It’s hard to imagine coming to Germany and speaking Latin. Latin? Really? Well, OK, maybe not through the entire country, only a small portion of it — which would be along the German scenic route of the German Limes Road, or Deutsche Limes-Strasse.
Limes means path and/or boundary in Latin; and it’s a very fitting name since this Roman Road follows what was once the border of the Roman Empire.
This monster route winds its way for 550km/342mi on its driving route (and 818km/508mi on the Limes Cycle Route) through 83 German towns and villages, all in the footsteps of the infamous Roman Legion.
Honestly, not all of the towns have remainders of Roman life, but you’ll get a serious look into what it took to defend it with guard towers, watchtowers, and Roman forts along the way. In some towns, there are museums with exhibits totally (or partially) filled with Roman artifacts.
Don’t worry, so many of these towns offer more than just Roman history — there’s medieval and modern day history, too!
The choice is yours whether you want to follow the German Limes Road on your own or take a guided tour (with certified guides) through all seven sections, taking you through Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, and Bavaria — from Bad Hönningen on the Rhine to Regensburg on the Danube.
German Limes Road — Section 1
The German Limes Road starts in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bad Hönningen, which was founded in 1019, and lost almost all of its houses (except for twelve) in 1632 during the Thirty Year’s War. The Arenfels Castle, built in 1258, is its highlight and visible atop a hill from near and far. Take a snapshot of the Hohes Haus (High House), built in 1438, that houses a museum nowadays.
The Limes-Straße takes us further to Rheinbrohl and its Roman castle dating back to around 180 A.D., along with an old stone watchtower. Yes, that would be more than 1800 years ago! Rheinbrohl’s history doesn’t end there, there are also many fairytale framework houses that everyone just loves so much.
The Romans left Neuwied way back in the 5th century and thankfully for us, they left behind many artifacts which are found at the Archaeological Museum. Don’t worry about the kids feeling left out, Neuwied has a modern day zoo and Pirate Adventure Park.
Bendorf and its district of Sayn doesn’t have any Roman ruins left, but it does have the Iron Museum at Sayn Castle and the biggest Christmas Festival in the region. Walk a round a bit and maybe you’ll understand why poet/author Goethe was so inspired when he lived here.
Hillscheid is your next town on the Roman border and near to the Nature Park Nassau. Not only will you find the walls of what was once a castellet and a reconstructed tower; Celtic artifacts were found here, too.
The only reminder of the Roman world in cute lil’ Arzbach is the Castellet Arzbach and a reconstructed watchtower. Bad Ems, your next town, has a good deal more to see, so don’t dawdle in Arzbach too long! ;-)
Bad Ems not only has a Roman castellet (called the Kastell Ems), but a Roman tower, a Roman brick factory, and also a casino & spa and a wonderful ornate Baroque Castle.
The health resort town of Nassau is next, sitting within the Nature Park of the same name with exhibitions on Roman military life. Afterwards come sit at an outdoor cafe in town OR hike, bike, or canoe around the park. Ah, just do it all and enjoy yourself.
The little village of Pohl, also within the Nassau Nature Park, has only the remains of a reconstructed Roman Fort. But, the old grave hills show that people have lived here a lot longer than the Romans.
You’re at the end of the first section when you come see one of the best reconstructed old forts in Nastätten; and where the Limes Road meets the Limes Hiking Trail in the Taunus Mountains.
German Limes Road — Section 2
From the looks of just this first section alone, the Limes-Straße is off to a really great start!
Section Two starts in the town of Heidenrod in the Rhine-Taunus Nature Park, where you can enjoy many walking paths and cycling trails.
Bad Schwalbach is your average German spa town. OK, no German spa town should ever be considered average, so let me strike that! All you need to know is mineral springs and Nordic Walking trails. Sounds great, yes?
Taunusstein is the next town on this part of the German Limes Road. There’s a fantastic museum in the Wehrener Schloss looking at mid-20th century German life, a far cry from the days of the Romans! You’ll also find a medieval Jewish Cemetery (although no grave stones from the time exist any longer, only dating back to the 1650’s).
Medieval sites, like the Hexenturm (Witches Tower) are waiting for you in Idstein, as well. Plus, there are many half-timbered houses and a fantastic Baroque chuch, too.
Glashütten is your next town with remains of a Roman tower and castellet. The town is also famous for cross-country skiing, bicycling, and mountain biking.
From the Kleiner Feldberg (east of Glashütten) to Kastell Saalburg you’ll find the Roman ruins of the Feldberg Fort, a stone Roman watchtower. Once you arrive at the Saalburg visit the Roman Archaeological park, which is a museum and a research facility. Here you can see the “barracks,” where the legionaires (regular Roman soldiers) lived, as well as exhibits on their clothing.
In Bad Homburg the Romans were long gone when the famous Homburg hat first became fashionable; and the King of Siam, King Edward VII, Czar Nicolas II, and Wilhelm II used to come gamble at the town’s casino.
Over in Wehrheim you’ve got the Stadttor Museum, housed in the town’s original “City Gate.” Then there are the two 18th century churches (1 Catholic, the other Protestant), and a Jewish Cemetery used from 1864 to 1938.
Ober-Mörlen has a wonderful example of a Renaissance Castle, built in 1589; and a Roman watchtower. Wow, everytime you turn around there’s another watchtower to see!
Butzbach was once home to a 1st century AD Roman garrison (83 AD to be exact!). Many centuries later the Ladgrafen Castle was built — and now everyone likes to come here for the annual Old Town Festival in early September.
Lich does have a small Roman Castellet. However, the Roman ruins are sometimes overshadowed by the town’s many framework houses, the Schloss Lich, Klosterruine Arnsburg, and the Licher Brewery (that’s been making beer here for about 150 years). Whatever you’ve come to see here, you’ll just love it!
Hungen is your last town on Section Two. It’s where you’ll see a 2000 year old castellet, Bronze Age grave hills, an 800 year old church, and enjoy concerts & cabaret performances at the castle. What a perfect way to end this section of the German Limes Road!
German Limes Road — Section 3
Section Three starts off with the town of Echzell, once a Roman Fort town. In town you’ll find a recently discovered Jupitersäule (Jupiter Column), a 14th century church, and its Heimatmuseum (Local History Museum) is housed in the region’s oldest pharmacy. Nice!
When you get to Limeshain take your time in the Archaeology & Natural History Museum and the many hiking trails — keep a look out for the prehistoric grave hills that were found here!
Hammersbach, where yet another Roman fort was built, now has a gorgeous 17th century Town Hall that everyone comes to see.
Over in Erlensee you’ll get the chance to see a wonderfully restored stone fort, as well as a 16th century water castle (oh, gotta love a castle with a moat!) and local history museum (only open on the 1st Sunday of the month).
Since this is the German Limes Road, you’d think the Romans would get top billing in the town of Hanau. Well, sorry, not this time! Hanau is where the German Fairy Tale Road starts — and where its Märchentheater (fairy tale theater) puts on performances every year from May to July!
Großkrotzenburg can boast a 6,000 year old history! Although the Romans were only here a mere drip in time compared to that, you’ll find many of their artifacts in the Local History Museum.
Stockstadt am Main can boast both an Abbey Museum and a local history museum with quite a number of Roman exhibits.
You won’t find a museum like that in Niedernberg, though — “only” the Cathedral Museum, a 15th century church, and some Roman monuments.
Obernburg am Main can say it has one, though! The last town of Section Three has a wonderful Roman Fort Museum, as well as a historical Old Town!
It’s totally amazing how the Romans made such a mark on the local landscape!
German Limes Road — Section 4
Section Four might be the smallest in terms of the number of towns to see, but it is one of the longest sections going on for about 165km — starting in Wörth am Main (in the Odenwald) where you can see a Roman Fortress, visit the Maritime Museum, and the town’s Gothic Church (always great for beautiful artwork).
Klingenberg am Main is a great Lower Franconian town filled with wineries, a super fabulous Wine Festival every year, its own castle (Castle Trennfurt), and a Roman Fort with an alter stone dating to 212 A.D. (this is why thousands of people every year follow this route)!
In this region of you’ll also want to see all the beautifully restored half-timbered houses and the Roman Museum in Miltenberg. At the end of the day, why not just camp out at one of Miltenberg’s campgrounds? It’ll be fun!
It’ll be hard to leave Lower Franconia, but try because your next stop is the pilgrimage city of Walldürn in northern Baden-Württemberg. Oh, sure, it has a small Roman castellet, but it also has a stunning pilgrimage church (and Pilgrimage Museum), a historical Rathaus (Town Hall), and an Elfenbeinmuseum (Ivory Museum).
Camping is also possible in the town of Buchen, which is right on the edge of the Odenwald. After roasting some marshmallows, come see all the framework buildings and the restored Roman tower.
Osterburken, yet another fort city — wait, is that all the Romans did was build forts & watchtowers (and take over other lands)? The answer to that question can be found in Osterburken’s Roman Museum.
The answer to that could also be found at the Outdoor Archaeology Museum and Palace Museum (with exhibits on the Roman life) in Jagsthausen. Keep a lookout for the remains of the old Roman border wall, wondering how the time went so quickly on the this part of the route!
German Limes Road — Section 5
Section Five is another route with only a few towns, although it does travel for more than 145km through Baden-Württemberg.
Follow the Roman Border Wall to Zweiflingen, which also has the graceful 18th century Schloss Friedrichsruhe, once an old hunting lodge.
Öhringen is one of those towns with a good number of Roman sites. There’s a museum with all sorts of Roman finds; check out the old fort and Roman Column. Personally I think there’s something truly remarkable about the Sts. Peter & Paul Church on the Marktplatz. Let me know if you feel the same. :-)
There really isn’t anything of Roman times that remains of the town of Pfedelbach, on the edge of the Mainhardt Forest. It does have a wine museum, which means the vino is quite important around these parts. After coming this far, you’ve earned a nice glass of Riesling!
OK, at this point you’ve seen just about a bazillion museums with Roman exhibits. So, when you get to Mainhardt go soak in the mineral water swimming pool, go hike a path, bike a trail, or just go fishing BEFORE you go see the town’s Roman Museum.
Großerlach is another town in the Mainhardt Forest where you’ll find rolling fields of green grass and tall trees, with a reconstructed Roman stone watchtower and guard post.
You’ll also find a watchtower & guard post in Murrhardt, along with a Jupiter Column. There’s also the Carl Schweizer Museum to visit, as well as a chance to just frolick like a school kid at the forest lake. Camp out in Murrhardt, pretending to be a Roman Centurion! OK, maybe not… ;-)
There are only three towns left of Section Five — time flies when you’re having fun!
Welzheim might have a tiny castellet, a Roman fort — but it also has many Roman artifacts at the Municipal Museum. For a look at more modern history, there’s the 18th century Rathaus, the artwork in the St. Gallus Church, and you can go star gazing at the observatory.
When you get to the Swabian-Franconian Forest in the town of Alfdorf, you meet up once again with the Limes Cycle Trail. After visiting the Church of St. Stephen, enjoy the fresh Swabian air at an outdoor cafe.
Save your energy, you’re going to need it once you get to Lorch (Württemberg), the last town of this section. Yes, you’ve probably heard of the Lorch Abbey and this is where it is! In addition to being home to one of the most famous Abbeys in Germany (built 1102), Lorch has the foundations of a Roman Gate AND a reconstructed wooden one.
You’ve really come pretty far in the footsteps of the Romans! Whether they were just your everyday soldier, or a Centurion (officer) these men traveled far and wide in the protection of their Caesar’s empire. Now, you’ve come from far & wide to see where these often misunderstood fellows traveled. There are only two more sections left — I hope you enjoy them!
German Limes Road — Section 6
Section Six has the most towns on the Limes-Strasse, starting in the super gorgeous town of Schwäbisch Gmünd. While it does have a medieval Town Center, it also has a Jewelry Museum and foundations have been found of Roman baths.
Böbingen an der Rems is a town that used to be an old Roman fort area. Look for the statue of Juno, then go see Böblingen’s Romanesque medieval church.
Next stop is Mögglingen, although no other Roman remains exist other than part of the Roman border wall and a guardtower.
Aalen has a bit more Roman ruins to see — so good thing it’s the next town on the German Limes Road! Every two years (even numbered years) there’s a huge Roman Festival — but, the Roman Museum, the Prehistoric, Museum, and the Roman excavations can be visited anytime.
You’ll find part of the Roman border wall in Hüttlingen. However, you’ll also find Burg Marienburg there, too. This castle has a bright red roof, towers, turrets — and it was built just about a thousand years ago in 1050!
After visiting the Roman fort baths and a reconstructed wooded watchtower in Rainau, go have a leisurely swim in the artificial lake. Sounds like fun!
If you follow the Roman border wall, your next stop is Ellwangen. If you’re not shopping or enjoying a beer at a cafe on the Marktplatz, come see the town’s lovely basilica chuch (that’s also right on the Marktplatz).
Hopefully you’ve planned your trip right and you’ve arrived in Stödtlen for the Leonhard Festival in August. The kids will love the horses; historians will appreciate the Roman guardtower.
Welcome back to Bavaria! :o)
In addition to beer, you can see Mönchsroth’s reconstructed Roman tower, it’s Church of Sts. Peter & Paul, and the town’s 18th century synagogue. That’s a lot of years of history all in one place!
While there isn’t all that much to see (and do) in Wilburgstetten, don’t skip through without seeing the restored Roman tower and the richly decorated Baroque Kreuzkapelle.
The same could be said for Weiltingen, but there is a museum with Roman exhibitions.
Wittelshofen (yes, another town starting with “W”) was the site of another Roman fort — but, now you’ll find more hiking and bicycling trails winding their way around town & countryside.
Are you tired yet? No? Good, because there’s still a good distance to disover!
You won’t have to spend too much time in Langfurth, just see its St. Marys Church and head towards Ehingen; and its Castle Dambach, its Roman walls and restored tower.
When you get to Wassertrüdingen, enjoy a good Bavarian beer — then go see the moated castle and its gorgeous City Church.
Besides being a mouthful, Unterschwaningen have found Prehistoric, Celtic, and Roman artifacts. Everyone just loves the Dennenlohe Castle Park and just about all of this 950-year old village.
Over in Arberg, you’ll find Celtic grave hills and a medieval Gate Tower (built 1531) and the Cemetery Church built in 1586. I know it’s not a lot, but it’s still a great stop nonetheless :-)
Gunzenhausen has a bit more to see with its Archaeology Museum, its 13th century defense wall (called a Stadtmauer), and a restored Roman tower & small fort.
Once you get to Pfofeld, don’t worrry too much about the historical aspect of town. After visiting the Romanesque St. Michael’s Church (with Gothic frescoes) you can swim, sail, and surf to your heart’s content (at either the Brombachsee or the Altmühlsee)! Better yet, stay the night and camp out!
You’re coming to the end of Section Six, only four more towns to go.
Theilenhofen was once to a Roman fort and Roman Baths; and Pleinfeld‘s hiking trails will take you past the Roman’s stone tower — leading off towards Ellingen’s Roman Fort that dates back to 182 A.D.
How Germany manages to save the best for last with Weißenburg! The Castle Biriciana is a fine example of a Roman fort and was home to a Roman cavalry unit. There’s also the Roman Baths (didn’t they just LOVE them!) Museum, AND a Roman Museum located at Martin Luther Platz 3 (it’s filled with quite a few Roman bronze statues).
Are you ready to begin the Seventh Section yet? Oh, good!
German Limes Road — Section 7
You start out Section Seven a bit on the slow side in the municipality of Burgsalach and its replica of a wooden guard tower. However, since this is Bavaria you’ll enjoy just sitting around an outdoor cafe, watching the world go by.
Our next stop is Titting, where there are almost as many churches as there are walking and bicycling paths. One of the most beautiful of Titting’s churchs is the Petersbuch Baroque Church.
In the mid-8th century St. Willibad built a church (in Eichstätt) over the site of a Roman fort, forever changing the local landscape. Now the only way to get a glimpse of the Roman world is at the Pre & Early History Museum & the Villa Rustica (Roman Estate). The cathedral in Eichstätt is totally gorgeous, too.
Oh, Walting… you’re my Bavarian dream town! Churches, chapels, castles, walking paths, and a reconstructed Roman Fort, all neatly wrapped up in one place.
I could probably say the same about Kipfenberg (which likes to party)! After a trip to see the town’s reconstructed wooden watchtower, the Burg Kipfenberg should be next — it’s a castle & a fortress, then to the mid-15th century St. Georg Chuch. Hopefully you’re here for the Limesfest (a Roman festival), the annual Folk Festival, or the Mountain Bike Marathon in September.
Altmannstein has two castles, one of which is in ruins. Along with a local history museum, there are a number of hiking & biking trails through its 14 villages — and two famous trees.
Since you’re almost to the end of the German Limes Road, enjoy it and Pförring as much as you can. There are some former Roman settlements, a Romanesque church, and more festivals than you can shake a stick at (like the Kinderfest, Volkfest, and Fischerfest).
Neustadt an der Donau and Bad Gögging are all rolled into one. Over at the Roman Bath Museum there are some Roman reliefs, perfect if you love art from the time period. Afterwards, a game of golf is just what the travel doctor ordered! ;-)
Oh my, you’ve done it — you’ve made it to Regensburg, the last stop of the German Limes Road! It’s thought that the oldest Roman brewery (in the Northern Alps) was right here in Regensburg. Maybe they’re right, since it’s the site of a Roman military camp from 179 A.D.
Round out your stay with a visit to the Roman Museum — and remember that the entire Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The Regensburg Cathedral is just heavenly (no pun intended) and the views of town from the medieval Stone Bridge make the best snapshots.
Two famous residents of Regensburg were Oskar Schindler and Pope Bendict XVI. Mr. Schindler moved here after the war and the pope was a professor at the University of Regensburg. OK, so the pope and Mr. Schindler aren’t Romans and this IS the Limes-Strasse — it’s just nice to hear a bit of more modern history. And you might never know when you have to answer a trivia question… ;-)
As the Roman Empire ended, so does the German Limes Road. As the Romans left, it left Germany open to be, well, German — and you’ll see how the culture shaped the many German towns throughout the route.
I just hope you liked following in the footsteps of the Romans as much as I have. :-)
German Limes Road Web Site
In case of need, here’s the official Web site of the German Limes Road.