Via Appia Antica (Old Appian Way) was once one of the world’s most important roads and the most famous of all the roads that radiated from Rome towards the far ends of the Roman Empire.
The Via Appia, originally built in 312 BC, was the brainchild of Appius Claudius Caecus, the then-censor of Rome, who was known for organizing bold public works that helped make life easier for the people of Rome.
Appius Claudius’ most famous project was this road, which would eventually run all the way from Rome to the port city of Brindisi.
The road began as a level dirt surface upon which mortar and small stones were laid. On top of that, gravel was placed, topped with interlocking stones that would provide a flat surface for those traveling the road. Historians say the stones fit together so well that it was nearly impossible to stick a knife between them. Ditches were dug on either side of the road and were protected by retaining walls.
A 560 km long road
When the road left the city, it traveled through wealthy suburbs on its way straight through the Appian Mountains and over the former Pontine Marshes to Terracina, a coastal town 56 km south of Rome. From there the Appian Way followed the western coast, eventually ending at Capua, making the original road about 210 km long.