A day in Ostia Antica
Just 30 minutes from Rome lies one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Italy – Ostia Antica. On a tour of Ostia Antica – easily done as a day trip from Rome – you can discover the Ancient Roman town known as “the other Pompeii”. Once a busy port town with up to 100,000 inhabitants, Ostia Antica gradually fell into decline, and by the 9th century it had been completely abandoned. What remains today is a sprawling archaeological site, containing the ruins of temples, theatres, bakeries and baths. If you’re looking for a tour near Rome, Ostia Antica is undoubtedly your best option.
What to see on a tour of Ostia Antica
Part of the pleasure of exploring Ostia Antica is just strolling down the cobbled streets, and enjoying the tranquil atmosphere. The enormous size of the site and the absence of crowds means that you’ll often have areas to yourself, adding to the sense of adventure.
However, to make the most of your visit, we recommend booking a private tour of Ostia Antica with an expert guide. Roads to Rome Tours can help you to make sense of the geography of Ostia Antica, telling you all about the town’s intriguing history while showing you the highlights (which aren’t easy to find on your own). Must-see sites include:
- The 2nd century theatre – an impressive, well-preserved structure which is still used for concerts and cultural events today. In ancient times the theatre could hold 4,000 spectators, and is believed to have been used as a venue for gladiator fights as well as plays.
- Various temples – the most famous of which is the enormous temple known as the Capitolium, built during the reign of Hadrian and dedicated to the Capitoline triad of gods. On your Ostia Antica tour you should also look out for the Temple of Hercules, which has some evocative inscriptions and a statue, and the intriguing pagan temples dedicated to Mithras.
- Mosaics – scattered throughout the ruins of Ostia Antica, and in good condition considering how long they’ve been exposed to the elements. The most spectacular mosaics can be found in the Baths of Neptune, but also keep an eye out for the mosaic signposts. In the forum where the shipping company offices were once based, you’ll see mosaic signposts with images that helped customers to find the right company. Some signs are self-explanatory (leather, grain) while the symbolism of the sea nymph, for example, is less clear…
- Ancient Roman apartment blocks – known as insulae, many of these ancient apartment blocks are surprisingly well-preserved. You can wander through their courtyards, or even climb the stairs to explore the upper storeys, and get a sense of what it would have been like to live there. In some corners of Ostia Antica, so many of the walls remain intact that it gives you the surreal sensation of walking through a gigantic film set.
Getting to Ostia Antica
Tours of Ostia Antica are popular for many reasons, but Ostia’s proximity to Rome is certainly a point in its favour. It’s easy to reach with public transport – just take the train from Porta San Paolo (the train station next to the metro station Piramide) and you’re there in half an hour. Ostia Antica is a short walk from the train station. Cross the bridge, follow the signs, and discover the other Pompeii…