Bavay Ancient Forum – Bavay, France - Atlas Obscura

Bavay Ancient Forum

Bavay, France

These ruins reveal the remarkably intact layout of a Roman marketplace. 


Bits of 2,000-year-old buildings stand crumbling along the edge of a grassy field. It may not look like much now, but this place was once a Roman forum. The layout is remarkably intact, letting visitors get a glimpse of how the site would have looked in its prime.

The ruins date from the Gallo-Roman period. They were built within a city then known as Bagacum (sometimes Bavacum), which was the capital of the Nervii territory. The city was located near a junction of seven roads, making its central square a busy place.

The forum was likely built sometime within the first century. It was still used within the Middle Ages, as ceramics from the ninth and 10th centuries were found scattered about the site.

But now, the once-grand square is a fragment of its former self. Weathered archways and crumbling walls stand within a quiet space that no longer witnesses the constant ebb and flow of a bustling marketplace.

While visiting the forum, be sure to venture beyond the ruins. The on-site museum shows a 3-D film that transports you back in time. The computer graphics make you feel as though you’ve stepped into the marketplace during its glory days, back when it was a hub of everyday comings and goings. The video also shows some of the hundreds of Gallo-Roman artifacts found near the site, such as ceramics, glassware, and tools.

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