The power, influence, and contribution of Ancient Rome to modern history are legendary. Due to the proximity of Switzerland to Rome, it comes as no surprise that the Ancient Romans looked to expand to present-day Switzerland.
Was Switzerland part of the Roman Empire? Yes, Switzerland was part of the Roman Empire. In fact, it was even part of its predecessor – the Roman Republic.
In 58 BC, Julius Caesar won against the Helvetii tribe during the Gallic Wars. The Romans started settling in Switzerland one battle after another. This win paved the way for the Romans to rule parts of Switzerland.
Swiss Cities and Municipalities Under Roman Empire
During the next two centuries of peace after the Gallic Wars, lots of cities developed. These cities prospered under Pax Romana. These Roman cities were:
- Aventicum (Avenches)
- Lusonna (Lausanne)
- Noviodunum (Nyon)
- Genava (Geneva)
- Octodunum (Martigny)
- Sedunum (Sion)
- Vindonissa (Windisch)
- Augusta Raurica (Kaiseraugst)
- Arbor Felix (Arbon)
- Tasgaetium (Stein am Rhein)
- Salodurum (Solothurn)
All these Ancient Roman settlements are still wonderful to visit these days. The Romans helped build castles, streets, waterworks, thermal baths, and forums.
Historical Monuments from the Roman Empire in Switzerland
Thanks to the Roman Empire, Switzerland has these wonderful historical monuments and infrastructure. There are three Roman settlements in Switzerland that have excavated and preserved structures and remains from the Roman period. These are present-day Avenches (Aventicum), Kaiseraugst (Augusta Raurica), and Windisch (Vindonissa).
Some other cities, like Nyon and Chur, also have vestiges of the Roman Empire that you could visit.
In this article, we list the tourist destinations brought about by the Roman Empire.
Avenches, in Canton Vaud, is a municipality that used to be a Roman Colony called Aventicum. It was, in fact, the capital of the province. Both the Romans and their predecessors, the Helvetians, made Avenches their capital.
The Romans established Aventicum as their capital from 15 to 13 BC. At its peak, it had 20,000 inhabitants. This number has dwindled to less than 500 today.
Nowadays, this charming medieval village is an interesting and attractive town to visit. Many structures in Avenches are listed as Swiss Heritage Sites of National Significance. These include the following:
- The Roman Ruins of Aventicum
- Avenches Castle
- The Cure at Rue du Jura 2
- The Swiss Reformed Church
- The Temple à Donatyre
- The Tour de l’éveque (Bishop’s Tower) with Amphitheater
- Roman Museum – The Roman Museum has a 1.6-kilogram golden bust of the Caesar Marc Aurel as shown below.
The entire town of Avenches is also included in the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
Augusta Raurica (Kaiseraugst)
The municipality Kaiseraugst is located in the Rheinfelden region of Aargau. It used to be a Roman colony – Augusta Raurica. It was established in 44 BC by Munatius Plancus. This place was, until 3 AD, a city with approximately 30,000 inhabitants
Kaiseraugst is just a stone’s throw from Basel in Switzerland. It is an outing for the entire household that provides much and costs little. Since 1582, excavations have brought about the following structures:
- The Roman theatre
- The Roman villa
- An Amphitheater
- A Temple
- The Forum with a Basilica
- Thermal Baths
- Ancient Roman Houses
The most significant silver decoration of late antiquity can be found in the Roman Museum located in Giebenacherstrasse 17. There are also some animals and picnic areas in the Roman Museum.
Windisch is a municipality in the Canton of Aargau. There used to be a Roman Legion camp here called Vindonissa. It is the only known Roman Legionary Camp in Switzerland.
You will find here historical places such as:
- The Roman Amphitheater
- The Vindonissa Legionary Trail – this Roman adventure park offers tours to Roman sites and insights into the daily life during this era
Roman Museums and Structures in Switzerland
- Kastell Arbor Felix (Arbon Castle) – Kastell Arbor Felix is a recognized Ancient Roman Military Command and Control Unit. Various Roman coins, ceramics, and the remains of walls were discovered between 1864 and 1902. Furthermore, the semicircular foundations of an ancient building and Roman fort walls were discovered in later years. Six wall towers have been excavated either completely or partially. Of these six, only two have been well-preserved. The remains have been found in the Bergliquartier of Arbon.
- Roman Museum of Nyon – The Roman Museum of Nyon houses the foundations of a basilica discovered in 1974. The basilica, part of a Roman forum, can be found below the ground level of the museum. This building erected in 1 AD, is around 2 meters high. Most archeological remains discovered in Nyon is underground. Once archaeological material has been found, it is moved to the Roman Museum of Nyon for the exhibition, as long as it is transportable.
- Archeological Site in Chur – The remains of two Roman buildings were found in Welschdörfli in Chur. In this part of the old town, prehistoric settlements and remains of a Roman street station have been discovered. In order to protect the remains found, award-winning architect Peter Zumthor helped build a modern pavilion to cover its remains. Excavations and relics from that era are exhibited on Seilerbahnweg.
- Roman Museum Lausanne-Vidy – The Roman Museum Lausanne-Vidy houses various artifacts found in the region of Lausanne. These include stonework, tiles, glass, coins, and many more. There is also an archeological walk outside the museum that includes vestiges of the Roman forum.
- Avenches: A Fascinating, Ancient Roman Site in Switzerland
- The Historic Town of Arbon, Switzerland
- Romansh Language in Switzerland
- 10 Beautiful Medieval Towns in Switzerland
- Is Chur Worth Visiting? 8 Fun Things To Do In Chur
- Is Lausanne Worth Visiting? 10 Reasons Why
- Wonderful Towns To Visit on Lake Constance
- Solothurn – 9 Best Things to Do in this Beautiful Baroque City
Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.