dei Romagnoli 717.
is 25 km (16 miles) southwest of Rome. .
How to arrive with pubblic transport: Magliana
on line B. then train to Ostia Antica
Excavations open winter: 9am-4.30pm daily;summer: 9am-6pm daily.
Closed 1 Jan, 1 May, 25
Museum open 9am-1pm
daily. Closed public hols. Adm charges
In order to get an understanding of the structure of a
medium-sized Roman town (about 100,000 inhabitants), a visit to Ostia
is essential. Located at the mouth of the Tiber, Ostia was Rome's
port. Although originally founded long before the Imperial Age, what we see
today is for the most part the result of Emperor Hadrian's
town-planning policies. He had the old centre of the town transformed, and
had whole new districts built surrounding the two harbors : the one built by
Claudius to the right of the Tiber, and the hexagonal one
commissioned by Trajan further upstream. A tour of Ostia will be
fascinating not only because of its temples, the Theatre, the
Museum and so on, but also because it gives the visitor the opportunity
of understanding more about everyday life in ancient Rome, the way the
houses were arranged, and the shops along the streets, the taverns and the
laundries. All simple elements of daily life that tell us a great deal. The
splendid umbrella pines that grow around the ruins, and a Very special light
created by the gentle sea breeze, all contribute to the charm of this place.
of History to discover!!!
REPUBLICAN TIMES Ostia Was
main commercial port and a military base defending the coastline and the
mouth of the Tiber. The port continued to flourish under the Empire,
despite the development of Portus, a new port slightly to the
northwest, in the 2nd century AD. Ostia's decline began in the 4th
century, when a reduction in trade was followed by the gradual silting up of
the harbour. Worse was to come when malaria became endemic in the area and
the city, whose population is reckoned to have been nearly 100,000 at its
peak, was totally abandoned.
Buried for centuries by sand, the city is remarkably well preserved. The
site is less spectacular than Pompei or Herculaneum because Ostia
died a gradual death, but it gives a more complete picture of life under
the Roman Empire. People of all social classes and from all over the
Mediterranean lived and worked here.
Visitors can understand the layout of Ostia's streets almost at a glance.
The main road through the town, the Decumanus Maximus, would have
been filled with hurrying slaves and citizens, avoiding the jostling
carriages and carts, while tradesmen pursued their business under the
porticoes lining the street.The floor plans of the public buildings along
the road are very clear. Many were bath houses, such as the Baths of the
Cisiarii (carters) and the grander Baths of Neptune, named after their
fine black-and-white floor mosaics. Beside the restored theatre, three large
masks, originally part of the decoration of the stage, have been mounted on
large blocks of tufa. Beneath the great brick arches that supported the
semicircular tiers of seats were taverns and shops. Classical plays are put
on here in the summer.
Tiber's course has changed considerably since Ostia was the port of Rome.
once flowed past just to the north of Piazzale delle Corporazioni,
the square behind the thatre. The corporations were the guilds of the
various trades involved in fitting out and supplying ships: tanners and
rope- makers, ship builders and timber merchants, ships chandlers and corn
weighers. There were some 60 or 70 offices around the square. Mosaics
showing scenes of everyday life in the port and the names and symbols of the
corporations can still be seen. There were also offices used by ship -
owners and their agents from places as far apart as Tunisia and the south
of France, Sardinia and Egypt. In one office, belonging to
a merchant from the of Sabratha in North Africa, there is a
delightful mosaic of an elephant.
main cargo coming into Rome was grain from Africa. Much of
this was distributed free to prevent social unrest. Although one men
received this annona or corn dole, at times over 300.000 were
eligible. In the center of the square was a temple, probably dedicated to Ceres,
goddess of the harvest. Among the buildings excavated dedicated to Ceres,
goddess of the harvest. Among the building excavated are many large
warehouses in which grain was stored before it was shipped on to Rome.
The Decumanus leads to the Forum and the city's principal temple,
erected by Hadrian ( see also Hadran's Villa) in the 2nd
century AD and dedicated to Jove, Juno and Minerva. In this rather romantic,
lonely spot, it is hard to imagine the Forum as a busting center ,
where justice was dispensed and officials met to discuss the city's affairs.
In the 18th century it was used as a sheepfold.
Away from the
main street are the buildings where Ostia's inhabitants lived. The
great majority were housed in rented apartments in blocks three or four
stores high known as insulae. These varied considerably in their comfort and
decoration. The House of Diana. Was one of the smarter ones, with a
balcony around the second floor, a private bath house and a central
courtyard with a cistern where tenants came to collect their water. Around
the ground floor of the block were shops, taverns and bars selling snacks
and drinks. In the bar at the house of Diana you can see the marble counter
used by costomers buying their sausages and hot wine sweetened with honey.
wealthy there were detached houses (domus) such as the House
of the Dioscuri, which Has fine coloured mosaics, and the House of Cupid
and Psyche, named after a charming statue found there. This is now in
the site's small museum, along with other sculptures and reliefs found in
Among the houses and shops there are
other fascinating buildings including a laundry and the firemen's barracks.
The religions practiced 4n Ostia reflect the cosmopolitan nature of
the port. There are also no fewer than 18 temples dedicated to the Persian
god Mithras, as well as a Jewish Synagogue dating from the 1st
century AD and a Christian basilica. A plaque records the death of St
Augustine's mother in a hotel here in