Up on higher ground, Burg Rode looks down on the rest of the town of Herzogenrath. The sturdy tower identifies the castle from afar as a medieval fortification that one wouldn’t associate at first sight with a Roman road. The importance of the exhibition location for the VIA Project comes from the road’s role as a trading and transport route but from a later perspective. Burg Rode served to protect a new branch of the old Roman route linking Cologne with the important trading centres in Flanders and Brabant. The road crossed the little River Wurm near Herzogenrath and as a result of the shallow water, several streams and marshy terrain it was easier to defend than the original route via Rimburg. The solid income from tolls at the river crossing and the fertile farmland in the surrounding area made the place financially attractive for the Counts von Saffenberg who were responsible for founding the toll castle sometime before 1104.
Another important monument in the cluster of historical buildings is Rolduc Abbey, which was founded by Ailbertus von Antoing as a hermitage at the start of the 12th century. Over the course of the centuries, the Abbey became enormously wealthy through its land holdings, gratuities and revenue from milling and coal mining. It is reflected still today in the impressive abbey church and the outbuildings built at various times