Looking at scattered Roman ruins: A personal thought on old rocks

Most people are aware how influential the Romans were at the height of their rule.  I don’t think that people always realize how the Romans were everywhere.  I guess they were some of the first hardcore travelers and traders and everywhere they went, they meant serious business.  Roman ruins lay scattered across most of Europe, North Africa, Western Asia and Britain.  If you travel to any of these places today and visit the sights, you will most likely end up with ‘ruin fatigue’ (similar to ‘cathedral fatigue’…).

TarragonaTheatreIt’s not even a shame to admit it.  There goes another few euros to look at a bunch of old rocks, half a Roman column and some (bad) 3D reconstruction videos of what it used to look like.  I think it depends on what type of traveler you are, but coming from a ‘young’ country such as South Africa, it’s hard not to be impressed by old Roman ruins.  I do love the flavor of the complicated history of the world, especially that of Europe and Asia.  Together with my curiosity and imaginary flare I tend to enjoy old places a lot.  I might have even experienced some spiritual elements at some of the ruin sites I’ve visited.  Sometimes there’s just something in the air, those thousands of previous souls that wandered through that narrow corridor with the thick stone walls you are walking along right now, sometimes you can just feel the history.  I can sometimes just marvel at the engineering genius of the Romans.  I mean they were building enormous amphitheaters and aqueducts long before anything was happening in the South of Africa.

South Africa was only founded in 1652 by Dutch settlers followed by the French protestant settlers (who brought the vine) and then the English.  There aren’t any buildings or ruins around here from anytime before this. Charles_Bell_-_Jan_van_Riebeeck_se_aankoms_aan_die_Kaap The indigenous tribes have been in the country long before the settlers, but they were nomads, not engineers.  They lived in their movable homes of dried grass and clay, not the best building materials to withstand the test of time.  The nomads lived simple lives with no great politics or the conquering of continents to worry about.  The Romans were extravagant, passionate and bold and everywhere they went they allowed a huge piece of Western history to be left behind (the good, the bad, the ugly).  That is why I enjoy looking at the ‘old rocks’ and will probably pay many more euros to see more of them.  My country is young and experiencing places that have existed centuries before my country was even discovered is something one can’t completely describe.  The Romans also had a big part to play in the history of Christianity, which just intrigues me more.

So, should you spend your 7 euro on old ruins?  Or rather use your money for a cocktail at a modern trendy bar?  I guess it does depend on you.  If you like a bit of history and want to follow your curiosity to the romanticized ideas of gladiators and damsels and fights about empires, or just want to marvel at the engineering genius of constructions calculated by brain and hand, not computers, you might want to spend your money on another site of centuries old ruins.Romancircus1


6 thoughts on “Looking at scattered Roman ruins: A personal thought on old rocks

  1. Rich, Sue and I use the affectionate term ‘piles of rocks’ for ruins of any sort, from prehistoric burial mounds to Napoleonic forts. And we love all of them! So, I’m with you, NP, I’m always ready to shell out a few (insert currency here) to help preserve a pile of old rocks for tomorrow by letting me explore them today.

    Oh, and you’re right about people not realising that the Romans got everywhere, too. I recently wrote a blog about the Roman arena in Pula, Slovenia (http://jaspasjourney.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/pulas-roman-arena/), and had a least two comments on it saying how great my photos of Rome were! (???)


  2. Australia is a ‘new country’ too despite over 50,000 years of aboriginal history. I marvel at our 200 year old buildings. Travelling to Asia and Europe was mind blowing and we sought out “piles of rocks” as often as we could. We never became fatigued by it. But then again, I think I dragged T through every church and cathedral too and never succumbed to fatigue of that either!

    Which set of ruins had the most impact on you?


    1. I was really astonished by the Medina Asahara ruins in Andalusia in Spain, close to Cordoba. It’s the ruins of one of the first Arab palaces in Spain. Some of the ruins are damaged to the ground but some of the signature gate arches are still completely intact! Considering the history of the Moors in Spain, it was really cool.

      Also the Roman Circus in Tarragona is half underground and the best preserved in the world. It gave me the chills!

      What have you seen that you thought interesting?


      1. Pompeii. I had a concept of what it would be like in my head but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of the place. Over 2000 years old and a proper, large city. Each time I visit there is more to see as excavations continue. Have you been?


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