Saturday, April 19, 2014


Begun in 271 by Aurelian (270/275) and almost finished when he died, but completed in about 279 at the time of Probus (276/282)
18.8 km (11.7 miles - 13 Roman miles) long, using preexisting buildings for about 1/10 of the lenght. The walls included an area of about 15 km² (5.8 square miles)
About 6 m (20 feet) high and 3.5 m (11.5 feet) thick with a square tower with upper chamber for ballistae each 29.6 m (97 feet - 100 Roman feet), for a total of about 600 towers
Restored by Maxentius (306/312) who raised the walls in the years 309/312, but most of all by Honorius (395/423) and Arcadius (395/408) in the 401/403 inspired by the magister militum Stilicho, the modern equivalent of commander in chief of the army. Arcadius was the first emperor of the eastern part of the empire after the division of 395
With Honorius and Arcadius the height of the walls was more than doubled (about 15 m - 50 feet), Hadrian's Mausoleum was also included as a sort of rampart on the right bank of the River Tiber, the two arches of some gates became one and the towers were raised and reinforced. The walls were restored again in the sixth century by Belisarius
Despite the walls, Rome was sacked by the Visigoths under Alaric in 410 who entered the Porta Salaria, although Alaric put the Pope Innocent I (401/417) under his wing and gave orders not to kill and to respect the holy sites
More looting occurred in the 455 with the Vandals of Genseric who, although they sacked more than the Visigoths, respected Rome and its inhabitants, with Ricimer in 472 during the Civil War and with the Goths of Totila in 550. Procopius described the defenders holed up in Hadrian's Mausoleum throwing statues to the assailants during the Gothic War (535/553)
Porta Cornelia
It doesn't exist anymore. It used to stand by Ponte Elio, the current Sant'Angelo Bridge
Porta Flaminia
Current Porta del Popolo
Porta Pinciana
Still visible on top of Via Veneto
Porta Salaria
Demolished in 1921 for the creation of Piazza Fiume. Virginio Vespignani had rebuilt it in 1873 after its destruction in 1870 during the attack that caused the breach of Porta Pia. It kept the original name in the Middle Ages
Porta Nomentana
75 m (246 feet) away from the current Porta Pia
Porta Chiusa
So called because the original name is unknown. It was located at the Castra Praetoria
Porta Tiburtina
Before the construction of the walls it was just an arch made on 5 BC for the passage of the aqueducts Aqua Marcia, Tepula and Iulia on Via Tiburtina
Porta Praenestina
Present Porta Maggiore name derived in 919 from the not so far Basilica of St. Mary Major: Before the construction of the Walls there were two monumental arches for the passage of the aqueducts Aqua Claudia and Anio Novus over the roads Labicana and Prenestina. The inscriptions are the original ones of Claudius (41/54) at the top and Vespasian (69/79) and Titus (79/81) at the bottom mentioning the restorations of 71 and 81
The Anio Vetus aqueduct ended up here with an underground conduit and the Aqua Marcia, Aqua Tepula and Aqua Iulia as well with arches nearby in three overlapping conduits. The present layout of the area dates back to 1933
The area was known as AD SPEM VETEREM for its proximity to a TEMPLE OF HOPE dedicated in 477 BC. The exact location of the temple is unknown and it was so named to distinguish it from the newer Temple of Hope dating back to 260 BC in the Forum Holitorium
Porta Asinaria
Secondary gate, from which the Via Asinaria exited to join the Via Tuscolana. It was closed and buried in 1409 and reopened only in 1955. Next door to the current porta S. Giovanni built in 1574 by Jacopo Del Duca (about 1520/1604)
Honorius (395/423) added the second door and the two towers. In AD 550 the barbarian soldiers of the Roman army betrayed and opened the door to the Goths of Totila who sacked the city
Porta Metrovia
Known as Porta Metronia today. It was a small posterula, an unimportant small door
Porta Latina
Among the most impressive and best preserved. The travertine façade dates back to the time of Honorius (395/423). As it was typical for the most important gates, the outside was a rolling shutter, while the interior consisted of two doors. The Via Latina exited through it leading to Capua
It was closed in 1408, in 1576 and from 1656 to 1669, in the latter two cases due to outbreaks of plague. It remained closed for most of the nineteenth century and it even stopped the Italian army that tried to get through here in 1870 and then went to Porta Pia. It was finally reopened for good in 1911
Porta Appia
Current porta s. sebastiano, the best preserved gate where it is possible to see the double doors and the grooves for the rolling shutter. Here and in the adjacent walls and towers there is the small MUSEO DELLE MURA (Museum of the Walls) an educational museum with seven small rooms equipped with models and panels. It includes a walking path on the wall for a distance of about 350 m (1,150 feet)
Porta Ardeatina
It was just a small posterula, an unimportant small door still visible near Via Cristoforo Colombo. A whole section of the walls next to the door fell in 2001 for the infiltration of water and it was later rebuilt
The gate is adjacent to the Bastione del Sangallo (Sangallo's Bastion) of 1536 by Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) who built it for Paul III Farnese (1534/49) fearful of a new sack of Rome. The bastion is about 300 m (984 feet) long. Sangallo expanded the thickness of the wall to make it resistant to the weapons of his time and he therefore completely destroyed the Roman wall. The project was not completed due to lack of funds
Porta Ostiense
Current Porta S. Paolo
On September 10, 1943 in the square around the door the battle of Porta S. Paolo took place: furious fighting between the Italian army without clear orders and helped by civilians against the Nazi army. Two days before the armistice with the Allied Forces had been announced in which it was written that the Italian armed forces should "return fire wherever it came from". 241 Italians died even though other sources report 414 deaths among the military and 156 among civilians including 43 women
Porta Aurelia
Current porta S. Pancrazio. The ancient gate was destroyed in 1644 by Marcantonio de Rossi (about 1607/61) who built a new one as part of the Mura Gianicolensi (Gianicolensi Walls). It was destroyed again by the French bombardment of 1849 and rebuilt in the years 1854/57 by Virginio Vespignani
Porta Portuensis
The Via Portuense exited through it, leading to the ports of Claudius and Trajan. It was destroyed in 1643 and replaced by the PORTA PORTESE which is much more to the north of the site of the original gate
Gate whose name is unknown
Corresponding to the current Porta Settimana which was built in its present form in 1498 for Alexander VI (1492/1503) and restored in 1798 for Pius VI Braschi (1775/99)

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