Above: former wall at the northeast corner of the Roman fort Castra Regina. Photo by Dr. Bernd Gross (image no. 7, Wiki CC3).
Regensburg is situated in central Bavaria, and is 1 and 1.5 hours from Nürnberg (Nuremberg) and München (Munich), respectively, with the train. While meandering through the Regensburg’s Old Town, it’s easy to forget most of this area was once occupied by a Roman fortress about 1800 years ago.
In 179 AD/CE, the Roman Empire established the fortress “Castra Regina”, or “fortress by the river Regen”, where the Regen enters the Danube river. The Danube became in effect a part of the Roman Empire’s northern frontier (“Danube Limes”). Emperor Marcus Aurelius recognized the need for extra security in the northern imperial province of Raetia where the Danube’s course reached its northernmost point. To ward off incursions by northern Germanic tribes, up to six thousand soldiers from the Third Italic Legion were stationed at the fortress.
At peak operation, the fortress encompassed an area 540 metres by 450 metres (24 hectares, or 60 acres) with a wall up to 10 metres (33 feet) high made of large sandstone blocks, 18 towers, 4 double-tower gates, and a wide trench. Within the grounds were barracks, headquarters building (principia), commanding officer’s own residence (praetorium), a military hospital (valetudinarium), granary (horrea), workshops, and stables. Civilians and support tradesmen built a settlement to the west of the fort. By the 5th-century, constant raids and migrations forced the Romans to abandon the area. A civilian settlement eventually grew over the fortress which is today’s Altstadt (Old Town)1.
The free-of-charge open-air museum includes restored remnants of the old Roman fortress complete with information displays in both English and German. The primary information location is at the parking garage at Dachauplatz (which is closed at night); the other three locations are accessible outdoors at any time.
The Porta Praetoria is one of multiple constituents in the tri-nation (AT DE SK) inscription for “Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Danube Limes” as UNESCO World Heritage Site (new, as of July 2021).
The map below shows the location of the Castra Regina encampment and locations of the “document Legionslagermauer” in the city’s Old Town. Click on the “arrow-window” icon at the upper-left corner of the map for additional details.