Beautiful Roman ruins around the world



Slide 1 of 33: It's been over 1,500 years since the collapse of the Roman Empire, but our fascination with this creative, scientific and often barbaric society shows no signs of dimming with the passage of time. And no wonder: at its peak the empire covered nearly two million square miles, spanning large swathes of Europe, Africa and even parts of Asia. There's lots to see, so here we share fascinating photos of ancient marvels to help you step back in time.
Slide 2 of 33: The city of Bath, known as Aquae Sulis in ancient times, is home to some of the best-preserved Roman baths in Europe. Bathing played a significant part in the ancient Roman culture and society and cities that centered around hot springs – like Bath or Vichy in France and Aachen in Germany – essentially became vacation destinations for wealthy Romans.
Slide 3 of 33: While you can't take a dip in the Great Bath itself – still supplied by the city's natural thermal hot springs – normally you'd be able to experience the local waters in the modern-day setting of the Thermae Bath Spa, just around the corner. The Roman Baths museum is also fascinating as it houses several significant discoveries, including the bronze-sculpted head of Roman goddess Sulis Minerva, the primary deity of the temple spa.
Slide 4 of 33: The nearly 2,000-year-old Pont du Gard aqueduct bridge is an incredible reminder of the ingenuity of Roman engineering. Built to supply water to the nearby city of Nîmes, it's the highest and one of the best-preserved Roman bridges still standing. Crossing the picturesque Gardon River, the bridge consists of three tiers of arches at a total height of around 160 feet (49m) and the aqueduct was still used as late as the 6th century.

Slide 5 of 33: Pompeii’s eerie remains still hide in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius – the volcano that destroyed the city in AD 79 in one of history's deadliest eruptions. Much of the city was preserved under a thick layer of volcanic ash and wasn't rediscovered until the 16th century. In fact, many of its secrets have only just been uncovered.
Slide 6 of 33: Pompeii was a city of great importance for the Roman Empire – many goods arrived here by sea and were distributed farther to Rome or southern Italy along the Appian Way. The flourishing city also became a cultural center in the region thanks to a wealth of new public buildings, including baths (pictured) and an amphitheater. Emperor Nero and his wife Poppaea are believed to have visited Pompeii in around AD 64, 15 years before the eruption, too.
Slide 7 of 33: Immediately after the eruption, the city was buried under around 13 to 20 feet (4–6m) of volcanic ash and pumice, which helped preserve the city exactly as it was in that moment. When the city was excavated, it offered an extraordinary and very detailed snapshot of what life was like in Pompeii and in its wealthy private villas (pictured) with lavish decorations, furnishings and works of art.
Slide 8 of 33: One of the most interesting discoveries has been the uncovering of the ancient graffiti bearing political slogans, remarks and simply: "Gaius Pumidius Diphilus was here". The graffiti found in the city has provided a wealth of examples of Vulgar Latin – a language spoken colloquially at the time in contrast to the former language of classical writers. Inscriptions include declarations of love, political messages and a few good insults.
Slide 9 of 33: Also lost and destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius was Herculaneum, a neighboring town to Pompeii. While not as famous as its illustrious neighbor, Herculaneum is actually better preserved than Pompeii. The city was swiftly covered in 52.5 feet (16m) of ash after the eruption, preserving homes, jewelry, decorations and even organic remains like food, and leaving features in wood and marble intact.

Slide 10 of 33: The city is named after the Greek god Hercules, and a legend told by Dionysius of Halicarnassus suggests he founded the city in 1243 BC. However, it has since been revealed that Herculaneum was founded in the 7th century BC by the Oscans or the Etruscans. The city functioned as a kind of resort destination for many of Rome's wealthy families thanks to its mild climate, coastal location and sunny skies.
Slide 11 of 33: The College of the Augustales (pictured) is one the most complete buildings in the city, but the most famous is the Villa of the Papyri. A luxurious retreat for Julius Caesar's father-in-law, most of the villa is still underground, but a large number of outstanding works of art, including frescoes and bronze and marble statues, have already been uncovered. Interestingly, the Getty Villa in Los Angeles was inspired by the blueprints of this ancient home.
Slide 12 of 33: Hadrian’s Wall was built as a line of defense by the Romans to protect against northern barbarian tribes, and ran from the west to the east coast of Britain. Crossing the country from Wallsend on the River Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway, the wall is one of the most famous frontiers of the Roman Empire. The construction started in AD 122 and took six years and 15,000 men to complete.
Slide 13 of 33: Hadrian's Wall runs for 73 miles (117km) and an estimated 10% of the original structure is still visible. Many wrongly believe that it marks the border between England and Scotland, but the wall pre-dates both kingdoms. In fact, parts of Cumbria and much of Northumberland lie north of the wall.
Slide 14 of 33: It was actually one of the more luxurious postings in all of the empire, too, as the forts along the wall had flushing toilets and some had access to a hypocaust – an underfloor heating system. It also continues to have an impact on modern-day life as writers including George R. R. Martin are said to have been inspired by the wall. Now discover the secrets of the world's most amazing walls.

Slide 15 of 33: In a serene Albanian forest, surrounded by trees, hills and lakes, you’ll find Butrint, one of Albania’s most important archaeological sites set in its own national park. Not only was this city a Roman colony established by Julius Caesar in around 44 BC, but it had been part of Ancient Greece in the centuries before.
Slide 16 of 33: These beautiful ruins have stood still through much of history. Once thriving, the city was damaged in an earthquake in the 3rd century AD, later served as a Byzantine outpost to fend off assaults from the Normans, and eventually experienced its worst decline during Venetian rule. The city, then known as Buthrotum, was left ruinous no later than 1572 due to the wars between Venice and the Ottoman Empire.
Slide 17 of 33: One of Butrint's most beautiful ruins is the incredibly well-preserved mosaic floor of the Baptistery of Butrint. Constructed in the 6th century, the original structure was most likely part of a bathhouse or a household bathing complex and the mosaics were laid by artisans from Nicopolis – a major Roman city in the region.
Slide 18 of 33: With a deep natural port and nearby silver mines to the east, it's easy to see why this city in southeast Spain was of huge strategic importance to the Romans, who took it from the Carthaginians in 209 BC. While there’s not much evidence of a Roman past left in Cartagena, its incredible Roman Theatre has been well preserved and is the second largest in the country.
Slide 19 of 33: It will come as no surprise that Rome has the largest wealth of ancient Roman ruins in the world. Once the center of the sprawling empire, Rome has a history that's evident with every step. One of the city's most famous landmarks, the Pantheon, was formerly a Roman temple and is now a Christian church. Although the current building was finished as early as AD 125, it remains one of the best preserved.
Slide 20 of 33: Inside, at the center of the dome – still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world – you'll find the oculus, a circular hole that's the main source of light. Despite its ancient beginnings, the Pantheon has influenced some incredible Western architecture, inspiring Brunelleschi's ground-breaking dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and the US State Capitol dome in Washington DC.
Slide 21 of 33: If you've ever wondered why all roads lead to Rome, The Appian Way, or Via Appia, might have had something to do with it. The original stretch was a military route that ran from Rome to Capua in southern Italy. Started in around 312 BC, it took until roughly 264 BC to finish and it was named after Appius Claudius Caecus, who started the project. The finished road ran a total of 350 miles (563km) all the way from the Roman Forum to modern day Brindisi in Italy's heel.
Slide 22 of 33: Today, the first 10 miles (16km) of the ancient road are part of a regional park, Parco dell’Appia Antica, leading southeast from Rome. There are several notable monuments along the road as well, including the Porta Appia, several tombs and mausoleums, as well as remains of thermal baths, making you feel like you've stepped right back in time to ancient Rome.
Slide 23 of 33: Ostia Antica, lying around 15 miles (24km) southwest of the Italian capital close to the modern town of Ostia, was once the great harbor city of ancient Rome. The city was greatly developed during Julius Caesar's time as a magistrate of the Roman Republic, improving the grain supply to Rome, which ensured the city's prosperity in the future.
Slide 24 of 33: During its peak as a city, between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Ostia Antica had a population of around 100,000 people. However, it entered centuries of decline and was largely abandoned by the 9th century. The well-preserved ruins were mined for marble during the Renaissance to be used for the palazzi (grand residences) in Rome and soon after the ancient city was looted for statues and historical objects. The excavated site is now a major attraction with an on-site museum.
Slide 25 of 33: Perhaps the most famous of all the Roman ruins in the world, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built. It took around eight years to construct and it was intended as a gift to the Roman people from emperor Vespasian, who ruled from AD 69 to 79. In its heyday, the Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 spectators. 
Slide 26 of 33: The amphitheater was used mostly for gladiatorial combat and wild animal fights, but mock sea battles and dramas based on Classical mythology were also performed here. Inside, a maze of underground passages can still be clearly seen today. These were used by gladiators, animals and actors, who would wait before appearing in the middle of the arena via a trap door.
Slide 27 of 33: Although hugely impressive, the Colosseum is a reminder of the brutality of Roman society, culture and entertainment. It's estimated around 60,000 slaves participated in building this monumental structure and an estimated 400,000 people died in the Colosseum either in executions or as gladiators. Throughout its time in operation, around 1,000,000 animals, especially creatures from far-flung reaches of the world like leopards, crocodiles and elephants, fell victim to the brutal Romans too.
Slide 28 of 33: One of the most significant Roman ruins, the Roman Forum was once the center of the government. A rectangular plaza surrounded by several ancient government buildings, this is where elections, criminal trials and most of the empire's political life took place for centuries. Some of the Roman kingdom's earliest shrines, like the formal residence Regia, date as far back as the 8th century BC – well before the empire.
Slide 29 of 33: Among the surviving ruins, the Temple of Saturn (pictured) was one of the most significant buildings in the Forum. Originally a temple dedicated to Jupiter (who was later replaced by Saturn), it was also a central bank used by all Roman people. Other significant structures include the well-preserved Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Titus.
Slide 30 of 33: Finally, a visit to the Colosseum and the Forum isn't complete without the Arch of Constantine nearby. Built in celebration of emperor Constantine the Great's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312, it's considered one of the last great monuments of Imperial Rome, standing at 69 feet (21m) tall. 
Slide 31 of 33: Founded in 25 BC, Mérida in western Spain was known to the Romans as Augusta Emerita and was one of the biggest Roman cities here. Today Mérida is proud to have the largest collection of Roman ruins you'll find in Spain, with spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Temple of Diana (pictured). Dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus, the temple dates back to the 1st century BC and was part of the city's forum.
Slide 32 of 33: Stretching across the Guadiana River, Mérida's Puente Romano (Spanish for Roman bridge) is another incredible Roman landmark. It's the world's longest remaining Roman bridge, spanning 2,365 feet (721m) with 60 surviving half-moon arches and is almost 2,000 years old. Today, it's a pedestrian bridge, offering gorgeous views of the adjacent Moorish fortification Alcazaba of Mérida, built in 835.
Slide 33 of 33: The theater of Mérida, constructed in 15 BC, is still as impressive as it was back in the day when it served as the city's center of leisure, fun and savage Roman entertainment. With seats for 6,000 spectators, the venue hosted all sorts of spectacles, from animal fights and battle re-enactments to gruesome events like gladiator contests and executions. Still in use today, the theater hosts a much more civil Classical Theatre Festival every summer, featuring opera and plays. Now discover little-known Roman ruins around the world

Wonders of the ancient world

Roman Baths, Bath, England, UK

The city of Bath, known as Aquae Sulis in ancient times, is home to some of the best-preserved Roman baths in Europe. Bathing played a significant part in the ancient Roman culture and society and cities that centered around hot springs – like Bath or Vichy in France and Aachen in Germany – essentially became vacation destinations for wealthy Romans.

Roman Baths, Bath, England, UK

While you can’t take a dip in the Great Bath itself – still supplied by the city’s natural thermal hot springs – normally you’d be able to experience the local waters in the modern-day setting of the Thermae Bath Spa, just around the corner. The Roman Baths museum is also fascinating as it houses several significant discoveries, including the bronze-sculpted head of Roman goddess Sulis Minerva, the primary deity of the temple spa.

Pont du Gard, Occitanie, France

The nearly 2,000-year-old Pont du Gard aqueduct bridge is an incredible reminder of the ingenuity of Roman engineering. Built to supply water to the nearby city of Nîmes, it’s the highest and one of the best-preserved Roman bridges still standing. Crossing the picturesque Gardon River, the bridge consists of three tiers of arches at a total height of around 160 feet (49m) and the aqueduct was still used as late as the 6th century.

Pompeii, Campania, Italy

Pompeii’s eerie remains still hide in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius – the volcano that destroyed the city in AD 79 in one of history’s deadliest eruptions. Much of the city was preserved under a thick layer of volcanic ash and wasn’t rediscovered until the 16th century. In fact, many of its secrets have only just been uncovered.

Pompeii, Campania, Italy

Pompeii, Campania, Italy

Pompeii, Campania, Italy

One of the most interesting discoveries has been the uncovering of the ancient graffiti bearing political slogans, remarks and simply: “Gaius Pumidius Diphilus was here”. The graffiti found in the city has provided a wealth of examples of Vulgar Latin – a language spoken colloquially at the time in contrast to the former language of classical writers. Inscriptions include declarations of love, political messages and a few good insults.

Herculaneum, Campania, Italy

Herculaneum, Campania, Italy

Herculaneum, Campania, Italy

Hadrian’s Wall, England, UK

Hadrian’s Wall was built as a line of defense by the Romans to protect against northern barbarian tribes, and ran from the west to the east coast of Britain. Crossing the country from Wallsend on the River Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway, the wall is one of the most famous frontiers of the Roman Empire. The construction started in AD 122 and took six years and 15,000 men to complete.

Hadrian’s Wall, England, UK

Hadrian’s Wall, England, UK

It was actually one of the more luxurious postings in all of the empire, too, as the forts along the wall had flushing toilets and some had access to a hypocaust – an underfloor heating system. It also continues to have an impact on modern-day life as writers including George R. R. Martin are said to have been inspired by the wall. Now discover the secrets of the world’s most amazing walls.

Butrint, Albania

Butrint, Albania

Butrint, Albania

Cartagena, Spain

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

It will come as no surprise that Rome has the largest wealth of ancient Roman ruins in the world. Once the center of the sprawling empire, Rome has a history that’s evident with every step. One of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Pantheon, was formerly a Roman temple and is now a Christian church. Although the current building was finished as early as AD 125, it remains one of the best preserved.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

Inside, at the center of the dome – still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world – you’ll find the oculus, a circular hole that’s the main source of light. Despite its ancient beginnings, the Pantheon has influenced some incredible Western architecture, inspiring Brunelleschi’s ground-breaking dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and the US State Capitol dome in Washington DC.

Appian Way, Rome, Italy

Appian Way, Rome, Italy

Ostia Antica, Ostia, Italy

Ostia Antica, Ostia, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Perhaps the most famous of all the Roman ruins in the world, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built. It took around eight years to construct and it was intended as a gift to the Roman people from emperor Vespasian, who ruled from AD 69 to 79. In its heyday, the Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 spectators. 

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Although hugely impressive, the Colosseum is a reminder of the brutality of Roman society, culture and entertainment. It’s estimated around 60,000 slaves participated in building this monumental structure and an estimated 400,000 people died in the Colosseum either in executions or as gladiators. Throughout its time in operation, around 1,000,000 animals, especially creatures from far-flung reaches of the world like leopards, crocodiles and elephants, fell victim to the brutal Romans too.

Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

One of the most significant Roman ruins, the Roman Forum was once the center of the government. A rectangular plaza surrounded by several ancient government buildings, this is where elections, criminal trials and most of the empire’s political life took place for centuries. Some of the Roman kingdom’s earliest shrines, like the formal residence Regia, date as far back as the 8th century BC – well before the empire.

Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

Among the surviving ruins, the Temple of Saturn (pictured) was one of the most significant buildings in the Forum. Originally a temple dedicated to Jupiter (who was later replaced by Saturn), it was also a central bank used by all Roman people. Other significant structures include the well-preserved Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Titus.

Arch of Constantine, Rome, Italy

Finally, a visit to the Colosseum and the Forum isn’t complete without the Arch of Constantine nearby. Built in celebration of emperor Constantine the Great’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312, it’s considered one of the last great monuments of Imperial Rome, standing at 69 feet (21m) tall. 

Mérida, Spain

Founded in 25 BC, Mérida in western Spain was known to the Romans as Augusta Emerita and was one of the biggest Roman cities here. Today Mérida is proud to have the largest collection of Roman ruins you’ll find in Spain, with spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Temple of Diana (pictured). Dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus, the temple dates back to the 1st century BC and was part of the city’s forum.

Mérida, Spain

Stretching across the Guadiana River, Mérida’s Puente Romano (Spanish for Roman bridge) is another incredible Roman landmark. It’s the world’s longest remaining Roman bridge, spanning 2,365 feet (721m) with 60 surviving half-moon arches and is almost 2,000 years old. Today, it’s a pedestrian bridge, offering gorgeous views of the adjacent Moorish fortification Alcazaba of Mérida, built in 835.

Mérida, Spain

The theater of Mérida, constructed in 15 BC, is still as impressive as it was back in the day when it served as the city’s center of leisure, fun and savage Roman entertainment. With seats for 6,000 spectators, the venue hosted all sorts of spectacles, from animal fights and battle re-enactments to gruesome events like gladiator contests and executions. Still in use today, the theater hosts a much more civil Classical Theatre Festival every summer, featuring opera and plays.

Now discover little-known Roman ruins around the world

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