Stretch of the Aurelian Walls at porta San Paolo, 1864-66.



The Aurelian walls were built between 270 and 273 BC, Roman Emperor Aurelian to defend the city of Rome, capital of the Roman Empire from the attacks of the barbarians. During that period the city had developed well beyond the old Servian Wall, built during the Roman Republic in fact, protected by several centuries of expansion of Rome; but the new threat posed by the barbarian tribes that flowed to the German border, could not be controlled by the Roman Empire, then in the difficult crisis of the third century.


Flavio Augusto Onorio beneath the walls and doors were restored. Even popes profoundly modify the walls, to suit the firearms. Aurelian walls, which in ancient ran for about 19 km, are long, today, 12,5 km. To quickly build the walls and for economic and military, many buildings were included in the walls themselves. Among them, the amphitheatre Castrense and the pyramid Cestia. Later near the wall was built Protestant Cemetery in Rome.


Porta San Paolo, named after the nearby basilica, is the ancient Porta Ostiense, opened in the Aurelian Walls, interesting for its defense system remained almost intact. The exterior, contemporary walls but altered by Onorio early 5th century AD, is an archway surmounted by a gallery and flanked by two cylindrical towers with battlements; the domestic counterpart, two barrel-vault, attached to the port walls pincer, is due to Massenzio (early 4th century AD) and is decorated with medieval newsstand between columns. In 594 AD, crushing the last resistance, we crossed the Goths led by Totila. Would start from this port the ancient via Ostiense that connects Rome to Ostia and the sea ports.

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