The Limes Cycle Path is just the thing for those who are not only interested in Caesar & Co. but also looking for a sporty challenge. Almost 800 kilometres in length, the path enables cyclists to follow the footsteps of the Romans along the former fortification wall.
The cycle path is marked out with brown signs throughout all four federal states bearing the association’s logo - a Limes tower surrounded by the letters “D” and “L”. The aim in setting out the route was to guide the cyclist along good quality cycle and forest paths following the Limes Road.
Like the German Limes Road, the cycle path also follows the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes and links numerous places of interest dating back to the Roman era. Cyclists with a love of history can look forward to encountering reconstructed Limes watchtowers, preserved and in some cases reconstructed forts, the remains of Roman baths contained in protective buildings, fortifications including walls, moats and palisades and of course impressive museums.
There are attractive towns along the way as well as well-known spa and holiday resorts. The German Limes Cycle Path also offers much landscape diversity. Starting by the Rhine, it runs through the Rhine-Westerwald Nature Reserve, the Lahntal valley, the Nassauer Land, the Rheingau-Taunus district, the Hochtaunus Nature Reserve, the Wetterau, the Maintal valley, the Odenwald forest, the Swabian-Franconian Forest, the Swabian Alb, the New Franconian Lake District, the Altmühltal Nature Reserve and on to the river Danube ...
Since the Romans did not make allowances for modern-day cyclists, however, there are some hilly sections to be reckoned which present a sporty challenge to ambitious cyclist. The effort is rewarded by the cultural diversity the cycle path has to offer. The route as a whole can be broken down into smaller sections with stopovers since the towns along the way provide excellent overnight accommodation facilities and restaurants.
So up on the saddle and off into the fascination of Roman history!
The first 75 kilometers of the Upper Germanic Limes pass through Rhineland-Palatinate. Beginning at the Rhine at Bad Hönningen and Rheinbrohl, it runs through the outer heights of the Westerwald to the mountain range of the Hintertaunus. Along this route, 132 watchtowers, 9 small forts and 9 cohort forts were located. As the Limes in Rhineland-Palatinate is mainly located in the forests of Westerwald and Taunus, the walls and ditches, the remnants of Roman watchtowers and the protection devices of some of the forts are still visible in many sections of the Limes. They are accessible via the Limes Hiking Trail. In the forest at the fort Holzhausen, for instance, one of the best preserved forts of all of the Limes can be seen. In addition, in Rhineland-Palatinate there are seven reconstructed watchtowers along the German Limes Road. The watchtowers were built between 1874 and 2004 according to the current state of research at the time of their construction. This is why the watchtowers differ from one another in regard to their appearance. The foundation walls of several forts and baths were preserved. At some places, the wooden palisade was reconstructed and the wall and ditch were renewed. At important stations along the hiking trails, information boards explain the Limes monument while the finds from the sites can be seen in the museums.
In Hesse, the section of the Limes recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site runs from Heidenrod at the watchtower 2/35 “Am Laufenselder Weg” to Mainhausen am Main.
The Limes proceeds across the wooded heights of the Taunus mountain range and, running in a big arch, comprises the fertile Wetterau area. The 18 big and 31 small forts as well as the more than 200 watchtower locations along the 153 km of the Hessian part of the Limes are in varying states of preservation, depending on the post-Roman use of the area: in the zones used for agriculture there are not many visible remains of the Limes while in the forests especially the walls and ditches can still be seen. It is in the forests as well that most of the forts and watchtowers can be identified in the shape of rising ground. The visible traces of the Limes as well as its preserved and restored architectural remains one comes across in the area, e.g. the forts of Feldburg and Kapersburg, bring Roman history back to life in the imagination of the visitor. The most extensive overview of the life of Roman soldiers and civilian population at the border of the Roman Empire is offered by the only almost completely re-erected fort at the Limes: the Saalburg in the Taunus mountain range close to Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe. At the beginning of the 20th century, this Roman fort was reconstructed on the initiative of Emperor Wilhelm II. During the last years, many new buildings were added and the fort was made an archaeological park.
The 164-km-long-Baden-Württemberg section of the Limes recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the rule of the Roman emperors Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD) and Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). Traces of the ancient border system can be found in scenic places of varying nature, as the Odenwald, the Hohenlohe plain, the Swabian-Franconian Forest and the Alb foreland. 30 towns and boroughs in six dis-tricts (Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis, Landkreis Heilbronn, Hohenlohekreis, Landkreis Schwäbisch Hall, Rems-Murr-Kreis and Ostalbkreis) are situated along this world-renowned monument. 340 watchtowers as well as 16 big and 17 small forts are known in addition to the proper borders. The Baden Württemberg Limes belongs partly to the Upper Germanic Limes (101 km) and partly to the Rhaetian Limes (63 km).
The border between the provinces Germania Superior (“Upper Germania”) and Rhaetia met with the Limes in the Rotenbach valley between the towns of Lorch and Schwäbisch Gmünd (in the Ostalbkreis district). Numerous museums and reconstructions transport a vivacious image of the ancient border system.
There is an older Roman boundary more to the West and South which is not part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It runs from the river Main through the Odenwald mountain range to the banks of the river Neckar (this part is called the “Odenwaldlimes”), after-wards alongside of the river Neckar to the borough of Köngen (the so-called “Neckarlimes”) and, finally, across the Swabian Jura mountain range to the Nördlinger Ries landscape (the so-called “Alblimes”). Due to its many visible remains, this boundary is widely known as well and the destination of many antiquity enthusiasts.
The Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes is Bavaria’s best-known archaeological monument. It symbolizes Roman antiquity from the 1st to the 3rd century AD. Beginning at the Württemberg-Bavarian border, the Rhaetian Limes crosses the territories of Middle Franconia and Upper Bavaria, ending at the banks of the river Danube in the territory of Lower Bavaria.
As in the other federal states, the Limes has been the subject of systematical academic research conducted by the Reichs-Limeskommission (Imperial Limes Commission) from 1892 on. Prior to that, the Latin written sources concerning the Limes had been interpreted by Johann Turmair, known as Aventinus (1477-1534). The meaning of the Rhaetian Limes as a wall or a palisade and its connection to the Devil’s Wall was already recognized by clergyman Christoph Wägemann (1666-1713) of Oberasbach. The first map of the “Devil’s Wall” was made by headmaster Johann Alexander Döderlein (1675-1745) of Weißenburg.
The 117 km of the Rhaetian Limes in Bavaria and its hinterland were secured by around 180 watchtowers. Subsequently, ten small forts were built to guard key locations like roads, rivers and steep valleys. Behind the Limes, there were 17 major military bases. The linear elements and the watchtower locations as well as some of the forts of this ancient system of border control have been largely preserved and are still visible today. At other points, where the Limes is not visible anymore, the ancient border is marked by reconstructions and memorial stones, set up on the initiative of the Bavarian king Maximilian II. from 1861 on.
The only legion stationed in Rhaetia had its residence in the area which is today the historic centre of the city of Regensburg. Its construction at the end of the 2nd century BC is directly linked to the Marcomannic Wars.