Discover the history of the Limes

Nowadays, the Roman Limes lies largely hidden beneath the earth's surface, but it used to be an insurmountable obstacle: the northern border of the Roman Empire, which crossed Katwijk, Valkenburg and Leiden.

The border followed the river the Rijn. In those days, a large number of forts and other fortifications were placed along the Rijn, which divided the Netherlands in two. As such, the Romans tried to keep the enemies of the North out of their mighty empire. The strategy proved successful: this Limes (‘border’ or ‘path’ in Latin) lasted for over three centuries.

There was a Roman Limes fort on the shores of Katwijk, at the end of the Limes. This fort was called ‘Lugdunum Batavorum’, the origin of the Latin name for ‘Leiden’. Historians do not agree about the function of the building even though we can assume that it was part of the defence line. Locally, the fort was known as ‘De Brittenburg’. According to oral tradition, the ruins of De Brittenburg arose from the sea in the 16th century to disappear again for ever. A digital reconstruction will present the building as it could have looked.

‘Preatorium Agrippinae’, an impressive military fort was established in Valkenburg. The first roman settlement on this location was built by emperor Caligula in 39 AD. Over the centuries, the fort was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The remainder of this fort is well preserved because the ruins were below ground water level. And many interesting findings have been made! The Roman fort was situated in the present-day centre of Valkenburg. At Castellum square, the contours are still visible. They are highlighted in the streets by metal buttons in the ground. A reconstruction has been made of the base of one of the gates.

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