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What was life like in ancient Vindobona?

Vindobona was the name of a Roman army camp that existed nearly 2000 years ago in what is now the historic city centre of Vienna. The legionaries’ mission was to protect the northern border of the Roman Empire. The underground area of the Roman Museum contains the remnants of two tribunes’ houses, Vienna’s most important archaeological finds from this era.

The Roman presence in and around Vienna lasted about 350 years. In its heyday, the regional population – a colourful mix of Romans, local people and immigrants from all parts of the empire – peaked at more than 30 000. The buildings of ancient Vindobona are one focus of the exhibition, the everyday life of the soldiers and the civilian population are another. Digital reconstructions complement the 300 objects on display.

Thermal baths, taverns, theatre

In addition to their military duties, the approximately 6000 soldiers living in the camp engaged in administrative activities and worked in trades and crafts. The periods of peace were longer than those of warfare. The legionaries also enjoyed recreational facilities, from taverns and baths to brothels.

Ancillary and civilian settlements

The present exhibition not only looks at the military camp, but also focuses on the other major settlements that grew up alongside it. These ancillary and civilian settlements played an important role in supplying the military base with everyday items and commodities such as grain, bacon and cheese. The settlements also housed the soldiers’ families. Since the start of excavations in the late 19th century, vestiges from Vienna’s Roman past have continued to come to light, telling the story of a new, mixed Roman-Celtic culture. Finds from the major excavations are on display at the Roman Museum.

Films, children’s station, video guides

With animated films (including one about Vindobona’s water supply system), replicas made for touching and a Playmobil legionaries’ camp, a visit to the Roman Museum offers an experience for all five senses that helps to understand life in Roman times. Video guides (in German, English and sign language) are available to provide additional in-depth information.