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Aurelian Walls

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

00179 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit the Aurelian Walls later in the afternoon when the sunlight bathes the ancient stones in a golden hue – it's a photographer's dream moment. Also, locals love to jog or walk their dogs along sections of the Passeggiata del Muro Torto underneath the walls, a less-touristed path that offers a tranquil escape with a touch of history."

What are the Aurelian Walls?

The Aurelian Walls are a majestic set of ancient defensive walls that encircle the heart of Rome. Built between 271 AD and 275 AD during the reign of Emperor Aurelian, these walls were constructed to protect Rome from outside invaders, a task at which they proved most formidable for many centuries. Over time, they have come to be revered not just as fortifications, but as a symbol of the enduring strength and history of the Eternal City itself.

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Stretching approximately 19 kilometers, the Aurelian Walls are punctuated by formidable gates, many of which have become iconic in their own right. The sight of these ancient stones, which have witnessed the rise and fall of entire eras, is a humbling reminder of Rome's past glory and its persistent significance through the ages. What you'll notice is the skill with which they were constructed; the walls incorporate existing structures ranging from imperial villas to aqueducts, showcasing the engineering prowess and resourcefulness of ancient Rome.

History of the Aurelian Walls

The necessity for the Aurelian Walls arose in the 3rd century AD as the Roman Empire found itself under increased threat from barbarian tribes. With the early defensive structures proving insufficient, Emperor Aurelian took up the great task of commissioning these fortifications. Interestingly, the walls were not completed under his rule, but under his successor Probus, reflecting the urgent need and the monumental effort required to erect them.

Over the subsequent centuries, the Aurelian Walls have been renovated and expanded by various emperors, including Maxentius and Honorius. One of the fascinating aspects of their history is how they have been repurposed throughout time. In the Middle Ages, for instance, the walls not only served as fortifications but also defined legal and economic boundaries within the city. They have withstood sieges, been breached, and ultimately have influenced the growth and shape of Rome as we know it today.

Why are the Aurelian Walls Important?

The Aurelian Walls are imbued with a significance that transcends their original military purpose. They serve as a tangible link to Rome's ancient past and are an integral part of the city's identity. In their enduring presence, they embody the idea of Rome as an eternal city, a continuous thread through history that has survived countless invasions, degradation, and renewal. The walls have borne witness to nearly two millennia of history and are a testament to the city's resilience and architectural inclinations.

To the discerning eye, they reveal the adaptive reuse of architectural elements from different periods, reflecting a layered narrative of the city's historical phases. Each repair, each modification, speaks to the historical context of its time. Moreover, the fact that the walls were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site ensures their preservation and recognition as a part of our global heritage, further cementing their importance.

Things to Do & See at the Aurelian Walls

Exploring the Aurelian Walls can be a day's endeavor in itself, given their expansive stretch around Rome's historic center. You can walk along certain accessible parts of the walls, feeling the weight of history with every step. Some of the notable gates, such as the Porta San Sebastiano, house a museum - the Museo delle Mura - which offers a deep dive into their construction and history. It's a place where you can start to appreciate the ingenuity behind Rome's ancient defenses.

Then there's the chance to stroll through the adjacent parks and gardens, blending a touch of green with the earthy tones of the ancient stones. Each gate has its own story, and if you find yourself at the Porta Pinciana or Porta San Paolo, you'll be walking in the footsteps of countless others who entered Rome over the centuries, each with their narratives that contributed to Rome's rich tapestry. As you explore, you may also catch some impressive views of the city—for example, from the stretch near the Villa Borghese park, the panorama is quite spectacular.

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A lesser-known activity is to seek out the remnants of the "Lost Aqua Alexandrina," an aqueduct repurposed into the walls, which is a marvel of Roman engineering. And for those with a taste for the macabre, near the walls you'll find the Protestant Cemetery, where famous poets like Keats and Shelley are buried. Its tranquil setting provides a unique place for reflection, away from the bustle of Rome.

Every nook of the Aurelian Walls tells a story, and each stone is a testament to Rome's storied past. Whether you're an avid historian, an architecture enthusiast, or simply someone who seeks to immerse themselves in the essence of a place, the Aurelian Walls beckon with a promise of timeless discoveries and unforgettable walked paths through history.

Frequently asked questions

What are the Aurelian Walls?

The Aurelian Walls are a set of ancient Roman defensive walls that were built in the 3rd century AD under the Emperor Aurelian. They were constructed to protect the city of Rome from barbarian invasions.

Where can I see the Aurelian Walls in Rome?

The Aurelian Walls encircle the central area of Rome and can be seen in many locations around the city. Notable sections include the stretch near the Termini train station and the walls surrounding the Vatican.

Are there tours available for the Aurelian Walls?

Yes, there are guided tours available that take visitors along the Aurelian Walls, providing historical insights and pointing out significant features of the ancient structure.

Can you walk on top of the Aurelian Walls?

Some sections of the Aurelian Walls are accessible to the public for walking, especially around the gate areas, but not all parts of the walls are open for this activity due to preservation efforts and safety concerns.

Is there an admission fee to visit the Aurelian Walls?

The Aurelian Walls are mostly an open monument and can be viewed from the outside for free. However, some specific gates and museums within the walls may require an admission fee.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

00179 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps