Sunday, October 10, 2010


Sunday – Back in Time to Visit the Romans –

We traveled south today to visit a town on the German Limes Road called Weissenburg. The German Limes (pronounced Leemas) Road was the line that traveled up through southern Germany turning to make its way along the Rhine and even further and further north that the Romans had frontier outposts on. It truly was a Roman Empire. It was a beautiful sunny day and Weissenburg of course was another walled city. I am guessing here but I think most of these medieval towns were walled. The neat thing about this town though was it still has 36 of its original towers, that is unusual. It also is different because it has such a rich wealth of Roman artifacts from the time the Romans occupied this area 2000 years ago. We met our guide at the Roman museum; who spoke English but explained they don’t get that many English tours. I love when we find places that are not overrun with tourists. The museum’s first floor had an example of what the Roman fort and village would have looked like. At one time there could have been up to 45K people living there. The fort would have contained the well (in the center of the fort to be most protected) the granaries and stables for the horses and of course the soldiers. The outside would have been merchants, farmers, women etc. On the 2nd floor they were proud to show us their treasures. In 1977 a local man was digging in his garden to plant asparagus and hit something metal. It was a box of Roman artifacts. Apparently the soldiers were called away t o a more important hot spot, the Mid-East !! and they buried statues of their gods and other things. They were still in good condition, only a couple needed refurbishing. They have quite a collection of statues about 2 ft high of Apolla, Venus, Mercury, Hercules and more. They were something to see. Plus they also had some ?, I forgot what they called them, but they were 100% silver and were gifts to the gods for favors received. The incredible detail and craftsmanship on these statues and things were amazing, especially as they were 2000 years old.

We then walked over to the Fort, a field where they found the foundations of the roman fort. In the 1990's the town and the State of Bavaria decided to re-build one of the entrance gates so you can visualize how the fort would have looked. We learned that there would have only been one gate facing the frontier, this is to not make it easy for enemies to enter the fort. On the rear side there would have been more gates. Our guide was really fascinating, she knew many details and our 1.5 hour tour turned into 3. Roman soldiers would have been conscripted at 17 years old and were required to serve for 25 years at which this time they would get their discharge papers (albeit more like a discharge stone) which we saw one of in the museum. With old age being around 50 something, these guys didn't get much retirement. But they were eligible to get some land for their service.

We next went to the excavation of a huge Roman Bath. That was incredible. 2000 year old floors showing how they were built with small stacks of bricks holding up the floor but which would have allowed heated air to circulate underneath and create the warm sauna effect. There would have been a small room next to the sauna room where a slave would work the fires to keep this heated air flowing into the room. The live expectancy of this slave working in the heat room would only be 10 years. This bath was a large one and they had a small scale replica of what it would have looked like, it was something. Women would have come in the morning, they could have manicure, pedicures, hair styling and their make up done, then of course a sauna and bath. Then the water would be changed in the afternoon for the men to have their turn. Sounds pretty modern to me, I sure was wishing for a foot massage there but all the history was just unbelievable - 2000 year old history.

After the tour(which had been long) we were hungry and headed back to the Alt Stadt (old city) but on Sundays in Germany most stores are closed and restaurants are open 12-2. Remember this if you miss lunch time, and then re-open again for dinner. But the Germans love their ice cream and there were lots of Eis Cafe's open, where believe it or not we got some Bruschetta. I walked the main street, lots of great architecture and traditional German store fronts. This town is certainly worth a day trip if you are in the area of Southern Germany.

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