To make your visit to Rome complete, you simply have to visit the Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica, one of the largest archaeological sites of ancient Rome open to visitors. The colony of Osta was founded towards the end of the 5th cent., the start of the 4th cent. BC, as a “castrum”, or small fortified rectangular city.
Its initial function was to serve as a base for a fleet under the command of a Roman Quaestor, and it was not until the 2nd century, thanks to its growing importance to Rome’s trade activities, that the city began to expand. Augustus and his successors gave it a theatre, a first forum and an aqueduct, but ancient Ostia’s true importance was tied to the Port of Claudius and, to an even greater extent, that of Trajan.
From the middle of the 3rd century AD, as the river silted up, blocking navigation and moving the coastline away from the city, ancient Ostia began its decline. Today, we owe the digs in the city to Pope Pius VII, who began them in the 19th century, after which they were continued by Pope Pius IX, while, still later, systematic research was carried out in preparation for the Universal Exposition of 1942, bringing light an area of 34 hectares (84 acres), out of the total of 50 hectares (124 acres) that the city probably occupied in ancient times.
Thanks to its noteworthy size, the Park of Ancient Ostia offers a panorama and a set of archaeological itineraries found nowhere else in the world, worthy of being explored one at a time.
There are 5 main itineraries that can each make for a visit on their own:
- Along the ancient “Decumano”
The main commercial thoroughfare, holding the sites where trade was carried out, as well as government buildings and sites and facilities of production: the laundry shops, the trade guilds building, the taverns, the theatre and the warehouses.
- From the seaport
The religious cults and communities. The synagogue, the mythraea, the Christian basilica, the round temple and the Capitolium. The field of the Magna Mater.
- The Forum and surroundings
The political, commercial and religious core of the city. The forum, the main thoroughfare, the baths, the Capitolium, the Thermopolium, the small market, the taverns of the fishmongers and the slaughterhouse, the Christian basilica and the round temple.
- Around the Via della Foce
The river port and the adjoining quarters. The sacred buildings and places of worship, the lower-class neighbourhoods; the homes and bath facilities.
- The sea port and its surroundings
The homes and “modern constructions” of Ostia Antica. In the vicinity of the seaport, the Domae, the residential complexes, the eating locales and the burial monuments.