Traces of the Romans in Bavaria and Upper Austria
Following the traces of the Romans in Bavaria and Upper Austria
More than 2,000 years ago, the Romans settled also in Bavaria and Upper Austria. Throughout almost half a millennium, they colonised the provinces Noricum and Raetia, which included parts of today’s Bavaria and Upper Austria. They left interesting objects and remains of buildings which tell us much about their life in our region. Many of these finds can be seen in museums. Along the River Danube, there are remains of military camps of Roman legions (castra), in Eastern Bavaria, vestiges of Roman craftmanship and the Roman bathing culture have been discovered. In Upper Austria, remains of towns, villas and forts have been preserved. The Upper Austrian Provincial Exhibition 2018 "Die Rückkehr der Legion" (The return of the Legion) with sites in Enns, Schlögen and Oberranna brought to life the Roman heritage in a very impressive and hands-on way. Not all content is in English available - please use the translation button of your browser.
Its very special topographical situation has made the Three-Rivers-City Passau famous. Three rivers from three different directions converge within the city confines at the so-called ‘Dreiflüsseeck‘: the River Ilz from the North, the River Danube from the West and the River Inn from the South. Today, the old town of Passau is characterised by impressive baroque architecture. The name Passau derives from the name of the former Roman fort called Batavis. Back in Roman times, Passau was already a border town between two provinces and two customs territories. At the Museum dedicated to Passau’s Roman era at the Boiotro fort, visitors will find lots of interesting exhibits from Roman times.
Towards the end of the 1st century AD, Roman settlers founded a small village (vicus) along a Roman road through the Pocking Heath. It was inhabited by craftsmen, most of them potters, and merchants. They came from very different parts of the great Roman Empire. Finds of Roman coins from the 4th century AD are proof of the persistence of the village even after it was devastated by pillaging Alemanni tribes. In addition to Romans also Celts and Baiuvarii settled in the Pocking Heath and left their traces. To find out more about their and the Roman settlements, visitors should stop by at the permanent exhibition ‘Drehscheibe Pocking‘.
Since Roman times, the Innviertel region has been the so-called breadbasket of Upper Austria. The museum in Altheim dedicated to the Romans illustrates this role with objects discovered exclusively in the region. It focuses on Roman agriculture and stock farming. After all, the Roman settlers brought new technologies, new plant varieties and animal breeds with them. Small visitors will enjoy the visit as well: they can dress-up as Roman men and women and play at the activity stations. After a hard day’s work on the fields, the Romans relaxed at their baths. The remains of such a bath can be visited in Weirading, about 3km East of the Roman Museum Altheim.
The Romans also settled at the shores of Austria’s largest inland lake and marvelled at its turquoise colour. Today, locals and tourists enjoy all kinds of water sports here – sailing in elegant boats or diving to discover a fascinating underwater world. But the mountains surrounding the lakes also tempt you to undertake shorter or longer hikes. Summer sojourns and holidays on Lake Attersee – a special time in modern and Roman times alike. The vestiges of a luxurious Roman villa with several mosaic floors in Weyregg testify to that.
A Roman farm building at the edge of Bad Wimsbach-Neydharting testifies to the historic past of the town. Once there was a large Roman settlement here. Today, the foundation walls of four of the likely seven rooms of the building can be easily distinguished. Such Roman farms were of great importance for supplying Roman cities such as Ovilava (today’s Wels) with food.
Roman Ovilava, today’s Wels, was already a vibrant city 2000 years ago. The capital city of the Roman province Noricum Ripense, was a traffic hub, a lively commercial city and civil administrative centre. The city museum, located in the former minorite monastery presents its rich Roman history. The Roman theme path, ‘Spuren aus der Vergangenheit - Wege in die Zukunft’ (Traces from the past – paths into the future) brings the Roman past to life. The app ‘Helden der Römerzeit‘ (Heroes of Roman times) is available for a digital discovery of Ovilava,
Enns, with its tower visible from afar, is the oldest city on Austrian territory. Ancient Lauriacum was a camp for 6,000 soldiers of the Roman legion, based here to defend the natural limits of the Roman empire – the River Danube. The Limes – the border – did allow passage, which resulted in intensive trade. The newly designed Museum Lauriacum in Enns was the main site of the Upper Austrian Provincial Exhibition 2018 ‘Die Rückkehr der Legion‘ (The return of the legion). The basilica Saint Lawrence in Enns-Lorch testifies to days gone by – once a Roman city villa, later a primitive Christian church.
The horse shoe bend of the River Danube at Schlögen, ‘Schlögener Schlinge‘, is one of the most famous and impressive scenic landscapes along the Danube. The alluvial land created by the river at the horseshoe bend was an ideal spot for the Romans to build a fort and military harbour. At the Roman park in Schlögen, visitors can discover the remains of the fort, the civil settlement and baths. Modern technologies allow the visualisation of history to make it more tangible. Don’t miss out on the beautiful views of the Danube ‘Schlögener Donaublick’ from the viewing terrace. Schlögen was also one of the sites of the Upper Austrian Provincial Exhibition 2018 ‘Die Rückkehr der Legion’ (The return of the legion).
In Roman times, the Danube was the natural border of the Roman Empire. This is why there was a small, but very sturdy fortress at the town Engelhartszell. The Roman castrum had a square floor plan with round bastions at the corners. This was one of the fortified bases along the Danubian Limes and constitutes the best-preserved Roman edifices in Upper Austria. It is surrounded by a protective structure and was re-opened to the public in April 2019.