barbarian invasion

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Aurelian Walls

Rome - Aurelian Walls
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Between 270 and 275, Emperor Aurelian decided to build walls in order to protect the city of Rome against the barbarian invasion. The construction started in 271 and lasted ten years. This brick wall was 19 kilometers long, 8 meters high and 3.5 meters thick, and included a tower every 30 or so meters. Although built in a rush, the walls included several military buildings and no less than 20 gates to allow access to the city. Not only that but the Aurelian Walls also included  houses (some small windows can still be seen) and ancient monuments such as the aqueduct of Acqua Marcia Antoniniana, the Porta Maggiore (Larger Gate), the Pyramid of Cestius and the Amphitheatrum Castrense.

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The Emperor Maxentius reinforced the walls in 354, doubling the height of some sections of the wall and apparently adding a ditch which was never completed. Many other changes appeared under the reign of Honorius (393-423), namely the improvement of both the wall and its towers. In 403, the Tomb of Hadrian was included in the wall and became a military building. Despite these many improvements, the Visigoths led by Alaric entered the city in 410.

The Porta San Paolo (“Saint Paul Gate”) is located on the ancient Via Ostensis. This road connected Rome to Ostia Antica. Originally, Porta San Paolo was named Porta Ostiensis however it was renamed after the basilica located near the gate. Its defensive system has survived time practically intact and has been preserved just as it was first installed.

Unfortunately, only 13 kilometers of the Aurelian Walls remain today; they are also obsolete as the city has long since expanded outside the protection of these walls.