Marcus Aurelius

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This post is about a 16km walk from Hainburg an der Donau to Regelsbrunn. We see the ruins of Carnuntum and spend the night in a good place.

When we woke up in the morning, some of the members of the dog sport club were just arriving. They invited us in to hang out and use their bathrooms, and they gave us hot tea for our thermoses. We watched a few people do some exercises with their dogs, then we got on our way.

My dad was waiting for us at the Marcus Aurelius Column next to the river. He lived in Vienna and he didn’t travel by walking, which meant that it took him only about an hour to get there. This was new for The Longest Way: I was finally so close to home that spontaneous visits had become possible.

the dude from the movie

The column itself turned out to be a brutalist abomination from the mid-20th century, but I had been looking forward to seeing it for a long time. Because of Marcus Aurelius.

If you’re unsure who he was and why he was so awesome, read his Wikipedia entry or consider this:

  • Marcus Aurelius was the last of the so-called Five Good Emperors of Rome (our buddy Trajan being another one).
  • He was a Stoic, and he left behind a collection of philosophical texts (“Meditations”), which he intended for private use, but which have spawned legions upon legions of authentic and inauthentic quotes on the internet. For example: I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.
  • Oh, and also: he is the sweet old man who dies at the beginning of the movie Gladiator. Boom.

Years earlier, while reading about him, I had learned that Marcus Aurelius spent quite a bit of time in this region. Not only was this the place where he wrote down some of his texts, but it is also assumed that he died here, possibly in what is now known as Vienna.

I was excited. But the column wasn’t all there was.


We went and had lunch somewhere, then we met at the archaeological park of Carnuntum. Much like Felix Romuliana in Serbia and Celemantia in Slovakia, these were the ruins of Roman settlements. The difference was that the ruins of Carnuntum had been partly restored to convey what life in a Roman border settlement looked like.

And it was awesome. They had restored everything from courtyards, kitchens, bedrooms, dining halls, bath houses, to toilets for visitors to look at. Sometimes the red ochre walls reminded me of certain temples I had seen in China thousands of kilometers before, and I was glad about it: the “classical white” image of European Antiquity that I had grown up with was being replaced by a more colorful, more truthful version. (I recommend visiting the exhibition Gods In Color – it’s not only eye-opening but also very beautiful.)

And to think that Marcus Aurelius himself once walked on these grounds and pooped in these toilets!

to the sisters

My dad went home after our visit to Carnuntum, and Brad and I continued on our way. We wanted to get to a village called Regelsbrunn, because we had an invitation. There was a small community of Catholic sisters there, and they had agreed to let us pitch our tent in their yard.


walk from Hainburg an der Donau to Regelsbrunn:

  • Arne

    Wenn du einen Zeltplatz zwischen Mรผnchen und Wasserburg brauchst, wir haben da einen guten Platz. Kรผche fรผr heisses Wasser und Strom wรคre auch da ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • Hristo

    Statue of “Danuvius, the river god” got me thinking and sent me on an unexpected quest to find what the Danube was named for (apparently on similar-named Celtic-assimilated-into-Roman deities, and from Proto-Indo-European *dฤnu meaning river).

    Cartunum looks fascinating as well, would love to visit it some day.


  • Hristo

    *Carnuntum, lol, made a cartoon of its name ๐Ÿ˜…


  • benjamin k.



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