Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica 400
Ostia Antica – one of the many fortifications in this vibrant city
Photo by: avinashkunnath, Creative Commons

Ostia Antica is a 30–minute train ride away from Rome. During ancient times it functioned as a port or a harbor city for ancient Rome. It is where visitors can experience how ancient Romans lived.

The city’s name comes from the Latin word ostia meaning mouth because during ancient times, the city was located at the mouth of the River Tiber. Before archaeological excavations were made, the whole city was covered by mud and sand. This helped in preserving the city’s architecture and art works. Now, visitors can wander around the Roman Theater and if you visit during summer, you can watch plays held at the ancient theater! Marvel at the black and white mosaics on floors of the large bathhouses, like the Baths of Cesaii and the Bath of Neptune and walk through the forum- the market place or public square of an ancient Roman City.

Most of the buildings unearthed were preserved even up to the second floor. When visitors walked on the main street they can even observed the differences between a house of a workman and a sailor versus the richer classes. A workman and a sailor’s house are called an insule, which looks like the modern day flats. On the other hand, houses belonging to richer classes are decorated with ornate statues and mosaics and columns.

During Constantine I’s rule, from a port, Ostia became a holiday destination for Roman aristocrats. Unfortunately, when the Roman Empire fell, it started the decline of Ostia. It has always been a target for Arab pirates attacks forcing the locals even more to leave the city.

It is advised for visitor to visit the local museum. Some of the artifacts that were unearthed are stored on the Ostia Antica Museum for safekeeping. The museum is open every Tuesdays until Sundays, nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. It is also better to get in-depth information on the ancient city through city guide booklets.

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