00119 Ostia Antica RM, Italy
|⏰ Opening Hours
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
|💸 Entrance Fee
Find it on google maps
What is Ostia Antica?
Ostia Antica is more than just an attraction; it's a journey through time. Nestled at the mouth of the River Tiber, this ancient port city of Rome is an archaeological treasure. Imagine walking on cobbled streets where merchants once hawked their goods, and entering taverns and apartments that echo with the memory of their inhabitants. It's one of those places that allows you to touch history, to stand where legions once marched, a city that was the gateway to the riches of the Roman Empire.
Our Most Popular Tour:
- Bangkok By Night: The Ultimate Experience
I’m sure you’ve heard it said before but there is something quite special about Bangkok at night; let our Bangkok By Night: The Ultimate Experience show you...
As you wander through Ostia's remains, you are surrounded by the ruins of temples, baths, and marketplaces. Here, centuries-old public toilets sit alongside intricate mosaics that have withstood the test of time. It's a sprawling, open-air museum, less crowded than the bustling tourist spots in central Rome, and offers a more intimate glimpse into the daily life of ancient Romans.
History of Ostia Antica
The tale of Ostia Antica is as old as Rome itself – literally. Founded in the 4th century BCE, it served as Rome's seaport, vital for trade and military purposes. Throughout the centuries, as Rome's empires expanded and contracted, Ostia Antica rose and fell in prominence. It was bolstered by the construction of warehouses and docking facilities under Emperor Claudius and later, the grand harbor basin under Emperor Trajan.
But, as the Roman Empire waned, so did Ostia Antica. The port slowly silted up, trade routes changed, and the city began to decline. By the time of the Middle Ages, the once prosperous city had been abandoned, serving as a marble quarry for builders in Rome. This dilapidation, however, surprisingly preserved much of Ostia Antica, sparing it from the overbuilding that erased so many other ancient sites.
Excavations began in the early 19th century and have since revealed a remarkable level of preservation. You'll find that the city is more intact than you might expect, with many structures still standing one or two stories high. As in Pompeii, a tragic end has led to an archaeological beginning, allowing us to gaze back across the millennia.
Why is Ostia Antica Important?
Ostia Antica is crucial for understanding the everyday life of ancient Romans far from the political and cultural epicenter of Rome. It offers a candid snapshot of the past, ranging from residential dwellings to religious temples. Significantly, it was here that grain from across the empire was stockpiled, feeding the colossal city of Rome and ensuring the metropolis thrived.
Moreover, Ostia Antica provides insights into the cosmopolitan nature of the ancient Roman world. It was a melting pot of cultures, religions, and languages, which is evident in the diversity of the religious buildings that were excavated, including a Christian basilica, a Jewish synagogue, and temples dedicated to eastern deities. In a sense, walking through Ostia Antica is akin to walking through the living streets of history.
Its significance also emerges from its state of preservation. Unlike the dramatic ruins left by volcanic destruction, Ostia's gradual abandonment means that its streets, buildings, and artwork offer a richer narrative of the ebb and flow of daily Roman life, rather than a frozen moment of catastrophe. Thus, it acts as a silent chronicler, holding countless stories within its decayed walls.
Things to Do & See at Ostia Antica
Stepping into Ostia Antica, you are spoilt for choice. Begin by exploring the Terme di Nettuno, where you can marvel at one of the site's most famous mosaics depicting Neptune and Amphitrite. Take a moment at the Theatre, which once seated 3,000 spectators, and where you can still sit and envisage the performances of yore.
Our Top Trending Mexico Tours:
Mexico City Teotihuacan Tour: The Ancient City
Mexico City Instagram Tour: The Most Famous Spots
Mexico City Chapultepec Tour: The Magic Castle
Visit the Forum, the heart of the city, once ringed by important government buildings and temples. Stroll down the Decumanus Maximus, Ostia's main thoroughfare, lined with the remnants of shops and homes. For a vivid daily life scene, the House of Diana and the Thermopolium, an ancient Roman snack bar, complete with marble countertops and frescoed walls, are must-sees.
Don't miss the impressive mosaic floors throughout the site, especially in the Baths of the Cisiarii and the Baths of the Forum. For those interested in the spiritual life of ancient Romans, a glimpse into the Mithraeum reveals the mysterious cult of Mithras. And finally, the Piazzale delle Corporazioni offers a unique look at ancient commerce, with a large square surrounded by offices once used by trade guilds, their functions depicted in mosaics at their entrances. It's here, amidst these artifacts of antiquity, that the past feels palpably close, a page from history that we are privileged to read.