Via Appia Antica

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.

Appian Way

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

Via Appia began at the Circus Maximus, passing along the Baths of Caracalla, and later, the Aurelian Wall. Near Rome the road was lined with tombs.

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.

This road achieved its goals by helping the Roman army move military supplies where they were needed in a quick manner, resulting in several victories for the army.
Sometime around 295 BC, the road was extended to Benevenutum and then, within the next five years, to Venusia and Tarentum. Eventually, the Appian Way made it all the way to the port city of Brindisi on Italy’s southeast coast, 560 km from Rome (about 350 miles)

Walking along the Via Appia

Today the Via Appia starts at the Aurelian wall, at the Porta San Sebastiano. The first part of the road is not exactly pedestrian friendly. It leads along the Quo Vadis church, the catacombs of San Callisto and the catacombs of San Sebastiano to the imposing tomb of Cecilia Metella. From here the road is paved with the authentic Roman stones. You can walk for many kilometers passing the remains of numerous historic tombs.
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