Category Archives: Historical Sites

Mausoleum of Augustus: Restoration and Updates are Coming

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Have we got some big news for you. On 16 January 2017, it was shared that an Italian telecommunications company has contributed €6-million for its restoration.

The company was not named, unfortunately, but its director promising an elaborate multimedia show that will tell the story of Augustus and ancient Rome. If you care to read the article from The Telegraph you can do so here.

This got us excited about what lies ahead for the resting place of Augustus, Rome‘s 1st Emperor. Back on 6 June 2016, we wrote an article called Mausoleum of Augustus: Resting Place for Rome’s Original Emperor.

With all the good news we thought it’d be a perfect time to revisit the Mausoleum of Augustus!

Mausoleum of Augustus on the Campus Martius.

As we venture from East to West and from North to South, it’s always nice to just get back home. In this case we do not mean Texas, we are talking about Rome.

Location of the Mausoleum of Augustus in the Campus Martius on the banks of the Tiber.

The mausoleum is a large tomb built by the Emperor Augustus in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome, Italy. The mausoleum is located on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, near the corner with Via di Ripetta as it runs along the Tiber.

The grounds cover an area equivalent to a few city blocks, and nestle between the Church of San Carlo al Corso and the Museum of the Ara Pacis. The interior of the mausoleum is not open to tourists.

Original design for the Mausoleum of Augustus.

The mausoleum was one of the original projects initiated by Augustus following his victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The mausoleum was circular in plan, consisting of several concentric rings of earth and brick, planted with cypress trees on top of the building and capped by a conical roof and a 15 ft-tall bronze statue of Augustus.

Vaults held up the roof and opened up the burial spaces below. The completed mausoleum measured 295 ft in diameter by 137 ft in height.

The arched entryway to the Mausoleum of Augustus.

A corridor ran from the entryway into the heart of the mausoleum. Here there was a chamber with 3 niches to hold the golden urns enshrining the ashes of the Imperial Family.

The traditional story is that in AD 410, during the sack of Rome by Alaric, the pillaging Visigoths rifled the vaults, stole the urns and scattered the ashes, without damaging the structure of the building. In the Middle Ages the tumulus was fortified as a castle— as was the mausoleum of Hadrian, which was turned into the Castel Sant’Angelo— and occupied by the Colonna family.

Inside Plan
Inside plan of the mausoleum.

After the disastrous defeat of the Commune of Rome at the hands of the Count of Tusculum in AD 1167, the Colonna were disgraced and banished, and their fortification in the Campo was dismantled. The area thus became a ruin.

Augustus – “I found a Rome of bricks; I leave to you one of marble.”

In the early 20th Century the Mausoleum of Augusts was made into a concert hall. It was not until the 1930s that the site was opened as a preserved archaeological landmark along with the newly moved and reconstructed Ara Pacis nearby.

The restoration of the Mausoleum of Augustus to a place of prominence was part of Benito Mussolini‘s ambitious reordering of the city. This stripping away of everything modern upon the ruins and monuments of Rome was his attempt to connect the aspirations of Italian Fascism with the former glories of the Roman Empire.

Mussolini viewed himself especially connected to the achievements of Augustus, seeing himself as a “reborn Augustus” ready to usher in a new age of Italian dominance. We all know Augustus, and that Mussolini was no Augustus.

Quirinal Fountain
Quirinal Fountain

Twin pink granite obelisks also once flanked the arched entryway, but have since been removed. One now stands at the Piazza dell’Esquilino (on the northwest side of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore) and the other at the Quirinal Fountain.

Even though the monument was to be the final resting place of The First Emperor, Augustus was not the original person laid to rest there.

Included among those whose remains were laid inside the mausoleum before the death of Augustus were: Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who was the 1st to be buried there in 23 BC; Marcus Agrippa in 12 BC; Nero Claudius Drusus in 9 BC; Octavia Minor, the sister of Augustus in 9 or 11 BC; then Gaius (4 AD) and Lucius (2 AD), grandsons and heirs of Augustus.

After the death of Augustus, the mausoleum hosted the ashes of: Livia, wife of Augustus; GermanicusAgrippina the Elder; Julia Livilla, Agrippina’s daughter; Nero, son of Germanicus; Drusus Caesar, son of Germanicus; CaligulaTiberius; Drusus Julius Caesar, son of Tiberius; Antonia Minor, mother of Claudius; Claudius; Britannicus, the son of Claudius; the embalmed body of Poppaea Sabina wife of Nero;  Julia Domna, who was later moved to the Mausoleum of Hadrian; and Nerva, the last Emperor for whom the mausoleum was opened.

Inside the mausoleum

At the original time of this article (almost a year ago) Rome Commissioner Francesco Paolo Tronca had approved a €6-million preliminary project to complete restoration work at the Mausoleum of Augustus. Funding was to serve to finish structural work on the monumental tomb including covering it, building a circular catwalk around it, and preparing it to open for public visits.

This commitment to restoring Rome’s historical monuments not only benefits tourism, but it also keeps alive remnants from a dominate world culture for future generations. Keeping Rome’s past intact benefits everyone.

Painting showing a contemporary view of the Mausoleum of Augustus.

With the Telecom Italia’s €6-million for restoration and upgrades, both inside and out, this monument should be a new tourist draw for Rome. Having once been 1 of the key monuments in the history of mankind, the Mausoleum of Augustus is set to reclaim that title.

Tourists will be immersed in the most sensational story of humanity, from imperial Rome to the beginnings of Christianity and the Baroque period,” said Giuseppe Recchi, the president of Telecom Italia.

We hope you enjoyed our trip to the Romani Patriae and look forward to having you back again. Make sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Dal Maso, Leonardo B. Rome of the Caesars. Bonechi: Florence, 1974.

Lanciani, Rodolfo. Pagan and Christian Rome. 1892. On-line.

Young, Norwood; P. Barrera. Rome and Its Story. J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd: London, 1951.

Mausoleum of Augustus Restoration Project to Begin”. Archaeology News Network. 04 March 2016.

Squires, Nick. “Giant mausoleum in Rome that held the remains of the emperor Augustus to be restored after decades of neglect”. The Telegraph. 16 January 2017.

First Time In Paris? We Haven’t Been Yet Either

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It was about 2 years to the day that my wife and I had planned out the trip of a lifetime to Paris. We had planned to spend Christmas and New Years in Paris, France not Paris, TX.

It was to be an adventure since neither of us had ever been before. But that trip never happened for not too long after we found out that we were going to have a child, and that the due date of the baby was to be 2 weeks before our vacation.

Trip over.

Since we haven’t yet traveled overseas due to the arrival of our son on 29 November 2015, today we revisit our plan for traveling to Paris!

Eiffel Tower New Years
Fireworks above the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve.

When we began the planning, after securing our airfare and hotel accommodations, we were about a year away from the trip. Questions were coming hard and fast.

What are we interested in seeing? How do we want to travel? Do we want to get plane tickets own their own, or bundle them together with the hotel?

Do we want to stay in one location the entire trip, or move about? Are we traveling on a budget? The questions can go on and on.

Notre Dame de Paris

The first question, sites we want to see, was fairly easy to answer. We want to see it all!


Seriously though, Jenn and I want to get the best from our first Paris experience. We are tourists and we want to see the major tourist locations: Notre Dame de Paris, Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, and The Eiffel Tower.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

These are just obvious. However, we were not against becoming part of the “City of Lights” and strolling off of the tourist path.

To make lasting memories, the plan will be to experience as much as we possibly can. Hopefully this can also be accomplished in the most cost efficient means available.

To do so, the next most important decision is the location in which to stay. This is where some speed bumps will arise.

Arrondissements of Paris

Paris is a very large city. As most cities of a similar size, like London or New York, the city is broken up into smaller districts.

The Parisians call their smaller areas Arrondissement (neighborhoods). They are divided up into 20 of these municipal areas.

If you imagine a spiral, how it starts in the center and continues to loop clockwise around from there, this is how the Arrondissements are formed.

The River Seine divides Paris almost in half, thus creating a Right (North) Bank and a Left (South) Bank. The Right Bank contains the following Arrondissements: 1-4, 8-12, and 16-20 while the Left Bank contains Arrondissements: 5-7 and 13-15.

The Louvre

One would think that it would not be so challenging to choose which Arrondissements to stay in due to the breakdown. Well that is not the case.

Each neighborhood has its own feel and its own charm. Plus there is at least 1 attraction in each neighborhood that visitors want to see.

From sites that I have gone through, it appears all of the districts are safe. If you have yet to visit “The City of Love” then here are brief descriptions of each.

1st Arrondissement

The Colonnes de Buren in the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais-Royal.

The least populated, but most expensive, of the 20 Arrondissements is right in the center of Paris. What’s here? The Louvre Museum, Palais-Royal, Tuileries Garden, Forum des Halles, Bourse du Commerce, and the upscale Place Vendôme.

The Palais-Royal is opposite the Louvre. The larger inner courtyard, the Cour d’Honneur, has since 1986 contained Daniel Buren‘s site-specific art piece Les Deux Plateaux, known as Les Colonnes de Buren.

2nd Arrondissement

The Paris Bourse

Primarily a business district, the 2nd, aka the smallest Arrondissement, is also home to a number of historic shopping arcades. What’s here? The Paris Bourse, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, lots of cafés and delivery trucks.

The Paris Bourse  is the historical Paris stock exchange, known as Euronext Paris from 2000 onward. The Bibliothèque nationale de France is the National Library of France, and is the national repository of all that is published in France.

3rd Arrondissement

The main entrance of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM), or National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts.

Another small Arrondissement, the 3rd contains the northern part of the historic Marais district. What’s here? The Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum.

The Place des Vosges, originally Place Royale, is the oldest planned square in Paris and one of the finest in the city. It is located in the Marais district of Paris, and was a fashionable and expensive square during the 17th and 18th Centuries.

The Musée Picasso is an art gallery located in the Hôtel Salé in rue de Thorigny, dedicated to the work of the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.  The Carnavalet Museum is dedicated to the history of the city, and occupies 2 neighboring mansions: the Hôtel Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau.

4th Arrondissement

Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges

The 4th is the oldest part of Paris. With designer boutiques and fancy cuisine, lots of hipsters have taken to this area.

What’s here? Notre-Dame, the Place des Vosges, City Hall and the Gothic Tour St-Jacques. To contrast all the historic buildings is the modern Centre Georges Pompidou.

Notre-Dame de Paris, or simply Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world.

5th Arrondissement

Arènes de Lutèce, the most important remains from the Gallo-Roman era in Paris.

The 5th, or Latin Quarter, holds the renowned Sorbonne University. The school brings a more youthful crowd.

What’s here? The Panthéon, the Val-de-Grâce, the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, the Cluny Museum, Jardin des Plantesand the Roman-era Arènes de Lutèce and Thermes de Cluny.

The Arènes de Lutèce was a Roman amphitheater that could once seat 15,000 people and was used to present gladiatorial combats. The Thermes de Cluny are a Roman Bath complex built by the influential guild of boatmen of 3rd Century Roman Paris (Lutetia), as the consoles on which the barrel ribs rest are carved in the shape of ships’ prows.

6th Arrondissement

Church of Saint-Sulpice
Church of Saint-Sulpice

The iconic 6th is what Paris’s Left Bank is all about. It is popular with locals and visitors alike, which makes it a popular place to stay.

What’s here? The Jardin du Luxembourg, the Odéon Theatre, the Church of Saint-Sulpice, and the 11th Century Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

The Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe is 1 of France’s 6 national theatres. Saint-Sulpice is a Roman Catholic church, only slightly smaller than Notre-Dame, and is dedicated to Sulpitius the Pious.

7th Arrondissement

Les Invalides
Les Invalides

The 7th is filled with government institutions and major landmarks. This is also quite an upscale Arrondissement.

Being expensive overall, if money is any concern of yours then this is not the place to stay. What’s here? The Eiffel Tower, the Invalides (with Napoleon‘s Tomb), the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Rodin, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Palais Bourbon, and the UNESCO Headquarters.

Les Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose.

8th Arrondissement

Élysée Palace
Élysée Palace

Another Arrondissement loaded with tourist attractions. The 8th is like Oprah-rich.

This is where fashion meets Sex and the City finale. What’s here? The Champs-Élysées (probably the world’s most famous boulevard), the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, the Élysée Palace, Madeleine church, and Monceau Park.

The Place de la Concorde is the major public squares in Paris, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. The Élysée Palace has been the official residence of the President of France since 1848.

9th Arrondissement

Église de la Sainte-Trinité

A multifaceted Arrondissement, the 9th holds prestigious boulevards in the south and not so prestigious red light district (Pigalle area) in the north. The Rue Saint-Denis is where senior citizen prostitutes can be found.

What’s here? The former Opéra Garnier, the Galeries Lafayette, and Sainte-Trinité.

The Galeries Lafayette is an upmarket French department store chain, with its flagship store is on Boulevard Haussmann. The Église de la Sainte-Trinité is a Roman Catholic church of the Second Empire period, built as part of the beautification and reorganization of Paris under Baron Haussmann.

10th Arrondissement

Facade of the Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

The 10th is noted as being very “down to earth”. It is spread out too, so it is no wonder that both of Paris’s main railway stations (the Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord) are found in the 10th.

What’s here? Canal Saint-Martin and Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

The Canal Saint-Martin is a 2.8 mile long canal connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine, and runs underground between Bastille (Paris Métro) and République (Paris Métro). The Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul is a church dedicated to Saint Vincent de Paul.

11th Arrondissement

Church of Saint-Ambroise
Church of Saint-Ambroise

A very low profile Arrondissement, known around the city as the Oberkampf, the 11th is mostly residential. This Right Bank district is better known for its nightlife than its landmarks, so it may feel a little too “festive” for a first time visitor to Paris.

What’s here? The Cirque d’Hive and the Church of Saint-Ambroise.

The Cirque d’Hiver (Winter Circus) has been a prominent venue for circuses, exhibitions of dressage, musical concerts, and other events, including exhibitions of Turkish wrestling and even fashion shows. The church of Saint-Ambroise was named after its neighborhood, the quartier Saint-Ambroise.

12th Arrondissement

Bastille Opera House
Bastille Opera House

The 12th is large and mostly residential, but it is affordable and safe with access to major metro lines. What’s here? The Bastille Opera House, AccorHotels Arena, along with the Vincennes.

The Opéra Bastille (Bastille Opera House) is a modern opera house and the main facility of the Paris National Opera, France’s principal opera company. Vincennes is a commune in the Val-de-Marne department in the eastern suburbs of Paris, famous for its castle, the Château de Vincennes, and its park, the Bois de Vincennes.

13th Arrondissement

The Mazarin entrance to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital.

Largely residential, the 13th is more out of the way from the typical tourist sites. It is home to the city’s largest Chinatown, while Butte-aux-Cailles (Quail Hill) boasts a stretch of restaurants, cafés and bars.

What’s here? The Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrièrel.

Today the Butte-aux-Cailles area assembles a young, trendy and festive Parisian population in its many small bars and restaurants. The Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital is a celebrated teaching hospital of Sorbonne University, and is 1 of Europe’s largest hospitals.

14th Arrondissement

Catacombs of Paris

Not considered a lively Arrondissement, the 14th does have its own sleepy charm and quiet streets. What’s here? The Paris Catacombs, Place Denfert-Rochereau, and the Observatoire de Paris (how the 14th Arrondissement got its name).

The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries which hold the remains of more than 6 million people in a small part of the ancient Mines of Paris tunnel network. The Paris Observatory is the foremost astronomical observatory of France, and 1 of the largest astronomical centers in the world.

15th Arrondissement

Tour Maine Montparnasse
Tour Maine Montparnasse

As a hit-or-miss district, the 15th is the largest of the 20 Arrondissements in Paris (both in size and population). Filled mostly with concrete 1970s high-rises, the 15th is not very lively unless you go to where it borders the 7th.

What’s here? Tour Maine Montparnasse and the Parc André Citroën.

Maine-Montparnasse Tower, also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 689 ft office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Parc André Citroën is a 35 acres public park located on the Left Bank of the river Seine.

16th Arrondissement

Palais de Chaillot
Palais de Chaillot

The 16th has the reputation of being the richest, with lots of Americans living here with their families. It is also viewed as being very safe, but more quiet and residential.

What’s here? The Palais de Chaillot, the Musée Guimet, the Palais de Tokyo, and the Musée Marmottan.

The Palais de Chaillot was also the initial headquarters of NATO, and the buildings now house a number of museums. Musée Marmottan Monet is a museum featuring a collection of over 300 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Paul Signac and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

17th Arrondissement

Pétanque, the outdoor bowling-game, as played in Batignolles.

This is a diverse Arrondissement outside the center of Paris most visited by tourists. The 17th is home to up-and-coming Batignolles area that houses many established French artists and writers.

What’s here? The Batignolles Cemetery, the Square des Batignolles, and the Palais des Congrès.

Batignolles was an independent village outside Paris until 1860, when the Emperor Napoleon III annexed it to the capital. The Palais des congrès de Paris is a concert venue, convention center and shopping mall.

18th Arrondissement

Moulin Rouge
The famous Moulin Rouge

Home of the famous Moulin Rouge, the 18th is like a vintage postcard of Paris. The once bohemian, and still village-like, district is often inundated with tourists.

That being said, avoid any hotel or hostel that is off of the Barbès-Rochechouart or Château Rouge metro stop. This is not the best district for wondering around the desolate side streets at night.

What’s here? Sacré-Coeur Basilica and the Place du Tertre.

Moulin Rouge (Red Mill) is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

19th Arrondissement

Panoramic view of the island within the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

Another large Arrondissement, the 19th is a bit out of the way for Paris newcomers. The markets here are interesting to do as a day trip. Come night fall in Belleville, an area bordering the 19th and 20th Arrondissements, there is a large community of young prostitutes.

What’s here? The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Parc de la Villette.

The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a public park occupying 61 acres, was opened by Emperor Napoleon III. The Parc de la Villette is another public park which houses 1 of the largest concentration of cultural venues in Paris, including the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry, Europe’s largest science museum), 3 major concert venues, and the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris.

20th Arrondissement

Père Lachaise Cemetery

The final, and mostly residential, Arrondissement is cosmopolitan and has no real attractions. The 20th still gets its fair share of tourists.

What’s here? The Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city (110 acres) and is notable for being the original garden cemetery, as well as the original municipal cemetery.

So now Jenn and I know what we are up against. With some information on our side, finding a place to stay will not seem so daunting.

The key to collecting information on traveling is to get different views. One website may not like a past experience and may downplay what happens to be true.

I found using a more “hip” site and a more “informative” site helped balance things. With the boy now, I’ll probably have to go check out a “family friendly” site.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure, and maybe were even inspired to check out Paris for yourself. Whenever our own trip gets set up again, we shall be certain to keep you updated.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Breaking Down Hadrian’s Wall: An Extensive Look

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

In order to provide you with engaging daily content, due to my newly hectic schedule, I have chosen to revisit some articles from early on in RAE’s history. Maybe I missed something or maybe something new has been shared since the article’s original publishing.

In any event, today we’re taking a journey to a familiar place in Roman Britannia as we break down Hadrian’s Wall!

Location of Hadrian’s Wall

An unknown biographer of Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus Augustus (aka Hadrian) wrote that “(Hadrian) was the first to build a wall 80 miles long to separate the Romans from the barbarians“, but the true reason(s) for the construction of the wall vary. What we do know is that The Wall was not to divide Roman England from Barbarian Alba since the entire wall resides in England.

Near Morpeth, by William Bell Scott, showing a centurion supervising the building of the wall.
Near Morpeth, by William Bell Scott, showing a Centurion supervising the building of the wall.

The only ancient source for its provenance is the Augustan History. No sources survive to confirm what the Wall was called in antiquity, and no historical literary source gives it a name.

However, the discovery of the Staffordshire Moorlands Pan in Staffordshire in 2003 has provided a clue. A small enameled bronze Roman trulla (ladle), dating to the 2nd Century AD, is inscribed with a series of names of Roman forts along the western sector of the wall, together with a personal name and phrase: MAIS COGGABATA VXELODVNVM CAMBOGLANNA RIGORE VALI AELI DRACONIS.

Bowness (MAIS) is followed by Drumburgh-by-Sands (COGGABATA), until now known only as CONGAVATA from the late Roman document, the Notitia Dignitatum. Next comes Stanwix (VXELODVNVM), then Castlesteads (CAMBOGLANNA).

The village of Aballava has been occupied continuously since Roman times.

These are the 4 of the westernmost forts on Hadrian’s Wall, but excluding Aballava.

RIGORE is the ablative singular form of the Latin word rigor, but can also mean straight line, course or direction. This sense was used by Roman surveyors and appears on several inscriptions to indicate a line between places. So the meaning could be “according to the course”.

Vallum Aelium, aka Hadrian’s Wall, is not only the name of the momumental momument but it is also a blanket term. The term includes 5 distinct elements when viewed in a cross-section from north to south, so from above the big wall to behind it.

There is a Ditch, a Berm with or without obstacles, the Curtain (or Wall itself), the Military Way, and then the Vallum.


Out of the local rock, some limestone some volcanic, the ground was formed into a steep V-shape. In order to keep the integrity of the Wall, a small to moderate depression was created to drain water from low-lying areas near the structure.


This is the narrow portion of ground from the base of the Wall Curtain to the edge of the Ditch. This was approximately a width of 3 meters. In the eastern edge of the Wall, various obstacles have been found on the Berm that would function like stakes.

Wall Curtain

This is the portion made of stone or turf that folks think of when referring to Harian’s Wall. In stone, the Curtain spans from Wallsend to Birdoswald. From turf and timber the Curtain spans from Birdoswald to Bowness-on-Solway.

The Curtain crosses the River Tyne (at Cilurnum) and River Irthing (at Willowford near Banna). Although the thickness of the stone portion of the Curtain is not agreed upon, the height has been confirmed to be just under 15 feet.

Military Way

The narrow road immediately behind the Wall Curtain was added in the 2nd Century AD. The Way was the direct connection to the forts, milecastles, and turrium built into the Wall Curtain.

Romans were known for road making and having the travels be as easy as possible. These physical infrastructures vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 300 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.


This featured a steep, flat-bottomed ditch with an earthern mound on both the north and south sides. The Vallum ran from east (at Newcastle) to west (at Bowness), very close to the Wall Curtain.

There were diviations around the forts and crossings across the ditches and through the mounds.


Hadrian’s Wall is more than just rock and mortar. There’s a lot more to it. Aside from being the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England, in 1987 it was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail

Touring Hadrian’s Wall is can be done via Hadrian’s Wall Path. Although one can walk or bike, the Wall is more easily accessed by car, bus or taxi.

A great way to see Hadrian’s Wall is by going to Vindolanda. There are tours and museums of the turrets and mileforts.

If you care to read more about Hadrian’s Wall or the forts/towns along it, please check out these articles:

Hadrian’s Wall (#21)

Vercovicium – The Village on the Slope

Corsopitum: Discovering History Daily at the Corbridge Roman Site

Concangis: The Chester-le-Street Roman Fort

Condercum: A Roman Fort That Would Become Newcastle Upon Tyne

Gateshead: A Modern City With Ancient Beginnings

Segedunum: The End of the Line

We hope your enjoyed today’s adventure. Hadrian’s Wall is waiting for you, seize the opportunity.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Burton, Anthony. Hadrian’s Wall Path. Aurum Press Ltd, 2004 . ISBN 1-85410-893-X.

Davies, Hunter. A Walk along the Wall. Wiedenfield and Nicolson, 1974. ISBN 0 297 76710 0.

de la Bédoyère, Guy. Hadrian’s Wall: A History and Guide. Stroud: Tempus, 1998. ISBN 0-7524-1407-0.

England’s Roman Frontier: Discovering Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall Country. Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd and Carlisle Tourism Partnership, 2010.

Forde-Johnston, James L. Hadrian’s Wall. Michael Joseph, 1978. ISBN 0-7181-1652-6.

Hadrian’s Wall Path (map). Harvey, 12–22 Main Street, Doune, Perthshire FK16 6BJ.

Moffat, Alistair. The Wall. Birlinn Limited Press, 2008. ISBN 1-84158-675-7.

Tomlin, R.S.O. “Inscriptions” in Britannia, vol. xxxv. 2004.

Wilson, Roger J.A. A Guide to the Roman Remains in Britain. Constable & Company, 1980; ISBN 0-09-463260-X.

Amphitheatre Nîmes (#12)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Today we continue examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #13 – Roman Arena in Arles.

Today we’re headed to the western portion of the Roman Empire as we head to France to bring to you #12 – Amphitheatre Nîmes!

Nimes Arena with matador statue in the front.

Nîmes is a commune, dating back to Ancient Rome. It is the prefecture of the Gard department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Nîmes was an important Roman town and was supplied with water by the Pont du Gard.

The Nîmes amphitheatre is the best-preserved in France. An amphitheatre is a flat area, surrounded by an area that ascends gradually.

In the ascending area, people can be seated. Today, such structures are used for presentations, but also spectator sports.

In Ancient Rome, these structures were used to entertain the population. Gladiator combats, athletics, and executions were staged there.

Sketch from the 4th Century AD.

Built at the end of the 1st Century AD to seat 24,000 spectators, the Arena of Nîmes was one of the biggest Roman amphitheaters in Gallia. During the Middle Ages a fortified palace was built within the amphitheatre.

Showing the architecture of the arena.

Later a small neighborhood developed within its confines, complete with 700 inhabitants and 2 chapels. In 1863 the arena was remodeled to serve as a bullring and today it hosts 2 annual bullfights as well as other public events.

Middle Ages painting

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. Apologies for the briefness, but sometimes short is sweet.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Bomgardner, David Lee. The Story of the Roman AmphitheatreRoutledge, October 2000. ISBN 0-415-16593-8.

Roman Emperors Route: A Great Tourism Idea by Serbia

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Since the start of the new year we’ve been trying to provide you the best information and entertainment for your view buck. It’s been a stretch due to my starting a teaching credentialing program (shock, I want to be a History teacher) so we’ve revisited some previous articles.

Recently we came across one of the most ingenious ideas for tourism we have have seen so far, and we knew we had to share. The bigger surprise is that it came out of Serbia.

Today we journey along a path created by Romans and brought to you by tourism as we travel the Roman Emperors Route!

Map of the Roman Emperors Route in the Lower Danube Region.

The Roman Emperors Route (LatinItinerarium Romanum Serbiae) is a route spanning roughly 373 miles with several Ancient Roman sites, among which are notable cities, estates and birthplaces. The project’s name is derived from the fact that 17  were born within the current borders of Serbia (the Roman provincia of Ilyricum), 2nd only to Italy itself.

Regarded as one of the national brands of Serbia, the sites include the important Roman coloniae of  SirmiumFelix Romuliana (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Naissus. The project is regarded as one of the largest archeological and tourism projects in Serbia, and the project board is guided and financed by the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Regional Development and Ministry of Culture.

Statue of Caesar Augustus (c. 30 BC–20 BC) from the Louvre.

The Roman Emperors were the leaders and guardians of a complex political structure which was built on the rule of law and limited autonomy in self-governing colonies and municipalities.  The rule of law, after the Emperor Caracalla’s decree of AD 212, included universal citizenship throughout the Imperium Rōmānum.

Local government was stabilized in the various provinces of the Empire by the Emperors’ individual grants semi-autonomous governing powers to local communities with the award of colonial or municipal status (coloniae and municipia).  These communities received their governing privileges from the Emperors active in the Danube region who also wanted to encourage the integration of indigenous peoples into Roman citizenship and the governing system.

Far from Rome, along the unpredictable Danube, the Roman Empire established its eastern border, the Limes. A series of military fortifications was set up along the road marched by the Roman Legions in their campaigns against the barbarian tribes across the river.

The troops were followed by traders and craftsmen, and soon towns sprang up along all the major roads. Upper Moesia and Lower Pannonia roughly match Serbia’s territory today. Beginning in the 3rd Century, over a period of some 200 years, these went from being marginal border provinces to occupying a place at the center of events in the Roman Empire.

Wine of the Emperors

This cultural route of the Roman Emperors reveals ancient Roman towns, roads, ruins, and artifacts on what was the eastern border of the Roman Empire. Adding to the tourism draw, wine tasting was added along the route.

The appreciation of wine and its consumption is promoted in the wine part of the route, and continues a tradition that stems from the introduction of the beverage by the Romans. Perhaps it is that the spirit of the Latin word convivium (eating/enjoying together) is continued in modern European culture where wine is highly prized and considered a necessary accompaniment to good living.

Now let’s hit the road!


Ruins of Imperial Palace at Sirmium.

Sirmium, one of the most important towns of the late Roman Empire, was located by the river Sava, on the site of modern-day Sremska Mitrovica. Originally was founded by Celts in the 3rd Century BC, Sirmium was conquered by the Roman Empire in the 1st Century BC.

Sirmium was the economic capital of Roman Pannonia and reached its zenith in AD 294 when it was pronounced 1 of the 4 capitals of the Roman Empire. In 1990, Sirmium was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, protected by the Republic of Serbia.


Remains (wall on the sides and tower in the middle) of old roman castrum of Singidunum.

Singidunum is the name for the ancient city which became Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The Roman Empire conquered the area in 75 BC and later garrisoned the Roman Legio IV Flavia Felix in 86 AD.

The Belgrade Fortress was built as a defensive structure on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers during the period from the 2nd to the 18th Century. Today the fortress is a unique museum of the history of Belgrade.

It was the birthplace to the Roman Emperor Jovian. Belgrade has arisen from its own ashes 38 times!


Ruins of mausoleum at Viminacium.

Viminacium (VIMINACIVM) was a the provincial capital of Moesia, a Roman military camp, and the capital of Moesia Superior. Today known as Kostolac the town is located near Požarevac, where the Mlava flows into the Danube.

It was one of the most important Roman towns and military encampments from the period from the 1st to the 6th Century. The civilian settlement next to the encampment during the rule of Hadrian (117-138) gained the status of a municipium (a town with a high degree of autonomy).

The city lies along the Via Militaris and contains archaeological remains of temples, streets, fora, amphitheatres, palaces, hippodromes and Roman baths. The entire archeological site occupies a total of 1,112 acres.

Diana Fortress

Panorama of Diana fortress

The Roman castrum of Diana was raised on a high cliff above the Danube called the Karataš archaeological site, close to the town of Kladovo. Construction of the earliest earthen and wooden fortification is connected with the arrival of the initial military formations to the Danube in AD 100–101.

The main buildings were built on a strategic location overlooking the Danube frontier with stone in 100 AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Trajan, who had a military camp located at the vicinity. Further modifications were made at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th Century when additional towers were added towards the river for extra defense towards the Danube shores.

At the mid-4th Century the fort was damaged by the invading Huns and in 530 AD rebuilt by Roman Emperor Justinian.

Pons Traiani

Artistic reconstruction of Trajan’s Bridge across the Danube (1907).

Trajan’s Bridge or the Bridge of Apollodorus over the Danube was a Roman segmental arch bridge, the earliest built over the lower Danube. For more than a thousand years, it was the longest arch bridge in the world in terms of both total and span length.

The bridge was constructed by the Greek architect Apollodorus of Damascus for the deployment of Roman troops in the Trajan’s Dacian Wars, in 105 AD.

Tabula Traiana

Photo of Tabula Traiana near Kladovo, Serbia.

A Roman memorial plaque (Tabula Traiana), 13 feet in width and around 6 feet in height, commemorating the completion of Trajan’s military road is located on the Serbian side facing Romania near Ogradina. It reads:

SVBLAT(i)S VIA(m) F(ecit)

Felix Romuliana

Photo of Tabula Traiana near Kladovo, Serbia.

Felix Romuliana (FELIX ROMVLIANA) was an imperial palace built on the orders of Galerius Maximianus on the spacious plateau of Gamzigrad, near the city of Zaječar. Galerius, who was born in this area, raised the palace in the 3rd and 4th Centuries in honor of himself and his mother Romula, after whom he named it.

It belongs to a special category of Roman court architecture associated only with the period of the Tetrarchy and is the best-preserved example of this style. Gamzigrad  is an archaeological site spanning 10 acres, and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site of Serbia.

Naissus et Mediana

Remains of the luxurious residence palace of Mediana, erected by Constantine I near his birth town of Naissus.

Not far from Niš is Mediana, the most famous and prestigious suburb of the classical city of Naissus. It was built near the river and the thermal springs, over an area of more than 99 acres.

Mediana was built in the early 4th Century AD, during the time of Constantine the Great. It served as a residence for use by Roman Emperors when visiting Naissus, and is now an important archeological site from the late Roman period for its highly organized economy.

Excavatations have revealed a villa with a peristyle, thermae, granary and water tower. Although Roman artifacts can be found scattered all over the area of present-day Niš, Mediana represents the best-preserved part of Roman Naissus.

In 1979, Mediana was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, protected by Republic of Serbia.

Iustiniana Prima

Remnants of Justiniana Prima

Iustiniana Prima (Empress’s Town), is one of the most important Byzantine towns in the interior of the Balkan Peninsula. It is situated 18 miles west of Leskovac and 4 miles from Lebane, close to the village of Prekopčelica.

In AD 535, Emperor Justinian I, originally from southern Serbia, decided to raise a city in his area of birth to basically honor himself. The city of Justiniana Prima lies on the gentle slopes which descend from the mountain of Radan towards the Leskovac basin, where key traffic routes pass.

Justiniana Prima served as the seat of an Archbishopric that had jurisdiction of the Central Balkans. In 1979, Justiniana Prima was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, protected by Republic of Serbia.


The northern Balkans, including Dacia Ripensis, in the 6th Century.

Šarkamen is a Roman archaeological site in Negotin, eastern Serbia. The fortification dates to the rule of Maximinus Daia, after 305 AD. It was part of the Dacia Ripensis.

We hope you enjoyed this trip as much as we did. We found the combination of Roman archaeology, architecture and, of course, wine to be more than something would could pass up.

If this has inspired you to travel the Roman Emperors Route, or even to see some historical site elsewhere, please let us know. We’d love to share your experience with other like-minded people.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



The cultural route of the Roman Emperors. National Tourism Organization of Serbia.

Tourist Organization of Serbia. “Itinerarium Romanum Serbiae” (PDF). Belgrade: Tourist Organization of Serbia.

Roman Emperors and Danube Wine Route. Danube.Travel.

Serbia to boast heritage as birthplace of 18 Roman Emperors

Itinerarium Romanum Serbiae.

Museum of Zaječar

Roman Arena in Arles (#13)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Today we continue examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #14 – Library of Celsus.

Today we’re headed to the western portion of the Roman Empire as we head to France to bring to you #13 – Roman Arena in Arles!

The Arles Amphitheatre is a Roman Amphitheatre in the southern French town of Arles. This 2-tiered Roman Amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times.

Built in AD 90, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators. It was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles.

Interior of arena

The building measures 446 ft in length and 358 ft wide, and features 120 arches. It has an oval arena surrounded by terraces, arcades on 2 levels (60 in all), bleachers, a system of galleries, drainage system in many corridors of access and staircases for a quick exit from the crowd.


It was obviously inspired by the Colosseum in Rome, being built slightly later. The amphitheatre was not expected to receive 25,000 spectators, the architect was therefore forced to reduce the size and replace the dual system of galleries outside the Colosseum by a single annular gallery.

This difference is explained by the conformation of the land. This temple of the games housed gladiators and hunting scenes for more than 4 centuries.

With the fall of the Empire in the 5th Century, the amphitheatre became a shelter for the population. It was transformed into a fortress with 4 towers (the southern tower is not restored).

Exterior arcades with a tower added in the 6th Century.

The structure encircled more than 200 houses, becoming a real town, with its public square built in the center of the arena and 2 chapels, 1 in the center of the building, and 1 at the base of the west tower. The pronounced towers jutting out from the top are add-ons from the Middle Ages.

This new residential role continued until the late 18th Century. In 1825, through the initiative of the writer Prosper Mérimée, the change to a national historical monument for the Arles Amphitheatre began.

Bullfight from 1963

In 1826, expropriation began of the houses built within the building, which ended by 1830. In that same year the 1st event since Roman times was organized in the arena, a race of the bulls to celebrate the taking of Algiers.

Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting during the Feria d’Arles as well as plays and concerts in summer. The Romans certainly would have approved of all 3 of these modern events taking place in their arena.

Les Arènes by Vincent van Gogh

Arles Amphitheatre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Together, with other Roman buildings of the city, it makes up part of the Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments group.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. We look forward to you continuing the countdown to #1 with us.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Have your own Aeneid: Follow in the Footsteps of Aeneas

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

As I continue my teaching certification courses, we will continue to occasionally bring you revisited articles. This time we hope to add something that may have been forgotten, or experience something new with you.

Having said that, it’s time to make your own adventure. Today it’s time to have your own Aeneid!

Aeneid Map
The journey of Aeneas as he travels from Troy to Lavinium.

Of the many authors of Latin poetry, Publius Vergilius Maro (aka Vergil or Virgil) is the greatest of them all. Maybe you disagree.

A 3rd-century Tunisian mosaic of Virgil seated between Clio and Melpomene (from Hadrumetum [Sousse]).
Is it because he was the court poet for Augustus? Is it because Virgil has become the benchmark for Augustan Literature? Or is it simply because Virgil was born on October 15th just like me somebody else I know?

A strong case can be made for all of these. However, I think he is tops for his writing of The Aeneid.

Virgil has been said to write in the same style as Classic Greek poet, Homer. In fact The Aeneid is said to be the Roman combination of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Aeneid is about our hero, Aeneas, and his journey from the burning and sacked city of Troy to establish a new home for his people in Latium, Italy. The twist? Italy was the home of those people that initially founded Troy.

What remains today of the Walls of Troy.

Our journey begins in Ancient Troy, in what has become modern day Turkey. The now legendary Trojan Horse was brought inside the city walls allowing Achilles, Ulysses, and other Greeks bring the mighty city to the ground.

Since his present home is being destroyed, and his goddess mother Venus has instructed him to gather the remaining Trojans, Aeneas and his people trek across country to find safety in Antandros, which is still in Turkey. Due to its location on the coast, near the Gulf of Adramyttium, this is where Aeneas chooses to build his fleet before setting off for Italy.

Since this is an epic poem, and nothing is ever direct in ancient adventures, Aeneas and his fleet leave Antandros and sail North into the Aegean Sea where they make landfall in Thrace. The location is not exactly known but it’s believed to be the no-longer-existing Aenos which would be located still in Turkey, near the Greek border.

Here in Thrace the remains of fellow Trojan, Polydorus, are found. All Aeneas wants to do at this point is build a wall and establish a city. Not too much to ask for, right?

While clearing the land in Thrace to create the wall, the plants that are uprooted spout blood and begin speaking to Aeneas. It’s Polydorus not crazy at all to have a dead person speak as a plant explaining what happened to him and to venture on.

VLUU L100 / Samsung L100
General view of Delos

More expelled Trojans are found as the group finally leaves Turkey and lands in Delos, Greece. Known as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos was home to a sacred oracle.

Aeneas believes this is the place they have been searching for only to have Apollo say it’s not quite right for them. The sails are then set again.

Now it’s out into the Mediterranean Sea and the Island of Crete. It’s basically the same story for Aeneas et al on this Greek island.

Archaeological site of Phaistos in Crete.

They think the location is the one for them. Construction gets underway, but then one of the gods tells them to get moving so they do.

As they hug the Greek coast, Aeneas and the fleet are driven to Strophados. This tiny set of twin islands again seems a perfect fit.

Aeneas then encountered the Harpies and found Strophados to be their dwelling place. The Harpies kept stealing all of the Trojan’s food and made life even more difficult for these ex-patriots.

I don’t think Aeneas to be wrong for leaving these female monsters that had the bodies of a bird with the head and face of a human.

After fleeing from the Harpies, Actium is the next place for landfall and to see if this is the right spot. This again is not the right place so the group sets sail. As they head North

Roman Theater in Butrint, Albania (aka Buthrotum).

the fleet halts at Buthrotum in ancient Northwestern Greece, but the location is now modern Albania.

Aeneas was happy to find Buthrotum the home of Helenus, another son of King Priam of Troy. Unlike his brother Polydorus who was killed after escaping Troy, Helenus was a survivor.

This could be due to the fact that Helenus was a seer. It was Helenus who told Aeneas this was not the place for him and to carry on. Helenus had a vision that Aeneas would go on to found Rome, so they kept moving.

Castrum Minervae
Castro, Apulia (aka Castrum Minervae)

Crossing the Ionian Sea, Aeneas and company make their first landing on Italy at Castrum Minervae. Knowing this is not the place they carry on.

Upon rounding Italy’s boot, the fleet arrives the ancient town of Aetna on Trinacria, or modern day Sicily. This is also the Land of Cyclops.

So the group shoves off hugging the island’s coastline. It is during this time that Anchises, the father of Aeneas, passes away.

They end up at on the western coast at Drepanon. Just like at every other stop before, Aeneas and clan find that as they prepare to end their journey it is not the right spot. So they pack on up and head back out to see once again.

Ruins of Carthage

The vengeful Juno takes advantage of this and blows the Aeneas’s fleet off course, yet again. They now land in Carthage and are greeted by Queen Dido.

It is here with Dido that Aeneas, just as Ulysses did on his travels, gets halted. The Carthaginians welcome in their Trojan guests and want Aeneas to be their king (a familiar scene so far in the story).

During a mystical evening alone, Dido and Aeneas are thought to have relations, thus causing Dido to believe Aeneas is now her king too. This is when the messenger god Mercury, sent via Jupiter, reminds Aeneas he is not to stay in Carthage with his new-found love, Dido, but to sail on to Italy and found Rome.

Again landing on the western coast of Sicily, Aenea’s throws funeral games honoring the anniversary of his father’s death. While only the men are partaking in the games some women, under the spell of Juno, burn some of the boats so the men can no longer travel.

The plan is to have Aeneas never reach Italy. This plan does not work and those that can sail on head out.

Entrance to the Cave of the Sibyl on Cumae.

The fleet lands next at Cumae, where Aeneas is told he must venture into the underworld for guidance.

In the underworld, Aeneas meets his father once again. They discuss the prophetic future that is Rome and how Aeneas is to achieve it.

Upon returning to the land of the living, Aeneas knows what he must do. His people follow him once again to sea.

They then stop briefly at Caeita. It is here that Aeneas buries his wet-nurse prior to pressing on for his final destination.

Aeneas and his Trojans land in Latium. It is here that Aeneas falls in love with and courts Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus and Queen Amata.

Juno once again meddles with the happiness of Aeneas and his people by tricking the Latium Queen into starting trouble for the Trojans. The hatred for Aeneas get Turnus of the Rutuli people to battle The Trojans.

Since the story is meant to be a positive outcome for the survivors of Troy (Spoiler Alert) they are victorious in this outcome. Aeneas goes on to found Lavinium. The prophecy is now complete.

Gate into the interior of the settlement of the frazione of Pratica di Mare, a medieval walled village at the site of the center of ancient Lavinium.

Although he did not found Rome himself, it Aeneas’s Lavinium was the center of the Latin League. It was from here that the people of Rome sprang, thus linking the the royal house of Troy to the newer Roman Republic.

Travel by land, sea or air and you too can now have your own Aeneid. Tutus Itinerarium (safe travels) and Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Cairns, Francis. Virgil’s Augustan Epic. Cambridge, 1989.

Fratantuono, Lee. Madness Unchained: A Reading of Virgil’s Aeneid. Lexington Books, 2007.

Gransden, Karl. Virgil: The Aeneid (Landmarks of World Literature (Revival)). ISBN 0-521-83213-6.

Gransden, Karl. Virgil’s Iliad. Cambridge, 1984.

Hardie, Philip R. Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’: Cosmos and Imperium. ISBN 0-19-814036-3.

Heinze, Richard. Virgil’s Epic Technique. University of California Press, 1993. ISBN 0-520-06444-5.

Jenkyns, Richard. Virgil’s Experience. Oxford, 1998.

Johnson, W.R. Darkness Visible: A Study of Vergil’s Aeneid. University of California Press, 1979. ISBN 0-520-03848-7.

Maronis, P. Vergili. Opera. Oxford University Press, 1969. ISBN 978-0-19-814653-7.

Otis, BrooksVirgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry. Oxford, 1964.

Quinn, Kenneth. Virgil’s Aeneid: A Critical Description. London, 1968.

Virgil; Ahl, Frederick (trans.). The Aeneid. Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-283206-1.

Library of Celsus (#14)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Today we continue examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #15 – Castel Sant’Angelo.

Today we’re headed to the eastern portion of the Roman Empire as we head to Turkey to bring to you #14 – Library of Celsus!

The Library of Celsus is an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, Anatolia in Turkey. It was built in honor of the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus. Completed sometime between AD 117 and 120 AD by Celsus’ son, Gaius Julius Aquila, the library was viewed as one of the most impressive buildings in the Roman Empire.

Plan of the Library of Celsus

It was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a mausoleum for Celsus, who is buried in a crypt beneath the library in a decorated marble sarcophagus. The Library of Celsus supposedly ranked as the 3rd largest library in Classical Antiquity, behind both Alexandria and Pergamum.

Celsus had been Consul in 92 AD where he was in charge of all public buildings, the Roman Proconsul of Ephesus, the capital of the Roman Province of Asia from AD 105- 107 AD, and a wealthy and popular local citizen. He was a native of nearby Sardis and amongst the earliest men of purely Greek origin to become a Consul in the Roman Empire.

Roman inscription on the library’s front.

Honored both as a Greek and a Roman (according to an inscription on the library itself), Celsus paid for the construction of the library with his own personal wealth. Construction on the library began in AD 117, in the traditionally Greek territory of Ephesus, and was completed by AD 120.

The building is important as one of the few remaining examples of an ancient Roman-influenced library. It also shows that public libraries were built not only in Rome itself but throughout the Roman Empire.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio

The library was designed by the Roman architect Vitruvius. To benefit early risers, Vitruvius even advised that the single-hall edifice face east toward the morning sun.

The library was built on a platform leading up to 3 front entrances. In order to reach an entrance one must climb 9 steps that span the full width of the building.

The central entrance is larger than the 2 flanking it, and all are adorned with windows above. Flanking the entrances are 4 pairs of Composite columns elevated on pedestals.

A set of Corinthian columns stands directly above the initial set, thus adding to the height of the building. The pairs of columns on the 2nd level frame the windows as the columns on the 1st level frame the doors, and also create niches that house copies of Sophia (wisdom), Episteme (knowledge), Ennoia (intelligence) and Arete (virtue).

(L to R) Sophia, Episteme and Arete in the Celsus Library.

It is thought there may have been a 3rd set of columns, but today there are only 2 registers of columns. This type of façade with inset frames and niches for statues is similar to that found in ancient Greek theatres and is thus characterized as scenographic.

Marble statue of Celsus, which stood in the central niche of the upper storey of the Celsus Library (Istanbul Archaeological Museum).

The main entrance is both a crypt containing Celsus’s sarcophagus and a sepulchral monument to him. It was unusual to be buried within a library or even within city limits, so this was a special honor for Celsus.

Celsus was said to have left a legacy of 25,000 denarii to pay for the library’s reading material. Leaving a large monetary gift plus paying for the construction of such a large public building probably helped to grant Celsus that special honor.

The building’s other sides are architecturally irrelevant as the library was flanked by buildings. The interior of the building was a single rectangular room measuring 56×36 ft.

Reimagined depiction of what the library would have looked like.

Within this hall was a central apse which was framed by a large arch at the far wall. A statue of Athena, goddess of truth, stood in the apse and Celsus’ tomb lay directly below in a vaulted chamber.

Along the other 3 sides were rectangular recesses that held cupboards and shelves for the 12,000 scrolls. Those niches along with the double walls behind them worked to both control the humidity and to protect the scrolls from the extreme temperature.

The 2nd and 3rd levels could be reached via a set of stairs built into the walls to add support to the building, which also had similar niches for scrolls. The ceiling was flat, and there may have been a central square oculus to provide more light.

Above the central entrance

The style of the library, with its ornate, balanced, well-planned façade, reflects the Greek influence on Roman architecture. The building materials (brick, concrete, and gypsum mortar) signify the new materials that came into use in the Roman Empire around the 2nd Century AD.

In 262 AD, the interior of the library was supposedly destroyed by an earthquake. Evidence, though, seems to point to a fire during a Gothic invasion during that same year as the cause of destruction.

Whatever the actual cause, only the façade survived. This meant all 12,000 scrolls were destroyed too.

About AD 400, the library was transformed into a Nymphaeum. The façade was completely destroyed by a later earthquake, probably in the 10th or 11th Century AD.

Photo of the facade in 1978.

For centuries the façade lay in ruins, until it was re-erected (anastylosis) by archaeologists between 1970 and 1978. This reconstruction campaign was led by the German archaeologist Volker Michael Strocka.

Strocka analyzed the fragments that had been excavated by Austrian archaeologists between 1903 and 1904. In the meantime, some architectural elements had been acquired by museums in Vienna and Istanbul.

All that remains of the library.

In the process of anastylosis, those absent fragments had to be replaced by copies or left missing. Only the façade was rebuilt, the rest of the building remaining in ruin.

The city of Ephesus was once famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which was destroyed by a mob led by the Archbishop of Constantinople in 401 AD. The building’s façade was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 20 million lira banknote of 2001-2005 and of the 20 new lira banknote of 2005-2009.

Turkish Liras Banknote showing the Library of Celsus and the Temple to Hadrian (right).

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

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Boethius, Axel; J.B. Ward-Perkins. Etruscan and Roman Architecture: The Pelican History of Art. Penguin, 1970. ISBN 978-0-300-05290-9.

Grant, Michael. Art in the Roman Empire. Routledge, 1995. ISBN 978-0-415-12031-9.

Robertson, D.S. Greek and Roman Architecture. Cambridge University Press, 1964. ISBN 978-0-521-09452-8.

Scarre, Christopher. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome. Penguin, 1995. ISBN 978-0-14-051329-5.

“Greece and Asia Minor”. The Cambridge Ancient History – XI. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-26335-1.

“Library, Rome”. The Brill’s New Pauly Encyclopedia of the Ancient World, volume 7. Brill Leiden. 2005. ISBN 978-90-04-12259-8.

Porta Romana: Becoming Famous Once More

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

If you are like me, then you are a fan of author Dan Brown and his works regarding Harvard Professor Robert Langdon. Thanks to Dan Brown’s newest hit book turned movie, Inferno, a lot of attention has been given to Florence, Venice and Istanbul.

Having just finished reading Inferno, one historical item is once again the talk of Florence. At least among tourists.

That is what we are going to explore today, the Porta Romana!

Porta Romana (outside view)
Porta Romana (outside view)

Did you know that Florence used to be surrounded by high defensive walls? From the principal set of walls dating back to 15-30 BC till the last erected in the mid-16th Century, either 5 or 6 different wall designs were built over the centuries to defend the city.

Dedication Plaque
Dedication Plaque

Today, just a small portion of the last walls remains in the Oltrarno area. The walls of the north side of the Arno River were destroyed to create today’s boulevards in the 19th Century, when, for a brief period, Florence was the capital of Italy.

Fortunately, some strong and impressive remnants of the ancient city walls still survive. The doors (porte) and a few towers are what we will examine.

The Porta Romana, once known as the Porta San Pier Gattolino was the southernmost gate in the 13th Century walls of the Oltrarno section of Florence, region of Tuscany, Italy. It stands at the convergence of a number of roads: accessed from north by Via Romana, Via de’ Serragli, and Viale Francesco Petrarca.

Places mentioned in Inferno- Porta Roman, Boboli Gardens, and State Institute of Art
Places mentioned in Inferno- Porta Roman, Boboli Gardens, and State Institute of Art

In addition, a central road along the Boboli Gardens begins near the gate, and allowed the inhabitants of the Palazzo Pitti to exit and enter Florence with minimal travel on city streets. Beyond the gates are the Via del Poggio Imperiale and Via Senese.

The latter led to Siena and points south such as Rome, hence the name. When the majority of the defensive walls of Florence were razed in the 19th Century, only a few, and sometimes partial gate structures were left standing including Porta San GalloPorta San Niccolo, and this gate with a snippet of merlonated wall.

The 13th Century walls and gates of the city were erected with the designs of various builders. Among the main contributors were Arnolfo di Cambio, with contributions by OrcagnaGiotto and others.

Buosignori map (1584)
Buosignori map (1584)

A plaque on the external wall claims the gate was erected in 1327. Originally, and as demonstrated on the 1584 map by Stefano Buonsignori, the gate had a lower outer wall with a small courtyard dominated by the larger gate we see today and resembled the Porta Romana of Siena.

The gate had a large central entrance for horse-drawn carriages, and smaller lateral doors for pedestrian entry. The door retains its original massive, iron-clad doors.

The outer arch has a weather-worn 13th Century fresco, depicting the enthroned Virgin and saints. The interior portion of the gate has 2 marble plaques.

Iron clad doors
Iron clad doors

One plaque commemorates the 1515 entrance into Florence of the Medici Pope Leo X, and the other the 1535 entry of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. This gate still has its original iron doors, with the typical large bolts (for decorative and pragmatic purposes), the old locks, and a marble slab bearing the Medici coat of arms.

When Cosimo I augmented the walls around Florence, he destroyed the church of San Pier Gattolino that had stood at the site since at least 1068. A subsequent church was rebuilt with designs of Giuseppe Castagnoli and Domenico Del Potesta, and was decorated by Giusto Mariani and Romanelli.

It is said the term Gattolino is a corruption of Gattuario, others say it was a corruption of Catelina. Others attribute it to the word gattice a type of white poplar in the region. The church is also called the parish church of Serumido, derived from Ser Umido Grazzino.

Just outside the wall was the 14th Century church and convent of San giusto della Calza of the Knights of Jerusalem.


At the center of a roundabout facing the Porta Romana stands a controversial modern marble statue of 2 women, the Dietro-Front (Turnabout), by artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. The sculpture was presented for the first time in 1984 at the artist’s exhibition at Forte Belvedere, and later permanently installed in the Piazzale di Porta Romana.

One of the female figures (about 20 ft high) points vertically at Via Senese, which leads to Via Cassia and then to Rome. The other figure (about 10 ft high) is placed on the head of the other, and looks towards Via Romana that enters the city walls of Florence.

Piazza Porta Romana
Piazza Porta Romana

In 1984, after chaining the 14th Century city gate in front of which Dietro-Front was placed, protesters collected hundreds of signatures demanding that the sculpture be moved to a suburban area of the city. After brief discussion among city members, it was decided that the sculpture was to remain in its place.

Since the symbolic significance of the statue was not immediately understood by the citizens, Pistoletto himself had to explain the meaning of his work of art during an interview. He said that: “The Dietro-Front sculpture has a clear meaning. It’s bi-directional, a figure walks one way while carrying a second figure on its head which walks the other way. From Florence during the Renaissance new ideas were born in artistic, scientific architectural and economic areas. Everything modern starts from this point, from Florence. My sculpture leaves Florence to face the world and at the same time the second figure returns: it is a come-back to modernity from the world to Florence”.

This was the author’s perspective, but everyone can interpret it in her/his own manner. Even if the Florentines have not been particularly taken by Pistoletto’s works of art, he leaves an original artwork that is by now considered an iconic reference to the area of Porta Romana, well-integrated into the city.

However, the Florentines, accustomed to the works of another Michelangelo (Buonarroti), were not particularly grateful. Consequently, the sculpture was immediately renamed “headache” by some, the “unbalanced” by others and referenced as such even today.

Inferno cover
Inferno cover

In Inferno, Dan Brown describes Porta Romana as one of Florence’s busiest intersections—the gateway to the old city. It is from here that Robert and Sienna start their adventure.

Porta Romana belongs to the ancient walls of Florence and it is the largest and best preserved gate of the city. From this point, one can see the city’s past while also viewing its future.

We hope you enjoyed today’s travels and look forward to having you back again soon. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for special additions.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Biadi, Luigi. Notizie sulle antiche fabbriche di Firenze non terminate e sulle variazioni.

Brown, Dan. Inferno. Doubleday, 14 May 2013.

Fantozzi, Federico. Pianta geometrica della città di Firenze alla proporzione di 1 a 4500.

Florentine Gazetteer project with Buonsignori Map.

Pistoletto’s Statue in Porta Romana”. Florence Inferno.

Porta Romana”. Inside Inferno.


Segedunum: The End of the Line

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Last week we looked at Gateshead: A Modern City With Ancient Beginnings. We are continuing our tour of Britannia and the towns & fortifications along Hadrian’s Wall.

Today we head back to Britannia to explore the Roman settlement of Segedunum!

How Segedunum would have looked.
How Segedunum would have looked.

Segedunum was a Roman fort at modern-day WallsendTyne and WearEngland. The fort lay at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall (in Wallsend) near the banks of the River Tyne, forming the easternmost portion of the wall.

It was in use as a garrison for approximately 300 years, almost up to 400AD. Today, Segedunum is the most thoroughly excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall, and is operated as Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum.

Hadrian's Wall at Segedunum
Hadrian’s Wall at Segedunum

The central section of Hadrian’s Wall was erected atop the Whin Sill, a geological formation that offers a natural topographic defense against invaders or immigrants from the north. However at the eastern end of the wall, the main topographic defense was the River Tyne itself, and the very final stretch of the wall ran down from Segedunum fort to the river’s edge.

Remains of the eastern extremity of Hadrian's Wall.
Remains of the eastern extremity of Hadrian’s Wall.

In the Roman Empire, 5 places named Segedunum were known to have existed (1 each in Britannia and Germania and 3 in Gallia). The first element of the name is attested widely in Gaul, Spain, Germany and Italy, and derives from the Indo-European root segh-, which is reflected in various later European languages with similar meanings (Irish seg-,segh- “strength, vigor”; Welsh hy- “daring, bold”; German Sieg “victory”).

As applied to place names, it appears to have had the meaning of “place of strength” or “place of victory”. The subsequent element, -dunum, is a Celtic term widely attested across Britain and Gaul and typically meant a fort. Thus Segedunum probably had the meaning of “strong fort” or “victory fort”.

The name Wallsend comes from Segedunum being at the easternmost end of Hadrian’s Wall. The westernmost end of the wall is at Bowness-on-Solway.

Page from a medieval copy of the Notitia Dignitatum.
Page from a medieval copy of the Notitia Dignitatum.

The name Segedunum is known from the Notitia Dignitatum of the 4th Century, but there is no consensus on its meaning. The various speculations include being derivative of the Celtic words sego (strength) and dunum (fortified place); Romano-British Segedunum (Strong-fort); and Celtic sechdun (dry hill).

The Roman wall originally terminated at Pons Aelius (Newcastle upon Tyne). Work began at Pons Aelius in AD 122 and proceeded towards the west.

Subsequently, in about AD 127, the wall was extended further east. It has been hypothesized that the extension was to protect the river crossing at Pons Aelius, but this is only speculation.

A 4-mile section of the wall east from the fort of Pons Aelius, passing through present-day Byker and ending at the new fort of Segedunum was built. The new section of wall was narrower than the sections previously built, being 7 feet 6 inches on a foundation of 8 feet.

Model of Segedunum
Model of Segedunum

Unlike the rest of the wall, the extension had no vallum. The fort measured 453 feet from north to south and 393 feet from east to west, covering an area of 4.1 acres.

A wide ditch and an earth embankment surrounded the fort on all sides. It had 4 double gates with the east, west and north gates opening outside the wall and only the south gate opening within the wall.

The wall joined to the west wall of the fort just south of the west gate. From the southeast angle of the fort, a 6 feet 6 inches wide wall ran down to the riverbank and extended at least as far as the low water level.

There is evidence that there was an extensive vicus (village surrounding the fort), including the area to the north of the wall.

Roman re-enactors at the Fort.
Roman re-enactors at the Fort.

The original garrison of Segedunum is unknown, but in the 2nd Century the II Nerviorum (2nd Cohort of Nervians) was stationed there. In the 3rd and 4th Centuries the part-mounted IV Lingonum Eq (4th Cohort of the Lingones) occupied the fort, as recorded in the Notitia Dignitatum.

Roman Cavalry
Roman Cavalry

Both units were 600 strong (120 Cavalry and 480 Legionary).

Sometime round about AD 400 the fort was abandoned. For centuries the area remained as open farmland.

Then, in the 18th Century, collieries were sunk near the fort and the area gradually became a populous pit village. Eventually, in 1884, the whole fort disappeared under terraced housing.

Outline of the Fort
Outline of the Fort

In 1929 some excavations were carried out which recorded the outline of the fort, and the local authority marked out this outline in white paving stones. In the 1970s the terraced houses covering the site were demolished.

A section of Hadrian’s Wall was excavated and a reconstruction built in the early 1990s. The Segedunum project began in January 1997 with a series of excavations in and around the Fort.

Reconstructed Bathhouse
Reconstructed Bathhouse

The project then incorporated the construction of the bath house and the conversion of former Swan Hunter shipyard buildings to house the new museum. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum opened to the public in June 2000.

The site of the fort now contains the excavated remains of the buildings’ foundation of the original fort, as well as a reconstructed Roman military bathhouse based on excavated examples at Vindolanda and Chesters forts.

Observation Tower
Observation Tower

A museum contains items of interest that were found when the site was excavated, and a large observation tower overlooks the site. A portion of the original wall is visible across the street from the museum, and a reconstruction of what the whole wall might have looked like.

There may have been a statue or monument to mark the very end of Hadrian’s Wall, but if there ever was, it no longer exists. The North Tyneside Council provided accommodation in the newly built Battle Hill Estate for the owners of all the houses demolished when the site was cleared.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure as we completed our journey across the towns and forts that made up Hadrian’s Wall. Check us out again soon and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Bruce, J. Collingwood. Handbook to the Roman Wall. Harold Hill & Son, 1863. ISBN 0-85983-140-X.

Chamberlin, R. “Hadrian’s Wallsend”. History Today, Volume: 50 Issue: 8. August 2000.

Graham, Frank. Roman Wall, Comprehensive History and Guide (1979). ISBN 0-85983-177-9.

Hogan, C. Michael. “Hadrian’s Wall”The Megalithic Portal, 2007.

Koch, J.T. Celtic CultureISBN 1-85109-440-7.

Rivet, A.L.F.  & Smith, Colin. The Place-Names of Roman Britain. Princeton University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-691-03953-4.

Wainwright, M. “Togas and hot tubs on the Roman way“. The Guardian, 13 June 2000.

The line of Hadrian’s Wall as it exists today Pg1 Segedunum to Pons Aelius

History of Segedunum

Segedunum official site (2007)

“Segedunum: History”, Hadrian’s Wall website


Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum – official site