The Roman Limes Museum in Aalen, Germany sits beside the largest Roman Limes Fort north of the alps and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I was thrilled to discover that such an impressive site was less than 80 km from Stuttgart, which is why it was on my Travel New Years Resolution List of 12 Places to Visit that were close to Stuttgart. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what the Roman Limes were and either were my expat friends either, while all my German friends were familiar with the Roman Limes as they had studied it in school. For those not familiar with the Roman Limes, “limes” is another word for border and the Roman Limes was the border marking the boundary of the Roman Empire which in its heydey stretched over three continents.
J.P. (my German fiance) was not as thrilled at my “discovery”, since locals refer to the area around Aalen as the “Schwabisch Congo” – meaning it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s not exactly on the way to any major city, but it’s not that far from Stuttgart and in my opinion it is worth the side trip.
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The Roman Limes Museum in Aalen is the largest Roman Museum in southern Germany and one of the largest in Germany, which is impressive considering that the Roman Limes cover a length of 550km in Germany alone! The museum aims to show visitors how Roman life was back in 160 AD to 260/270 AD when the Roman fort was occupied before being abandoned. The museum has an impressive display of weapons, swords and numerous household items dug up in excavations. The signs are all in German, but for a small fee, visitors can rent headphones for an audio tour in English. The audio tour is very thorough and informative, but as a casual visitor, I found the info a bit dry for my taste. Having said that, if you don’t speak German, I would highly recommend the audio tour as you will learn a lot.
My favorite part of the museum grounds was seeing the ruins from the Roman Limes fort where 1000 soldier were stationed. Being from Canada it’s hard to imagine something dating back to 160 AD. Soldiers shared housing with their horses, but did have a wall separating them. Living conditions were very simple. Unfortunately, most of the signs were in German and there were no headphones for this part of the tour.
Understandably, time has eroded a lot of the Roman Limes Fort, leaving only a glimpse into what it once was.
Our imaginations went wild and immediately turned to violence when we saw the photo below. I guessed it was a cannon used to defend the fort or some sort of torture device.
And perhaps my favorite part of the Roman Limes Museum in Aalen?
The Roman Limes are frequently overlooked by international visitors to Germany, but I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would recommend a stop at one of the many Roman Limes points found in Germany. Besides when is the last time you got to dress up like a Roman Soldier?
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More info on the Roman Limes Museum in Aalen
More info on the Frontier of the Roman Limes