Better Than Pompeii
Is Pompeii really the best archeological site where you can see, touch, smell and walk through an ancient Roman town? Is Pompeii the only place where you can experience first-hand how life was 2,000 years ago, and how ancient cities look like at the time of the Roman Empire, and earlier, at the time when Rome was a republic. If you are planning to spend some time in Rome than we recommend that you do not miss the chance to visit this stunning site, an overlooked gem located just 20 minutes outside the Italian capital, easily reachable by train or car, a setting that makes it perfect for a day trip from Rome. Ostia Antica is indeed one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Italy. Nowhere else in the environs of Rome will the visitor gain so full and immediate an idea of the essence and history of an ancient Roman town as when you walk through the cobbled-stoned streets of the city of Ostia. This was Rome’s military outpost and domestic landing for cargo boats. In the course of centuries the coastline has shifted several miles westwards, but in ancient times Ostia lay directly at the mouth (ostium) of the Tiber. Thus Ostia literally means, in Latin, “at the mouth of the river”. The city soon became a fundamental city port providing Rome with all that the growing empire needed. Clothing, food, spices, and goods of all sorts and origin arrived in Ostia and from here they were then transferred to Rome on the river Tiber. The size and beauty of the city overwhelm and surprise even the most well-traveled visitors, because this is indeed a special place. Public and private structures, although maybe not as wealthy as those in Pompeii are still in place and in good, when not perfect, conditions. Mosaics and marble slabs decorate the building and the main city center piazza called the Capitolium still conveys the greatness and importance of the place. Bakeries and taverns, private homes, fountains, wells, statues, mosaics and a magnificent theater are just some of the things that the visitors can admire while walking through the ruins of Ancient Ostia.
HISTORY OF ANCIENT OSTIA
King Ancus Martius—so goes the legend—founded the town in the seventh century BC, on the very spot were Aeneas had landed, the hero arrived from Troy after its destruction and the legendary founder of Rome. However, archeologists and scholars have found evidence of the existence of this town only starting from the fourth century BC. A fortress was certainly here by then. This military settlement formed the very core of a village that rapidly grew into a busy port as Rome’s sea trade increased in scale and it became a major naval power. Imports arrived here from every corner of the Empire and from all the new provinces conquered by the Roman legions, near and far. Here they were stored safely and then transported to the Capital by the so-called Via Ostiensis, still existing, or by river. During the civil war in the first centuryBC the city was destroyed and then rebuilt and enclosed in a great wall, soon later the emperors started to expand the port and to build new harbors. By the end of the second century AD Ostia had become a densely populated city of more than 50,000 inhabitants—indeed a huge number for an ancient town (although still nothing compared to Rome which had more than one million inhabitants. The Colosseum itself could actually host, some say, up to 80,000 people! Still all sorts of people lived in Ostia, soldiers and shopkeepers, traders and seamen. The many streets, squares, baths, temples, and other public buildings, including the Capitolium and one of the best preserved ancient amphitheater in the world, together with a great number of fine private houses, bear witness of the importance of the city. Mosaics, frescoes, statues and bas-relieves are still visible, although the most precious finds have been taken to the nearby museums that you still can visit on our tour of Ostia. Only during the third century the city slowly started losing its importance and it was completely abandoned in the eighth century with the arrival of the Barbarians and after an epidemic of malaria. Ostia was just a ghost town up until the 19th century when the first archeological excavations had started freeing the ancient ruins from dirt and grass. One of the most sensational finds of recent years was certainly the discovery of an early Christian basilica near the city wall — a church probably initiated by Emperor Constantine.
Fixed price includes all Entrance Fees.
**Ostia Antica is an ancient sites and not wheelchair friendly. We encourage those with walking disabilities to book a private tour, in order to allow the guide to adapt the pace to their specific needs.Please don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!
Meeting Time: From Tuesday to Sunday – at 8:40 am or 1:30 pm
Meeting Location: Central Location in Rome (Full Details provided after booking)