12 Unbelievable Ancient Roman Ruins (That Aren’t in Italy)

The ancient Roman empire covered such a vast area that you can now find incredible ruins from it around the world. Here are 12 epic places to see Roman ruins outside Italy!

In 1175, a French poet and theologian named Alain de Lille wrote, “Mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam.” That’s medieval Latin for, “A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome.”

Or, as we say today, all roads lead to Rome.

Thousands of years ago, this wasn’t much of an exaggeration. Roads were the lifeblood of an empire that spanned approximately 1.9 million square miles (5.0 million square kilometers). Radiating from Rome, they crisscrossed Italy and beyond, facilitating trade and military transportation.

Hence why you don’t have to go to Italy to see Roman ruins! They’re everywhere, from Spain and Portugal to England, Turkey, Egypt, and Libya. Read on to discover 12 incredible relics of the Roman Empire outside Italy.

1. Hadrian’s Wall, England

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Hadrian’s Wall was the Roman Empire’s northernmost frontier. A remarkable feat of ancient engineering dating to circa 122 AD, it stretched 73 miles across northern England as a defensive system against the feared Barbarian tribes to the north, in Caledonia (Scotland).

Upon its completion, the wall stood roughly 4.6 meters high and 3 meters wide. Today, the remnants are a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist attraction.

2. Pont du Gard, France

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Pont du Gard is an immense Roman aqueduct spanning the Gard River in southern France. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built in the first century AD to carry water to the Roman colony at present-day Nimes. The aqueduct’s three tiers of arches stand almost 50 meters tall. It’s renowned as one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts on Earth.

3. Porta Nigra, Germany

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Meaning “Black Gate” in Latin, this dark-stoned, four-storeyed city gate in Trier, Germany, is almost 1,900 years old. It’s a real marvel of Roman engineering, held together without mortar, just with precisely hewn blocks, iron brackets, and gravity. Porta Nigra was once one of four city gates in Trier, the rest of which have been lost to time.

4. Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain

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This colossal 1st-century aqueduct once ferried water from mountain springs 11 miles away into the city of Segovia in central Spain. Incredibly, some parts of the original system are said to still be in use today.

Its most famous section is the aqueduct bridge, which stands over 28 meters tall over two tiers and has 167 total arches. The fact there is no mortar between its stones and its stood for almost 2,000 years is a testament to Rome’s engineering prowess.

5. Nîmes Amphitheatre, France

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Nîmes was once a prominent Roman colony called Nemausus. Located along the famed Via Domitia, an ancient road connecting Italy and Spain, it became a regional capital that boasted a slew of architectural delights. Among the most famous and best-preserved Roman remains in Nîmes today is an oval amphitheater that once seated 24,000 people.

6. El Jem Amphitheatre, Tunisia

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Welcome to North Africa’s largest amphitheater. Built in the 3rd century, the three-tiered El Jem amphitheater is 30m high, 148m long, and 122m wide. Back in its heyday, it could have seated up to 35,000 spectators. Apparently, the stone used in its construction would have been transported almost 20 miles from the coast.

7. Diocletian Palace, Croatia

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Diocletian Palace is located in the beautiful coastal city of Split, Croatia. Built for the Roman emperor Diocletian at the end of the third century AD, it’s a vast and extravagant palace complex that today makes up a significant chunk of Split’s old town.

History awaits around every corner, but Game of Thrones fans will be just as excited. Several scenes were filmed here, including the dungeons where Daenerys Targaryen kept her dragons while staying in Meereen.

8. Beit Shean, Israel

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Beit Shean is one of Israel’s oldest cities and biggest archaeological sites. People have lived in this area for around 6,000 years, but it was in Roman hands from approximately the first century BC. It flourished under their rule, and tens of thousands of people would have lived here at its peak. The ruins include a bathhouse, a theater, tombs, and so much more.

9. Pula Arena, Croatia

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Pula’s amphitheater is another epic reminder of ancient Roman rule in Croatia. Over 132m long, 105m wide, and 32m high, it’s a huge structure that would have seated 23,000 spectators.

Known locally as the Arena, it dates roughly to the first century AD and would have hosted gladiatorial contests. Amazingly, it had four towers with cisterns inside that would have been filled with perfumed water. This, in turn, could be sprinkled on the audience to cool them down.

10. Baalbek, Lebanon

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Lebanon’s most famous ancient site is a hotbed of Roman Imperial architecture. It dates back much further, but the city of Baalbek thrived under the Romans. They built gargantuan temples there that make anyone walking past look minuscule by comparison, with monoliths weighing hundreds of tons and columns rising 20m into the sky. The scale, preservation, and detail in the stonework are second to none.

11. Roman Theater of Orange, France

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The Rhône Valley in France is home to a spectacular Roman theatre with a notorious façade that’s over 100 meters long, almost 2 meters thick, and stands 37 meters tall. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Theater of Orange was built under Emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD. King Louis XIV of France considered it “the most beautiful wall in the kingdom.”

12. Belogradchik Fortress, Bulgaria

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This fortress in Bulgaria’s Balkan Mountains boasts incredible history in a stunning location. The Romans built the initial stronghold (“the Citadel”) between the first and third centuries AD, utilizing the natural protection granted by the rocky terrain. Belogradchik Fortress has been added to over the centuries, turning it into the iconic site it is today.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.