Roman Villa Rustica

Other Seestraße 97, 86938 Schondorf am Ammersee, DE

The ancient Romans already appreciated the beauty of the Ammersee. From the second to the fourth century AD, several estates surrounded the lake, which is called Lacus Amber in Latin. Today, visible traces of such a Villa Rustica can only be found in Schondorf.

Author: Schondorfer Kreis

5 Stations

Roman column

Seestraße 97, 86938 Schondorf am Ammersee, DE

The ancient Romans already appreciated the beauty of Ammersee. From the second to the fourth century AD, several estates surrounded the lake, which is called Lacus Amber in Latin.
Today, visible traces of buildings such a Villa Rustica can only be found in Schondorf.
In front of the municipal bathing area is a Roman stone pillar made of tuff stone and bronze, designed by the artist Andreas Kloker.
The Roman stone pillar commemorates the excavations of the history teacher Dr. Heinrich Blendinger, who taught at the "Landheim" rural educational college. Together with his students, he uncovered the foundation walls of the bathing house belonging to the Villa Rustica in 1924.
To protect this monument, the walls were later covered with earth again.
If we go to the bathing lawn area today we can see the ground plan traced by gravel.

(Narrator: Richard Pook)

The Villa Rustica

Seestraße 97, 86938 Schondorf am Ammersee, DE

In front of us is the ground plan of a Roman bathhouse that must have belonged to a country estate, a Villa Rustica.
The Roman country house itself has not yet been archaeologically explored. However, it is most likely to have been located a little to the west, further away from the lake. Such country estates were built after the Romans conquered the province of Rhaetia in 15 BC.
Rhaetia at that time roughly corresponds to the area between Lake Constance, the Danube, the Inn and the Alpine region.
The Romans brought many innovations to the area around Lake Ammersee, which had been settled by the Celts. These included wine growing, the domestic cat, and also a highly developed bathing culture. Let us now take a look at the foundations discovered here.

(Narrator: Richard Pook)

The bathing house

Seestraße 97, 86938 Schondorf am Ammersee, DE

This bathhouse is a symmetrical winged building made of tuff. A wooden portico faced the lake. The building must have been elegantly furnished. Remains of wall plaster, which indicate rich fresco painting, bear witness to this. A bronze dolphin figure was also found, which probably once decorated a cauldron.
If we follow the excavation from north to south, we first see the cold bath called frigidarium, which was used for body cleansing. It is located between the changing room and the living quarters adjoining it to the north.
The remains of the Tepidarium, the warm bath, can be seen on the southern side of the changing room. In this room, which was about 25˚C warm, there were benches on which the bathers could be oiled and massaged. The so-called Caldarium, the hot bath heated to around 50˚C, is connected to the Tepidarium. Here the bathers relaxed their muscles in the high humidity. Additional fragrance essences had a stimulating effect and cleansed the respiratory tract.

(Narrator: Richard Pook)

The hypocaust

Seestraße 101, 86938 Schondorf am Ammersee, DE

At the southern end of the excavation is the boiler room. The bath house had an amazingly modern heating system, a so-called hypocaust.
The warm air from the wood-burning stove in the boiler room circulated through a system of ducts under the floor and in the walls of the bathhouse. The heat did not get into the room as hot air, but was emitted from the surfaces as radiation. In this way, the bathrooms reached the desired temperature and the bathers were spared dry, hot air and smoke.
We are now going to the lake shore.

(Narrator: Richard Pook)

The lake view

Forellenweg 1, 86938 Schondorf am Ammersee, DE

It can be assumed that due to sediment deposition, the lake shore is today further away from the bathhouse than it was in Roman times. At that time you could view the Ammersee directly from the wooden colonnade on the east side.
Today you have to walk a few steps out onto the wooden pier. From here you have that view of the lake and the mountain peaks of the Alps that the Romans enjoyed two thousand years ago.
Our tour ends here. If you would like to learn more, there is a German booklet by Professor Mayer-Tasch about the Villa Rustica, available through the "Schondorfer Kreis" association. It contains a lot of interesting information about the construction of the Villa Rustica, the Roman period in the Ammersee region, and also a reprint of the excavation report from 1924. You can find more on the Internet at http://www.schondorfer-kreis.de

(Narrator: Richard Pook)