Exploring Ostia Antica (Italy)

Ostia is a small town lying 30 minutes by train away from Central Rome. It was the port city for Ancient Rome, where large warehouses stored grain,wine and oil.

The city was an important storage centre for Rome, sitting at the then mouth of the River Tiber. Ostia means mouth in Latin. Due to silting of the river, the excavations are now 3km from the riverbank.

Fires were frequent and one section of the town is dedicated to the lodgings of fireman. Another part of the town was built as a model village – the house of the garden is a double ring of lodgings, with water sources and internal garden. Interestingly the multicultural nature of Ancient Rome is very much evident at Ostia, with temples (including cult temples) in abundance.

Tiberius and other emperors improved and fortified the town after pirates ransacked. Eventually, however, the town was abandoned. The decline of the Roman Empire and very age of the city meant that while over the 100s of years it was in existence there had been repeated repairs to structures and infrastructure, eventually the upkeep fell away and the population began to leave. The inhabitants moved to nearby towns and over the years marble from the buildings was scavenged for building in nearby towns. A lot of the marble was taken to use as mortar. The town was never completely buried.

Today we can visit what remains of the town and there is a small museum with some of the statues that were recovered. Amongst the remaining buildings, the mosaic floors of some of the properties and of the collonaded shopping arcade near the theatre are notably impressive.

While the site is not as well preserved as Pompeii or Herculaneum, nevertheless it makes for an enjoyable day trip out of the centre of Rome.

When visited: September 2018

Further reading: http://www.ostia-antica.org

Website: http://www.ostiaantica.beniculturali.it

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