1.2 - History of Rome, The Republic

Aerial view of the city centre of Rome -

Rome, the Eternal City, the Head of the World, is one of the cradles of "western civilisation", and a city who has lived the last two thousand and five hundred years as a major player in the political, religious and cultural domain. Each century and each event has left traces still visible in the city, its buildings and its inhabitants, creating an unique environment that can be seen in only few other places in the world.


This is not the place to write about the history of this city, because too many books have been written by much more competent people and because this is a website about tourism, but a short summary is necessary.

The republic
. The kingdom ended around 509 BC with a revolt which overthrown the last Etruscan king and replaced it with a republic. During these five centuries the city continue to fight against the neighbouring cities expanding its control over central Italy (IV century BC), over southern Italy (II century BC) and finally over the Mediterranean, Middle East and Northern Europe (II-I century AC). This is the period of the iron romans ready to sacrifice their lives, their limbs or their family just to show their determination and their attachement to the city and the common wealth (the res publica). In this period the city integrated also the growing influence of the Hellenistic civilisation. Despite the usual narrative of a continuous expansion driven by the force of destiny, during this period the city was sacked by the Gauls in 390 BC, arrived very close to a defeat during the war against Hannibal in 216 BC and was tormented by a century of civil wars in its latest period. It is in this period that roads and aqueducts were built in the City and in the provinces along with theatres, markets and thermae. In Rome it is still possible to walk over the Appian Way, the main road connecting Rome with southern Italy and Greece and see the traces of the acqueducts in places such as Porta Maggiore and on the archeological and natural park of the Appian Way. The Theatre of Pompeus and the temples of Largo Argentina and of the Forum Boarium were also built in this period.

Porta Maggiore. The walls have integrated the acqueduct and  the arcs have been used as gates to the city
The Appian Way. Roman roads were built with several layers of different materials, covered by large volcanic stones.

Forum Boarium. It was the meat market of ancient Rome, an area of trades  with temples  to gods protecting ventures and trades, such as Hercules (in its Roman interpretation)
Largo di Torre Argentina. In the very city centre of Rome, it is now home to one of the most photographed colonies of cats of the world

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