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Visiting Ostia Antica: the extraordinary experience of a trip in Rome

Visiting Ostia Antica means having the extraordinary experience of a trip in Rome, in one of its most authentic and perhaps least known parts. It means to lose yourself in its history, its legends, its colors and its perfumes, entering into a kind of time machine and leaving.

We have already talked about the convenience of staying close to the capital (read the article here) and we have listed what are the main advantages of staying overnight in this part of Rome during a Roman holiday. One of these is the beauty of Ostia Antica as it is a large archaeological site and a true symbol of the ancient and millennial Roman history. Let’s see, then, what are the main attractions of Ostia Antica.

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Visiting Ostia Antica: 5 places not to be missed.

1. The excavations of Ostia Antica

Among one of the most important archaeological sites in Italy, the excavations of Ostia Antica are called a large Pompeii on the outskirts of Rome. Here you can travel through the life of the ancient Romans in the old neighborhoods, walking through the fascinating Insulae, crossing the arcades where you can see, still today, the remains of the commercial activities of the ancient population. The route along the road of Basoli allows you to discover a city inside the city, a coffer of treasures that only few people remember to visit and which leaves every visitor wide-mouthed. The archaeological site contains some buildings that are still standing. You absolutely have to visit the firehouse, of which the ground floor remained, the Baths of Neptune with its beautiful mosaics, the Theater (one of the best preserved buildings and still used today for shows and events) and the Thermopolium of via Diana: an ancient inn very similar to our taverns where the ancient Romans loved to spend their evenings, that was extremely well preserved.

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2. The Medieval Village of Ostia Antica

Once called Gregoriopoli, thanks to its founder Gregory IV, the medieval village of Ostia Antica is the greatest testimony of the period of time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the present day. Born to give protection to workers, Gregory IV built around the houses of the village a wall with a moat to defend the population from the Saracens raids.

3. The Castle of Julius II

Also called  the fortress of Ostia, the Castle is one of the buildings for which it is worth visiting Ostia Antica.  Built by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (future Pope Julius II) with the aim of controlling the access to Rome from the sea along the Tiber, it was the papal customs for a long time. In 2003, museum sets were made in the papal rooms.

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4. The Ostiense Museum: where history meets myth

The Ostiense Museum is home of the most precious and delicate remains found in the excavations of Ostia Antica. It is here that history meets myth as the remains of necropolis, temples and baths are still telling the stories of the glorious characters whose deeds and legends are globally engraved in the memory of that historical period.

5. Visiting Ostia Antica: the Church of Sant’Aurea, patron saint of sailors

Visiting Ostia Antica without going to the Basilica of Sant’Aurea would be like going to Rome and not seeing the Colosseum. Built in the late XV century, Sant’Aurea is decorated with 16th century frescoes. In the chapel of Santa Monica, to the right of the basilica, you can find the “Ecstasy of Santa Monica” by Pietro da Cortona. The Church is a triumph of beauty with its apse, chapel, ceiling, frescoes and legends. Aurea, in fact, seems to have become the patron saint of the sailors of Ostia, she is said to be the one who “carries ships on the waves with the wind”.

The Imperial Ports of Claudius and Trajan

A few kilometers away from Ostia, we find another piece of very fascinating history. This is the imperial port of Fiumicino, first built by Emperor Claudius and later enlarged by Emperor Trajan. The large infrastructure was used to unload goods from ships from all over the Mediterranean. Walking in this area, you will have the opportunity to live once again the atmospheres of the main places of commercial activity of two 2 thousand years ago. From the Colonnacce to the Magazzini Severiani, passing through the Darsena, you will discover an engineering work of great value.  According to those who come to visit this area but also to those who live there regularly, spending a day in Ostia Antica is an extraordinary experience, even more beautiful because unexpected. Visiting this little gem of art and history, still not much beaten by mainstream tourism, is a pleasant surprise that enriches every holiday in Rome. We invite you to discover it in all its beauty. We will take care of the hospitality: just choose one of the different Rome4Guest apartments solutions!

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