About Via Appia Antica
Via Appia Antica, also known as the Appian Way, is one of the oldest and most important roads leading to Rome. Built in 312 BC, it was slowly extended and, by 191 BC, it reached the port of Brindisi, over 550km southeast of the city (along the ‘heel’ of Italy). Thus, Via Appia Antica became a gateway to the east.
History of Via Appia Antica
In 66 BC, Julius Caesar became the curator of the Appian Way and, to gain crucial electoral votes, borrowed significant sums to restore the ancient highway.
Over the centuries, several important events are said to have occurred along Via Appia Antica and, perhaps most notably, Christian legend has it that it was the road on which Christ appeared to a fleeing St. Peter, convincing him to return to Rome, after which he was executed and martyred.
In ancient Rome, the Via Appia Antica was a popular location for tombs and catacombs, many of which are scattered along the road today, including the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. Christian catacombs such as the Catacombs of San Callisto and the St. Sebastian Catacombs can also be found there.
Via Appia Antica today
Other impressive monuments on the Via Appia Antica, which became the route to the affluent suburbs of Rome, include the Villa and Circus of Maxentius, the Villa dei Quintili and the Baths of Caracalla.
With such a clear route to so many incredible monuments, the Via Appia Antica offers tourists a great way to explore the road’s history, which is so inextricably intertwined with that of Rome. Today, the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica oversees much of the site.
Probably the best way to travel along Via Appia Antica is by public transport. Indeed, it is closed to private traffic on Sundays and on holidays. For itineraries along Via Appia Antica, check the official website.
Getting to Via Appia Antica
The Via Appia Antica starts at the edge of Rome, extending outwards. From the city centre, the start of the road is a 15 minute drive via Via Cavour. A number of buses also run to the stop called Catacombe S. Callisto, which is a popular visitor attraction. By foot, it’s just over an hour via Via Merulana.
Discover some of the most fascinating catacombs in the world, from subterranean crypts in Paris to Roman burial sites in Egypt, these eerie experiences are a unique way to explore the dark past of these cities.