Ostia is a Roman city, the port city of Rome at the mouth of the river Tiber.

First Roman colony, according to tradition, it was founded in the seventh century BC by King Anco Marzio at the mouth of the Tiber, where according to legend had landed Enea, built as a military colony to defend the mouth of the river, was the site of collection of the fleet and shipyard. It developed particularly in the imperial era as a commercial center and port, closely related Annona (grain supply for the capital).

At one time it was also known by the name Gregoriopoli. In view of the proximity to the river took the citadel over the years an important node river to protect and fortify. So it was for many centuries, until 1557, the year in which the Tiber River changed its course in the middle of about 1.5 km away from the town of Ostia Antica.

This event led to natural decay and abandonment in that village became lively and populated swamp. So it was until 1884 the year in which the Pope sent about 500 reclaimers Romagna, the scariolanti, with the task of eliminating the swamps in the area and eradicate malaria. In addition to the visit of the village, you can visit the fortress of Julius II, the church of Santa Aurea, and especially the excavations of Ostia Antica. Today it is a charming small town of about 15,000 inhabitants four kilometers from the sea.

This marvel of architecture economic - commercial, returned to be visible with the excavations dl nineteenth and twentieth century have been preserved, along with the public monuments, numerous dwelling houses and manufacturing facilities, making it an important record of ancient everyday life. Are today, a huge complex of archaeological sites that bring to life those who were the original production facilities, such as warehouses of wheat, magnify the houses with mosaic floors, baths, at such venues as the Tavern and numerous branches and associations and, finally, the Theatre and Mithraea.


Visit Itinerary

The archaeological site is worth a visit for complete knowledge of the history of Rome, as it offers the chance to see, like the rest of Pompeii, the Roman town planning.

Covering the archaeological site, one can not help but empathize on what was to be with his buzz of 75,000 inhabitants, all busy in our daily lives in and along the streets. Fortunately the imagination still serves to protect the memory, or feeling actors in the amphitheater, where you still live a great acoustics.

Starting the route from the entrance in Via Ostiense left is the ancient burial tombs, among which the Tomb of Architects, further to the right, however, the Porta Romana, the Republican era, that access to the square of the victory.

We are in the Decumanus Maximus the main artery of the city, here is a series of buildings such as shops, houses, Block of the well-known dog Monus, so named for a figurative mosaic of Neptune and spas, where you can still distinguish the different environments that characterized the system of the Roman baths, going up the stairs you can see from the two environments with mosaics.

As a Brigade are the remains of the mosaic symbol of the four provinces and four Winds, by way of guilds you can admire the well-preserved remains of the theater built in the Augustan period.

Behind the theater you can see the Square of the Guilds, with stationes for corporations and the colonial cities that had exchanges with Rome and Ostia.

Following is the Domus of Apuleius and, continuing on via Diana and then off of Paintings, here we are at the Archaeological Museum of Ostia, which houses many relics of the life of the time: objects, furnishings, parts of mosaics and statues.

In court, however, stands the Capitol Hadrian, which rises on the other ruins and the Temple of Rome and Augustus, an important element of the forum is made from the spa, in which with the grand frigidarium, on the opposite side of the forum we can see the Basilica and the Round Temple.

At the junction of Castrum we find on our right the sacred area of the Temples Republicans.

To visit carefully is the Domus of Cupid and Psyche is a monumental nymph, beautiful mosaics and polychrome marble floors. To the left of the junction Castrum, along via Kalkara visit: Mithraeum the painted walls, the tenement of Serapis, the Block of the Aurighi and spas of Trinacria.

Continuing in the way of the temple of Serapis you can see the tenement of Bacchus and Ariadne and the Temple of Jupiter Serapis, turning off the Aurighi thistle, and entering the area of ​​the Houses in the Garden of age of Hadrian, you may notice that they are willing as a garden city in miniature.

Going towards the Porta Marina, after which you are located in the Prospectus Sea, a square colonnade that once stood a few meters from the beach, in fact Ostia, stood at the mouth of the Tiber, where it was built, the Port of Rome.

Returning from the Porta Marina you can admire the tenement of the Fountain with Lucerne and the grand entrance of the Schola of Trajan, with garden porches and nymphs.

From via Isis for via the Round Temple, which reports to the Cardo Maximus, turn right in Via della Fortuna Annonaria where there is a wonderful domus dating back to the third and fourth centuries that gives its name to the street, to follow: the headquarters building of the Augustals, the Mithraeum Delighted, the Shrine of Bona Dea, the tenement of Themistocles and the Temple Collegiate.

We find ourselves again on the Decuman Maximus in front of Porta Romana, the starting point of the route.


History in detail

The site, which was originally located on the coast, and today it is 3 km inland, was located near the salt pans present at the mouth of the river Tiber, which were probably used already proto From the time during the Bronze average and recent.

According to the tradition handed down from ancient Roman sources, there would be a city was founded by King Anco Marzio in Rome in 620 BC: Ennio reported that it was fortified, and that there was created a port, Livy relates the foundation at the mouth of the Tiber as a result of extension of Roman rule to the sea, and the creation of the salt mines in the vicinity, and Cicero speaks of the foundation of a colony at the mouth of the Tiber. The name comes from the Latin ostium (pl.: "host"), for "mouth" or " door", "entrance ".

Of this original settlement was, however, found no trace at the current site and it has been speculated that he was born elsewhere.

The city currently visible was built as a fortified camp (castrum) during the fourth century BC The exact date of the opinions of the scholars are discordant (the oldest pottery found in the castrum is dated to 390-350 BC, but an excavation in 1971 in the construction of the walls it would date the beginning of the third century BC). The foundation of this military outpost is connected to the control on the coastal strip after the conquest of Veii in 396 BC or the needs of coastal defense following the first maritime activities.

The camp is implanted above the intersection of an ancient coastal path (traced in the subsequent expansion of the city in Via della Foce and the alignment of the southern section of the cardo maximus, oblique with respect to the orthogonal layout inside the castrum, and later stretch of Via Severiana) and the track that led from the salt marshes of the estuary at Sabina along the left bank of the Tiber (via Salaria), the stretch between Rome and the sea became the Via Ostiense, traced back probably contemporary with the building of camp.

It was originally developed as a naval base and probably in 267 BC, during the First Punic War was the site of one of the classic quaestores, in charge of the fleet, that it was said quaestor Ostiensis. During the second century BC gradually became prevalent its role as a trading port, linked to the imports of grain for the city of Rome, and had to begin the expansion of the buildings outside the castrum, except in an area along the river, reserved as public land by the praetor city ​​of Rome, Gaius Caninius.

In 87 BC during the civil war between Marius and Sulla was sacked by Gaius Marius and in 69-68 BC was taken by the pirates, who destroyed the fleet in the harbor. In 63 BC Cicero started the construction of a new and larger city walls, completed by Publius Clodius Pulcher in 58 BC In this period the city, which had always been governed directly by the Roman magistrates, began to have its own magistrates (certificates epigraphically from 49 BC). Members of the local aristocracy were Publius Lucilius Gamla (contemporary of Cicero) and Gaius Cartilio Poplicola (supporter of Octavian), that assumed the office of duoviro several times, the highest in the local government.

With the Augustan age Agrippa built the theater (18-12 BC), was probably fixed the citizen forum and an aqueduct was built. In A.D. 44 Emperor Claudius replaced the old office of the Questors Ostia with a procurator annonae, prosecutor of the equestrian responsible for procurement of wheat, which depended on the prefect annona.

Due to a lack of the river port Claudio began in 42 AD the construction of an artificial harbor to the north, connected by an artificial canal to the Tiber, and a second hexagonal port was built between 106 and 113 under Traiano. Port operations was a prosecutor in charge portus utriusque. The development of port activities increased prosperity of Ostia and the city underwent major construction projects under Hadrian, who twice took for himself the main town of the judiciary duoviro, and under his successors. The interventions succeeded unto the end of the Severan.

The crisis of the third century entailed a decline in population and the disappearance of the local government, while the city was placed under the direct authority of the prefect annona. The center of economic activities moved to Porto, the core built near the harbor basins. At the beginning of the fourth century, Maxentius founded the brand of Ostia transferring here to Carthage (308/309), after his defeat, Constantine transferred it in turn to Arelate. Constantine also made independent of the city of Porto, renamed Civitas and Flavia Constantine built a basilica at Ostia, the seat of the bishop of Ostia. It had an improving economy and a recovery in construction, often with re-use of older material. In Porto had shifted economic activity, while Ostia was transformed into a luxurious residential center with the old production areas are now abandoned. Towards the end of the fourth century Augustine of Hippo passing Ostia attests to the situation of the city (his mother, Monica, died in the inn where they were staying waiting to embark for North Africa).

The decline and population decline continued during the fifth century and the end of it stopped working the aqueduct. In 537, during a siege of the Goths was defended by the Byzantine general Belisarius and the few residents barricaded themselves in the theater, transformed into a fortress. In the ninth century it was sacked by the Saracens and finally abandoned for the new city of Gregoriopolis ordered by Pope Gregory IV and reinforced by Pope Nicholas I.

The ruins of the abandoned city were later exploited as ancient marble quarries throughout the Middle Ages. In the fourteenth century Gregoriopoli was built by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the present castle, in order to protect access to Rome via the river. In 1557 a major flood diverted the course of the Tiber and the castle lost its purpose.

The first excavations were conducted by Giuseppe Petrini in the years 1801-1805, under Pope Pius VII, and Pietro Ercole and Carlo Ludovico Visconti in 1855 under Pope Pius IX. Passed to the Italian state in 1870 the excavations there were continued by Pietro Rosa and Rodolfo Lanciani and more systematically starting from 1907 with Dante Vaglieri and then with Guido Calza. There were extensive excavations between 1938 and 1942, with the aim to present the new archaeological site at the Universal Exposition of Rome scheduled for 1942.




The castrum Republican, according to the traditional orthogonal, was implanted on two main streets that crossed at right angles to the center: the backbone and the decuman maximum, the latter set on the Via Ostiense from Rome. Hinge and decumano came out from the walls of the castrum through four doors.

Immediately outside the southern gate of the castrum the hinge deviated to the south- west, taking the route of the coastal road towards Laurentum (later became part of the street Severiana). In turn, immediately after the western gate, the decuman deviated to the south- east, heading directly towards the beach, then not far away. From this point also branched off to the north west of the Mouth of the way, another stretch of the coastal path which he had superimposed the castrum, directed towards the mouth of the river.

The subsequent expansion of the buildings outside the walls of the castrum followed these pre-existing paths, giving a messy urbanism town. Even the streets that lined the route of the original walls of the castrum (streets pomeriali) remained partially in the topography later. The new walls of the first century BC surrounding the city, as it was formed with an irregular path: the Roman port was located at the eastern end of the decumannus in the direction of Rome, the door Laurentina at the end of the southern section of the oblique cardo maximus, to the south, in the direction of Laurentum, and finally the door was located towards the Marina beach, at the end of the oblique line of the decumannus. Enclosing an area of ​​about 69 hectares.

Within the city another important route was the Semite of woodchips, which connected directly to the door decumannus Laurentina (its continuation on the other side of the river has decumano towards the modern name Via dei Molini).

Similarly, the division of Rome in 14 regions, including Ostia had been divided into regions, at least five in number, of which we do not know the extent or boundaries. With the resumption of excavations in the post-war period, with the publication of the series of the excavations of Ostia in 1953, the archaeological area of the city has been divided into 5 regions, modern, limited by road:

• Region I: the central sector, with the entire castrum and out of it the areas between the Tiber, the alignment of Via della Foce - southern section of the cardo maximus and the Via dei Molini - Semite of woodchips;

• Region II: the north-eastern sector, between the Tiber and the decumannus, to the Via dei Molini

• Region III: the western section, between the Via della Foce and the western section of the decumannus:

• Region IV: the southern sector, between the western section of the decumannus and the southern part of the cardo maximus;

• Region V: the south-eastern sector, between the Semitic and decumannus of stones.

Within the regions of the isolates are indicated by a number in Roman numerals and the individual buildings within the blocks by a sequence number in Arabic numerals.



The walls of the castrum of the fourth century BC, of a thickness of not greater than 1.50 m, are constructed by square blocks of tufa Fidene, arranged irregularly head and cutting. A section of the wall on the eastern side was reused as a wall plug of a block of taberne (I, I, 4) and is therefore preserved. Other sections of the wall are preserved within the small market (I, VIII, 1), the Horrea Epagathiana (I, VIII, 3) of the building to taberne I, VIII, 10 and the workshop of Stuppatores (I, X, 3).

The eastern gate, preserved to a height of a few rows, left visible to a level lower than that of the imperial era, presented inwards two environments separated by a partition with a large passage, probably arcuate, and had to be shaped tower. Such a structure also had to have the western gate, which is also partially preserved.

The walls of the first century BC were built by order of the Roman Senate during the consulship of Cicero in 63 BC and concluded by Publius Clodius Pulcher, the tribune of the plebs in 58 BC

The new walls were built to work almost reticulate, with tuff tuff of Monteverde. At the base are thick about 2 me are constituted by bands falling height of about 2 feet, on the inner side of the wall, where the missing veneer, had to be supported to an embankment. Are preserved only little strokes and it is not known if even then traveling on the side along the river, where they were hindered, however, the port operations. It is possible that they end with two square towers in the vicinity of the river, of which the remains out of the archaeological present: one of them leaned against the following mitreo Aldobrandini (I, I, 3), while the other, rebuilt in the Middle Ages, is the current Boacciana tor, at the bridge Scafa.

The buildings of the city began to take on the new walls as early as the age of Augustus and Vespasian, the course was re-used to support an aqueduct. The defensive function was not restored even in late antiquity, when the city was again subject to external attacks, but it was reduced in importance, having lost trade and economic functions in favor of Porto and in case of necessity was used as a fortress the theater.

The new wall there were three gates, known modern names:

• Porta Romana, on decumannus, east side (via Ostiense, in the direction of Rome), is built in a square piece of tufa blocks, presents the fornix input back from the line of the walls, flanked by two square towers. In Domitian was rebuilt to a higher level, with architectural decoration in marble with a statue of Minerva - Winged Victory. Just outside the door is a base for a statue dedicated to the health of the emperor by a family member of the Acili ostiense Glabrioni, patron of the colony.

• Port Laurentina, the cardo maximus, in the direction of Laurentum, consists of a rectangular structure made ​​of tuff blocks, flanked by square towers.

• Port Marina, on decumannus, west side, in the direction of the beach. Built of tufa blocks provide backward with respect to the line of the walls and flanked by square towers. It was razed to the ground in the first century and replaced by an arc to the south with marble decoration. In the first half of the third century over the remains are implanted the caupona Alexander (IV, VII, 4).


Main buildings

In the region I is the square of the Forum, at the intersection of cardo maximus and decumannus, in the center of the ancient castle. The square was placed in the Augustan age and transformed under Hadrian and is long and narrow, lined with arcades. At one end is dominated by the Capitolium Hadrian, while on the opposite side is the temple of Rome and Augustus erected under Tiberius. The forum also overlooks the Basilica and on the opposite side of the decumannus the Curia, seat of the settlers.

Along the south side of the decumannus through the castrum also open other monumental buildings, including the colonnaded square called "court of heroic statue", the mid-fourth century, and the so-called Round Temple, with the courtyard in front of the third century. To the south -east of the Forum is the large complex of public baths of the Forum, erected under Antoninus Pius.

Just outside the west gate of the castrum is the sacred area of the ancient temple of Hercules.

The region II includes several public buildings built in the area bounded by the river for public use by the urban praetor Gaius of Rome Caninius. A sacred area with four Republican temples there arose in the early second century BC We are the barracks of the brigade, the theater with the square of the guilds, and the complex of the thermal spa of Neptune. On the place where he was martyred bishop Ciriaco, at the theater, there arose a Christian oratory, also attended in the early Middle Ages.

The region III, between the Via della Foce, the eastern section of the decumannus and the ancient beach, includes mainly housing complexes of various types (garden houses, blocks of flats and the Aurighi of Serapis, Cassette type). Outside the walls, at the beach, there is a luxurious building late antiquity never finished, with an environment decorated with a rich opus sectile wall.

The region IV, between the eastern section of the decumannus and the southern part of the cardo maximus, to the beach, includes the Sanctuary of Magna Mater at the door Laurentina and numerous domus and spas. Along the decumano open a macellum (market) and the seat of the collegiate choir of Trajan. By Porta Marina is the late hole Porta Marina.

The region V, south of decumannus, horrea houses, residential and commercial structures, some domus and spas. There are arcades along the decumannus.



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