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10 Monumental Roman Ruins That Laugh in the Face of Time

 The Roman achievement in the realm of architecture is stupendous. Not only did they acquire the best engineering science from Greece and beyond, they also improved it with a number of ingenious inventions. Cement, concrete, oven-baked bricks, and the arch: these are some of the more important things they came up with during their many years of eminence and dominance. And, luckily for us, much of what they actually built still stands today - albeit in a somewhat ruinous condition. Here are 10 of the greatest architectural wonders built by the Romans.
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1. Colosseum, Rome

Rome’s Colosseum is the largest and probably most famous monument ever constructed during the Roman era. This mesmerizing amphitheater was begun by Vespasian in 72 AD. His son Titus completed the building work in 80 AD. It’s estimated that during the building’s first 100 days some 5,000 animals and 2,000 gladiators were killed while ‘performing’. In its heyday, 80 entrances could filter in 50,000 blood hungry spectators.

2. Baalbek, Lebanon

Baalbek, or Heliopolis (sun city), in northeastern Lebanon, contains three temples built from the 1st century BC, one to Jupiter, one to Bacchus, and one to Venus. The remains of the temple of Jupiter are evidence of what was once the largest temple in the Empire. Originally it was lined by 54 granite columns standing 70 feet tall. Of these, only six remain. Yet the smaller temple of Bacchus behind it is still well preserved.

3. Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon was built in 126 AD as a temple for all (pan) of the Roman gods. Ever since the 7th century, though, the building has served to worship the one Christian God instead. The structure opens with a giant circular portico that is held up with three ranks of granite Corinthian columns. The portico leads to a rotunda, roofed with a concrete dome – the largest unreinforced dome in the world. 

4. Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii was destroyed as a living city when in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering the town with soil and ash. Now, it’s as if the place has been frozen in time. If you visit you can see jars, tables, paintings, and even people, lying just as they were left. Pompeii provides an extraordinarily detailed picture of what life was like in ancient times and serves as a grizzly and sobering reminder of mortality and the passage of time.

5. Pont du Gard, France

The Pont du Gard is an ancient aqueduct once used by the Romans to carry fresh water to the city of Nimes, in modern day France. Each stone (some weigh up to six tons) had to be cut precisely since no mortar was available to fit them together. No longer used to ferry water, the aqueduct has spent much of the last millennium being used as a footbridge.

6. Amphitheater of El Djem, Tunisia

El Djem in Tunisia is the third largest amphitheater of the Ancient World, originally capable of hosting 35,000 spectators, it was built in the 3rd century AD. Today it looks good, but before the 17th century, it was even better. Unfortunately, many of the rocks were subsequently removed to be used in constructing the nearby village and mosque. You may have seen this amphitheater featured in the Hollywood movie picture, Gladiator.

7. Diocletian’s Palace, Croatia

Few people outside of Croatia are aware of this palace, built in the early 4th century AD by the retiring emperor Diocletian as his post-imperial residence. Here he whittled away his remaining days tending to his vegetable gardens. This marvelously maintained treasure of the ancient world eventually led to the creation of the modern city Split. This special building is believed to be the world’s best preserved Roman palace.

8. Verona Arena, Italy

Built in 30 AD, Verona’s stunning amphitheater continues to be used as a premier arena for cultural performances. You can attend the theater today to witness spectacular operas, but of course, the arena was originally used for bloody gladiatorial jousts. The onetime outer ring of pink and white limestone was sadly destroyed 900 years ago, but the inner part stands beautifully intact. 

9. Pula Arena, Croatia

The Pula Arena is another fine example of the Roman expertise and liking for amphitheaters. Built in the 1st century AD for 26,000 spectators, Pula is probably the best-preserved monument in Croatia – and that’s saying something! At some point during the 15th century, many stones were taken from the structure to be used in the local city. But, fortunately, this practice has ceased. Today the arena hosts cultural festivities, particularly during the hot, summer months.

10. Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain

Used right up until the 20th century to carry water to Segovia from the Frio River 10 miles away, this magnificent aqueduct is one of the best Roman monuments to be found in the Iberian Peninsula. The aqueduct contains 165 arches that stand 30 feet high. It was built using 24,000 perfectly cut stones. The entire structure winds some 2,388 feet long.

H/T: Touropia.com


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