I don't think that there is any other city in Europe which has preserved such a length of walls as Rome.
In France I have seen Aigues-Mortes (1,6 Km walls), Avilla in Spain but even this one with 90 towers and 2,5 Km long continuous wall does not compare with the still existing 12,5 Km of the Aurelian walls.
The original walls were 19 km long with 381 square towers, 18 main doors. Most of it still exists more or less well conserved.
It is a fact that you can't walk in Rome without crossing somewhere the Aurelian walls.
For centuries the Romans lived without fortifications around the city but the invasions of northern Italy by barbarian tribes made Emperor Aurelian begin the construction of the fortified wall which was built between 271 and 275. What is a rather short time and shows again the building efficiency of the Romans.
Now did the walls really protect Rome? Yes as long as the Romans did not forget to close the doors and they sometimes forgot.
In 410 Alaric and his Goths entered Rome by the Porta Salaria which had been left open. In 455 the Vandals lead by Genseric invaded the city by the Ostiense and Portuense gates again incredibly left open!
When climbing the steps to the S. John in Lateran Basilica you will see on the left, surrounded by trees, a gate from 270 AD. in the Aurelian walls. What you see is the inner side of the Porta Asinaria. Specific to this gate are the two bastions with semicircular fronts that are flanked by square staircase towers.
The Porta Asinaria was not an important gateway but entered in the history because on several occasions she was left open when the city was attacked by barbarians. In 546 the Goths of Totila entered by this gate left open and plundered Rome and destroyed one third of the existing walls.
In 1084 the Normans of Robert Guiscard entered also Rome by this gate.
The Porta Asinaria was definitively closed in 1574 when a new gate Porta San Giovani was opened at less than 100 m.
The existing structure of brick-faced concrete is one of the best preserved of all the original gates.
The Aurelian Walls were built by the Emperor Aurelian between 270 and 273 A.D. to defend the city against attack from barbarians. These were not the first walls built to protect the city; the earlier Servian Walls had been standing since the 4th century B.C., parts of which can still be seen today near the Termini railway station and even inside the station in the McDonalds on the underground level.
By the 3rd century A.D. the city had long ago outgrown these walls, but at the height of the empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries Rome's army and its reputation were good enough defenses and a wall was not necessary. The empire was already in a state of decline by the 3rd century, however, thus the wall had to be built to keep out Rome's enemies.
Even after the fall of the Empire, the walls were maintained and improved by the Popes and continued to be used as a means of defense right up until 1870 when Garibaldi's army stormed the walls, forcing the Pope to give up his reign over Rome and finally incorporating the city into the newly-formed Kingdom of Italy.
There are many places in Rome where the walls can be seen today; the portion seen in the photo stands near the Church of San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John in Lateran). Today it is in the middle of a very busy junction with many cars passing through it; the wall was originally solid but the arches were cut out in the early 20th century to accommodate the cars.
The website below has very thorough explanations of all of Rome's walls, with many pictures and maps.
By visiting the basilica San Giovani I had the chance to see part of Aurelian Walls.
Porta Asinaria (Asinaria Gate ) is one of the smaller gates across the Aurelian Walls which was a defensive wall of the city. It was built at about 275AD by the roman army with brick and mortar and its height was up to 10 metres, a massive structure that makes people wonder about because via Asinaria wasn’t any important road. History made the spot important though as in 536 the east roman soldiers entered through this gate and claimed the city back from the Ostrogoths. Pic1 shows the façade from within the city walls. It is closed for the public as the modern road pass through another gate near by (Porta San Giovani)(pic 2)
The amazing thing about the Aurelian Walls was the fact that its length was about 19kilometers! The wall was built between 271-279AD and it is semi-ruinous but partly restored. The part of Aurelian Walls that I saw(pic 3) was once the Claudio Aqueduct that was used for water transfer over Via Labican and Via Prenestina to the city. The aqueduct was really long, about 68km!!
The Aurelian Walls is a line of city walls built between 271 and 275 in Rome during the reign of the Roman Emperors Aurelian and Probus.
The walls enclosed all the seven hills of Rome plus the Campus Martius and, on the right bank of the Tiber, the Trastevere district. The river banks within the city limits appear to have been left unfortified although they were certainly fortified along the Campus Martius.
The Mura Serviane (Servian Wall, in English) were defensive walls constructed around the town of Rome in the 4th century BC under the reign of the sixth Roman King Servius Tullius.
They were probably rebuilt after the sack of Rome during Battle of the Allia by the Gauls of Brennus. The wall was still maintained in the end of the Republic and the early Empire but in this time Rome had already begun to grow outside the original Servian Wall.
The wall was 10 meters in height and 3.6 meters wide at its base. It was 11 km long and it had 16 gates.
Outside Termini Station there is the largest section well preserved of the wall. You can see it on your right when you left the train station in Piazza del Cinquecento.
Built by Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 271 and 275 to defend Rome from the Barbarians, one can see remnants around the city and some of its remaining gateways. One of the best of these is the Porta San Paolo seen in the picture. Nearby is a museum (I didn't go to it).
A large section of the well can also be found near the Via Veneto and the entrance to the
Villa Borghese gardens.
The ancient walls in Rome (or what actually still exists of them) are remarkably well preserved and blend in well with the surroundings.
During the hop on hop off tour you go through some of the gateways in the walls that roads are routed through and so get a reasonable look at them.
An interesting sight when you considder their age and use.
Part of the Aurelian Wall of Rome, the Porta del Popolo is the northern city gate adjacent to Piazza del Popolo. In ancient times it was known as Porta Flaminia as it led to Via Flaminia, the Roman road north of the city. The gate itself dates from more recent times with 15th century architectural works by the architects Bagio Biccio and Bernini.
Okay, so nobody knows why the Pyramid Metro stop is so strangely named. Well, we do. We stayed in Testaccio, so that was OUR metro stop.
Turns out this guy names Cesius was so caught up in the Egyptania of his time (16BC) that he had a pyramid built for his tomb. It is exactly 100 Roman Feet high, and made of white Carrara marble.
When the Aurelian Wall was built, the just sort of used the pyramid as part of the wall, and built the Porta Ostiensis (gate) nearby. We used the Pyramid to find our way more than once, as the Metro is right across a busy street and the bus depot.
This gate is one of the more recent gates in the walls; it was built in 1574 on the orders of pope Gregory XIII by one of Michelangelo's pupils. It does not have as much of a military aspect as some of the other gates, and in fact its architecture is more reminiscent of that which would be found at the entrance to a palace of this time period.
This is the ancient city gate of Porta Appia, on the Appian Way, since renamed. Built in 275 AD, this large keystone arch was renovated by various emperors and popes over the centuries, and today is considered one of the finest preserved of Rome'’s gateways.
Just inside the gate is the so-called Arch of Drusus, a marble decorated arch of the Aqua Antoniniana aqueduct over the Via Appia wrongly identified with the arch said by the sources to have been erected on the death of Nero Claudius Drusus (the father of Claudius) in 9 BC.
Within the gate is the Museo delle Mura (the museum of the walls) traces the development and history of the Aurelian walls.
The most interesting feature of this gate for me, however, was under the arch - this carving of an angel (fourth photo) slaying a dragon with a spear, holding an orb with the other hand, and a long inscription in Latin dated 1327. It apparently records a victory over forces of the kingdom of Naples (in September, or possibly July, whichever was considered the seventh month at that time - mense septem is about as much as my rudimentary Latic can cope with!).
This is a wonderfully preserved 1st-century double arch, which also served as an aqueduct. It only became a real gate (Porta) with the building of the Aurelianic Walls in AD 271-5, which are still connected to it on either side. You can still see the inscription of Claudius, who commissioned the two acqueducts supported by the arches, on the top register. An inscription in the middle zone was addded by Vespasian in AD 71, after he had carried out repairs, and below that is one from Titus, recording further work in AD 81.
Aurelian Walls are the walls that used to be the bounds of the ancient city. Rome got larger soon but these "forts" will give you the idea of how proud we Romans are about our city. Dang, we built walls that no one could ever destroy, to protect our mom, our city, our pride. Walking by them, you will have amazing sensations, particular feelings and you'll understand Rome a bit more. Mmm, anyway, don't forget... IT'S A LONG WALK!!!
The Aurelian walls can be seen from different parts of the city. Ancient Rome was a fortified city, as it had to protected from many invaders. The walls show how Rome has grown from early times to these days. Some of the walls are in midtown Rome!!!
The picture taken here was near Villa Borghese, and very close to Piazza Spagna.