Living in the heart of Europe allows me to dive into new activities that would never be possible in my home of Canada. Case in point is the Römerfest, a Roman Festival in Augusta Raurica. This formerly Roman city is located just outside of Basel near Rheinfelden, and it is a festival I really enjoy.
In fact, this was already our fourth visit of the annual Roman Festival! Taking place on the last weekend in August, Augusta Raurica is host to the largest Roman festival in Switzerland. Since you will never find such an immersive event anywhere in North America, it is always a treat to attend.
Every year, this festival seems to be getting bigger and better. This year, the organizers reported more than 24’000 enthusiasts of all things Roman. As for me, I was impressed by the 150 legionaries, all dressed in full Roman amour - complete with tents, horses, and a multistory recreation of a Roman fort.
It was great fun to witness all these Roman legionaries marching about and practicing their military maneuvers. It really made history come alive.
Definitively Bring the Kids
There are lots of activities for children of all ages to participate in, including metal working or mosaic making workshops. Or how about dressing yourself up as a legionnaire?
My girls headed straight for the Roman hair styling to get their braids put in and ivy woven into their hair. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is authentic gladiatorial combat at the amphitheater.
We really enjoyed walking around the market stalls which present a blend of activities, education, foods, and even a few spots where you can buy Roman inspired treasures. The focus is on learning history rather than offering a big shopping mall. I appreciate the educational aspect of the festival.
Roman Treasure Hoard
You may not realize how large ancient Augusta Raurica actually was. In Roman times, it is estimated to have been the home for up to 15’000 inhabitants. That is a lot more than today’s population of Augst...
In the early 1960’s, one of the most important Roman silver treasure hoards ever was unearthed at that site. No less than 270 silver objects were found buried, including numerous very large platters, bowls, spoons and coins. All are still in very good condition and are displayed in the museum.
For visitors interested in experiencing history firsthand, Augusta Raurica offers a restored amphitheater, ruins of some temples, a bakery and one very spooky tunnel. My personal highlight is the authentic recreation of a Roman villa.
To dress or not to dress, that’s the question!
Of course, the big question for any visit to Römerfest is whether or not to dress up in a Roman costume! Many a toga was to be seen, along with soldiers’ amour, ancient magicians, early monks and a strange mix of goth teenagers.
Did I dress up, too? Well, I guess you will have to come next year and find out for yourself...
(But I can say that the dog makes for a very cute dragon!)