Aurelian Walls
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The Aurelian Walls ( it, Mura aureliane) are a line of
city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from La ...

city wall
s built between 271 AD and 275 AD in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , fo ...

Rome
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory largely coincides with the . Italy is located in the centre of th ...

Italy
, during the reign of the
Roman Emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becoming "emperor" in English, it ...
s
Aurelian Aurelian ( la, Lucius Domitius Aurelianus; 9 September 214c. October 275) was Roman emperor from 270 to 275. As emperor, he won an unprecedented series of military victories which reunited the Roman Empire after it had practically disintegrated ...

Aurelian
and Probus. They superseded the earlier
Servian Wall The Servian Wall ( la, Murus Servii Tullii; it, Mura Serviane) was an ancient Roman defensive barrier constructed around the city of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ...

Servian Wall
built during the 4th century BC. The walls enclosed all the
seven hills of Rome The seven hills of Rome ( la, Septem colles/montes Romae, it, Sette colli di Roma ) east of the river Tiber File:Rome flood marker.jpg, Rome Historical marker, flood marker, 1598, set into a pillar of the Ospedale di Santo Spirito in Sassia, ...

seven hills of Rome
plus the
Campus Martius 300px, The Pantheon, a landmark of the Campus Martius since ancient Rome. The Campus Martius (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally ...

Campus Martius
and, on the right bank of the
Tiber File:Rome flood marker.jpg, Rome Historical marker, flood marker, 1598, set into a pillar of the Ospedale di Santo Spirito in Sassia, Santo Spirito Hospital near Basilica di San Pietro The Tiber (; la, Tiberis; it, Tevere ) is the third-long ...

Tiber
, the
Trastevere Trastevere () is the 13th ''Rioni of Rome, rione'' of Rome: it is identified by the initials R. XIII and it is located within the Municipio I. Its name comes from the Latin ''trans Tiberim'', meaning literally "beyond the Tiber". Its coat of arms ...

Trastevere
district. The river banks within the city limits appear to have been left unfortified, although they were fortified along the Campus Martius. The size of the entire enclosed area is . The wall cut through populated areas: in reality the city at the time embraced 2,400 hectares or 6,000 acres. Pliny the Elder in the first century A.D. suggested that the densely populated areas, 'extrema tectorum' (the limits of the roofed areas) extended from the Golden Milestone in the Forum (Natural History 3.67).


Construction

The full circuit ran for surrounding an area of . The walls were constructed in brick-faced concrete, thick and high, with a square tower every 100 Roman feet (). In the 4th century, remodelling doubled the height of the walls to . By 500 AD, the circuit possessed 383 towers, 7,020
crenellation A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to ...
s, 18 main gates, 5
postern gate
postern gate
s, 116
latrine Public Latrine at Athens' Roman Forum site. A latrine is a toilet or an even simpler facility that is used as a toilet within a sanitation system. For example, it can be a communal trench in the earth in a camp to be used as emergency sanitation ...

latrine
s, and 2,066 large external windows.Claridge, Amanda (1998).
Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide
', First, Oxford, UK:
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200px, The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which used to be the headquarters of Cambridge University Press, and now serves as a conference centre for the Press. A university press is an academic ...

Oxford University Press
, 1998, pp. 59, 332-335.


History

By the third century AD, the boundaries of Rome had grown far beyond the area enclosed by the old
Servian Wall The Servian Wall ( la, Murus Servii Tullii; it, Mura Serviane) was an ancient Roman defensive barrier constructed around the city of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ...

Servian Wall
, built during the Republican period in the late 4th century BC. Rome had remained unfortified during the subsequent centuries of expansion and consolidation due to lack of hostile threats against the city. The citizens of Rome took great pride in knowing that Rome required no fortifications because of the stability brought by the
Pax Romana 400px, AR Antoninianus of Gordian III, struck Antioch">Gordian_III.html" ;"title="Antoninianus of Gordian III">Antoninianus of Gordian III, struck Antioch 243–244 AD with Pax Augusta on the reverse The ''Pax Romana'' (Latin for "Roman Peac ...
and the protection of the
Roman Army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC–395 AD), and its medieval continuation, the (historiographically known as the ). It i ...

Roman Army
. However, the need for updated defences became acute during the
crisis of the Third Century The Crisis of the Third Century, also known as Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis (235–284 AD), was a period in which the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, ...
, when barbarian tribes flooded through the Germanic frontier and the Roman Army struggled to stop them. In 270, the barbarian
Juthungi Memorial stone from Augsburg The Juthungi (Greek: ''Iouthungoi'', Latin: ''Iuthungi'') were a Germanic tribe This list of ancient Germanic peoples is a list of groups and alliances of ancient Germanic peoples in ancient times. These reports begin ...
and Vandals invaded northern
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory largely coincides with the . Italy is located in the centre of th ...

Italy
, inflicting a Battle of Placentia (271), severe defeat on the Romans at Placentia (modern Piacenza) before eventually being driven back. Further trouble broke out in Rome itself in the summer of 271, when the mint workers Felicissimus, rose in rebellion. Several thousand people died in the fierce fighting that resulted.Aldrete, Gregory S (2004). ''Daily Life In The Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, And Ostia'', Greenwood Press, pp. 41-42. Aurelian's construction of the walls as an emergency measure was a reaction to the barbarian invasion of 270; the historian Aurelius Victor states explicitly that the project aimed to alleviate the city's vulnerability. It may also have been intended to send a political signal as a statement that Aurelian trusted that the people of Rome would remain loyal, as well as serving as a public declaration of the emperor's firm hold on power. The construction of the walls was by far the largest building project that had taken place in Rome for many decades, and their construction was a concrete statement of the continued strength of Rome. The construction project was unusually left to the citizens themselves to complete as Aurelian could not afford to spare a single legionary for the project. The root of this unorthodox practice was the imminent barbarian threat coupled with the wavering strength of the military as a whole due to being subject to years of bloody civil war, famine and the Plague of Cyprian. The walls were built in the short time of only five years, though Aurelian himself died before the completion of the project. Progress was accelerated, and money saved, by incorporating existing buildings into the structure. These included the Amphitheatrum Castrense, the Castra Praetoria, the Pyramid of Cestius, and even a section of the Aqua Claudia Roman aqueduct, aqueduct near the Porta Maggiore. As much as a sixth of the walls is estimated to have been composed of pre-existing structures. An area behind the walls was cleared and sentry passages were built to enable it to be reinforced quickly in an emergency. The actual effectiveness of the wall is disputable, given the relatively small size of the city's garrison. The entire combined strength of the Praetorian Guard, ''cohortes urbanae'', and ''vigiles'' of Rome was only about 25,000 men – far too few to defend the circuit adequately. However, the military intention of the wall was not to withstand prolonged siege warfare; it was not common for the barbarian armies to besiege cities, as they were insufficiently equipped and provisioned for such a task. Instead, they carried out hit-and-run raids against ill-defended targets. The wall was a deterrent against such tactics.Southern, Pat 2001. ''The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine'', Routledge, p. 115. Parts of the wall were doubled in height by Maxentius, who also improved the watch-towers. In 401, under Honorius (emperor), Honorius, the walls and the gates were improved. At this time, the Tomb of Hadrian across the Tiber was incorporated as a fortress in the city defenses.


Later use

The Aurelian Walls continued as a significant military defense for the city of Rome until September 20, 1870, when the Bersaglieri of the Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946), Kingdom of Italy breached the wall near the Porta Pia and capture of Rome, captured Rome. The walls also defined the boundary of the city of Rome up until the 19th century, with the built-up area being confined within the walled area. The Aurelian Walls remain remarkably well-preserved today, largely the result of their constant use as Rome's primary fortification until the 19th century. The Museo delle Mura near the Porta San Sebastiano offers information on the walls' construction and how the defenses operated. The best-preserved sections of the walls are found from the Muro Torto (Villa Borghese) to Corso d'Italia to Castro Pretorio; from Porta San Giovanni (Rome), Porta San Giovanni to Porta Ardeatina; from Porta Ostiense to the Tiber; and around Porta San Pancrazio.


Gates

List of gates (''porte''), from the northernmost and clockwise: * Porta del Popolo (Porta Flaminia) – here begins via Flaminia * Porta Pinciana * Porta Salaria – here begins via Salaria * Porta Pia – here begins the new via Nomentana * Porta Nomentana – here began the old via Nomentana * Porta Praetoriana – old entrance to Castra Praetoria, the camp of the Praetorian Guard * Porta Tiburtina – here begins via Tiburtina * Porta Maggiore (Porta Praenestina) – here three aqueducts meet, and via Praenestina begins * Porta San Giovanni (Rome), Porta San Giovanni – near Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano * Porta Asinaria – here begins the old via Tuscolana * Porta Metronia * Porta Latina – here begins via Latina * Porta San Sebastiano (Porta Appia) – here begins the Appian Way * Porta Ardeatina * Porta San Paolo (Porta Ostiense) – next to the Pyramid of Cestius, leading to Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura, here via Ostiense begins Gates in Trastevere (from the southernmost and clockwise): * Porta Portuensis * Porta San Pancrazio, Porta Aurelia / San Pancrazio * Porta Settimiana * Porta Aurelia-Sancti Petri (also known as Porta Cornelia)


Gallery

File:Porta Asinaria 2948.JPG, Porta Asinaria. File:Aurelian wall near Pyramid of Caius Cestius.jpg, A section of wall near the Pyramid of Cestius. File:Celio - le mura tra porta san Sebastiano e porta Ardeatina 2004.JPG, An interior view of the Aurelian walls near Porta San Sebastiano. File:Celio - Porta san Sebastiano - camminamento fra le torri 1992st.JPG, A restored section between towers on the wall. File:Esquilino - mura a porta Tiburtina 2076.JPG, Parts of the Roman wall and its towers have become domestic properties in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , fo ...

Rome
. File:Castrense1.JPG, The 1700-year-old walls were constructed from tiled brick and concrete. File:Ludovisi - mura e latrina 1870.JPG, A latrine (circled in red) built into the wall near the Porta Salaria.


See also

* Leonine Wall, the first wall around Vatican City * Museum of the Walls, Rome * Sack of Rome (disambiguation), Sack of Rome * Walls of Constantinople


Notes


Sources

*Mancini, Rossana (2001). Le mura Aureliane di Roma. Atlante di un palinsesto murario, Quasar, Roma


External links


Museum of the Walls official website


{{Coord, 41, 52, 24, N, 12, 29, 56, E, region:IT_type:landmark_source:dewiki, display=title Buildings and structures completed in the 3rd century Tourist attractions in Rome Walls of Rome Roman walls in Italy Aurelian Walls,