Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica

If you go down to the mouth of the River Tiber in the Mediterranean Sea, you will occur in Ostia Antica, principal harbour city of ancient Rome which is also considered to be Rome’s first colony. Rome’s suburb that is now adjacent to the archaeological reserve is also called Ostia. Ostia Antica is located 23 km from Rome and can be reached by car or by train. Legend goes that Ostia was established by Ancus Marcius in the VII century BC because it was the location of the rich salt deposits and also to prevent hostile ships from entering Rome. However the oldest remains discovered by archaeologists date back to the IV century BC. In the II century BC, during the times of later republic Ostia turned into the principal harbour of Rome and the sea gate of the country. Forum, basilica and porticos appeared in the town at that time. The port maintained the leading position until the IV century – a slow decadence began in the late Roman era around the time of Constantine the Great.

Gradually floods, construction of the new port in Grigoriopol, spread of malaria resulted in Ostia’s disrepair. Slit and mud covered the streets, houses and other structures. First scientific excavations were performed in the XIX century, later in the first half of the XX century. Ostia amphitheatre dates back to the II century AD. It was located in the main street and was constructed during the times of Augustus, later reconstructed many times but survived to our days and still welcomes the audience for performances in summer time. In front of the theatre there were two statues of nymphae, behind the facade there were 16 benches. The stand, niches and columns of the theatre were decorated with marble. Reconstructed theatre can accommodate 2700 people. The theatre was built along Decumanus Maximus. This street also hosted stores, taverns and baths. It connected Antica Ostia with Rome. This main street included various public buildings like theatre, Augustan temple, Capitolium that was devoted to the triad of gods (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva). Behind the Porto-Romano, major gates of the city, there is the statue of Minerva Victoria that dates back to the I century. There were numerous Baths in Antica Ostia, among them: baths in the Forum, baths of Mitra, Neptune baths, Sea baths and numerous private baths that were decorated with marble, mosaic and sculptures.

But the heart of Ostia Antica, in the times of its prosperity was at the market square. In the huge gallery local and foreign companies were negotiating and business was in the full swing. Their trademarks survived on the floor. Residential houses, warehouses and barns of Ostia are of a special interest. The most important warehouses of the town were located in the centre and built during the times of Claudius. Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana is a well-preserved three-storey building that was owned by the rich tradesman. The inner courtyard was adorned with mosaic; doors were equipped with the complex locks. Museum of Ostia displays numerous artefacts that were discovered during the archaeological excavations. On the territory of the town there were 18 temples of the Persian God Mitra (Mitreum) as well as the synagogue and Christian basilica of the I century. In 2016 you can see only 60% of the discovered town, 40% of Ostia is still under the moss among the trees, you can find remains in the forest.

In Ostia you can touch everything and take pictures everywhere, better to walk around with a professional guide, it will be more interesting. In case you are hungry there is a cafe on the territory. But you can also have a picnic on ruins.

Address: Via dei Romagnoli, 717
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 8.30 am – 4.30 pm; ticket office closes at 15.30; closed Mondays, 25 December and 1 May
How to reach: 30 min by train from Termini station.
Coordinates: 41.755843, 12.291307