there is nothing more beautiful than having an ancient ghost town next to my home. In fact, there are places that never get the appropriate advertising and they’re so easy to visit and wonderful. When Italy comes to people’s mind as travel destination it often means typical places like Firenze, or Venezia, or Napoli. Great places indeed, my intent is not to undermine Pompeii or Venezia, but because they’re so obviously touristic they often eclipse more interesting and less spotted locations. One is definitely Ostia Antica, the Pompeii of Rome.
So never mind big obvious cities, never mind boring places like Pompeii for now and stay in the Rome area, a bit outside… The ancient ruins of Ostia Antica. Filled with mosaics, frescos, secret tunnels (yeyy!), beheaded statues and ancient buildings now turned into the most beautiful ancient ghost town I’ve ever seen and way more impressive and interesting than Pompeii.Ostia Antica was the original port of Rome.The Tiber river used to run along the north part until 1557 a.D. when a distructive flood dragged the river bed downstream. The coast was once very close to the town, while now is 3 km far from it, precisely almost in front of my house. See the trees? The river is just 2 minutes walk from there
It used to be an ancient military colony to guard the river mouth against invasion coming from the sea. And because of its unique location, right between the Tiber river and Tyrrhenian sea, it soon became from a military outpost, ‘castrum’, because of its squared citadel shape, it served as a naval base until the year 200 BC, when it became a flourishing commercial town and the main food supply for Rome.
Once Rome had significant dominion on the Mediterranean, the original military purpose of Ostia Antica became less necessary and slowly became the closest emporium of Rome. You get an idea when you watch closely the ground and you see the neat trail left by the four wheeled carts that carried goods between Rome and Ostia
Some say that Ostia Antica was founded by Anco Marzio around the year 620 BC, the forth king of Rome, to benefit from its location next to the river (ostia in fact comes from ostium, which means “mouth”). By the 2nd century BC, Ostia Antica was a flourishing commercial center inhabited by almost 100,000 people, whose apartment buildings, taverns, and grocery shops are still intact. Oh well, almost intact.
Although Ostia now sprawls over 10,000 acres, around a main street that runs for more than a mile on a road that is still carved by the old carts.
What happens if you get lost? You can simply take a look on the map
As you walk along the main street, the Decumanus Maximus, your will the most significant remains of the city’s stone theater, warehouses, and and the oldest known Jewish Synagogue in Europe, discovered only in 1960 and dated from the year 100 a.D., unique and impressive, where still nowadays receives dozens of Jews every year in winter time
A warrior engraved
It was with Emperor Augusto and his successors that the city had its first theater, ‘anfiteatro‘, and an aqueduct
Pigeons, they’re everywhere anyway…
One of the many Corynthian style columns
The famous faun. Fauns used to be “rustic” gods of woods and forests, they looked like men but with legs and ears of goats. Faun comes from the Greek word φαῦνος (fainis) which means goat or Latin word faveo, which means auspicious. Either way, it always meant something good as the Greeks favored the fauns as they were believed to guide humans whenever they were lost in the forests
The mosaic close to the public bathrooms
And below a magnificent mosaic dedicated to the god Neptune or his Greek alter ego Poseidon
Below is (was) a true fish tavern, notice the tables and oven on the back?
The guy below is Attis, this statue is located at his sanctuary near the Faun in the Campus of Magna Mater. He was the Frigian husband of goddess Cibele for the Romans, Rhea for the Greeks (mother of Zeus)
Below is the Mistreo di Felicissimo with mosaics
More mosaics, the one below is the caupona of Alexander and Helix
Mosaic of Venus and son Eros. In mythology mother and son were rarely seen separated, as she was the goddess of love and her son the trouble love-match maker
A beautiful sarcophagus sophisticatedly engraved
In Ostia Antica you’ll find temples dedicated to may gods, the one below where I’m sitting is the temple of Ceres for the Romans, or Demeter for the Greeks, in other words the goddess of agriculture and wheat
Public bathrooms of ancient times, or else known as latrinae. Our friends are showing us how ancient Romans used to share very easily this special moment of their day
And for those looking for mysterious tunnels, you’ll find a few hidden on the East side of the ruins
And last but not least, the cutest and famous couple of all times: Amore and Psiche.