Appian Way Regional Park, Catacombs, Aqueduct park

Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica, Сatacombe, Parco degli Acquedotti

In the ancient times the Appian Way was used by merchants willing to deliver their goods to Rome, by legionaries leaving for their conquests in the lands far away, and numerous pilgrims traveling to bow before the sacred relics. The most important road of the ancient Rome is right before you, this is the 'Queen of the roads'. Along this road paved in 312 BC there are a lot of unique monuments. The tours usually start at the largest and the best preserved city gate, the Porta San Sebastiano. The gate was named in honor of the martyr Saint Sebastian, close to the gate you will find a basilica dedicated to him (San Sebastiano fuori le mura) and the Christian catacombs of Saint Sebastian. According to a legend, up till the 3rd century AD the catacombs were resting place for the relics of holy apostles Peter and Paul who were executed in Rome in the 1st century AD. Before the gate you will see the central part of the Arch of Drusus, once used as a pillar for the aqueduct.

At the gate you can visit the Museum of the Walls, as well as a small church named Santa Maria in Palmis (or Domine Quo Vadis), at the site of which Apostle Peter who fled from the persecutions of Nero, met Jesus Christ. A legend tells us that Peter asked Christ, "Lord, where are you going?" And Jesus answered, "I am going to Rome to be crucified again". Feeling ashamed Peter returned to Rome for his martyrdom. The church preserves a copy of a stone of marble with a footprint of two feet allegedly belonging to Jesus Christ (the original can be found in the Basilica of San Sebastiano fuori le mura).

From Santa Maria in Palmis you can head to the Caffarella park to breathe in some fresh air and have a picnic, or you can test your feelings in the enclosed spaces and go to the catacombs of Saint Callixtus, the largest Christian graveyard of the ancient Rome which is the place of nearly 170,000 burials. The Roman legislature prohibited burials inside the city walls, so the Romans used important roads leading from the capital to establish cemeteries nearby, this is why the majority of catacombs are located alongside the Appian Way. In total Rome numbers more than 60 catacombs with their length exceeding 150-170 kilometers (roughly 750,000 burials).

Next to the catacombs of Saint Callixtus you will find beautiful mausoleum of Caecilia Metella, a daughter of a Consul of Rome. Despite the fact that today it stands largely deconstructed, its structure and size are still impressive making it no wonder that this building was a model for the architects of tombs of emperors Hadrian and Augustus.

Another monumental sight of the road is the Villa of Emperor Maxentius, a tyrant and a rival of Constantine the Great. The territory of the villa comprises the Circus, palace and Mausoleum of Maxentius.

There is another wonderful place in this huge regional park – the Aqueduct Park, the Romans' favorite place to do sports. It is absolutely ideal for a magical photoshoot at dawn. This magnificent monument of the Ancient Rome has 7 aqueducts that are still standing today. The fist Roman aqueduct, constructed in 312 AD is called Aqua Appia, meanwhile the total number of aqueducts amounts to 11 with their total length being more than 500 kilometers! Thus, the city of Rome had the best water supply in the ancient world.

The territory of the Appian Way Regional Park is closed for traffic on weekends and holidays. It will be a great idea to rent a bicycle and go see the ancient history of Rome, as centuries past the Appian Way still has fragments of the authentic ancient pavement where you can even find tracks made by the wheels of carriages and chariots! Visit the park's official website for the detailed information in multiple languages about its cafes, Wi-Fi, bike rentals and a handy park map.

Address: Via Appia Antica, 42
Opening hours: Museum of the Walls Tue-Sun 9 am – 2 pm, entry till 1.30 pm, closed on Mon; St. Callixtus catacombs: Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun 9 am – 12 pm, 2 pm – 5 pm, closed on Wed; St. Sebastian catacombs Mon-Sat 10 am – 5 pm, entry till 4.30, closed on Sun; Tomb of Caecilia Metella Tue-Sun 9 am – 5 pm, closed on Mon; Aqueduct Park Mon-Sun 9.30 am – 1 pm, 2 pm – 5.30 pm
How to reach: by bus 118 from Colosseo metro station, bus 218 from San Giovanni in Laterano Basilica, or by car (it is better to find a better parking space in advance – there are several roads leading to the park)
Coordinates: 41.86687, 12.50292