The Lower Germanic Limes
A Roman presence in the Netherlands
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021, the Lower Germanic Limes is the name given to the structures that marked the Roman Empire’s northern border. It stretches across the Netherlands from Nijmegen to Katwijk aan Zee and across the German border. There are remains of military and civilian life from this era – from towering fortresses and military bases to roads, towns, cemeteries, a palace and an amphitheater. Preserved underground in waterlogged soil deposits for thousands of years, there are also precious artefacts: artworks, household items, helmets and weapons that paint a detailed picture of Roman civilization.
Sites of historical significance
The Lower German Limes consist of 44 clusters of 102 archeological components built along the Rhine river. Parts of the structures are visible above ground, parts have merged into the landscapes and digital visualizations have recreated the settlements as they once stood. The remains offer fascinating insights into Roman military operations and the Romans’ engineering and architectural prowess. They prove that their technical knowledge – in construction, boat building, water management and defence – reached the furthest corners of their empire.
Skilled engineers, builders and soldiers
The Lower Germanic Limes reveal details about the conflict between the Romans and Germanic tribes. The forts and army bases illustrate a planned attack on the German territories across the Rhine. When this conquest was unsuccessful, the Romans converted the riverbank into a fortified settlement – building watchtowers, harbors, and villages occupied by civilians and merchants. The detail of this infrastructure demonstrates how Roman military engineers were ahead of their time in terms of architectural design and the skill involved in establishing an army base on an area of wetland. The remains also show evidence of cultural exchange with the neighboring settlements, such as engineering techniques, agricultural development and even culinary traditions.
Travel back in time
Visiting the Lower German Limes is a chance to experience a culturally significant piece of history. The museums and their ever-changing exhibitions offer an immersive experience into life in the Netherlands during Roman times. Museum De Bastei in Nijmegen displays archaeological treasures including original wall fragments. Visitors can learn more about the history by visiting the exhibitions about defence, life on the river and natural history. DOMunder in Utrecht is an immersive experience that takes you underneath the square next to the St Martin’s Cathedral, where Roman ruins remain after 2000 years and light installations recreate buildings and scenes of daily life in Roman times. Archeon museum park offers a fun, educational recreation of the Netherlands throughout history. Expect soldiers in costume, see a gladiator fight, learn about ancient herbs, explore a Roman bathhouse and make your own ceramics. The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden has a permanent exhibition on the Netherlands in Roman times displaying original helmets, swords, coins, Latin scripture and bronze figurines. And don’t miss Museum Hoge Woerd, where you’ll see a 2000-year-old wooden river boat, a recreated fortress and interactive exhibits.
Learn more and get inspired
Start your journey by viewing the clusters of remains of the Limes in detail on this interactive map. There are even designated walking and cycling routes that allow you to explore the Limes at your own pace. The RomeinenNU website is updated with event and exhibition dates, activities for children, videos and information.