Zülpich — Roman Baths, Scenic Cycling, Captivating History

Zülpich, located west of Cologne and Bonn, is a treasure trove of German history.

Commonly agreed to be the site of a town with the Latin name of Tolbiacum, it is famous for the Battle of the Tolbiac. The traditional date of this battle between the Franks, led by Clovis I, and the Alamanni is 496, although some put it at 506.

In the 1930s, explorers found Roman baths dating to the 2nd century. They are one of the best-preserved Roman baths north of the Alps and the site now hosts a museum on the cultural history of bathing from Roman times to today.

During Roman times, the baths were not only used as a spa and public restroom, they also included exercise spaces. The bath in Zülpich had five fires that were used to heat the water.

The freshly warmed water was used for bathing and then moved through an underground system to flush out the latrines. Well-preserved terrazzo floors resting on brick pillars show that the water flowed under the floors.

Zülpich castle is integrated into the town walls. It was originally built in the 13th century by Archbishop Siegfried von Westerburg. Completed in the 14th and 15th centuries, the castle’s gothic fortifications, thick walls, and circular towers were set on fire by the French in 1689. It later housed a distillery in the 19th century.

Heavily damaged in World War II, the castle has been reconstructed on a simpler scale.

The roads surrounding Zülpich are touted as some of the best cycling in West Germany, with roads as flat as the Netherlands. While not totally accurate ;-), the roads do provide a scenic way to see the surrounding countryside.

Still, I agree… With small villages every 2 to 3 km, and many lovely views, a ride around Zülpich is a great way to spend a free day.

 

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