There is some truth to the cliche about “All roads lead to Rome,” ya know. Some, however, will take you along areas of Germany that once were crawled by Romans (but not necessarily leading off to their capital city), like the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route, or Römerstrasse Neckar-Alb-Aare.
The route follows three different sections, color-coded to Yellow for the Neckar-Alb region; Green for the Neckar-Aare area; and Blue for the Neckar-Upper Rhine region — in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany and leading off to Switzerland.
Easy enough to follow, right? Hey, at least you have maps, GPS, and other handy ways of finding your way. The Romans didn’t have all this modern high-tech stuff.
Start of the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route
Yellow Section — Neckar-Alb
The Yellow Section starts in Köngen (on an old Roman trade route) at the Roman Park. The former Roman settlement is only open on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, so plan your journey to start then, OK?
Almost 2,000 years ago in 100 A.D. a Roman Estate was built in the town of Nürtingen, Oberensingen district (it just wasn’t called that back then). The modern day town is proud of its Jazz Festival and City Festival every year.
While there’s no Roman estate or bathhouse in Pliezhausen, there is a relief of the god Mercury at the Church of St. Martin. It’s pretty big too, almost a meter & a half. Stop in at the Village Museum or take in a concert at the local Rathaus.
Besides an old walking trail, you’ll see a Roman tomb pillar in the town of Kirchentellinsfurt. I think the hamlet’s name is a big as that pillar.
I thought about how to make the next town’s Roman site sound a bit more, um, nicer sounding. What’s Rottenburg am Neckar got that isn’t so pleasant? How about the ruins of a Roman toilet.
Yeah, I said it. Now let’s please move on to Rottenberg’s Cathedral, the Weiler Castle, and the Memorial Synagogue, shall we? ;-)
Bad Niedernau’s Roman finds were quite interesting, coins (over 300 of them) and jewelry (rings, brooches) from the days of Nero. You remember him? He’s the Roman Emperor said to have fed Christians to the lions. Yikes.
Another town, or two rather, along a former Roman Road are Hirrlingen and Rangendingen, where you’ll find a Roman aquaduct, a 16th century Baroque castle, and an old monastery.
An outdoor museum in Hechingen (in its Stein district) awaits, as well as a Roman Festival every two years and Burg Hohenzollern. Forgot for a minute there you can play a round of golf on the local 18-hole course or soak the toes in a Kneipp pool.
Emperor Vespasian makes his appearance along this part of the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route. Well, sort of, as the fort in the town of Burladingen was built at the time he was in power. A second military camp nearby was only recently found — so you get two for the price of one.
On the former border of Germania Superior is Häsenbühl, a district of Geislingen (Zollernalbkreis). A memorial stone of the Romans is here, and you’re more than welcome at the local museum, the Schlossgarten, and the Church of St. Ulrich.
It’s a Roman bath and outdoor museum for you in Rosenfeld, but the Altstadt (Old Town), the Sternwarte (Observatory), and the brewery/winery should be on the itinerary before heading out.
The Romans really made an impression on the landscape so far, haven’t they?
In Sulz am Neckar there’s a Roman Museum (a fort built in 74 A.D.), castle ruins, and a medieval monastery. Charming. Just charming.
In Oberndorf am Neckar there’s a large archaeological exhibit at the Local History Museum, a Villa Rustica, and a monastic church.
While Rottweil offers a Dominican Museum (with Roman exhibits), a City Museum, and plenty of cycling and hiking routes through the Black Forest.
Fischbach (part of Niedereschach) isn’t going to be left out. They have a Roman Museum, nature areas, and a yearly Black Forest Ham Festival.
Our time on the Yellow Route ends here, but don’t panic — we’re not done with the Roman Legion just yet.
Green Section — Neckar-Aare
We pick-up the Green Section of the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route in Hüfingen with the ruins of a Roman bath (from around 100 A.D.), a Roman Festival every year at Corpus Cristi, and charming Old Town.
If you really want to learn more about the Romans, and we’re heading to Switzerland now, you’ll need a guide at the former Roman baths in Schleitheim, along an old Roman trail. The elaborate heating system they had at the Roman spa was fantastic for its time.
Yes, there are remnants of a Roman fort and wall in Bad Zurzach, but they didn’t have the chance to shop at either the Christmas or Antiques Markets like you can.
The highlight of this portion of the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route is Brugg, site of a Roman Legion Camp. After a hundred years of excavation, the Vindonissa Museum is filled with all sorts of Roman tidbits.
You can continue on this section of the route into the town of Windisch as that’s the last stop on the Green Section.
Blue Section — Neckar-Upper Rhine
Traveling on the Blue Section of the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route you’d head from Rottweil 24 km down towards Wurmlingen. Roman baths, Alemannic graves, a Christmas Market, and a castle should entice you, right?
Engen is bustling with Roman sites, the ruins of the Villa Rustica will show you what was once the main building, the bathhouse, and the temple areas. As if that’s not enough, visit Engen’s Altstadt, City Museum, and Ice Age Park.
Sad to think that most people associate the Romans with war, conquering foreign lands, and well, being a tad bit Hedonistic. I ain’t disputing that… just that they were farmers too, and Tengen has got what was once a Roman farm.
Tengen’s also got a quaint Old Town and plenty of hiking, biking, and winter sports to keep you occupied.
The German portion of the Blue Section ends right here in Tengen and continues on to Switzerland and Stein am Rhein and Eschenz.
I’ll continue a bit… just for you. :-)
What’s remarkable about Stein am Rhein is that the Roman Fort Tasgetium (built around 300 A.D.) was converted to a church sometime around 600 A.D. A visit to the Monastery St. Georgen Museum and Castle Hohenklingen are also must-sees.
Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route Web Site
Here’s the official Web site about the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman Route.