Appian Way and Catacombs

Appian Way and Catacombs

The most important of the Roman roads, it was built in 312 b.c. by Appius Claudius.

Running from Rome to southern Italy, the road is still paved with big blocks of basalt (grey volcanic stone) and in use today. It has also been used for the first few miles as pagan and christian burial grounds. The early Christians, for example, built along it their underground cemeteries (catacombs).

The tour starts near the San Sebastiano gate, one of the 18gates of the Roman city walls and still well preserved. Then, we visit the Saint Callistus Catacombs, which were an object of pilgrimage from the Middle Ages to modern times. Here the bones of Saint Peter and Saint Paul were kept during 3rd century persecution. The catacombs are a complicated network of galleries flanked by hundreds of tombs.

Returning to Via Appia, a little farther along the road, we find the Circus of Emperor Maxentius and the temple of Romulus (his son), both built in the 4th century a.c. Beyond them is one of the famous landmarks of the Roman Countryside, the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. It is a magnificent tomb of a patrician lady who died in the first century a.c. Then, we continue on foot (only pedestrians or bikes allowed). For the next mile the road is lined with cypresses and flanked by the ruins of ancient Roman tombs.

The landscape is wonderful…  Don’t come to Rome and miss the views that you will find here along this road… Come and discover it.

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