Cannae Battlefield - History and Facts | History Hit

Cannae Battlefield

Barletta, Apulia, Italy

Cannae Battlefield is the location of Hannibal’s greatest victory in 216 BC over a huge Roman army led Consuls Varro and Paullus.

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About Cannae Battlefield

Cannae Battlefield marks the site of the famous Battle of Cannae, which was fought in 216 BC between Hannibal of Carthage and a huge Roman army led by Consuls Varro and Paullus. It stands as Hannibal’s greatest victory and Rome’s greatest defeat. However, not even Rome’s massive loss of life as a result in this particular battle stopped the Roman war machine from ultimately emerging as victors of the war.

History of Cannae Battlefield

With Hannibal having already invaded Italy and defeated large Roman armies at both Trebbia and Trasimene, Roman leadership was under significant pressure to turn the tide of war.

To try and stop Hannibal, Rome gathered the biggest army it had ever put in the field, consisting of more than 80,000 men. The result was The Battle of Cannae, which is perhaps the platonic ideal of what a decisive victory should look like. Outnumbered two to one, Hannibal used a new and brilliant tactic – known today as double envelopment – which massacred the Romans and proved to be Hannibal’s most brilliant victory.

One historian has compared the result to an atomic bomb: 80,000 men died during the course of the bloody exchange, which is possibly the most casualties ever recorded during a single battle.

Combined with a series of crushing defeats suffered by the Romans during the second Punic war, the defeat brought Rome closer to total collapse than at any other time during its history.

Cannae Battlefield Today

The site has one monument to the battle of Cannae within the archaeological site of Cannae di Battaglia, which is itself a village that dates to the middle ages and is currently undergoing excavation.

You have to enter the museum – the ‘Antiquarium di Canne’ – to access the site of the battlefield. The entrance to the site also has some relevant information and memorabilia.

To find the monument, enter and walk to the furthest point of the site. There is a single column which commemorates the battle. If you stand beneath the column and look north over the surrounding countryside, you are looking at the area where most historians feel the battle was fought.

Getting to Cannae Battlefield

The battlefield can prove tricky to find. The modern name and address of the site is Parco Archeologico ‘Canne della Battaglia’, SP142, 76121 BT, Italy.

The nearest major city is Naples. From Naples, the centre of Cannae is reachable in just over two hours via the A16/E842 roads.


Contributed by Sam Wood, Ride and Seek Historical Bike Tours

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