Limes Germanicus

The Roman empire encircled the Mediterranean Sea, and beyond that, lay its frontiers. By the early 2nd century AD the empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, through the deserts of the Middle East to the Red Sea, and across North Africa. The “Limes” represents the border line of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent in the 2nd century AD. It stretched over 5,000 km from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, through Europe to the Black Sea, and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast. The remains of the Limes today consist of vestiges of built walls, ditches, forts, fortresses, watchtowers and civilian settlements. The two sections of the Limes in Germany, Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall are now all inscribed on the World Heritage List as the “Frontiers of the Roman Empire”.

The Germanic Limes was a line of frontier fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior and Raetia, dividing the Roman Empire and the unsubdued Germanic tribes from the years 83 (under Domitian) to about 260 AD.

The Upper German-Rhaetian Limes extends to a length of 550 km between the Rhine in the north-west (near Rheinbrohl) and the Danube in the south-east (near Regensburg). It consisted of about 900 watchtowers, numerous small forts and over 60 large forts for cohorts and alae (Roman allied military units). More a guarded border line than a military defense system, the Limes enabled traffic to be managed, movement of people to be controlled and goods to be traded and taxed.

Upper Germanic & Rhaetian Limes (click to zoom)
Reconstructed watchtower Wp 12/77 in the Mahdholz, Rhaetian Limes, Germany.

The Limes Road (Limestrasse) is a UNESCO World Heritage site encompassing more than 70 towns and villages along the path, with a whole collection of excavation sites, forts, reconstructed towers and museums.

Official Limes information centres

Four official Limes information centres have been set up along the route which provide information on the Limes in general and on the particular aspects relating to its sections in each federal state.

Rhineland-Palatinate: RömerWelt Rheinbrohl: Opens external link in new window www.roemer-welt.de
Hesse: Limes information centre at Saalburg castle: Opens external link in new window www.saalburgmuseum.de
Baden-Württemberg: Limes information centre at the Limesmuseum Aalen: Opens external link in new window www.liz-bw.de
Bavaria: Limes information centre at the Römermuseum Weißenburg (Weißenburg Roman Museum): Opens external link in new window www.limesinfozentrum.de

Map showing all the sites and museums I have visited along the Limes road: