south of France, he was unable to penetrate the impregnable fortress of Carcassonne.

Thanks for taking the tour with us today. We hope you’re inspired to take further adventures to discover more Roman antiquities.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Austria to uncover the Hallstatt -Dachstein / Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape.

Today we’re headed to France as we check out Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments!

Arles is a good example of the adaptation of an ancient city to medieval European civilization. It has some impressive Roman monuments, of which the earliest – the arena, the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) – date back to the 1st Century BC.

During the 4th  Century AD, Arles experienced another golden age, as attested by the Thermae Constantinianae (Baths of Constantine) and the necropolis of Alyscamps. In the 11th and 12th Centuries, Arles once again became one of the most attractive cities in the Mediterranean.

Within the city walls, Saint-Trophime, with its cloister, is one of Provence’s major Romanesque monuments.

 

How This Relates to Rome:

The protected area covers 161 acre. The following buildings are located within this area:

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in the Croatia to uncover the Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards.

Today we’re headed to Austria as we check out the HallstattDachstein / Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape!

The Hallstatt-Dachstein alpine landscape, part of the Salzkammergut, and thus of the Eastern Alps, is one of visual drama with huge mountains rising abruptly form narrow valleys. Its prosperity since medieval times has been based on salt mining, focused on the town of Hallstatt, a name meaning salt settlement that testifies to its primary function.

Systematic salt production was being carried out in the region as early as the Middle Bronze Age, (the late 2nd millennium BC), when natural brine was captured in vessels and evaporated. Underground mining for salt began at the end of the late Bronze Age and resumed in the 8th Century BC when archaeological evidence shows a flourishing, stratified and highly organised Iron Age society with wide trade links across Europe and now known as the Hallstatt Culture.

Salt mining continued in Roman times and was then revived in the 14th Century. The large amounts of timber needed for the mines and for evaporating the salt where extracted from the extensive upland forests, which since the 16th Century were controlled and managed directly by the Austrian Crown.

The Town of Hallstatt was re-built in late Baroque style after a fire in 1750 destroyed the timber buildings.

The beauty of the alpine landscape, with its higher pastures used for the summer grazing of sheep and cattle since prehistoric times as part of the process of transhumance, which still today gives the valley communities rights of access to specific grazing areas, was discovered in the early 19th  Century by writers, such as Adalbert Stifler, novelist, and the dramatic poet Franz Grillparzer, and most of the leading paintings of the Biedermeier school. They were in turn followed by tourists and this led to the development of hotels and brine baths for visitors.

The landscape is exceptional as a complex of great scientific interest and immense natural power that has played a vital role in human history reflected in the impact of farmer-miners over millennia, in the way mining has transformed the interior of the mountain and through the artists and writers that conveyed its harmony and beauty.

How This Relates to Rome:

The Germanic name hall of several settlements refers to the region’s numerous salt mine, which centered at the mining town of Hallstatt. These operation were continued by the Romans, after the area had been incorporated into the Noricum province in 15 BC.

A Roman settlement and salt evaporation pond at Hallstatt is documented about AD 100, affected by several Germanic invasions after the Marcomannic Wars. The province was finally evacuated at the behest of the Italian king Odoacer in AD 488.

There are to date no recorded notable events that took place in Hallstatt during Roman rule or the early Middle Ages.

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!

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!