A cradle of Western civilization, the influence of Ancient Rome spread far and wide from England to Armenia and Romania to Libya comprising, at its peak, 2.5 million square miles.
The Romans gave us infrastructure, science, medicine and much more and to this day, much of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East are littered with the remains of one of the greatest civilizations that ever existed. There are literally thousands of Roman ruins across dozens of countries, but here are some of the most impressive of them all.
1. Leptis Magna, Libya
Leptis Magna is arguably the most spectacular Roman ruin on the planet and, unlike many comparable ruins, it remains unspoiled and rarely visited by tourists. The once prominent city of the Roman Empire is located about eighty miles to the east of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The remains of the city are some of the best preserved among the world’s antiquities and, in fact, a considerable amount of the city has yet to be excavated, remaining under the sand dunes. Today, visitors lucky enough to find a way to get there will be able to see many landmarks including the market place, theatre, Septimus Severus Arch, Severan Basilica, the Forum, Baths and more.
2. Jerash, Jordan
Jerash is home to an ancient Roman city which is undoubtedly one of Jordan’s finest ancient relics after Petra. The Roman name of the city is Gerasa and it comprises a particularly impressive oval-shaped forum surrounded by elaborate colonnades with a colonnaded street leading up to it.
There are two theatres, two bath houses and various small temples scattered around the site. There are also well-preserved city walls. A Roman bridge connects the ancient site to the modern city nearby.
3. Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra is located in an oasis in the desert of Syria to the north-east of the capital, Damascus. The city was one of the most significant economic and cultural centres in the first and second centuries. The remains are not exclusively Roman, however – there is considerable influence from ancient Greek and local Persian cultures.
The ruins of Palmyra are vast and some of the main sites include the Temple of Ba’al, the Temple of Yarchabol, the Decumanus, the Arch of Septimus Severus, the Temple of Nabu, the Baths of Diocletian and many more landmarks including public buildings, residences and market places.
4. Diocletian’s Palace, Croatia
Located in the beautiful coastal city of Split, Croatia, are the magnificent remains of Diocletian’s Palace. It was built in the early fourth century as a retirement place for the Roman emperor and a great deal remains of the palace.
The city of Split itself gradually grew around the location. What makes the site particularly unique is that it is by far the best-preserved and most complete Roman palace remaining. It perfectly exemplifies the art and architecture of the period.
5. Pompeii, Italy
Near the Italian city of Naples are the well-preserved ruins of Pompeii, one of the world’s most famous Roman archaeological sites. Unfortunately, it is often crowded with hordes of tourists but if you get a chance to see it off-season on a relatively quiet day, you can almost imagine living there in back in ancient times.
Pompeii provides one of the most accurate portrayals of Roman life in the first century due to the fact that is was so suddenly buried under the ash of the eruption of the volcano, Vesuvius, giving almost no one a chance to escape. Here you can see many relics of day to day life in ancient times.