Located in the village of Nennig in the delightful Upper Moselle Valley, the Roman Villa Nennig (German: Römische Villa Nennig) houses a richly illustrated gladiatorial mosaic, one of the most important Roman artefacts north of the Alps. Protected by a dedicated building built about 150 years ago and covering an area of roughly 160m2, the mosaic vividly portrays musicians, hunting scenes and gladiatorial contests.
In the 3rd century AD the mosaic paved the atrium (reception hall) of a large villa urbana which a wealthy Roman had built on the road between Divodurum (Metz) and Augusta Treverorum (Trier). The mosaic later disappeared below ground until it was discovered by chance by a farmer in 1852. The excavations conducted between 1866 and 1876 revealed only a part of the once splendid and extensive ground as well as the foundation walls of the imposing central building and several adjacent buildings. A coin of Commodus (struck ca. 192) found under the mosaic during the restorations of 1960 dates the construction of the villa to the end of the 2nd century or the beginning of the 3rd century AD.
The villa complex included a bath house with heated rooms, small pavilions and magnificent gardens. A two-storied colonnaded portico (140 m long) flanked by three-storied tower wings with massive walls ran across the façade of the main building. Beyond these, at either side, two temple-pedimented structures flanked the villa.
Walking around the interior of the protecting building, the entire scene of the mosaic can be viewed from a raised platform. The mosaic comprises of seven octagonal medallions surrounding two central quadrangles, one decorated with a scene of gladiatorial combat, the other occupied by a marble basin. An elaborate pattern of geometrical designs borders each scene.
The Saarland and Moselle Valley’s ancient Roman heritage has a lot to offer to tourists and scholars alike. More than 120 antique sights along the Moselle and the Saar rivers, the Saarland and Luxembourg are testament to the Gallo-Roman era north of the Alps (further information here).
April – September: Tuesday to Sunday 8:30 am – 12 noon and 1 – 6 pm
October, November and March: Tuesday to Sunday 9 – 11:30 am and 1 – 4:30 pm
Closed from December to February and on Mondays
The Roman Mosaic at Nennig: A Brief Guide (n.d.) by Reinhard Schindler
Eckart Köhne, Cornelia Ewigleben, Ralph Jackson, Gladiators and Caesars: The Power of Spectacle in Ancient Rome. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000