UNESCO World Heritage Danube Limes
The Danube Limes, the fortifications along the Danube in Bavaria, Austria and Slovakia, form the third section of the major UNESCO project "Frontiers of the Roman Empire" after Hadrian's Wall and Antonine Wall in Great Britain and the "Upper German-Raetian Limes" in Germany.
The Roman Empire was one of the largest empires in world history and reached its maximum extent under Emperor Trajan at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. It covered an area of over 6.2 million km² and its borders of more than 7,500 km were shaped by river courses, land borders with artificial barriers, mountain ranges and desert areas.
Under the project title "Frontiers of the Roman Empire", its entire course is now being placed under the protection of the international community as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For centuries, the Limes drew the border between the Roman Empire and the tribal areas of Germania not occupied by the Romans and ran from the North Sea to the Black Sea. The Danube formed the natural northern border of the Roman Empire in the area of Bavaria, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and further downstream. Despite the natural river barrier, the border was heavily fortified to secure the border of the empire, but also to ensure a regulated transfer of goods.
The 360 km long Austrian section of the Danube Limes was secured by 4 legion camps, 14 auxiliary camps and 20 known watchtowers (burgi). The actual number of watchtowers was probably significantly higher. The best-known legionary camps in the Austrian sector were Lauriacum (Enns), Vindobona (Vienna) and Carnuntum. In the event of an uncontrolled border crossing by Germanic troops, an uninterrupted chain of signals between the watchtowers and the camps enabled the Roman military to react quickly.
Carnuntum – Metropolis on the Danube Limes
Carnuntum takes a highly prominent position along the Danube Limes. Protected by a legionary camp and an auxiliary troops' camp, the capital of the Roman province of Upper Pannonia, as the seat of the governor, rose to become a metropolis with around 50,000 inhabitants and an area of 10 km². As the only city of its size and importance, it was also located directly on the border, at the intersection of the Amber Road, one of the most important north-south connections, and the Limes Road, one of the most important west-east connections in the Roman Empire.
Trade and cultural transfer fueled a flourishing of culture and prosperity. Olive oil, wine, fish sauce as a seasoning, as well as dates and figs were imported from the Mediterranean region, fine tableware was obtained from Italy or Gaul. Countless pieces of jewelry, sculptures, or fragments of magnificent wall paintings still bear witness to the luxurious life in ancient Carnuntum.