I just finished watching season 1 of the television drama series Rome and have to say it’s made me really want to hop a plane to Europe and check out some Roman era sights there! But for something different, I thought I’d compile a list of five Roman areas I’d love to visit that are not in Italy. Considering how far the Roman Empire once spanned, there are some fantastic journeys to be had!
I can’t say that I have a ton of interest in visiting Tunisia (returning to Morocco is more at the top of my list), but I would love to visit Carthage. A suburb of the capital city of Tunis, Carthage has existed for nearly 3,000 years. It developed from a Phonecian colony of the 1st millennium BC into the capital of an ancient empire. From the 6th century onwards, it developed into a great trading empire covering much of the Mediterranean and was home to an advanced civilization. Following the long Punic wars, Carthage was finally destroyed by its rival (the Romans) in 146 B.C. and a second (Roman) Carthage was established on the ruins of the first. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Roman amphitheatres (France)
I’ve mentioned before that when I visited the Colosseum I was slightly disappointed. It’s one of those places I feel better enjoyed from the outside (it’s a crumbling mess on the inside in many areas). However, over in neighboring France, there is a slew of Roman amphitheatres in cities like Nimes, Lyon, and Arles. What makes them so special is that most of them are still being used as actual theatres! So you could essentially watch a concert or show being performed (or even a bull fight!) in the same space that Romans put on a production thousands of years before. Many say it’s the experience of a lifetime.
Beit She’an (Israel)
Beit She’an has always played an important role in history due to its strategic geographic location (it’s situated at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and Jezreel Valley). In 63 BC Pompey (you know, Julius Casear’s once friend and then enemy?) made Judea a part of the Roman empire. Beit She’an was refounded and rebuilt (as was popular during that time, there had been some conquering and destruction before). The city flourished under Roman rule as high-level urban planning and extensive construction took place during this time. Today, the Roman theatre of ancient Samaria is preserved along with the hippodrome, cardo, and other Roman vestiges.
Conímbriga is one of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal and was declared a national monument. Although it was not the largest Roman city in Portugal, it is the best preserved one. Archaeologists believe that only a fraction of the city has been excavated. What has been unearthed includes the famous Roman baths, houses and other identified buildings, city walls, an amphitheatre, and a forum.
Roman baths (Bath, England)
I’m somewhat cheating with this one since I have been here but it’s a destination I would love to return to. I visited almost a decade ago and it was during the winter when our late afternoon visit meant that it was dark while there. The Roman baths are below the modern street level and consist of four main features-the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, and the museum that holds findings from the baths. All I can say about the risque television program Rome is that baths have a prominent role…
So as you can see the Roman Empire stretched all across the globe-north, south, east, west. They built magnificent things.