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The Roman Empire was one of the largest and most long-lasting of all the great ancient empires. Perhaps no ancient empire is better known to the West than the Roman Empire. At its greatest extent, the Roman Empire spanned from Scotland with the Antonine Wall all the way to the Persian Gulf in Kuwait at different points in history.

Today the former lands of the Roman Empire are found in many countries across the Mediterranean region and Western Europe. So which are the best countries to see Roman ruins today? While the Roman Empire extended across much of Western Europe and included much of Britain, Germany, and Belgium, it was at its heart a Mediterranean empire.

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Italy - The Heartland Of The Empire

Obviously, Italy is ranked highly and is perhaps the best place to see ancient Roman ruins. In Rome, one can see the Colosseum, the remains of the Roman Forum, and there are even ancient Roman buildings still in use today like the Pantheon. Italy is also the home of the oldest Roman ruins that date from the times of the Roman Republic.

Unmissable Roman Attractions In Italy:

  • The Colosseum
  • The Arch Of Titus
  • The Pantheon
  • The Roman Forum
  • Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Valley of Temples (Sicily)

The Pantheon in Roman is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It was originally a Roman temple but has been converted to a Catholic Church since 609 AD. It was built by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus and later rebuilt by Hadrian.

  • Pantheon: One Of The Best Preserved Roman Buildings

To the south just outside the Italian city of Naples are the massive archeological sites of Pompeii and its neighboring Herculaneum. Having been preserved under meters of volcanic ash, they are a unique snapshot and preserved a moment in time from the days of classical Rome. One can learn much about the everyday lives of the Romans and their attitudes towards intimacy there.

Related: See The Graffiti Of The Ancients, From Egypt To Rome

Turkey - The Heartland Of The Eastern Roman Empire

Turkey is jampacked-full of ancient Roman attractions. Many are unmarked as there are just so many of them. Most remain unexcavated or protected. Istanbul was once Constantinople - the capital of the later Roman Empire. It persisted as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire long after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

Travelers to Turkey are blown away by just how many Roman attractions there are everywhere.

Roman Ruins Hotspots:

  • Istanbul: The Ancient Roman then Byzantine Capital of Constantinople
  • Hagia Sophia: Incredible Eastern Roman Church
  • Ephesus: One Of The Best Preserved Ancient Roman Cities
  • Theodosian Walls: The Ancient Walls Of Constantinople
  • Hierapolis: The Well Preserved Roman City By Pamukkale With A Massive Necropolis

There are far too many Roman attractions in Turkey to list. Many of them are not even so much as marked on Google Maps.

Related: What You Need To Know About Visiting Pamukkale

France - One Of The First Roman Provinces

Southern France was one of the first Roman provinces as Rome started to expand out of the Italian peninsula. In due course, Rome managed to subdue all of what is today France, and Roman ruins can now be found all over the country.

Some of the best Roman ruins in France are in the South of France. In particular, the southern French city of Nimes is famous for its stunning collection of ancient Roman ruins. Not far out of the city is also the Pont du Gard - arguably the most spectacular Roman aqueduct to survive to this day.

Top Attractions In France:

  • Pont du Gard: Preserved Roman Aqueduct
  • Nimes: Home To Some Best Roman Architecture Today
  • Great Roman Games: Annual French Roman Re-enactment In A Real Roman Amphitheater

Related: This Ancient Aqueduct Is The Most Impressive & Best Preserved Roman Ruin

Other Countries In Europe

Other countries in Europe with stunning Roman ruins include countries like Spain, Greece, and North African countries like Tunisia and Algeria. Roman ruins can also be found in parts of Switzerland and Germany. While England is famous for its Roman ruins like Hadrian Wall, Bath, and Chester - these attractions pale compared to the stunning ruins of the Mediterranean countries (like Italy and Turkey).

  • Great Britain: Relatively Poor Roman Ruins
  • Other Great Countries: Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Lebanon

But anyone wanting to see the heart of the Roman Empire should visit the cities of Rome and Istanbul (Constantinople) and see the Empire's once glorious capitals. And to see how the Empire changed over its long history.