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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Three Roman Adventures

Theater of Leptis Magna (2nd century BC), the ...Image via Wikipedia
By Matthew Talbot

The remnants of the Roman Empire are scattered across much of western and southern Europe, with small sites being dotted all over the place. However, there are a number of quite remarkable sites spread across the ancient superpower's territory that are still standing today.
Whether it is in Britain, Spain or Algeria, ancient structures continue to live on outside of Italy. Here are three of the top places to visit if you're interested in visiting some ancient sites:

Hadrian's Wall, North England

There are plenty of Roman ruins and buildings scattered around Britain, but Hadrian's Wall is the most famous, and it's described by English Heritage as 'the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain.' Built at the orders of the Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD, the seventy four mile long wall had the intention of protected the northern boundaries of the Roman occupation.
Most of the wall still stands today, although at a lower height than the frequent five to six metres tall that it stood in ancient times. The wall has regular forts along its length, and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. Particularly prominent ruins are the Vindolanda Praetorium and the Vindolanda bath house. The wall was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Tarragona, Spain

This Catalonian city was the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior, which covers the most of modern Spain. While the city is thought to have been founded by the Phoenicians, the Romans took a particular liking to it, especially the Emperor Augustus, who bestowed many marks of honour on it.
Today two of the top buildings left by the Romans are a magnificent seven hundred metre long aqueduct, which spans a valley about a mile away from the gates. There is also the Tower of the Scipios (La Torre dels Escipions) which is an impressive funeral monument built in the first century AD.
The city is about an hour's drive to the west of Barcelona, so it's ideal for a daytrip if you're visiting that city for the holidays.
An especially good time to visit if you're a history fanatic is between 10th and 20th May, which is the date of the Tarraco Viva, one of the world's biggest Roman enactments.
Leptis Magna, Algeria

Located in the city of Al Khums on the coast of Algeria, the ruins of Leptis Magna are some of the most spectacular and unspoilt ruins in the Mediterranean. The city was conquered by Rome in the Third Punic War against Carthage, but didn't come under the full control of the Empire until the reign of Tiberius in 14 AD.
It achieved its greatest prominence, however, when Septimius Serverus became Emperor. As he was born in the city, he took a particular liking to it, and he consequently lavished much of his wealth on making it one of the most important cities in Africa.
Today some of the most spectacular ruins include the market place, the Severan Basilica, a theatre, and what used to be a circus. For some of the most complete ruins outside of Rome this is the place to visit.
James Clark is a world traveller and travel directory editor.
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