Sitting by the Danube River, at about the half way point between Vienna and Bratislava, is the site of the Roman City of Carnuntum. An important location within the Empire, part of the City has been brought back to life with the reconstruction of a small number of Roman buildings on the original site.
Combined with an excellent visitor’s centre, the reconstructed Roman buildings provide a wonderful opportunity for young and old alike to gain a sense of what living in the Roman world would have been like. Testament to this was H and her friends (all eight or under) abandoning the climbing frames to return to the reconstructions to ‘play Romans’. They were the ones who insisted that the adults wait whilst they listened to the video presentations on the history of the settlement and life in the Roman Empire. My adult companions also took a genuine delight in wandering around the site and I found myself drawing on the depths of my knowledge as the walking through the buildings inspired them to more and more probing questions.
The highlight of the day for young and old was oddly enough Roman central heating. The discovery that the under floor fires were actually lit caused a great deal of discussion and excitement. This grew further as we entered the building which was wonderfully warm and everyone in our party knelt down to touch the warm floor. As we moved through the room everyone was fascinated by the two bath rooms, one with a cold bath and the other with warm water. Whilst not quite real life, this ability to touch and feel the past created additional interest in the more traditional sights such a excavated stone walls and historical descriptions of the Roman world.
As the site is located in wine country we ended our trip with a visit to a Heuriger for a little light food and of course a glass of wine. The consensus in our party was that, all in all, it had been a very enjoyable day for young and old.