Surrounded by umbrella pines and swaying cypress trees, Ostia Antica, a large archaeological site, is a hidden gem in the Roman countryside. Located only fifteen kilometers away from Rome, Ostia Antica was one of the most important ports and harbor cities of Ancient Rome.
Often described as “a vital cog in the massive machinery of Rome,” Ostia Antica was situated at the mouth of the River Tiber and is considered to be one of the best-preserved cities of Ancient Rome. With its wonderfully preserved mix of cobbled streets, temples, ruined theaters, villas, shops, apartment blocks, and warehouses, Ostia Antica is one of the few cities of Ancient Rome that gives you a beautiful and detailed insight into the lives of the Ancient Romans.
Ostia Antica In A Nutshell
|⏰ Suggested Duration:||1 -2 hours|
|☀️ Best Time to Visit:||Summer Mornings|
|💜 Must See:||Baths of Neptune|
|🎟️ Ostia Antica Ticket:||€10|
|🚇 Closest Metro:||Ostia Antica Station|
The House of Diana
The Bakery of Silvano
The Piazza of the Corporations
Things to know
Area: 50 hectares
Abandoned: 9th Century AD
Founded by: King Ancus Marcius
Opening Hours And Address
Oct 25 to Feb 28/29 - 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Mar 1 to Mar 31 - 8:30 am - 5:15 pm
Apr 1 to Sep 30 - 8:30 am - 7 pm
Oct 1 to Oct 24 - 8:30 am - 6 pm
Address : 00119 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
Why You Must Visit Ostia Antica
If you want to step back in time and discover the lifestyle of the Ancient Romans, then Ostia Antica is a must-visit! Just half an hour away from Rome, Ostia Antica was the most important port and harbor city of Rome. The ancient city was used as a source of marble, columns, and other building materials in Ancient Rome. However, after the collapse of the Ancient Roman empire, Ostia Antica fell into abandonment-only to remain untouched and magically preserved for centuries, until it was excavated and discovered by archaeologists.
Not only is Ostia Antica one of the best-preserved cities of Ancient Rome, but it is also an underappreciated site in Italy. The ruins of the ancient city of Ostia Antica can rival the ruins of Pompeii and this is what makes this ancient Roman city a must-visit! The remains of its docks, warehouses, mansions, and shopping arcades are a living testimony to the glorious past of the ancient city of Ostia Antica.
Ostia Antica Tickets
With your Ostia Antica tickets, you will be able to explore the ancient ruins of the city at your own pace. Your tickets for Ostia Antica include access to its various buildings. These include the theater, the baths, and the temples-all of which are beautifully adorned with frescoes and mosaics.
Ostia Antica's History
Borrowing its name from ‘os’ or ‘ostium’ which means ‘mouth,’ the ancient Roman city of Ostia Antica was located at the mouth of the river Tiber. Owing to its strategic location, Ostia Antica became one of the most important ports and harbor cities of Ancient Rome.
Ostia Antica started its journey as a small settlement of native people in the fourteenth century BCE. The city was originally established to exploit the salt marshes that were located to its immediate east. In the seventh century BCE, Ostia Antica started functioning as a trade port and a military base. It was founded as a colony by the fourth King of ancient Rome, Ancus Marcus, who realized it was strategically important to defend the Tiber river. As a result of this Ostia Antica was fortified with a military camp or ‘castrum’. During the third century, BCE Ostia Antica became a naval base and in the first century BCE, the city became the target of the civil war. The importance of the Ostia Antica grew after Claudius created two great moles at Portus. Post this, Ostia Antica rapidly grew into a major urban center.
Soon enough the Ancient Romans began to depend on other ports. The inhabitants of the city were hit by malaria and fled Ostia Antica to save their lives. Eventually, in the fourth century AD, Ostia Antica-one of the most important ports of Ancient Rome was abandoned and forgotten by the Romans.
Ostia Antica's Unique Architecture
The Ancient Romans were known for their architecture and Ostia Antica is no different. The ‘castrum’ in Ostia Antica greatly influenced the layout of this ancient city. The remains of its wall can still be seen bordering the Piazza dei Lari to the east. The Decumanus Maximus road in Ostia Antica divided the city into North and South. The Northern part of Ostia Antica bordered the river Tiber and consisted of Regio I and Regio II. Regio IV and Regio V were a part of the southern area of Ostia Antica. Along the western border of the castrum, the Decumanus Maximus encountered the Via della Foce at an oblique angle, which created a wedge-shaped section. This section is the Regio III of Ostia Antica. There are two outlying constructions in Ostia Antica as well- the Imperial Palace and the ‘Porta Marina’ or sea gate.
As Ostia Antica grew, many baths, temples, and other such buildings were made to support the thriving community of the city. To accommodate its growing population, tall brick apartment buildings were created that were three, four, or five storeys high. The larger flats had up to twelve rooms and the floors of all these apartment blocks were paved with beautiful frescoes and elaborately painted walls. Three sets of public baths were also created in the city and some of its main buildings such as the House of Diana, The Thermopolium, and the Bakery of Silvano can still be seen at Ostia Antica.
Ostia Antica Highlights
The House of Diana
The House of Diana was a multifunctional residential building in Ostia Antica. A painting of the hunter goddess Diana was found at the entrance of the building, owing to which the place is known as the House of Diana. Over here you can see mosaic floors and frescoed walls depicting foliage, Medusa heads, complex geometries, fish, birds, and other recurring motifs.
The Thermopolium is an ancient fast food joint that has large windows which open onto the street and give access to the takeaway counter inside the building. In Ancient Rome, this counter would be covered with deep recesses or ‘dolia’ that would be used for storing food and many amphorae that would contain some cheap wine.
The Bakery of Silvano
The Bakery of Silvano was built in 120 AD and is located on the Via dei Mulini in Ostia Antica. The bread was a staple diet of the ancient Romans, and the bread made at the bakery was sold to locals and even imported into Rome. Silvano’s bakery had two rooms-one for grinding the grain into flour and the other for kneading the bread dough.
The Theatre at Ostia Antica is one of the oldest masonry theaters in the world. With a holding capacity of four thousand, the Ostia Antica theater survives in excellent condition even today. You can see the four stairways through which the spectators could access the seats in the cavea and the main barrel-vaulted entrance of the Theatre which gave direct access to the level at which the orchestra played.
The Piazza of the Corporations
Located just behind the Theater at Ostia Antica is the Piazza of Corporations. This area was home to the offices of the most important guilds and merchant bodies in the city. All the offices surrounded an open square and each office was decorated with beautiful mosaics that depicted their vocation. Be it importers of grains, rope-maker or leather tanners-all their offices were situated in the Piazza of the Corporations.
Made from brick and built in 120 AD, the Capitolium at Ostia Antica is the main surviving building of the city’s Forum, which was the main civic and religious center of life in ancient Rome. The Capitolium is a large temple dedicated to the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. It is also symbolic of the transposition of the official cult of Rome on the new settlement.
The Baths of Porta Marina
Also referred to as the Baths of Marciana after the discovery of the portrait bust of Trajan’s sister Marciana here, the Baths of Porta Marina had some beautiful maritime mosaics. The changing room that was attached to the gymnasium here also has some fascinating monochrome mosaics that depict different athletes working out such as a pair of wrestlers locked in combat and a discus thrower preparing to throw the discus.
The Public Latrines or ‘Forica’
The Public Latrines of Ostia Antica are one of the most well-preserved buildings here and showcase Roman plumbing at its finest. Accessed via a revolving door, the Latrines consisted of a communal bench running along three walls with twenty seats. Each of these seats had a hole that led downwards towards a single drainage channel.
The Meat Market and Fishmongers’ Shops
All the markets and food shops of Ostia Antica were located at the junction of the Decumanus Maximus and Via della Foce. The meat market or the ‘macellum’ was the largest in this area. Right next to the meat market were the ‘Taberna Dei Pescivendolo’ or the fishmongers’ shops. These shops were added to the Ostia Antica complex in the third century AD.
The Temple of Fabri Navales
The Temple of Fabri Navales was home to the city’s ship carpenters guild, which was one of the most powerful groups of people in Ostia Antica. The spacious Temple of Fabri Navales also reflected the powerful status of this group of people in Ostia Antica. However, in the fourth century AD, the Temple was repurposed as a storehouse for the marble that would be used to make new buildings.
Best Time to Visit Ostia Antica
You can visit Ostia Antica in Rome all-year round. Since it is located outside, wear something warm and carry an umbrella when you are visiting the site in the winter months. However, you should know that most of the famous mosaics that are found in the building of Ostia Antica are usually covered during the winter months to protect them from the weather. If you plan on visiting Ostia Antica in the summer months, carry a hat and sunblock with you. Since the summers are usually the high season for Italy, you can expect crowds at Ostia Antica.
Though you can visit Ostia Antica throughout the year, we recommend that you plan your trip to the ancient city during the fall season which lasts from September to early November.
Ostia Antica - Opening Hours
Ostia Antica Hours
Ostia Antica is open throughout the year from Tuesday to Sunday. The site remains closed on Mondays.
The site is closed on Mondays, 1st January, 25th December, 19th and 26th April, 16th August, and 27th December.
The opening hours of Ostia Antica vary throughout the year.
- Oct 25 to Feb 28/29 - 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
- Mar 1 to Mar 31 - 8:30 am - 5:15 pm
- Apr 1 to Sep 30 - 8:30 am - 7 pm
- Oct 1 to Oct 24 - 8:30 am - 6 pm
Ostia Antica - How To Reach
- By Metro:
Take Line B to the Piramide stop and transfer to Line RL Cristoforo Colombo at the Roma-Ostia station. Get off at the seventh stop which is ‘Ostia Antica’ and you will reach the main entrance of Ostia Antica after a five-minute walk.
- By Train:
Take the ‘Lido’ train from the Piramide station in Central Rome or the stations of San Paolo and Eur Magliano. The station where you get off is directly opposite Ostia Antica Park and you can use the footbridge to cross the road and reach Ostia Antica.
- By Taxi:
You can book a taxi and directly reach Viale Dei Romagnoli 717, where Ostia Antica is located.
Restaurants Near Ostia Antica
Located near Ostia Antica, this restaurant still follows the food legacy and recipes of Mama Nerina’s. In fact, your entrance ticket to Ostia Antica also includes a welcome flute and limoncello at the end of your meal in this restaurant.
The restaurant serves Italian, Mediterranean, European, Romana, Lazio and central Italian cuisine. If you want great food at great prices, then check out the Arianna al Borghetto restaurant in Ostia Antica.
Another great restaurant near Ostia Antica is Il Frantoio. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner. The multi-cuisine restaurant serves a delicious variety of Italian, Romano, Lazio, and Central Italian cuisines.
The chefs at Al Banjniero still follow the recipes of the two grandmothers who founded this restaurant near Ostia Antica. They serve simple dishes that are bursting with delicious flavors. Do try their homemade gnocchi and fettucini.
This restaurant serves delicious Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. Pizzas and seafood are included in their menu as well. The restaurant also has some vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options that you can choose from.
Ostia Antica facts that you probably didn’t know
- The ancient port of the city was founded for trade purposes only. But Ostia Antica has served both as a military and a naval base.
- Ostia Antica gets its name from the words ‘os’ or ‘ostium’ which means mouth. The city was named so due to its location at the mouth of the river Tiber.
- Before excavations began, the ancient city of Ostia Antica was completely covered by mud and sand.
- Two-thirds of the ancient city of Ostia Antica was uncovered by archaeological excavations.
- You can find innumerable temples in Ostia Antica. The most famous temple on the site is the Capitolium. Other interesting temples include the Round Temple which resembles the Pantheon in Rome.
- Ostia Antica is extremely important for Christians as it is believed to be the site where the mother of Saint Augustine, Saint Monica breathed her last.
- Most of the bread made in the Bakery of Silvano at Ostia Antica was actually imported into Rome.
Insider Tips for Visiting Ostia Antica
- The path inside the archaeological area of Ostia Antica is very bumpy. We recommend that you wear comfortable shoes and clothes when visiting the site.
- Book your tickets for Ostia Antica online and in advance. This will help you plan your trip and even save time on the day of your visit.
- Since Ostia Antica is located outdoors, wear warm clothes and carry an umbrella when visiting the ancient city in winter.
- If you are visiting Ostia Antica during the summer, carry a water bottle, a hat, sunglasses, and sunblock with you.
- Small dogs are allowed entry into Ostia Antica, but they must be kept on a leash throughout your visit.
- Avoid buying on-the-spot tickets for Ostia Antica. However, if you do, then you should know that the ticket desk at Ostia Antica closes one hour before the closing time of the park.
- The fastest way to get to Ostia Antica is by taking the train or the metro from central Rome.
- The Ostiense Museum at Ostia Antica is currently closed.
- The use of any kind of drone inside Ostia Antica is strictly prohibited.
Things To Do Around Ostia Antica
Pier Paolo Pasolini Park has a dark history. It was at this Park that Pier Paolo Pasolini, an acclaimed Italian writer, and poet was murdered. The park is essentially a literary garden that is filled with some beautiful quotes and sentences that have been taken from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s works. The Park project and the commemorative monument in the park, which shows a flight of doves, were both created and sculpted by Mario Rosati.
The Tor San Michele is a watchtower that was built in 1559 and is located near the mouth of the river Tiber. This tower is a great example of Renaissance military architecture and is mainly an octagonal building with three levels. Each of these levels has eight rooms with a cross vault. The Tor San Michele functioned as a customs, defense, and sighting post before being used as a lighthouse for the Ostia seaplane base.
After visiting Ostia Antica, take some time out to visit the Parrocchia Santa Maria Regina Pacis. This building is a twentieth-century parochial church and a titular church that is dedicated to Mary, the Queen of Peace. Italians prayed to Mary to bring an end to the First World War in this church.
The Castello di Giulio II rises above Ostia’s medieval ‘borgo’ or village. The Castello was named after Pope Giulio II who was credited with building this castle at the end of the fifteenth century to guard the mouth of the river Tiber since the river was one of the main access routes to Rome. Castello Di Guilio II was abandoned in 1557 after the river changed its course due to heavy flooding!
This area near Ostia Antica covers the Imperial ports of Cladius and Trajan. The Port of Claudio was a large seaport located north of the mouth of the river Tiber. Built in 42 AD, the port was constructed to remedy the silting up of Ostia Antica’s river port. The Port of Trajan was designed to reuse the lighthouse and docks of the port of Claudio. Trajan’s port formed the external basin of the new port system of Ancient Rome.
Freaquently Asked Questions About Ostia Antica
If you are traveling from central Rome, you will take around thirty minutes to reach Ostia Antica.
Ostia Antica is open from Tuesdays to Sundays. The park remains closed on all Mondays.
It will take you around two to three hours to explore the ancient city of Ostia Antica.
Yes, small dogs are allowed inside Ostia Antica. However, they must be kept on a leash at all times.
Ostia Antica is one of the most well-preserved cities of Ancient Rome. Some of the main highlights of Ostia Antica include the House of Diana, the Thermopolium, the Capitolium, and the Baths of Porta Marina.