The Info List - Aurelian Walls

The Aurelian
Walls (Italian: Mura aureliane) are a line of city walls built between 271 AD and 275 AD in Rome, Italy, during the reign of the Roman Emperors Aurelian
and Probus. They superseded the earlier Servian Wall
Servian Wall
built during the 4th century BC. The walls enclosed all the seven hills of Rome
plus the Campus Martius and, on the left bank of the Tiber, the 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 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres).[1]


1 Construction 2 History 3 Later use 4 Gates 5 Gallery 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Construction[edit] The full circuit ran for 19 km (12 mi) surrounding an area of 13.7 km2 (5.3 sq mi). The walls were constructed in brick-faced concrete, 3.5 m (11 ft) thick and 8 m (26 ft) high, with a square tower every 100 Roman feet (29.6 m (97 ft)). In the 4th century, remodelling doubled the height of the walls to 16 m (52 ft). By 500 AD, the circuit possessed 383 towers, 7,020 crenellations, 18 main gates, 5 postern gates, 116 latrines, and 2,066 large external windows.[2] History[edit] By the third century AD, the boundaries of Rome
had grown far beyond the area enclosed by the old 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
Pax Romana
and the protection of the Roman Army. However, the need for updated defences became acute during the crisis of the Third Century, when barbarian tribes flooded through the Germanic frontier and the Roman Army
Roman Army
struggled to stop them. In 270, the barbarian Juthungi
and Vandals
invaded northern Italy, inflicting a 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 rose in rebellion. Several thousand people died in the fierce fighting that resulted.[3] 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.[4] 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.[3] 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 due to 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
Aqua Claudia
aqueduct near the Porta Maggiore. As much as a sixth of the walls is estimated to have been composed of pre-existing structures.[3] 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.[5] Parts of the wall were doubled in height by Maxentius, who also improved the watch-towers. In 401, under Honorius, the walls and the gates were improved. At this time, the Tomb of Hadrian
Tomb of Hadrian
across the Tiber
was incorporated as a fortress in the city defenses. Later use[edit] 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
breached the wall near the Porta Pia
Porta Pia
and 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
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 to Porta Ardeatina; from Porta Ostiense to the Tiber; and around Porta San Pancrazio.[2] Gates[edit]

Sentry passage near Porta Metronia.

List of gates (porte), from the northernmost and clockwise:

Porta del Popolo
Porta del Popolo
(Porta Flaminia) – here begins via Flaminia Porta Pinciana Porta Salaria
Porta Salaria
– here begins via Salaria Porta Pia
Porta Pia
– here begins the new via Nomentana Porta Nomentana
Porta Nomentana
– here began the old via Nomentana Porta Praetoriana – old entrance to Castra Praetoria, the camp of the Praetorian Guard Porta Tiburtina
Porta Tiburtina
– here begins via Tiburtina Porta Maggiore
Porta Maggiore
(Porta Praenestina) – here three aqueducts meet, and via Praenestina begins Porta San Giovanni – near Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano Porta Asinaria
Porta Asinaria
– here begins the old via Tuscolana Porta Metronia Porta Latina
Porta Latina
– here begins via Latina Porta San Sebastiano
Porta San Sebastiano
(Porta Appia) – here begins the Appian Way Porta Ardeatina Porta San Paolo
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 Aurelia Pancraziana Porta Settimiana Porta Aurelia-Sancti Petri


Porta Asinaria.

A section of wall near the Pyramid of Cestius.

An interior view of the Aurelian
walls near Porta San Sebastiano.

A restored section between towers on the wall.

Parts of the Roman wall and its towers have become domestic properties in Rome.

The 1700-year-old walls were constructed from tiled brick and concrete.

A latrine (circled in red) built into the wall near the Porta Salaria.

See also[edit]

Arab raid against Rome Leonine Wall, the first wall around Vatican City Museum of the Walls, Rome Sack of Rome Walls of Constantinople

References[edit] Notes

^ https://books.google.dk/books?id=P67KFytPP5MC&pg=PT120&lpg=PT120&dq=Aurelian+Walls+1.400+hectare&source=bl&ots=_nJ1ixVPBi&sig=OKWOTu5HKJuR67hT_VRnm5y1TFc&hl=da&sa=X&ei=BVkhVd2wCoKOsAGt9IFg&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Aurelian%20Walls%201.400%20hectare&f=false ^ a b Claridge, Amanda (1998). Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, First, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 59, 332-335. ISBN 0-19-288003-9 ^ a b c Aldrete, Gregory S (2004). Daily Life In The Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, And Ostia, Greenwood Press, 2004, pp. 41-42. ISBN 0-313-33174-X ^ Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus. 35, 7. ^ Southern, Pat. The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine, Routledge, 2001, p. 115. ISBN 0-415-23943-5


Mancini, Rossana (2001). Le mura Aureliane di Roma. Atlante di un palinsesto murario, Quasar, Roma ISBN 88-7140-199-9

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aurelian

Museum of the Walls official website Newspaper article of latest collapse (1 Nov 2007) Photo gallery of latest collapse(1 Nov 2007)

v t e

Landmarks of Rome


Pons Cestius Pons Fabricius Ponte Milvio Ponte Sant'Angelo Ponte Sisto

Basilicas and churches

St. Peter's Basilica

Sistine Chapel

Archbasilica of St. John Lateran Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls Catacombs Church of the Gesù San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane Santa Croce in Gerusalemme Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri Santa Maria in Cosmedin Santa Maria in Trastevere Santa Prassede Santa Sabina Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza Santa Maria della Vittoria Santa Maria del Popolo San Pietro in Vincoli

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Villa of Livia Villa of the Quintilii Villa of the sette bassi


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Altare della Patria Ara Pacis Aurelian
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Coordinates: 41°52′24″N 12°29′56″E / 41.87333°N 12.49889°E / 41.87333; 12.49889

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 243576706 GN