Top 5 Ruins of the Roman Empire

One of the greatest Empires in history is that of the Romans. Most of us learned that at school. But when on our travels, exactly which parts of the world can we see some of the best examples of Roman architecture? From the Roman heartland of Italy to present-day Syria, there are certainly some impressive cities to visit, some of which were built and some of which were just invaded. So what did the Romans ever do for us, eh?

Umm Qais, Jordan

5. Umm Qais, Jordan, is the modern name for the city that was once known as Gadara, itself a major city of the Greco-Roman Decapolis. The Bible also says that Umm Qais was the historic location where Jesus cast out the Devil from two Demoniacs into a herd of pigs. Nowadays, many visitors come to Umm Qais on day trips to see its extensive ruins and enjoy its panoramic views.

The tragic tale of Pompeii, Italy

4. Pompeii, Italy, was an ancient Roman city near modern-day Naples. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 20ft of volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. These days, Pompeii has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.

Palmyria, Syria, before ISIS occupation

3. Palmyra, Syria, is an ancient Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, and the city was first documented in the early second millennium BC. Palmyra changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire in the first century AD. In modern times, religious extremists have destroyed much of the site, including three of the best preserved tower tombs and even buildings with no religious meaning. Reconstruction in underway.

Baalbek, Lebanon

2. Baalbek, Lebanon, is a city in the Anti-Lebanon foothills east of the Litani River in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, about 53 miles northeast of Beirut. Following Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia in the 330s BC, Baalbek (under its Hellenic name “Heliopolis”) formed part of the Diadochi Kingdoms of Egypt & Syria. It was annexed by the Romans during their eastern wars. The settlers of the Roman colony “Colonia Julia Augusta Felix Heliopolitana” may have arrived as early as the time of Caesar. It retained its religious function during Roman times, when it attracted thousands of pilgrims. Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture.

The Roman Coliseum

1. The Roman Coliseum, Italy, is located in the Italian capital and laid at the heart of what was known as the Roman Empire. It was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and was commissioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian to stage deadly combat of gladiators publically fighting wild animals. These combats were attended by the poor, the rich, and sometimes even by the Emperor himself. One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. Should the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on. Now it is a must-see attraction when in Rome.

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