Photographs of Ostia Antica, ancient Rome's seaport, the "Better Pompeii"

Ostia Antica
Photographs of Ancient Rome's Seaport, the "Better Pompeii"

The beautifully preserved ruins of Ostia lie twenty miles from Rome, in the meadows between the Tiber River and the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was founded, probably in the 4th century BC, as a military colony to guard the river mouth against seaborne invasions. Later, during the centuries when virtually all imports reached the Capital via the Tiber, Ostia gained prominence as the domestic landing for cargo boats. By the 2nd century AD, it had become a flourishing commercial center inhabited by upwards of 100,000 people, whose apartment buildings, taverns, and grocery shops are still intact.

Many of Ostia Antica's inhabitants lived in apartment buildings. You can see the separate units if you climb the stairs inside.


Ships approaching with supplies from around the Empire were greeted by the imposing harbor gate.


Workers from exotic places like Africa and the Middle East carried wheat to be weighed and priced by customs agents. Then it was sold in shops that had mosaics such as these in front of their doorsteps, so even if you couldn't read you knew what goods the store offered.


Latrines were public places where everyone gathered to chat while "doing their duty."


The arena offered far more sophisticated entertainment!


Mosaics also graced the floors of the public baths.


Ostia's main street, the Decumanus Maximus, runs for more than a mile.


The Collegiate Temple was a social club for working men.


Outside the city walls are the remains of the synagogue.


If an entire ancient Roman town isn't enough for you, walk across the road to the 15th-century castle built by Pope Julius II.

Click here for more information about Ostia Antica.