About Weiden Roman Burial Chamber
The Weiden Roman Burial Chamber, or Römische Grabkammer, is a 2nd century AD tomb located on the outskirts of modern day Cologne. As was typical, the chamber was built on the way out of the city. Now open to the public, you can explore the elaborate burial chamber, a monument to one of ancient Rome’s most notable families.
Weiden Roman Burial Chamber history
The Weiden Roman Burial Chamber was originally called the Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, in reference to who was born there: Agrippina was the younger daughter of the general Germanicus, known for his campaigns in Germania, and the wife of Emperor Claudius. Agrippina was born in Cologne and afforded the high status of Colonia to the city.
Despite being a place associated with death, even in antiquity the Weiden burial chamber was built along a street where life pulsed. The Via Belgica was one of the most important traffic arteries in the Roman Empire’s north-west. The road linked Roman Cologne and the Rhineland with the interior of Gaul and the Channel coast, with British trade travelled this route.
Passers-by would have paused in awe at the magnificent grave building beside the road, a symbol of family wealth and everlasting life. For the Romans, the deceased remained immortal in the memory of others.
The Roman burial chamber was discovered in April 1843 after Ferdinand Sieger wanted to build a new farm building. During the excavation work he found rubble that he wanted to use for his extension, but instead discovered a staircase heading more than five meters down to a stone closure plate.
Sieger, believing there to be riches hidden there, smashed the plate. After finding more rubble behind it he wanted to backfill the pit. However, then mayor of Üsdorf and a nearby landowner financed a further excavation and discovered the chamber – an ancient historical treasure. The chamber was bought by the Prussian state in 1844.
Weiden Roman Burial Chamber today
Today, visitors to the Weiden Roman Burial Chamber can step back to ancient times into the incredibly well-preserved tomb. View the burial chamber built from tuff, a light and porous rock, and the niches in the walls for leaving offerings once lined with coloured marble highlight the status of its inhabitant.
While the marble sarcophagus no longer holds remains, whisked off to Cologne’s Romano-Germanic Museum, visitors can tour the pottery, murals and sculptures sitting in the tomb outfitted for a prestigious imperial family. Note that the chamber is only open on Thursday mornings and at the weekend.
Getting to Weiden Roman Burial Chamber
The easiest way from central Cologne to the burial chamber is via tram: catch the Weiden West line 1 tram from Bf Deutz/Messe to Förderverein Römergrab Weiden, a 300m walk away. If driving, the burial chamber is a 25 minute drive from the city centre along the Aachener Strasse. There is parking at the Parkhaus Rhein-Center Köln.
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