On the Danube, 14 kilometers from Sigmaringen, the Celtic city of Heuneburg rises up atop a three-hectare mountain spur. Some 2,500 years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus referred to Heuneburg as “polis Pyrene.” The term “polis” was otherwise used to describe major Greek cities such as Athens and Sparta.
EUROPE’S MOST IMPORTANT CELTIC CITADEL
HEUNEBURG – CELTIC CITY OF PYRENE
This Celtic hilltop settlement is the oldest city north of the Alps. In the 6th century BCE – while ancient Rome was still a small village on the Tiber river – Heuneburg was in its heyday, something reflected in the sensational archaeological finds discovered there.
A MONUMENTAL CENTER OF TRADE
The bright white reconstructed mud brick wall is visible from afar and gives a sense of the impression the settlement must have made on guests of the time. Thanks to its location, the city was a trade hub and thus became an important center of settlement, economy, and power with far-reaching contact to the rest of the world, including southern Italy and modern-day Marseille, from which wine was imported. Together with the archaeologically documented outer settlement, approximately 5,000 inhabitants lived here – an astounding number for that time. The population may have farmed chickens. In any case, the earliest bones of this Asian fowl found north of the Alps originate from this settlement.
VALUABLE HIDDEN TREASURES AND IMPOSING STRUCTURES
This location was used as a settlement site as early as the Bronze Age, around 1600 BCE. A total of fourteen different settlement phases have been documented. The city’s power is not only reflected in its imposing structures, such as the massive double gate at the entrance to the outer ward or the settlement wall, unique to the region at the time and based on contemporary walls in the Mediterranean region, but also in the magnificent amber and gold burial objects found in the burial mounds in the surrounding area. The finds from the grave of a Celtic princess from 583 BCE are especially remarkable.
LIVING HISTORY AND A SPECTACULAR VIEW
The exhibition of valuable grave finds and information on current research, the reconstruction of the impressive Herrenhaus, or ruler’s dwelling, and a number of workshops all serve to keep the history of the mighty Celtic city alive some 2,500 years later. The experience is brought to life through the vivid and varied presentation of a “Celtic tribe.” The singular view across the Danube valley to Bussen mountain is a spectacular highlight of any visit to Heuneburg, while the eight-kilometer-long archeology trail through a pristine landscape of Celtic burial mounds is the perfect way to end your visit.