Aventicum is an impressive ancient Roman site in Switzerland which was the thriving capital of the Helvetians.
The foundation of the city of Aventicum is probably related to the failed attempt at migration of the Helvetians in 58 BC and their forced return to their point of departure. The name of the city derives from that of the Celtic protective goddess Aventia. Aventicum was the capital of the Helvetii.
It is unclear as to exactly when Aventicum was founded, but it reached its peak between the 1st century BC and 5th century AD, during its time as capital of the region under Roman rule. At this point, it was home to some 20,000 inhabitants. Aventicum also became a colony of Rome or “colonia”, a prestigious accolade, in around 71AD.
The sites which can now be seen at the archaeological site of Aventicum are very well preserved and include a 2nd century amphitheatre which would have seated 16,000, some of the original city walls with a surviving tower (originally one of 73), a set of thermal baths and holy sites including a sanctuary and some temples.
From the end of Antiquity, the city served as a quarry, but several monuments still bear witness to its past grandeur.
Now located in the area known as Avenches, Aventicum offers visitors plenty of original sites to see. There is also a museum within the amphitheatre tower which explores the history of Aventicum and with finds from the site itself including daily tools, mosaics, sculptures and various items from the city’s time under the Romans.
Getting to Aventicum
Aventicum is around an hour and 15 minutes drive away from Geneva. There are good railway and public transport links to the area.