Via Appia Antica, Visit the oldest street in Rome

The Appian Way, one of the oldest streets in Rome

 

The Via Appia Antica or Appian Way is one of the oldest streets in Rome and served as an important access road into the city.

Info & tours for visiting the Via Appia

metro The subway stations are not nearby. The Circo Massimo stop is 1.5 km from the starting point of Porta San Sebastiano. For example, if you want to take a long walk on Via Appia, you can take the Arco Di Travertino metro station back. This hike is a total of 8 kilometers.
bus
  • Bus 218 from Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano (1x per hour)
  • Bus 118 from the Colosseum or from Piazza Venezia (3x per hour). This bus runs over part of the Via Appia and stops at the Catacombs of San Callisto, among other places.
  • Hop-on Hop-off Bus: Get off at the Baths of Caracalla and walk approximately half a mile.
bicycle The easiest way to visit the Appian Way is by bike. Rent a bike yourself or join this organized guided bike tour on the Appian Way.
extra The Via Appia is closed to motorized traffic on Sundays.

The oldest street in Rome ‘Via Appia’

The Via Appia Antica or Appian Way is one of the oldest streets in Rome and served as an important access road into the city. Originally, the road ran to Brundisium, today’s Brindisi in Italy. The cobbled street was named after the consul Appius Claudius Caecus, who lived in 312 BC. The building was commissioned. The main goal at that time was to move the troops faster during the Second Samnite War, but also to facilitate the daily transport of goods between Rome and Campania.

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The paved stone road is nicknamed “regina viarium”. Queen of the streets. That’s because of how important the road was, but also because of the beauty of the landscape Via Appia crosses. On part of the road (starting at the grave monument of Cecelia Metella) there are still the old paving stones, which clearly show the wear and tear of the carriage tracks. The Via Appia Antica has an almost romantic atmosphere with the green cypress trees and lots of ruins lining the cobblestone path.

Sights around the Via Appia Antica

While driving along the Appia Way you can come across the following interesting sights:

  • In Rome, the Via Appia starts at Porta San Sebastiano. The first milestone can be seen on your right, now part of a wall. These milestones not only mention the distances and destinations, but also the main person who ordered the construction.
  • A little further and you will see Domine Quo Vadis Church. According to tradition, Jesus met Peter here once. Peter fled Rome at this time but returned after meeting Jesus. The church even has a stone that is said to contain the footprint of Jesus.
  • After that, you will come across a number of catacombs and graves. Since it was forbidden to bury the dead inside the city walls in Roman times, several tombs were built along the main streets. One of these underground tombs (catacombs of San Callisto) can be visited with a tour. It holds over 170,000 graves. Another well-known catacomb is that of Saint Sebastian, accessible through the church San Sebastiano Basilica. This is one of the seven important pilgrimage churches in Rome.
  • After about two kilometers you will reach the best-preserved section of the Via Appia Antica. Here you can also see the remains of the Maxentius circus, an old racetrack. The obelisk that originally stood in front of the circus has been moved to Piazza Navona.
  • From this point you will see an increasing number of tombs, probably because they were cheaper the further they were from town. The most famous and largest of the tombs is that of Cecilia Metella, about five kilometers outside of town. She was the daughter of an important general under Emperor Caesar (Tip: Are you planning a visit to the Caracalla baths? The tomb is closed on Mondays).
  • If you go any further you will find Villa Quintili. It used to be a very luxurious villa and residence for Emperor Commodus, who preferred a quiet life in the country.

As an interesting part of the Appian Way extends for many miles, hiking may not be the best way to explore the road. We recommend a guided tour by bike. Here you can book a Via Appia tour that takes you past all the highlights of the Appian Way in a three-hour guided tour.

  • The tours run from Thursday to Sunday
  • Participation costs 39.50 €
  • Tours start in the center of Rome (Via Cavour, near the Colosseum) and must be reserved in advance.

 


Where is the Appian Way located in Rome?

The starting point for a visit to the Via Appia is the Porta San Sebastiano. From here you travel further and further away from the center of Rome.