A Brief History Of Via Appia Antica, Rome's Oldest Road

Appia Antica
Appia Antica | © Flickr/Shaun Merritt
Livia Hengel

Via Appia Antica, or the Appian Way, is the reason why we hear the phrase ‘all roads lead to Rome. This ancient and storied path connected Rome to the port town of Brindisi and enabled movement and trade to flourish throughout the empire. With its large cobblestones now smooth from the course of centuries, Via Appia Antica boasts an intriguing and lengthy history closely tied to the rise of Rome.
The Appian Way is named for Appius Claudius Caecus, a Roman politician who implemented this major project in 312 B.C. During his career as a Roman censor, which saw Appius supervising the government’s finances, he implemented a number of crucial undertakings that benefitted Rome from a strategic standpoint; in addition to the first major road system, Appius also oversaw the building of the first aqueduct of Rome, the Aqua Appia, that provided drinking water for the city.

Appia Antica

The Via Appia was built in an ingenious way, first by leveling the dirt surface and then laying mortar and stones as the foundation. Gravel was subsequently added and large, tightly fitting interlocking stones were placed on top to create a flat surface. Via Appia began at the Roman Forum, the center of Roman daily life, passed along Circus Maximus and the Baths of Caracalla and then extended past the Aurelian Walls into the suburbs of Rome. Today, Appia Antica is considered to begin at the 5th century Porta San Sebastiano, the largest gate of the Aurelian Wall. It was originally known as Porta Appia but was later changed due to the influx of pilgrims who passed through it on their way to visit the Basilica of San Sebastiano and its catacombs.

Appia Antica

Once Via Appia extended past the Aurelian Walls, it traveled through what used to be considered the wealthy suburbs of Rome. It stretched over a distance of over 600 kilometers through the Appian Mountains, the Pontine Marshes, the Campania region and then all the way to Brindisi. The road was crucial in helping the Roman army move military supplies throughout the empire, assisting the army in many victories.

A stretch of the Appian Way is preserved in the regional park Parco dell’Appia Antica in Rome, allowing visitors to enjoy scenery, history and cultural monuments while walking along this historic path. Along the way you’ll notice a number of important Christian catacombs, including the Catacombs of San Callisto and the Catacombs of San Sebastiano. Don’t miss the top six landmarks to see along the Appian Way to make the most of your visit to this impressive and legendary road!
By Livia Hengel

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article