Aurelian Walls, Rome

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  • Porta Asinaria
    Porta Asinaria
    by mindcrime
  • Aurelian Walls (Claudio Aqueduct)
    Aurelian Walls (Claudio Aqueduct)
    by mindcrime
  • Aurelian Walls (Claudio Aqueduct)
    Aurelian Walls (Claudio Aqueduct)
    by mindcrime
  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Mura Aureliane - Close the door, please!

    by breughel Updated Jul 27, 2011

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    Aurelian wall near Porta S. Sebastiano.

    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!

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Porta Asinaria

    by breughel Updated Jul 27, 2011

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    Porta Asinaria in the Aurelian wall.
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    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.

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  • Paul2001's Profile Photo

    The Aurelian Walls

    by Paul2001 Updated Apr 20, 2004

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    Porta San Sebastiano

    The Aurelian Walls surround the old city of Rome. The walls where begun by Aurelian in 271 A.D. during Roman times to protect Rome from invaders. The walls where 60 feet high and stretched twelve miles around the city. Unfortunately much of the walls where torn down during the Middle Ages for the bricks and stone. I believe the gate you see here is the Porta San Sebastiano which I passed walking towards the Appian Way to the catacombs

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  • tompt's Profile Photo

    Porta Maggiore

    by tompt Written Feb 6, 2004

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    Porta Maggiore, Rome

    The two arches of the Porta Maggiore, a gate to the city, were originaly part of an aquaduct built by emperor Claudius in the year 52.
    In total water in 6 different aquaducts came into Rome at the Porta Maggiore.
    Under the huge citygate you can see the old basalt road. Deep trenches of the carriages can easily be identified in the black stones.

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  • jungles's Profile Photo

    Rome's Defensive Walls

    by jungles Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Aurelian Walls near Porta San Giovanni
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    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.

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  • roamer61's Profile Photo

    Aurelian Walls

    by roamer61 Written May 2, 2009

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    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.

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    Porta del Popolo

    by MM212 Written Sep 14, 2007

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    Porta del Popolo

    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.

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  • mindcrime's Profile Photo

    Aurelian Walls

    by mindcrime Updated Mar 20, 2011

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    Porta Asinaria
    2 more images

    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!!

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  • IIGUANA's Profile Photo

    Roman walls

    by IIGUANA Written Feb 24, 2005

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    Aurelian Wall

    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.

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  • martin_nl's Profile Photo

    Aurelian Walls

    by martin_nl Updated Jun 1, 2003

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    Porta San Paolo opposite Caius Cestius' Pyramid

    All around the city you will find some parts of the city walls. The biggest walls which are still visible were started by Emeperor Aurelian. The work was completed under his successor Probus. The wall made of brick is 6 metres high and 3.5 metres thick. There were sqaure towers every 30 metres. The total lenghth of the walls is about 19 km. There is a museum about the city walks, where you also have the chance to climb up in a tower and enjoy the view from the wall. Check out my Museo della Murra off the beaten path tip.

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  • OttoMarzo's Profile Photo

    Central Bounds

    by OttoMarzo Written Jun 28, 2005

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    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!!!

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Unique for Its Walls

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Aurelian Wall near southern city gates

    Rome is unique among cities its size for its entire encirclement by its original defensive walls. Built by Emperor Aurelian in the 3rd century (not Marcus Aurelius, as is commonly mistaken), the walls retain their original appearance, and though foreign armies have since invested and sacked the capital, the walls did not undergo the fate of those ringing Constantinople. You can head in any one direction -- the walls will eventually limit your progress.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    All Roads Lead to (or from) Rome

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    southern city gate, Aurelian Wall

    Access to the city since its encirclement by the Aurelian Wall (and even earlier) has been through one of a dozen city gates that are marked by a wide arch in the fortification. The walls surrounding Vatican City are the most perfectly preserved in the city, but the masonry of the rest still holds. Watch for any one of these gates, and even though your business might lie within the city, step outside the city walls and look down the length of this ancient and wonderfully preserved fortification (3rd century AD).

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Rome's Welcome to Southern Italy

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Piazza Appio

    The Appian Way, the ancient Roman road leading into southern Italy, entered the imperial city through this featured gate or 'porta' as the Italians have it. Not far south from this gate are the catacombs and illustrious markers of former emperors.

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    Porta San Sebastiano

    by illumina Written May 19, 2006

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    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!).

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