A Roman holiday in Xanten

We took a short ‘Roman holiday’ and spent a day in the German city of Xanten, that was a huge Roman settlement 2000 years ago. The city is now known for one of the largest archaeological open air museums in the world: the Archeological Park. It is built on the remains of Colonia Ulpia Traiana, as the Roman settlement was called.

Northern city gate of the Roman settlement.
View from the tower of the northern gate.

A beautiful park

Do you need to be a fan of Roman history to enjoy this park? No, not necessarily. Because this is simply a beautiful park to walk in. The Roman streetplan is marked by broad lanes of trees. In the park you’ll find a number of marvellous reconstructions of Roman buildings. These reconstructions are the result of profound archaeological research into Roman building techniques and constructions.  Some of these reconstructions are on the exact same place as the original buildings. So this is how they built the amphitheatre, the city walls and gates, the inn and the public baths.

The amphitheatre


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Reconstruction of a Roman temple.



A copy of the grave stone of the Roman soldier Firmus found at Andernach, Germany. There are a number of these grave stones near the northern gate.


In the park you will also find the LVR-RömerMuseum, that was moved from the centre of Xanten to the park a few years ago. The building design is a mixture of modern and Roman influences. The architects took their inspiration from the Roman baths. For a reason, because the remains of the reception room of the Roman city therms are buried under the museum.

The museum building design is a mix of modern and Roman influences.

The museum shows the history of Xanten in chronological order. It’s interesting to see the many archaeological finds froom 2000 years ago. The remains of the Roman therms are in a separate hall of the museum.

The remains of the Roman baths in a separate hall in the museum.


We spent about 5 hours in the park and museum. The park is quite large and you can walk around for hours. Perfect for a day out!

Medieval city centre

The Archaeological Park is not the only atraction in Xanten, the medieval city centre is also wordt a visit. It is centered around the marketplace and (Alter Markt) the cathedral. The Alter Markt is a perfect place to have lunch or dinner in one of the many restaurants.


Xanten cathedral. The cornerstone was laid in 1263, construction of the cathedral lasted 281 years.