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Frontiers of the Roman Empire (Austria)

Date of Submission: 09/02/2015
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Federal Ministry for the Arts, Culture Constitution and Media of the Republic of Austria
State, Province or Region:
Provinces of Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Vienna
Ref.: 6004
Other States Parties participating
Word File Word File

The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The Roman Empire, in its territorial extent, was one of the greatest empires the world has known. Enclosing the Mediterranean world and surrounding areas, it was protected by a network of frontiers stretching from the Atlantic Cost in the west, to the Black Sea in the east, from central Scotland in the north to the northern fringes of the Sahara Desert in the south. Much of this frontier survives on and in the ground. It was largely constructed in the 2nd century AD when the Empire reached its greatest extent. This frontier was at times a linear barrier, at other times protected spaces, or in some cases a whole military zone.

Substantial remains survive (clockwise from the west) in the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Starting on the western coast of northern Britain, the frontier in Europe then ran along the rivers Rhine and Danube, looping round the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea. The eastern frontier, stretching from the Black Sea to the Red Sea and running through mountains, great river valleys and the desert. To the south, Rome’s protective cordon embraced Egypt and then ran along the northern edge of the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic shore in Morocco. 

The remains include the lines of the linear frontier, natural elements such as the sea, rivers and deserts, and networks of military installations and ancillary features such as roads on, behind and beyond the frontier. These encompass both visible and buried archaeology. Together the inscribed remains and those to be nominated in the future form an extensive relict cultural landscape which displays the unifying character of the Roman Empire, through its common culture, but also its distinctive responses to local geography and political and economic conditions. Each component part is a substantial reflection of the way resources were deployed in a particular part of the Empire.

Hadrian’s Wall, Upper German-Raetian Limes, the Antonine Wall, situated in Great Britain and Germany, are already jointly inscribed on the World Heritage List as Component Parts of Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site (FRE WHS; since 1987, 2005 and 2008 repectively).  The Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria is the westernmost riverine part of the frontier on the southern bank of the Danube, element of a continuous line of frontier installations down to the Black Sea. As this part lies in the territories of Germany and Austria, the nomination of the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria as an extension of the FRE WHS will therefore be made jointly be the two States Parties.

Name(s) of the component part(s)

List of single sites located within the future serial nomination "Danube Limes in Austria" (from West to East)





Coordinates N LAT 

Coordinates E, LONG 

Present Situation, State of Conservation



Fortlet Oberranna




masonry of the base foundation beneath a former inn (demolished in 2007), especially at the side along the road


St. Agatha and Haibach

Fort Schlogen (AD MAUROS'?)

Fort, civil settlement



structure of the western gate conserved and visible, partly preserved as archeological site



Watch tower Hirschleitengraben

Watch tower



base of the tower conserved and visible



Fort Linz (LENTIA)

Fort, civil settlement



Many parts overbuilt, some parts preserved as archeological site beneath the present level; location of the earlier fort not assured through topographical indicators, late antique fort and hill fort on Schlossberg and Romerberg



Legionary fortress Enns


Legionary fortress, civil settlement



Many parts overbuilt, some parts preserved as archeological site beneath the present level; the north-edge as the only and most important site monument in Eons still visible; late antique basement of St. Laurent conserved and visible (early Christian episcopal church with buildings of the civil settlement from the imperial epoch); lime kilns; sanctuary Georgenberg


St. Pantaleon-Erla

Legionary fortress


Legionary fortress



Almost completely preserved beneath the present level


Wallsee- Sindelburg

Fort Wallsee (LOCUS FELICIS?)

Fort, civil settlement, cemetery



Many parts overbuilt, some parts preserved as archeological site beneath the present level, late antike fortlet (burgus) inside of the south-east corner visible


Ybbs an der Donau

Fortlet Ybbs (AD PONTEM ISES?)




In the eastern part of the area near the church remains of a late-antique fortification, wall as eastern edge of the burgus with a height up to 2 meter



Fort Pochlarn



Fort, civil settlement



Both horseshoe-shaped towers at the southern front preserved and visible, many parts overbuilt, some parts preserved as archeological site beneath the present level


SchOnbtihel- Aggsbach

Watch tower Blashausgraben

W     atch tower



Preserved as archaeological Site beneath the present level



Watch tower Bacharnsdorf

Watch tower



partly preserved, masonry conserved



Watch tower St. Lorenz

Watch tower




masonry (forms part of the building north of the church) partly preserved  



Watch tower Windstallgraben

Watch tower



masonry of the base foundation conserved and visible


Mautern an der Donau

Fort Mautern (FAVIANIS)

Fort, civil settlement



Parts of the antique walls of the fort to great extent preserved at the western front and with them a late-antique horseshoe-shaped tower, furthermore a proved as well as an assumed array-tower. As part of the walls of the Nikolai-court at the eastern front a horseshoe-shaped tower is preserved. Niche-shaped basement in the southern vicus of the fort



Fort Traismauer (AUGUSTIANIS)

Fort, civil settlement



Roman gate (antique walls up to the 2nd floor), horseshoe-shaped tower at the northern front, array-tower in the south-western corner with a height up to 4 meter, Principia and basement conserved and visible. Many parts overbuilt, partly preserved as archaeological site beneath the present level



Fort Zwentendorf (ASTURIS)

Fort, civil settlement, cemetery



partly preserved as archeological site


Tulin an der Donau

Fort Tulin (COMAGENA)




Eastern gate, north-western tower and south-eastern array tower conserved and visible. Many parts overbuilt, partly as archeological site beneath the present level preserved


Zeisel matter

Fort Zeiselmauer (CANNABIACA)




Eastern gate, north-eastern array-tower, remains of the fort and Principia conserved and visible. South-western horseshoe-shaped tower beneath of the school-building visible. Partly overbuilt, partly preserved as archeological site beneath the present level





Fort, civil settlement



Many parts overbuilt, partly preserved as archeological site beneath the present level



Legionary fortress Wien


Legionary fortress



Conserved walls in the 1st district of Vienna; almost all parts of the fortress and the civil settlements overbuilt, some parts preserved as archeological site and visible


Petronell- Carnuntum, Bad Deutsch Altenburg

Legionary fortress CARNUNTUM

Legionary fortress, auxiliary fort, civil settlements, cemetery, Limes road



Eastern gate-tower, civil settlement, two amphitheaters,

"Heidentor" triumphal monument conserved and visible. Some parts overbuilt, some parts preserved as archeological site beneath the present level

Description of the component part(s)

The nominated section Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria forms the westernmost part of the vast and complex Danube Limes and consists of a number of individual sites located along a stretch of about 500 kilometres from the vicinity of the fort of Eining (Abusina) in Lower Bavaria, where the Upper German-Raetian Limes ends, to Passau at the border to Austria and further on to the area east of Hainburg / Wolfsthal in Lower Austria close to the Slovak border.

The Austrian Limes section is about 357.5 km long and runs along the river Danube from the border of Germany (Bavaria) close to Passau through Upper and Lower Austria and Vienna to the area east of Hainburg/Wolfsthal besides the Slovak border and the city of Bratislava. In a wider context this stretch of the frontier is part of the Danube Limes which starts close to the fort of Eining in Bavaria and leads for more than 2800 kilometres all the way down to the Black Sea.

The first demarcation line in this area came into existence when the frontier territory was turned into the official Roman provinces Raetia (today in Bavaria), Noricum (today in Austria) and Pannonia (today in Austria and Hungary) around AD 40. For over 400 years this fortification system was the outer borderline of the Roman Empire, protecting it from the tribes to the North.  The frontier in Noricum was given up by Rome in 487/88 AD. On its abandonment quite some fortification elements were reused during the Middle Ages and survived well preserved into present days.

The frontier system consisted of a chain of fortifications along the southern bank of the river Danube using the river as an additional obstacle and as a communication, supply and trade route. Along the course of the river line lay four legionary fortresses (Upper Austria: Enns; Lower Austria: Albing, Carnuntum, Vienna: Wien), 12 forts and fortlets (Upper Austria: Overranna, Schlogen, Linz; Lower Austria: Wallsee, Ybbs, Pochlarn, maurern, Traismauer, Zwentendorf, Tulln, Zeiselmauer, Klosterneuburg) and 5 watch-towers (Upper Austria: Hirschleitengraben; Lower Austria: Blashausgraben, Bacharnsdorf, St. Lorenz, Windstallgraben). The individual military installations and other ancillary features were linked by a supra-regional road, the Limes road, identified and preserved in some parts. Besides the fortresses, forts and fortlets existed civil settlements and cemeteries. 

The settings of the Roman frontier installations have been influenced by the landscape of both sides of the Danube as a geographical feature as well as by the wish to control the main ancient trade routes across and east of the Alps (so called ‘Norican highway into Bohemia’, Amber route to the Baltic Sea area).The landscape, the Roman army had to face, was dominated by narrow gorges like the ‘Schlogener Schlinge’ in Upper Austria or the ‘Wachau’ to the east on Lower Austria and by wide plains like the ’Linzer Becken’, the ‘Tullner Feld’ and the Pannonian plains between Vienna and Carnuntum. Those geographical conditions determined the location of the frontier installations as well the deployment of specific types of troops. One can recognize a major difference in the general set up pf the frontier: while the forts in the flat countryside at the eastern part in Lower Austria remained nearly unfortified till the middle of the 2nd century AD.  This was due to the inaccessible, led populated countryside north of Danube with dense woodland and rough landscapes.

The proposed site would encompass almost all known, still existing and scheduled fortresses, forts and watch-towers between Oberranna and Carnuntum, along the Danube mentioned and the additional features according to the Koblenz Declaration of the Bratislava Group including civil towns and settlements and cemeteries adjacent to the military fortifications. The river itself and the temporary fortifications beyond the borderline will not be part of the World Heritage proposal. Over the last 2000 years the river bed often changed over longer distances. Because of these changes and floods some sites on the lower grounds were partly or completely destroyed by the water. In the 19at century the river Danube underwent extensive regulatory measures, which did not help to preserve the monuments. But quite a lot of them were detected and investigated through those activities.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Roman Frontier as a whole has an extraordinarily high cultural value. It was the border of one of the most extensive civilizations in human history, which influenced the western world and its peoples for many centuries. It had an important effect on urbanisation and on the spread of cultures among remote regions. The scope and extent of the frontier reflects the unifying impact of the Roman Empire on the wider Mediterranean world, an impact that persisted long after the empire had collapsed. The Frontier is the largest single monument of Roman civilization.

The Frontier illustrates and reflects the complex technological and organisational abilities of the Roman Empire which allowed them to plan, create and protect a frontier of some 5000 km in length, with a garrison of tens of thousands of men, and to manage the social, economic and military implications of this frontier. The frontier demonstrates the variety and sophistication of the Roman response to topography and political, military and social circumstances which include walls, banks, rivers, and sea.

The nominated segment, the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria, will significantly contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site. The multiform remains of the military infrastructure at the southern edge of the Danube valley reflect the many centuries of Rome’s involvement, during which the border area functioned as: 

  •  heavily patrolled frontier;
  •  base for protecting the Roman Empire with the potential to launch campaigns against its enemies;
  •  zone connecting two key areas of the Empire – the northern fringes of the Alpes with the access towards Italy and the Danubian provinces;
  •  crossroads for trade, cultures and ideas.

The many functions fulfilled by the border zone – some concurrent, others successive – are what make the Danube Limes in Bavaria an indispensable contribution to the Danube Limes as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Criterion (ii): The Austrian section of the Danube Limes represents an excellent example for the influence of the Roman rule on the economic and social development of ta relatively small community and territory between the Alps and the river Danube. Besides the already existing interchange in north-south direction along the ancient trade routes with the population and territories north of the river Danube the Roman army established and supported an intense cultural exchange between the western and eastern parts of Europe by the building of a secure corridor and an international transport rout north of the Alps with additional infrastructure to control this territory. Therefore the fortifications and the civil settlements structures developed around the forts often represent a two-folded character combining characteristic elements from western and eastern Roman provinces. The complexity and extent of this network is also significantly witnessed by the numerous archaeological findings that have been unearthed at the nominated properties and elsewhere. The linear defence system developed fully in the later 2nd century AD, when the gaps in the western defence were closed by establishing a new fortlet in Schlogen (around 130 AD) and a legionary base in Enns/Lauracum (around 190 AD). In Late Antiquity the borderline in Austria shared a similar military history with the neighbouring Danube Limes provinces to the West (modern Bavaria) and East (modern Slovakia and Hungary) with the building of a more elaborate defence system.

Criterion (iii): the Roman frontier is the largest monument of the Roman Empire, one of the world’s greatest preindustrial empires. The physical remains of Limes, Forts, watch-towers, settlements and the hinterland dependent upon the frontier reflect the complexities of Roman culture but also its unifying factors across Europe and the Mediterranean world.

Unlike the Roman monuments already inscribed, the RE’s constructions are evednce from the edges of the Empires and reflect the adoption of Roman culture by its subject peoples. The frontier wad not an impregnable barrier: rather it controlled and allowed the movement of peoples within the military units, amongst civilians and merchants, thus allowing Roman culture to be transmitted around the region and for it to absorb influences from outside its borders. The most important characteristics is the successful control of two of the most important transnational communications routes of the Roman Empire in Europe the transnational West-East running Limes road and the North-South leading Amber route. The amber route crossed the Danube in the Carnuntum region and acted as one of the most important springboard for diplomatic and political interventions as well as for people, culture and technology transfer between the roman Empire and the tribal territories in the North (Barbaricum).

The nominated site of the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria comprises tangible elements testifying to the function of the river Danube as a frontier of the Roman Empire over a considerable span of time (from the mid-1st century AD until the second half of the 5th century AD). The consequences of the establishment of a permanent frontier are reflected today by the various monuments, whether civil of military. The army and the fortification system played a crucial role for the history and political development of the Northern Roman provinces and are connected with major historical events such as the Marcomannic Wars (166-182 AD) and the activities of Saint Severin in the 5th century AD.

Criterion (iv): The Frontier reflects the power and might of the Roman Empire and the spread of classical culture and Romanisation which shaped much of the subsequent development of Europe.

The establishment and structure of the military installations in today’s Austria clearly demonstrate the ability of the Roman army to adjust its demarcations/control/defence system to the individual geographical and demographical pre-conditions. This can be clearly demonstrated by the different system of frontier installations in the western and eastern part of the Austrian Limes section and the deployment of troops (cavalry, infantry and mixed units). The still existing fortifications along the Austrian section of the Danube Limes are among the best and highest preserved examples of late Roman military architecture throughout the empire. The towers and gates, which often survived up to the second storey, represent outstanding examples of the technological development of the Roman military architecture and frontier defence.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Authenticity: The sites within the nominated property in Austria have a high level of authenticity that has been proven by scientific investigation. Most fortifications (approximately 85%) are partly or completely covered by medieval of modern settlements with the exception of the fortresses in Albing and Carnuntu, the watch-towers (Hirschleitengraben, Aggsbach, Bacharnsdorf, Windstallgraben) and partly the forts of Oberranna, Zwentendorf and Carnuntum. Fieldworks carried out for more than 150 years, and more so research and rescue excavations  especially during the last 40 years have disturbed and even partly destroyed Roman remains un nearly all of the proposed component prats. The Limes road is partly identified by aerial survey and geophysical prospections on the east end between Vienna and Wolfsthal. Many excavations have demonstrated the remains of the Limes monuments have survived remarkably well below ground even in settled or urban areas. There are still many invisible, undisturbed and uncovered elements of the property in nearly all the Limes sites. The visible parts are kept in good condition, cared for by the local or regional governments and are scheduled under the Federal Monument Protection Act. 

Integrity: The level of integrity of the nominated segment of the Danube Limes in Austria is high. The Austrian section of the Danube Limes survives as a chain of fortified sites (fortresses, forts and fortlets, watch-towers, Limes road) with various ancillary features in the landscape along the Danube. Especially the architectural monuments of the late Roman defense system are still a very visible testimony to the power and might of the Roman state and the extent of the Roman Empire. The main outline of the planning concept still survives in the street grid of several places, such as Mautern, Traismauer and Vienna.

Justification of the selection of the component part(s) in relation to the future nomination as a whole

The selection of the component parts of the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria takes the following aspects into consideration:

- a representation of all elements of the Roman Frontier, to illustrate the great diversity

- the Time depth, to illustrate the long period of use, and

- diversity of elements to illustrate the functioning of the Roman frontier in this particular part.

The Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria as part of the FRE WHS consists of the line of the frontier at the height of the empire from Trajan to Septimius Severus, and military installations of different periods which are on that line. The installations include e.g. legionary camps, fortresses, forts, towers, burgi, and immediately associated civil structures.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site is a serial nomination for which the participating States Parties have agreed that all component parts should have OUV. This means that the overall Frontier will eventually be represented by a series of components that will each display particular and significant characteristics of the Frontier, and together the components as a series will show how the Frontier reflected substantial and distinctive responses to local topographical and political conditions as well as the unifying forces of the Empire.

The Austrian section of the Danube Limes is unique in Europe for its extremely well preserved, high standing monuments of late Roman frontier architecture. The preserved monuments enable us to understand details of construction as well as the redesign of the fortifications during the late Roman times.