Roman Limes Museum in Aalen, Germany

roman limes museum grounds

Roman Limes Museum in Aalen

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.

Roman statueJ.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. View Larger Map

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.

shoes found in an excavation of the roman limes fort

One of my favorite exhibits were the Roman shoes found in the excavation of the Roman Limes Fort. I was glad they were behind glass, can you imagine the smell?

Model of a Roman limes watch tower

 Two soldiers were stationed together in the Roman Limes Watch Tower. Living quarters were on the second floor while the look out was on the third floor.

roman limes watch tower model

Model of a Roman Limes Watch Tower which were spread out along the 550km Roman Limes border in Germany

 

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.

roman limes fort artist depiction

Artist depiction of the Roman Limes Fort. Higher ranking officers lived in the middle, the safest part of the fort.

Understandably, time has eroded a lot of the Roman Limes Fort, leaving only a glimpse into what it once was.

Roman Limes museum grounds where the fort once stood

I found it fascinating to walk around the Roman Limes fort remains.

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.

Roman Limes Crane

I was disappointed when I found out it was a crane and not a canon.

And perhaps my favorite part of the Roman Limes Museum in Aalen?

Dressing up as a Roman solider

Dressing up as a Roman Soldier! We couldn’t resist, but I could hardly move, the mesh was really heavy.

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?

You may also be interested in:

Discovering the Roman Limes in German

More info on the Roman Limes Museum in Aalen

More info on the Frontier of the Roman Limes

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.
2016-11-23T17:01:24+00:00

11 Comments

  1. adventureswithben April 7, 2011 at 1:51 am - Reply

    I would have been all over the Roman costumes. Great photo!

  2. Laurel April 7, 2011 at 6:52 am - Reply

    @Ben – We had so much fun, and I could totally see you dressed up in a Roman costume!

  3. Arti April 7, 2011 at 7:16 am - Reply

    Great photos! Loved the statue exhibit and i am glad the shoes were behind glasses 😉

  4. Mette Christensen April 7, 2011 at 7:17 am - Reply

    It’s amazing how many places the Romans have left their mark.

  5. robin April 7, 2011 at 9:49 am - Reply

    On the basis that you get to dress up as a soldier – I’m sold!

    No soldier costume, no dice!

  6. Laurel April 7, 2011 at 9:55 am - Reply

    @Arti – Thanks and I was also happy to see the shoes were behind glass.

    @Mette – I think that’s what surprised me the most and being from Canada I don’t have the same sense of history about it as Europeans do.

    @Robin – You’re a tough crowd 🙂

  7. Debbie Beardsley April 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    The Roman costumes are great!

    I had no clue there were Roman ruins in Germany until a few years ago when I was reading about Trier. I knew the Romans were in France and England but Germany, who knew? Trier is also a very interesting place for Roman ruins and I highly recommend getting there by driving along the Moselle sampling wine along the way 🙂

  8. inka April 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    That dressing up is fun and I agree, the shoes are the most impressive exhibits.

  9. Jozef @ Where Now April 8, 2011 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Looks great! can’t beat a good archaeological site really interesting!

  10. Andrew April 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Neato. I’ve seen pieces of ruins in Baden Baden and some of the stuff at Trier. Maybe I’ll have to make my way out to Aalen at some point. Although at 3.5-4 hours on the Train from Freiburg, maybe need to be combined with something else. Hmm. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Laurel April 9, 2011 at 11:09 am - Reply

    @Debbie – Thanks for the recommendation! We’re planning a trip to Trier in June as J.P. has a cousin there and I’ve heard it’s beautiful and if I can sample wine along the way, all the better 🙂

    @Inka – I think we enjoyed dressing up more than the kids did 🙂

    @Jozef – It’s incredible how old it is.

    @Andrew – I’m sure you could some that are closer as they run for 550km. I believe the biggest Roman musuem is in Saarsland, but haven’t been there yet.

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