Under the motto "You are World Heritage", we invited people to take photographs at the Limes last year. The results exceeded our expectations: Numerous photographers sent us beautiful, creative and unusual perspectives on the Limes. Pictures taken at all kinds of times of day and night, different weather conditions and seasons, often capturing a very special atmosphere. You can find the twelve winning photos here.
We also see the photos as an inspiration to travel to well-known and lesser-known places along the Limes and to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site all over again. Therefore, starting in February 2021, we will present a photo and its story every month for one year and invite you to get to know the place behind the picture.
Enjoy new perspectives on the Limes and get inspired for your next trip!
Did you take a special photo on your last trip to the Limes that you would like to share with others? Feel free to send us your photo (file size at least 6 MB, resolution 300 dpi) and write us a few lines: What inspired you to take this picture? Why did you travel to this place? What fascinated you about this place? We will be happy to publish your picture here, stating your name of course. You will receive a small gift from us for your submission.
Under the motto "You are World Heritage", we invited people to take photographs at the Limes last year. The results exceeded our expectations: Numerous photographers sent us beautiful, creative and unusual perspectives on the Limes. Pictures taken at all kinds of times of day and night, different weather conditions and seasons, often capturing a very special atmosphere. We also see the photos as an inspiration to travel to well-known and lesser-known places along the Limes and to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site all over again. Therefore, for one year, we will present you with a photo and its story each month and invite you to get to know the place behind the picture.
The third prize for Rhineland-Palatinate was awarded to the photo "Ende Gelände", which was taken at Rheinbrohl railway station. Photographer Sonja Herz tells the story behind the picture: "250 km of Limes Trail through the Wetterau, the Taunus and the Westerwald. In sun, clouds, rain and storms, constantly changing weather, through forests, fields, hollows and hills, constantly changing landscape. Only every hour, every day, every week one constant - the Limes sign. Right up to the very, very last sign at the railway station in Rheinbrohl. Happiness, pride, satisfaction and also a little sadness - but now it is done and over!"
For Ms. Herz, Rheinbrohl marks the end of a journey, but at the same time the town on the right bank of the Rhine also marks a beginning: this is where the Upper Germanic Limes begins. Between Rheinbrohl and Neuwied, it stretches across a foothill of the Westerwald, where the fortifications are well preserved in places. In Rheinbrohl, the RömerWelt am Caput Limitis (Roman World at the Caput Limitis) offers its young and old visitors fun, excitement and a lot of knowledge about life on the border of the Roman Empire: theme days, guided tours and workshops complement the interactive exhibition and the outdoor area, which also includes a wooden playground with a Roman ship.
After hiking and exploring, travellers can relax at the Kristall-Rheinpark-Therme in neighbouring Bad Hönningen. This is the start of the German Limes Road, which covers 820 km of the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes and the German section of the Danube Limes.
Tip: Starting from the RömerWelt, a 9.3 km long circular trail leads to original remains or reconstructions of Roman border fortifications, including two watchtowers. The wide views and vistas along the way are equally impressive. The tour is printed in the free brochure "German Limes Trail - UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes in Baden-Wuerttemberg", which is available here (in German only).
"The Power of Imagination" is the title of the winning photo for Hesse, which was taken on the Limes hiking trail between Neuberg-Ravolzhausen (Main-Kinzig district) and Florstadt-Staden (Wetterau district). Photographer Claudia Hellriegel describes her thoughts on the picture as follows: "For days we had been following the Limes sign through forests, across meadows and fields when we first discovered the white posts visible from afar. Suddenly the power of the wall took hold of us through its height, its length and the signal colour: were we actually walking on the Germanic or Roman side?"
In the Main-Kinzig district, those interested in history will discover numerous traces of the Romans. On the Krebsbach near Hammersbach, not far from the Limes, there is a reconstruction of the palisade. In Erlensee-Rückingen, the foundation walls of the fort baths have been preserved. At the Doppelbier moor east of Hanau-Wolfgang, the limes is very well preserved. If you want to find out more about the Romans, you can visit two museums: In Hanau, the Museum Schloss Steinheim displays, among other things, a Roman coin hoard and the reconstruction of a Mithraeum - a sanctuary of the god Mithras, who was popular with the soldiers. In Großkrotzenburg's local history museum, which is also the regional Limes information centre for the Main-Kinzig district, Roman finds from the cohort fort and the civilian settlement there are on display.
Tip: On an almost 11 km long tour through the forest, hikers can get to know all kinds of relics from Roman times from Altenstadt via Limeshain to Hammersbach: Information boards, art installations on Romans and Germanic tribes, a reconstruction of the ditch wall system as well as a Limes watchtower and a piece of original fort wall make the Roman past of the area tangible. The tour is illustrated in the free brochure "Deutscher Limes-Wanderweg – UNESCO-Welterbe Obergermanisch-Raetischer Limes in Hessen" (German Limes Trail - UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes in Hesse), which is available here (in German only).
The second prize for Bavaria was won by the picture "Pfünz, Römerkastell Vetoniana". Photographer Andrea Schenz expresses her enthusiasm about her visit to the fort: "A footpath led us from the car park to the northern gate of Fort Vetoniana near Pfünz (Bavaria). On our tour along the defence wall and from the corner tower, we had a magnificent view of the fort and its dimensions. It should be noted: the complex, which has been impressively reconstructed, is an excursion destination for young and old and became a popular photo motif for us!"
The fort, built under Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) and destroyed during a Germanic invasion around the middle of the 3rd century, lies on a hilltop above the picturesque village of Pfünz. The northern gate, a corner tower and part of the defence wall have been rebuilt. The reconstructed guardroom in the gate complex gives an idea of the life of Roman soldiers around 230 AD, and the approximately one-kilometre-long "Roman educational trail" tells the story of the fort and the camp village in nine information stations.
Those who want to learn even more about Castra Vetoniana can discover exciting finds from the Roman period as well as a large-scale model of the fort with 500 painted tin figures in the Museum for Prehistory and Early History at Willibaldsburg Castle in nearby Eichstätt.
Tip: Pfünz is located in the Altmühltal Nature Park, which not only boasts a beautiful landscape, but also numerous Roman sights and attractions. The brochure "German Limes Hiking Trail - UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes in Bavaria" contains two hiking trails with Roman references in the Altmühltal Nature Park: the Burgsalach Roman Experience Trail and a tour from Böhming to Kipfenberg. The free brochure (in German) is available here.
The photo "A galaxy above the Limes" was taken in the Limes Park Rainau in the Ostalbkreis district. Photographer Jonas Hausmann was awarded second prize for Baden-Wuerttemberg. Hausmann explains how the picture came about: "Milky Way photography is a very challenging and great kind of photography for me. I specifically used the Limes Tower near Rainau as the foreground, as the architecture harmonises very appealingly with the organic Milky Way." In addition to the wooden tower, the Limes Park Rainau has a number of other Roman sights to offer: Parts of the Limes wall and a stone tower are preserved and can be seen in the forest next to the wooden tower. At Rainau-Buch, hedge plantings, ground plans and a model illustrate the fort, which covers about 2.1 ha. Two buildings of the camp village belonging to the fort as well as the fort baths are preserved in the foundation walls.
The highlight of the park is the Limes Gate in the district of Dalkingen: In honour of Emperor Caracalla, who led a victorious campaign against the Germanic tribes in 213 AD, the Limes crossing at this point was turned into a monumental archway with a magnificent façade - a unique procedure at the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes. Today, there is a glass shelter above the gate, which is open to the public free of charge. In addition to the impressive traces of Roman history, visitors to Rainau-Buch can relax at the 25-hectare reservoir while swimming, surfing, sailing or rowing.
Tip: The 11 km long tour "Through the Limes Park Rainau" not only opens up the Roman sights, but also offers magnificent views of the banks of the Swabian Alb. The tour is illustrated in the free brochure "German Limes Trail - UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes in Baden-Württemberg", which is available from the German Limes Road Association.
The third prize for Hesse went to the photo of the watchtower near Butzbach. Photographer Günter Lahm explains how the picture was taken: "My wife and I took a trip to Butzbach in the cabriolet, then passed the Limes Tower and went for an extended walk in beautiful summer weather."
In fact, the area around Butzbach is a wonderful place to get to know the Limes better on walks and hikes. In addition to the tower WP 4/33 visible in the photo on the Schrenzer, southwest of Butzbach, the route between Butzbach and Pohlheim is a good choice. North of Butzbach, the rampart of the Limes fortification is excellently preserved over long stretches, as it was included in the later Landwehr defense system. The enclosure of the Holzheimer Unterwald small fort is also still well preserved. Finally, in the Grüningen district of Pohlheim, there is a tower reconstruction and a reconstructed section of palisade, ditch and rampart.
Butzbach itself boasts a medieval old town and the oldest half-timbered church in Hesse. The town museum also houses the regional Limes information centre for the western Wetterau region. In the Roman section, important finds from the fort, which is no longer visible, and the associated civil settlement can be seen.
Tip: In neighbouring Ober-Mörlen is the eastern start of the Taunus Limes Experience Trail, which opens up the Taunus section of the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes for hikers over a total of 86 km.
First place for Bavaria went to the photo "Fort Biriciana". Photographer Thomas Eirich explains about this motif: "The Romans were not only great conquerors, but also great builders. For the people of that time, it was the gateway to another world and culture. I felt transported for a moment to that time, to a civilisation whose traces are still permanently documented today."
Indeed, Weißenburg in Bavaria, the Roman Biriciana, is the perfect place for a journey back in time. In addition to the reconstructed north gate of the fort, Limes travellers can also visit the Roman thermal baths and the Roman Museum here. The highlight of the museum is the "Weissenburg treasure trove", which includes 15 bronze statuettes of gods and eleven silver votive plates of outstanding quality.
The Roman settlement of Weißenburg probably ended around 253/254 AD in the course of a large Germanic invasion. Other important buildings bear witness to Weißenburg's history in later centuries, including the well-preserved town wall and the Gothic town hall in the historic old town as well as the Hohenzollern fortress of Wülzburg, which is located near Weißenburg. In addition to the Roman Museum, the Imperial Town Museum, the Pharmacy Museum and the Brewery Museum offer insights into Weißenburg's past.
Tip: The 24 km long hiking trail "Via Biriciana" between Burgsalach and Weißenburg leads to the so-called Burgus, the Biriciana fort and the Roman thermal baths.
The photo that won first prize for Baden-Wuerttemberg, "Exposed to the elements. Sun and ice" was taken in Lorch. Photographer Annika Wegner describes her very personal relationship to the motif: "For two years now, I have lived in a town whose surrounding area is lined with the former Limes dividing wall. Almost every street you drive along has a "Limes" boundary stone at the side of the road, marking the former course.
For me, it is hard to imagine that a country was simply cut through. When you stand in front of the man-high palisades in Lorch, history becomes tangible. Opaque ramparts once separated two empires, but stronger than any human power is nature."
Near Lorch was not only the outer border of the Roman Empire, but also the border between the Roman provinces of Upper Germania and Raetia. Traces of Roman times can still be discovered today on a leisurely hike from Alfdorf-Pfahlbronn to Lorch Monastery. Over a distance of 4.4 km, there are remains of border fortifications (ramparts and ditches) that are well preserved in places, as well as four visible watchtower sites. The track grooves of an old, perhaps still Roman road are recognisable in the sandstone.
Last but not least, the ruins of a Roman building, which may have served as a small fort, lie along the hiking route. Right next to the watchtower replica depicted in the winning photo, another historically valuable sight awaits: Lorch Monastery was founded in 1102 as the burial place of the noble Hohenstaufen dynasty.
Tip: Details of the tour "From Pfahlbronn to Lorch Monastery" can be found in the free brochure "German Limes Trail - UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes in Baden-Württemberg", which is available here.
The photo awarded first prize for Rhineland-Palatinate, "Street Art for the Roman Bridge Building", was taken in Neuwied-Engers. The artwork was created in 2020 by Alexander Heyduczek, the idea for the motif came from Conrad Lunar, who also took the winning photo.
"Caesar's bridge-building, in 55 BC, marked its 2075th anniversary in the Neuwied district in 2020. At that time, the Rhine was crossed by means of a bridge for the very first time in history - the construction time of 10 days is still impressive today, as is the demolition after less than a month," explains Lunar.
Heyduczek's artwork is not the only reference to the region's Roman past. Numerous archaeological monuments can be explored in and around Neuwied.
In the district of Niederbieber, the baths of a fort covering more than five hectares are open to visitors as an open-air site.
The surrounding walls of the small fort at Anhausen are still visible as rubble ramparts.
In the "Sandschleife" district in the Heimbach-Weiser-Gladbacher-Wald (HWG-Wald), the Limes is excellently preserved in sections, so that the rampart and ditch can be traced in the terrain.
The ground plan of the former watchtower WP 1/40 "Auf der Alteck" is a special feature: Hexagonal towers are extremely rare on the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes.
The "RömerWelt am caput limitis" museum is located in nearby Rheinbrohl. Roman fans of all ages can enjoy the interactive exhibition, the outdoor area and the "RömerWeltWeg" (Roman World Trail).
Tip: Starting from the Heidegraben hiking car park, a circular hike on the 13.5 km long "Historical Roman and Celtic Trail" leads to the Anhausen small fort, the course of the Limes and several watchtower sites.
The photo "Visit to the Saalburg" received the second prize for Hesse. When asked about his inspiration for the picture, photographer Frank-Peter Rasch tells us about his personal connection to the Saalburg: "As hobby photographers, my wife and I were on the trail of the Romans that weekend, especially in memory of our school days. A trip to this Roman fort on the Saalburg in the Hochtaunus district was always part of our history lessons." The architectural characteristics of the motif also played a role: "The perspective of the photo from the portico vividly depicts the perfection of the Roman architecture of the time.“
Formerly the station of the Cohors II Raetorum civium Romanorum, a unit of 600 soldiers, the Saalburg fell into disrepair after the withdrawal of the Roman troops. From 1897 to 1907, it was rebuilt at the behest of Emperor Wilhelm II - a unique process on the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes. The surrounding area was designed as an archaeological park. Today, the Saalburg serves as a research institute and museum. The ground plans and cellars of the fort village can be seen, and a granary (horreum), the commander's residence, the staff building and two crew barracks have been reconstructed. Parts of the Limes fortifications have also been reconstructed true to the original.
Tip: Starting from the "Sandplacken" hikers' car park, a 7 km tour leads to the Saalburg. Two small forts and three watchtower sites can be seen along the route, including WP 3/61, which is one of the best-preserved watchtowers in the Taunus. The Limes itself is also very visible in places. The tour is illustrated in the free brochure "Deutscher Limes-Wanderweg – UNESCO-Welterbe Obergermanisch-Raetischer Limes in Hessen" ("German Limes Walking Trail - UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes in Hesse"), which is available here.
"The LIMESEUM and the Roman Park are worth a visit at any time of year - but especially in winter. In the warm winter light, you can let your gaze wander from the Hesselberg to Weiltingen on the horizon and imagine that the Romans already enjoyed this view of the landscape," says photographer Anuschka Hörr, describing her impressions of the motif of the photo that won the third prize for Bavaria.
The LIMESEUM provides information on the Limes World Heritage Site and the forts of Dambach, Unterschwaningen and Ruffenhofen. Right next to the museum is the Ruffenhofen Roman Park with an area of over 40 ha. Visitors can inform themselves about the former Roman fort and the camp village on circular routes here. With a playground, various playground equipment and child-friendly texts in the grounds, the Roman Park is ideal for a day out with the whole family.
The nearby Hesselberg also has a long history: it was already used as a place of refuge and residence in prehistoric times. The old fortifications were still used for defence during the migration of peoples and into the Middle Ages. Today, the Hesselberg is a landscape conservation area with juniper heath and dry grassland slopes that provide a retreat for numerous rare animal and plant species.
Tip: In nearby Weiltingen, the 6 km long circular hiking trail "Spurensuche in Weiltigen" (Searching for traces in Weiltigen) opens up numerous natural and cultural monuments, including a late Celtic square enclosure, the rubble wall of the Raetian Limes wall and the stone foundation of the former Limes tower WP 13/8. The tour is illustrated in the brochure "Deutscher Limes-Wanderweg – UNESCO-Welterbe Obergermanisch-Raetischer Limes in Bayern" (German Limes Hiking Trail - UNESCO World Heritage Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes in Bavaria), which is available here free of charge as a print product or as a PDF file for download.
The second prize for Rhineland-Palatinate was won by the photo of the reconstructed Limes palisade near Nastätten-Obertiefenbach, an idyllic place with several exemplary restored farmhouses and starting point for hikes into the romantic Hasenbach valley.
"The background to this picture was actually just that I couldn't travel so much this year due to Corona, so I simply drove to places in my surroundings and took a closer look at them again, including corners I hadn't known before," explains photographer Silke Rottleb. "And on my Roman tour around Pohl with its Limes fort, I also passed by the Limes palisade in Obertiefenbach. Since I had already photographed it from a few years ago, I went into detail this year. The pile tops looked so imposing from close up."
The municipality of Nastätten, which includes Obertiefenbach, not only boasts a charming landscape as the "Blaues Ländchen" (blue country), but also proudly presents its Roman past. In Nastätten-Berg there is a Roman-Germanic fruit trail with trees of old fruit varieties. The course of the Limes in the direction of Nastätten-Hunzel is made visible by large trees. Near Nastätten-Holzhausen there is an excellently preserved fort with conserved foundation walls. Between Nastätten-Hunzel and Pohl, the rampart and ditch of the Limes are well preserved. In Nastätten-Marienfels you can also marvel at the oldest church in Nassau Land (built in the middle of the 12th century).
Tip: The "Drei-Kastelle-Rundweg" (three forts circular route) provides access to the forts of Pohl, Pfarrhofen (near Nastätten-Miehlen) and Holzhausen and is suitable for both cycling and hiking tours.
Third place for Baden-Württemberg goes to the photo "Limes Blick im Schnee" (Limes View in the snow). "The photo was taken in February 2020 during a family walk in Pfedelbach-Gleichen to the Limes View. Glass-ball photography makes the world turn upside down - sometimes you have to change your perspective to see all the wonderful things around us," says photographer Stephanie Rüdele when asked what fascinated her about this motif.
The viewing platform in Pfedelbach-Gleichen is the southernmost of three Limes viewing platforms. Zweiflingen, Öhringen and Pfedelbach have joined forces for this unique project on the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes. The Limes Lookouts are equipped with telescopes that can be used free of charge and provide visual contact with the other viewing platforms. For orientation purposes, there are panoramic photos mounted on the viewing platforms with explanations, which visitors can use to trace the course of the Limes in the charming Hohenlohe landscape and admire the skills of the Roman engineers: Over a distance of almost 80 km, the Limes runs dead straight through the terrain, despite all topographical conditions.
If a visit to the Limes Views has whetted your appetite for more Roman sights, you will find the reconstructed foundation walls of the hexagonal tower, presumably one of the main survey points of this section of the Limes, in the forest above the Pfedelbach Limes View. The rampart and ditch are also clearly visible at the hexagonal tower.
Tip: Pfedelbach is a stop on the Limes nature trail, which covers 28 km and includes numerous Roman sights along the Upper Germanic Limes between Großerlach-Grab and Öhringen.