Appian Way

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The Appian Way, known as "Via Appia" in Latin, is an ancient Roman road that stands as one of the earliest and most strategically significant highways of the Roman Republic and Empire period of ancient Rome. Originally construction started in 312 BCE under the supervision of the censor Appius Claudius Caecus, after whom it is named, the road originally connected Rome to the southern city of Capua and was later extended to Brindisi, facilitating military movements, trade, and communication.

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The Via Appia started in Rome at the Porta Capena near the Baths of Caracalla.

Although the modern day Via Appia starts at the Saint Sebastian Gate (Porta San Sebastiano) in the Aurelian Walls, the ancient Appian Way (Via Appia antica) started a bit to the north of the Baths of Caracalla.

Notable Archaeological Structures on the Via Appia Antica

circa 312–308 BCE

Miles of the Via Appia
The first milestone column (prima colonna miliare) marks the first of the 380 Roman miles of the Via Appia, which started near the Porta Capena (one of the gates in the Servian Wall), south-west of the Baths of Caracalla.


Tombs on the Appian Way
The tombs on the Appian Way () were the elaborate funerary monuments that lined the Via Appia Antica. Dating as far back to the fourth century BCE, these tombs served as both final resting places and grand displays of wealth and status of the interred and their families. They reflect the Romans' deep reverence for their ancestors and their belief in the afterlife. These tombs were not merely burial sites but imposing structures designed to memorialize and honor prominent individuals and families of the Roman Republic and Empire.

These tombs varied in size and architectural style, ranging from simple monuments to grand complexes adorned with sculptures, frescoes, and inscriptions depicting scenes from the lives and achievements of the deceased. Some of the most notable examples include the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, a cylindrical mausoleum crowned with a cone-shaped roof and adorned with decorative friezes, and the Tomb of the Scipios, where members of the prominent Scipio family were laid to rest in sarcophagi. These structures not only served as places of commemoration but also stood as symbols of continuity and lineage, reinforcing the importance of ancestry and legacy in Roman culture.

circa 150 CE

Roman Baths of Capo di Bove
The Roman Baths of Capo di Bove, located along the Appian Way in Rome, is an archaeological site showcasing ancient Roman architecture and culture. Dating back to the second century CE, these baths were part of a larger villa complex believed to have belonged to the wealthy Herodes Atticus. The site features well-preserved thermal baths, including hot and cold rooms, as well as elaborate mosaics and frescoes depicting mythological scenes and daily life. The Roman Baths of Capo di Bove offer a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle and social practices of Roman aristocracy, highlighting their appreciation for health, leisure, and communal bathing rituals.

circa 275 CE

Saint Sebastian's Gate
The Gate of Saint Sebastian (porta San Sebastiano), is one of the most well-preserved and significant gates in the Aurelian Walls of Rome. Built in the third century CE by the Emperor Aurelian, these walls were constructed to fortify and protect the city of Rome. The Porta San Sebastiano served as one of the main southern entrances into the city, allowing passage along the ancient Appian Way.

The gate itself is named after Saint Sebastian, a Christian martyr believed to have been killed and buried nearby. Over the centuries, the gate has undergone several renovations and modifications, yet it retains much of its original structure and architectural grandeur. Its strategic location and sturdy construction made it a vital defensive point during various periods of Rome's history, including medieval and Renaissance times.

circa 300-350 CE

Basilica of Saint Sebastian Beyond the Walls
The basilica or church of Saint Sebastian beyond the walls (San Sebastiano fuori le mura) is an ancient Christian church located on the Appian Way in Rome. It is dedicated to Saint Sebastian, a third-century CE Christian martyr. The basilica stands over the site where, according to tradition, Saint Sebastian was buried after his martyrdom.

Originally built in the early fourth century CE by the Emperor Constantine, the basilica has undergone several renovations and expansions over the centuries. It features a Romanesque bell tower and a thirtenth-century CE Gothic-style cloister. The interior houses notable artworks, including icons and frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Saint Sebastian.

The basilica is significant not only as a religious site but also for its historical and architectural importance. It is one of Rome's seven ancient pilgrimage churches, known as the "Seven Churches of Rome", which were designated by pilgrims during the Middle Ages.

circa 306-312 CE

Circus of Maxentius
The Circus of Maxentius (Circo di Massenzio), previously known as the Circus of Caracalla until the mid nineteenth century CE, is an ancient Roman circus located along the Appian Way in Rome. It was built by the Roman Emperor Maxentius in the early fourth century CE, around 308-312 CE. The circus is notable for its massive size and grand architectural features, reflecting the opulence and ambition of its patron.

The structure of the Circus of Maxentius followed the typical design of Roman circuses, with a long central arena surrounded by seating tiers for spectators. It was primarily used for chariot racing and other public spectacles, serving as a venue for entertainment and political events during the Roman Empire.

Today, the ruins of the Circus of Maxentius stand as a testament to ancient Roman engineering and entertainment culture. Although partially ruined, its remnants, including the towering arches and sections of seating, offer insights into the grandeur and scale of Roman public entertainment venues.

circa 306-312 CE

Palace of Maxentius
The palace of emperor Maxentius, (Domus Romana di Palazzo Imperiale), was a grand imperial residence built by the Roman Emperor Maxentius in the early fourth century CE. Located on Via Appia Antica, this vast complex was renowned for its size, architectural splendor, and lavish decorations, reflecting the wealth and power of its imperial owner.

Maxentius, who ruled from 306 to 312 CE, undertook extensive building projects during his short reign, including the construction of this palatial residence. The palace featured large courtyards, expansive halls, intricate mosaics, and opulent decorations, showcasing the artistic and engineering prowess of Roman builders during this period.

Today, while much of the Palace of Maxentius lies in ruins, its remnants continue to be studied and admired for their historical significance and architectural innovation. The site provides valuable insights into the lifestyle and grandeur of Roman emperors during the late imperial period, offering visitors a glimpse into ancient Roman life and governance at its peak.

circa 1250 CE

Water Tower of Cecchignola
The water tower of Cecchignola (Torre dell'Acqua Cecchignola) is a historic structure located in the Cecchignola district of Rome, Italy. It was built during the early twentieth century CE and served as a water tower to supply water to the surrounding area. Constructed in a distinctive architectural style typical of early 20th-century Italian engineering, the Water Tower of Cecchignola features a tall square shape with a conical roof. Its design reflects the functional aesthetic prevalent in utility structures of the time. Today, while the Water Tower of Cecchignola no longer serves its original purpose, it stands as a local landmark and a reminder of Rome's infrastructure development in the early 20th century CE.

circa 1300 CE

Castrum Caetani

circa 1303 CE

Church of Saint Nicholas

circa 1539 CE

Reginald Pole Chapel
The Reginald Pole Chapel (Cappella di Reginald Pole)

circa 1637 CE

Santa Maria in Palmis
The Santa Maria in Palmis (Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Piante), also known as the Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis


Remains of Temple of Jupiter on Via Appia?
The temple of Jupiter on the Appian Way (Resti del Tempio di Giove)

circa 130 CE

Villa of the Quintilii
The Villa of the Quintilii (Villa dei Quintili) is an ancient Roman villa located along the Appian Way in Rome, Italy. This luxurious estate was originally built in the second century CE and was owned by the Quintilii brothers, Sextus Quintilius Condianus and Sextus Quintilius Maximus. The villa complex covers a vast area and includes extensive gardens, thermal baths, residential quarters, and entertainment facilities. It exemplifies the grandeur and opulence typical of Roman elite residences during the imperial period. The villa's architecture and decorations reflected the wealth and status of its owners, who were prominent figures in Roman society.

One of the notable features of the Villa of the Quintilii is its well-preserved ruins, which include remnants of mosaic floors, frescoes, a grand nymphaeum and other architectural elements. The villa's thermal baths are particularly impressive, showcasing intricate tile work and engineering techniques used for heating and water circulation.

Today, the Villa of the Quintilii is a popular archaeological site and tourist attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into the daily life and luxury enjoyed by Rome's elite during antiquity.


High Relief of a Woman in a Toga
The (Altorilievo di donna togata)


Remains of Latin Inscription A61
The (Resti Iscrizione Latina A61)


Remains of Ancient Roman Construction A61
The (Resti costruzione romana A61)


Medieval Well of Ancient Cistern
The (Pozzo Medievale dell'Antica Cisterna)

circa 1830 CE

Fifth Brick Monument of Canina
The (Quinta Monumento in Laterizio del Canina)


Temple of Hercules
The remains of the "Temple of Hercules" (Tempio di Ercole) is situated near the end of the VII mile of the Via Appia. The ruins of the ancient temple include peperino tuff columns and wall bases. It was most likely built during the reign of emperor Domitian (circa 81-96 CE). However recent excavations and studies have revealed that the structure was a four sided portico and dates back to the Republican period of ancient Rome. It may have been used as a way-stop for travelers, part of which offered food and rest services.

circa 150-400 CE

Catacombs on the Appian Way
The catacombs on the Appian Way (Catacombe della Via Appia Antica) represent an intricate labyrinth beneath the ancient Roman road, offering a glimpse into the early Roman, Pagan, and Christian burial practices and religious life. These catacombs, carved into the soft tufa rock, served as underground cemeteries where Roman, Christians, Jews, and other religious communities buried their dead during the Roman and later Christian periods. The Appian Way, extending from Rome to Brindisi, became a significant route not only for commerce and military movements but also for the spread of Christianity and the establishment of sacred burial grounds.

Each catacomb along the Appian Way holds its own historical and cultural significance. The Catacombs of San Callisto (Callixtus), for instance, are among the largest and most famous, serving as the burial site for several early popes and countless martyrs. Their intricate network of tunnels and chambers features frescoes, sarcophagi, and inscriptions that offer insights into early Christian beliefs and rituals.

circa 1870 CE

Secci Tower
The Secci Tower (Torre Secci)


See Also


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