Ostia Antica digs
OSTIA - ROME
The Porto di Traiano and the Necropoli di Porto, great symbols of Roman history, along their fascinating but realistic path, where to admire one of the most beautiful archaeological sites of Italy
Not so far from the Eternal City, there is the Archaeological site of Ostia Antica. Together with Pompei, it is the largest site in the world, as only the 40% have been discovered, and the 60% hasn't been discovered yet.
Ostia Antica was founded at about the end of the fifth and the beginning of the fourth century b.C., to be a fortress near Rome, even if the bronze rests found let us think the first settlement took place in the 7th century b.C., during the reign of Anco Marzio.
Originally situated close to the Tiber mouth - that's the reason of his name "Ostium", that means "mouth of the river", in Latin - Ostia was born as a little city dedicated to host the Imperial Fleet, under the direct control of a representative. From the 2nd century b.C., Ostia was characterized by a development, thanks to its position, strategical for trades and for the refurbishment of food for the capital. From Ottaviano Augusto on, Ostia became even more important; in that period, the theatre - that could have more than 3000 people, still in good condition -, the first forum and the aqueduct we're actually built. The port of Claudio and the one of Traiano made Ostia a fundamental connection for the trades.
The majestic castle of Giulio II - also known as the Rocca di Ostia –built during the 15th century by cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere - Pope Giulio II -, to control the family properties and the entrance of Rome, against the Borgia's, is more recent. The castle, as well as Ostia, suffered the distance from the sea and the direction of the river, caused by a violent flood that completely changed the area.
Ad Ostium, it seems time has never gone away, and every year Ostia Antica attracts more than 300 thousand visitors from all over the world, confirming itself as an open-air museum, appreciated by tourists of any age.
The Porto di Traiano
The Porto di Traiano surely is the symbol of the importance of Ostia Antica. Even if the first part was designed and made by emperor Claudio, at the mouth of the Tiber, Traiano was the one who commissioned the construction of the harbour with the same name, 4 kilometres North. In order to understand the importance of this place - that was considered the most important of the Imperial capital at the time - you just have to know that the Roman empire got its maximum expansion during emperor Traiano: 6.5 million square kilometres from the Iberian Peninsula to Mesopotamia. If we wanted to find a similarity - concerning its importance - with a contemporary work, we couldn't find it; not even if we compare it to the New York Airport, or the Singapore Harbour.
The Porto di Claudio was too dangerously exposed to the bad weather, so Traiano ordered to build the second one, connecting it with Ostia Antica, by a double lanes street. The development of this new Harbour, the first one lost its importance and the Porto di Traiano change its name from "Portus Ostiae" into "Constantiniana Portuensis", becoming autonomous under the leadership of Emperor Costantino I. During that years, the port got enforced it by the built of the walls.
The Necropoli di Porto
As usual, the places with the most important rest are dedicated to dead people. The Necropoli di Porto isn't an exception; the tombs tell us a lot about the life of the ancient inhabitants of thousands of years ago.
The Necropoli rises on an island bathed by the Tiber in the south-east, the Canale di Fiumicino in the north, and by the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west. The ancient Roman people used to call it "Insula Portuensis", until the 6th century, when the Christian religion changed its name into "Isola Sacra".
The necropolis was discovered in 1925, when the Fascist recoveries of the area found 150 sepulchers in it. Each tomb had to show the social status of the family; for this reason; they use to decorate them by mosaics, pictures and inscriptions, visible from the street, in order to let everybody see them, as you can actually do today.
Renato - Salerno
My wife and I casually visited Ostia Antica, as a Roman guide suggested us during a tour in the Colosseum and Fori Imperiali. Living very close to Pompei, we couldn't believe there could be something else, but I have to admit that even with some similarities, Ostia Antica astonished us. Differently from Pompei, where life suddenly stopped because of the Vesuvio explosion, you can see the evolution that took place in Ostia. We suggest to buy a good paper-based guide, or to book a guided tour, to the people who want to visit the area, because you could risk to miss very interesting things.
Fabio - Sondrio
I spent one week in Rome with my girlfriend, and as we are not accustomed to the rhythm of the great city, we decided to visit Ostia Antica and the Necropoli di Porto, to have a trip at the open air. The great condition of the area astonished us, and we really liked to discover how the life of the ancient Roman people was, out of the capital. We visited wonderful places, and it wasn't too much crowded, I think we will go back there!
Enrica - Siena
I am an Italian and History teacher, and thanks to the school where I work, I had the opportunity to visit Ostia Antica and Porto di Traiano, during one day trip. The students discovered how life was during the Roman age, what they ate, what they did in the society, and how evolved it was more than 2000 years ago; a fantastic occasion appreciated even by their parents. The tour started in Ostia Antica, then we moved to the theatre, to the thermal baths, to the forum and to the temples, to lately have lunch at the Porto di Traiano, where the students found a group of herons drinking. Truly advised!!!
Enza - Rome
I persuaded my husband to stop watching television and to go to FINALLY visit Ostia Antica and the Necropoli of Isola Sacra, with a couple of friends. Even if I am more than 50 and I come from Rome, I had never visited it, despite I had heard about it. We have treasures in front of our house and we often don't see them. A wonderful trip, I think next time I will complete the discovery of the area visiting also the Porto di Traiano. So splendid!
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