Ruines in Avanches
10km northeast of Payerne, Avenches (Aventicum) was the capital
of Roman Switzerland (Roman Helvetia), at one time supporting
a population of 20,000 people. Today, it is one of Switzerland's
most important archeological sites. Life in the town is more
smugly suburban, but its well worth visiting, both for
the medieval town centre and the extensive Roman remains.
itinerary takes visitors through the area of the vast amphitheatre
- see picture on top - (today's venue for a wide variety of events)
to the Cigognier column, to the east gate and to the Tornallaz
a defeat at the hands of Julius Caesar, the Helvetians founded
their new capital of Aventicum in the early first century BC
(Aventia was the name of the local Celtic goddess of water).
Emperor Vespasian granted it the status of colony in 72 AD, whereupon
Aventicum entered its golden age.
the second and third centuries, the huge city wall boasted 73
watchtowers, and many of the public buildings of that period
a baths, temples, the amphitheatre, and more have
been excavated. The Aleman tribes raided the town around 277
AD, and sacked large parts of it; by 450, Aventicums glory
days were over.
the hill from the train station, is the large oval amphitheatre
crowning the eastern edge of the Old Town, well restored and
now the scene of an annual summer opera festival. The tower at
the rear of the arena houses the excellent Musée Romain.
The ground floor is filled with statuary and mosaics, while up
above are very impressive collections of Roman bits and bobs,
sensibly organized and with English notes available.
around the town are seven other Roman sites the tourist
office has a brochure all of which are well signposted
and free. One of the most impressive is the Tour de la Cigogne,
a gnarled old column almost swamped by suburbia but still standing
tall in a field: it once formed part of a giant temple sanctuary.
Romain. I took this picture on top of the tunnel seen on the
stairs that lead to the top.
from the top of the wall.