Walk along the Apia Trail and feel the ups and downs of two thousand years of history

The Appia Trail Archaeological Park covers an area of ​​about 4,580 hectares, spanning the three cities of Rome, Ciampino and Marino, and is the largest archaeological park in Italy and even Europe.

Perhaps it is a coincidence of history. In the 3rd century BC, both the east and the west of the earth began to construct large-scale construction projects. In the East, Emperor Qin Shihuang began to build the Great Wall. Together with the Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century, the Great Wall of China reached 5,000 kilometers. In the West, during the 500 years from the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD, the roads paved by the Romans were 80,000 kilometers long by the trunk roads alone, and 150,000 kilometers long if the branch lines were added. “All roads lead to Rome.” “From this. Among the roads, the one known as “Queen’s Avenue” is Apia Avenue.

A great project created by a blind man
The Japanese writer Shiono Qiyo wrote in her 15-volume masterpiece “The Story of the Romans”: “What does this man’s brain look like? Why are there so many fantastic ideas? In 1200 years of Roman history, Only two people have given me this idea, one is Julius Caesar and the other is Apius Claudius.”

Appius Claudius was born at the gate of Claudius, a Roman nobleman. He served in many “honorable positions” in the Roman Republic and was elected the highest consul twice. He was not only the founder of the Roman Avenue, but also the founder of the Roman Aqueduct, and the first Latin intellectual. Shiono Qiyo listed him and Caesar as the greatest figures in the history of ancient Rome, because they truly represent the highest quality and spiritual ideas of the ancient Romans. Apius was nicknamed the “Blind”. It is said that when he was building a pantheon, he proposed to adopt the religious architectural elements of the Celts, who were regarded as barbarians at the time, and was blinded by the Roman gods.

The Romans are a pragmatic nation. They regarded roads as the arteries of the country, and thus built countless roads, making Rome a well-connected city and the “center” of the world. Under normal circumstances, the implementation of infrastructure construction is planned by the financial officer or consul and submitted to the Senate, who will vote after considering its importance and feasibility. If the Senate’s vote is passed, the person who drafted the plan will become the highest person in charge of the project and start construction, and the cost will be raised by the national treasury.

Appia Avenue (Via Appia) was drafted and built by Apius, who served as the treasurer at the time, and it got the name, which means “Avenue of Apius”. The first plan for this road was to pass south of Lazio and north of Campania, connecting Rome and Cappua, the latter being one of the wealthiest cities on the Italian peninsula at the time. Gapua was once a city founded by the Etruscans and was later occupied by the Samoneites of the ancient Italian nation. In 338 BC, after Rome and the Samoneites fought the first Samone war, Gapua was included in the Roman sphere of influence. In other words, the direct purpose of the Roman plan to build this road is political: the smooth flow of the road will enable the dispatch of troops more quickly, so as to better control the conquered areas and assimilate the conquered peoples. At the same time, the circulation of people and materials has been improved, which has benefited the residents around the road a lot, and many small cities along the way have prospered.

In 272 BC, the Romans could hardly resist the attack of the Greek Pyrrhus and wanted to make peace. At that time, Apius, who had already withdrawn from politics and was blind, was furious when he heard the news. He helped him to the Senate and delivered a solemn speech that was almost reprimanded, which changed the atmosphere of the Senate. According to Cicero’s records, this speech is the first Latin work to be recorded and preserved. Two years later, Rome finally drove Pylos out of the Apennines. In 268 BC, after the Romans won the Third Samona War, the southern cities of Benevento and Taranto were included in the borders of Rome, and the Appia Avenue extended here. In the next 20 years, the construction of the last section of the Apia Avenue was completed and arrived at Brindisi, a port city on the Adriatic Sea. From the first shovel of Appius from the Capena Gate in Rome to this point, 70 years have passed, and the Avenue of Appia has also extended to 650 kilometers.

Apia Avenue is also the strongest road in history, and pioneered the construction of roads by the army. The 650 kilometers of roads are all paved with boulders, including a 4-meter-wide driveway and 3-meter-wide sidewalks on both sides. The overall width of the road is more than 10 meters, and the thickness of the roadbed is 1.5 meters. It is paved in 4 layers. The surface of the road is a gentle arc, slightly higher in the middle and lower on both sides to drain off rainwater. The trees on both sides of the road are cut down to prevent the roots from extending under the main road and damaging the roadbed. The Avenue of Rome has always been on the same level, so the Romans overcame all natural obstacles, building bridges when encountering rivers, and building tunnels when encountering mountains. They used local materials. The ancient volcanic lava in Italy provided a wealth of stone for the road, and the Apia Trail was therefore called the “Road of Fire”. After the road is completed, milestones will be erected at every 1 Roman mile (approximately 1.48 kilometers), and inns will be set up for tourists to rest along the way. Appia Avenue also adheres to the consistent principle of ancient Roman public architecture: it has the characteristics of sturdiness, functionality and beauty. Legend has it that Apius himself took off his sandals and walked barefoot on the road to test the comfort of the road. In the 6th century AD, a high-ranking official of the Byzantine Empire faced the Apia Avenue, which was still intact after 800 years, marveled at it. At that time, the Roman Empire had long since collapsed, and Appia Avenue had been in a state of no maintenance for at least 300 years.

The ruins of the Roman aqueduct in the Archaeological Park of the Archaeological Park of Apia.

One of countless ancient Roman noble tombs along the ancient road.

Avenue of Apia in the Roman Empire.

Before Apia Avenue, Rome already had many historical and naturally formed roads, such as the Salaria Avenue leading to the Adriatic Sea, the Latina Avenue leading to the settlement of the Latins, and the Tiburtina Avenue to Tivoli. After building the Avenue of Apia, the Romans rebuilt those ancient roads in the same way, and also built the Valeria Avenue connecting the Adriatic Sea and the Claudia Avenue connecting the Etruscan region. During the imperial period, the Romans built the Emilia Avenue and Postumia Avenue in northern Italy, which “networked” the transportation of the entire Italian peninsula.

The reason why the Romans called Apia Avenue the “Queen’s Avenue”, because it was not only the earliest Romanesque avenue, it was an important road that controlled southern Italy, and it was also a major artery connecting the east and the west: its ending point was Brindisi. The gate to the east, especially the Greek world. In the decades after the completion of the Apia Avenue, Greek drama and Greek language spread to Rome through the Apia Avenue, and the enthusiasm for Greek art, literature, philosophy and religion gradually arose in the Roman society, the Greek world and the Roman world Since then, they have been linked together. People often say that “all roads lead to Rome” because Rome is the heart of the Western world, and the artery that carries blood from this heart to all parts of the body is the Roman Avenue. Starting from Apia Avenue, there are a total of 12 roads starting in the Roman capital, from the freezing North Sea in the north, the scorching Sahara Desert in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, and the Mesopotamia in the east. The total length is 80,000 kilometers, extending to the Empire Every corner of it.

Shiono Qisheng said, “Infrastructure not only consumes huge manpower and material resources, but also takes a long time to build. Because of this, it is not only the result of the hardware field, but also has a profound impact on the software field, that is, the spiritual field. Impact. In other words, if the infrastructure is complete enough, it will determine the future direction of this nation.” Yes, the Romans grew up on the Roman Avenue into an unprecedented empire spanning three continents.

From a political avenue to a country road
Just when the Roman road network ran through the entire empire, in 73 BC, the famous “Spartacus Uprising” broke out in Gapua. Although this large-scale slave uprising ended in failure, it achieved the glory of Roman generals Crassus and Pompey, and the Republic gradually tended to be a dictatorship. In 71 BC, 6,000 slaves captured by Krasu were brutally slaughtered. They were all crucified. The corpses were along the Appia Avenue from Capua to Rome. The brutality of slavery in ancient Rome was This moment reached the peak.

The first to walk across the Avenue of Apia and leave a written record was the poet Horace in the period of Augustus. In the spring of 37 BC, 28-year-old Horace and several partners (also joined Virgil and others halfway through) were sent to Brindis as a representative of Augustus to compete with one of the Big Three at the time. Anthony negotiated. In his “Satiric Poems”, Horace gave a brief introduction to the historical background of the time, and recorded in detail the 15-day journey from Rome to Brindis. In fact, nearly 2 centuries later, except for some sections near Rome, many sections of the Appia Avenue have been destroyed, especially in the Pondian Marsh in the south of Lazio. The poet and his party had to ride a mule pulled by a mule. The boat drove in the swamp. Through the descriptions of Horace, as well as the later ancient Roman writers Pliny the Younger, Aprieus, and the philosopher Seneca, we learned that traveling in ancient Rome was not a comfortable thing, except for cars. The toil of the horse bumps and the danger of being attacked by beasts and robbers. But despite this, ancient literati still regarded walking on Apia Avenue as an exciting thing: admiring the scenery along the way, visiting temples and ruins, and wandering in the vast spiritual world. Seneca realized that most of his possessions were useless during his frequent journeys, and he had to be prepared to lose them all the time. These became the themes of his work “On the Peace of Mind”. It is worth mentioning that the mausoleum of this philosopher is also located on the 4th Roman Mile of Apia Avenue.

Since the early Christian era, Apia Avenue has also become a pilgrimage route. The countless churches inside and outside of Rome, the underground tombs on both sides of the ancient road, and the tombs of the popes still attract countless pilgrims to this day. Beginning in the 5th century AD, the Avenue of Apia was also directly affected by the decline of the empire: the invasions of the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455 took away countless gold and silver treasures, and brought land desertion, The spread of the plague and endless social unrest. In the siege of Rome in 537 AD, the Goths destroyed all the waterways that supplied Rome, leaving the city with dead bodies everywhere. In that era, after landing in Italy from Brindisi and arriving in Capua, no one dared to set foot on the Appia Avenue leading to Rome.

This state of abandonment continued for centuries, until the Holy See gained control of central Italy, and this ancient road became the hub of its sphere of influence again. In the chaotic Middle Ages, the feudal lords built castles and towers on both sides of the Appia Avenue, especially in the south of Lazio: the tomb of the Roman noblewoman Cecilia Metra was rebuilt Defensive towers, the gardens of Emperor Commod’s royal villas were also transformed into battlements. With the disrepair and damage of the Appia Avenue, and the predatory behavior of the feudal lords collecting tolls along the way, the construction of an alternative route was put on the agenda: in 1574, the new Appia Avenue (Via Appia Nuova) was in the pope Born under the advocacy of Gregorio XIII, the ancient Apia Avenue has since been reduced to a suburban road that traverses farmland.

In the Renaissance, the Italians rekindled their enthusiasm for ancient Roman culture. What is terrible is that this fanaticism gradually evolved into a plunder of the ancient world. As an inexhaustible treasure house of cultural relics, the Apia Trail and its surrounding ancient buildings and tombs have been ruthlessly destroyed and plundered. “Please save those that can still be saved”, the painter Raphael and the poet Castiglione called in a letter to Pope Leo X in 1514, and a campaign for cultural relic preservation has been launched since then. In 1589, when another pope wanted to demolish the tomb of Cecilia Metra by the Apia Trail and provide construction materials for his villa, he was forced to abandon it because of many objections.

The ruins of the tomb of the Roman noblewoman Cecilia Metra. Built in the 1st century BC, it is located in the third Roman mile of the Appia Ancient Road. In the chaotic Middle Ages, it was converted into a high defensive tower.

From the 17th to the 19th centuries, there was an upsurge of “grand travel” throughout Europe. The children of European nobles and literati regarded traveling to Italy as the first step towards adulthood: like the ancient Roman poet Horace, they came from Rome. Set off, head south along the Apia Trail, visiting ancient ruins and looking for creative inspiration. For example, the British Latin scholar and archaeologist Richard Colt Hall re-walked the Appia Trail in 1789, and the Italian painter Carlo Labruzzi even left more than 200 paintings in the same period. The paintings faithfully reproduce the life of the ruins along the ancient road and the peasants at that time. The most famous of these literati was Goethe. After visiting the riddled Appia Trail in 1816, he lamented: “The Romans wanted to create eternity, for which they estimated everything needed for eternity, but They did not anticipate the terrible destructive power of later generations, and everything in the world would fall in front of these later generations.”

The largest “open-air museum” in Europe
The 650-kilometer Apia Trail, except for the extremely limited section of historical monuments, is paved with asphalt and became National Highway No. 7, the approximately 540-kilometer section to the end of Brindisi is still there today. use. The most well-preserved and listed historical monuments are the section of approximately 16 kilometers from Rome to the Roman castle area, and the section of 3 kilometers from Fondi to Itri in the south of Lazio. In fact, until the mid-19th century, the Apia Trail was still a country road. The only difference is that there are many ancient tomb ruins on both sides of the road, although the interior of the tomb has been looted.

Napoleon was the first to propose an archaeological park. He envisioned this archaeological park in 1811 to cover the entire area from Trajan’s Column in the center of Rome to the Roman castle area. The first to protect the Apia Trail was Pope Pius IX. He commissioned the architect and archaeologist Canina to restore the Apia Trail and its monuments in Rome in 1951 with the purpose of It will be transformed into an open-air museum to provide convenient routes for pilgrims and tourists. The rows of Mediterranean pine along the ancient road we see today were planted at the end of the 19th century. In other words, the scene we see on the Apia Trail today is what it looked like 100 years ago.

After many centuries of constant destruction and numerous appeals for resistance, it was not until 1988 that with the support of the Lazio region, the Archaeological Park of the Archaeological Park of Appia was finally completed, covering an area of ​​approximately 4,580 hectares, spanning Rome and Ciampi The three cities of Novo and Marino are the largest archaeological parks in Italy and even in Europe. This park includes not only the 16 kilometers of Apia Trail, but also a series of ancient sites around it: the Latina Trail, the ruins of 6 Roman waterways, countless ancient tombs and royal villas. Every weekend and on all festivals, the Apia Trail Archaeological Park restricts vehicle traffic, only for tourists and citizens to ride or hike.

Every golden autumn in October, there will be a week-long “Appia Day”, from Rome to Brindisi, all the attractions along the Appia Trail are open for free, and a wealth of activities are held to attract more people Especially young people go to learn about the history of Apia and pay attention to the protection of the site. But whether it’s “Appia Day” or on weekdays, you will never be bored walking on the Appia Trail: the rugged megalithic trail and the newly paved section of small stones intersect, and the swaying Mediterranean pine is against the view. In the ancient ruins that are not at the end, people always interpret the Latin inscriptions in vain and stare at the faces of the dead 2000 years ago.

The Royal Villa Quintilí was the largest suburban villa in ancient Rome.

Legend has it that St. Peter met the Manifestation of Jesus on Appia Avenue.

Door of San Sebastiano. Known as the “Appia Gate” in ancient times, it is the starting point of the Archaeological Park of the Appia Trail.

Soon after you walk out of the San Sebastiano Gate in Rome, you will see the first Roman landmark of the Appia Road. According to historical records, there were Trajan’s Arch, Verus Arch, and a temple dedicated to Mars, the god of war, in the vicinity of First Rome, but these are all missing. What remains is the Tomb of Getta on the left side of the avenue, that is, the young emperor killed by his brother Caracalla, and the Tomb of Horace on the right. A few steps away is a small church called “Lord, Where Are You Going”, built in the 9th century. Legend has it that in 64 AD, Emperor Nero blamed the fire in Rome on Christians and wanted to execute Peter, the first pope. Peter escaped from Rome along the Appia Avenue, where he met Jesus who was manifested and asked: “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied: “Go to Rome and be nailed to the cross again.” Peter resolutely resolutely Returning to Rome, he was eventually nailed upside down on the cross. When you walk into this small church, you will see the footprints of Jesus in the legend.

The area with the most congregated ruins and the most beautiful scenery on the Appia Ancient Road can be said to be the second to the fourth roman. The first is the famous underground mausoleum of San Callisto. This is a five-story underground mausoleum network, originally buried Christian martyrs and popes in the early 3rd century AD. Afterwards, Christians looked forward to resting here after death, so this “City of the Dead” continued to expand and finally accommodated There are 100,000 people, and the oldest Christian fresco is still preserved in the tomb. Not far away are the church of San Sebastiano and the underground mausoleum of the same name, the huge villa of the Roman emperor Maxentius, the tower-shaped Mausoleum of Metra and the adjacent medieval villa. Among the ancient ruins, there are also scattered high-end restaurants specializing in banquets, small bars for tourists to rest, and bicycle rental shops.

The largest suburban villa in ancient Rome-Villa Quintilí is located in the fourth Roman mile. There are many houses, baths, theaters, gardens, and horse farms, so it is also called “Little Rome”. This extremely luxurious villa originally belonged to the Quintile family of the Roman nobles, but the Emperor Commod coveted it, so he found an excuse to get rid of the Quintile brothers, even ignoring that they were the husbands of his two sisters. Beginning in Comodore, this villa became the residence of subsequent emperors, and thus left countless precious remains, so that there is now an independent museum in the villa, and archaeological excavations in the villa are still going on. In addition, Villa Quintilí is also a famous romantic place. When the sun goes down, the golden sunlight will dye this fragmented wall red, and the large areas of grassland and woods will be dyed golden. People stroll here in twos and threes. Indulge in history and wake up in dreams.

After walking through the Apia Trail Park, you will find yourself already intoxicated by the beauty of this magnificent and lonely ruin, drifting between excitement and loss, happiness and sorrow, just like Goethe and Baudelaire, in these passing away Look down before the shadow of the times and reflect.