Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica, view of entrance to the amphitheater

Ostia Antica is a short trip outside of Rome and easily reached by Rome’s suburban trains.  Ostia was the ancient port city of Rome that was constructed to bring vital supplies to Rome.  The Tiber has always been a river with an overabundance of sediment which made traversing up the river towards Rome difficult for large ships.  Presumably, the city was built first for military purposes, but as Rome and the Mediterranean became more romanized, the port turned into a bustling melting pot of different cultures and religions of the Mediterranean and less of a military outpost.  It was also an important trading center for Rome as evidenced by the ruins left behind.

You can walk through the ruins much like at Pompeii.  Why do I like this site so much?  Personally, I think that this architectural site is better maintained.  It’s also fascinating and moving to weave through the streets and into the old insulae (ancient apartment buildings) much like the residents once did.

The site is not too expensive to visit and worth the short train trip out there.  You could easily spend the day there touring the ruins and walking along the old streets of Ostia as well as the museum on site. Consider buying a map of the old city when you purchase your tickets — it’s a lovely graphical map of how Ostia Antica looked in its prime.  I even have it hanging up in my home!

If you are looking to learn more about this beautiful site, check out books by Carlo Pavolini — he’s one of the foremost experts (among many) on Ostia Antica.  Filippo Coarelli’s book on Rome also contains sections on Ostia (and was recently translated into English).

View of a street in Ostia Antica