To fully understand the Roman civilization you have to go and visit Ancient Ostia, its first colony.
Reaching it from Rome is extremely easy. You just have to get on a little train, and the journey takes a bit more than thirty minutes. From here, getting to the center of the excavations is just five minutes by foot. The Ancient Ostia tour can be also done in a half day, but it’s recommended to stay some hours more, to have a better view even of the less well-known places.
This site, founded according to the tradition by the king Ancus Marcius, seems to date back to the 4th century BC. Born to protect the many salt pans scattered along the coast, it became very soon the port of the Urbe, in which continuously arrived various and different kinds of goods from all the provinces.
Its inhabitants were mostly merchants, ship-owners, craftsmen, workmen and people employed for fluvial and terrestrial transports.
Unfortunately, this place followed the decline of Rome and was slowly abandoned around the 9th century.
For this reason, all of the buildings, houses, baths, temples, frescoes, mosaics, sculptures and, because of the presence of many foreigners, even many sanctuaries dedicated to various oriental cults, disappeared for hundreds of years buried under the sand and the earth.
That’s why the visit to Ancient Ostia is unique in its kind: it gives the opportunity to see a photograph of the Rome of the past, because nothing got overlapped to its ancient ruins.
By visiting it, we can understand what was the appearance of Rome in the past, since Ostia was built with the same architectural and material criteria.
If you choose the shorter Ancient Ostia tour, you will only need about three/four hours. In fact, this is enough time for visiting the main places of the site, such as the Via Ostiensis and the Decumanus Maximus, the main road of the ancient colony, more than a kilometer long and that leads to the sea. Also not to miss are the wonderful mosaics portraying the god of the sea, nymphs and marine subjects of the Baths of Neptune, the Firemen’s Barracks, the Theater and the Forum of Corporations, in the middle of which stands a temple. The three fullonicae are characteristic, small workshops where fabrics and wool were washed and treated. The Mithraeum of Felicissimus, the Domus of the Fortuna Annonaria, the Forum with its baths, the public latrines, the Thermopolium, the Via di Diana and the Molini can then conclude the visit.
Having a whole day available, it is possible to extend the Ancient Ostia tour, and in addition discover the market, the Temple of Hercules, the House of Cupid and Psyche, the underground Mythraeum, the Insula of the Aurighi, the Bath of the Seven Sages, the Garden Houses, the Synagogue, the Cardo and the Temple of Cybele.
Finally, we suggest a visit to the Museo Ostiense, located on the ground floor of a building known as “Casone del Sale”, because related with the use of the near salt pans by the Pontifical government, which under the guidance of Pius IX turned it into a museum in the second half of the 19th century.
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