About the Ancient RoadVia Appia Antica is Rome’s Tuscany: a collection of cypress boulevards, gardens and green trees. Here you will find all kinds of attractions: catacombs, hiking trails, cycling, ancient aqueducts that the Romans excelled in building, archeological sites, restaurants and inns. Tourists love to rent bicycles here and ride through the ancient paths.
History of Via AppiaThis road was once one of the most important transportation veins in the Republic. It is commonly known that one of the outstanding capacities of ancient Rome was the industrial talent for paving roads and building aqueducts. It was not for naught that the term "All roads lead to Rome," was coined. At the pinnacle of the Roman Empire, the roads that were built included 85,000 kilometers of paved roads linking 370 destinations. To almost any destination the Roman Army was bound for, a road was paved. The purpose of the roads was to lead supplies for the army and expand the borders of the Republic. Usually the roads were named after the commander who initiated their establishment.
The Roman statesman, Appius Claudius Caecus, made the decision to pave the way in 312 BCE, which was why it was named "Via Appius." The road was paved during the Samnite wars, the three wars between the Roman Republic and the Samnite tribes. The object of the road was to allow a large movement of military forces from place to place, eventually reaching the city of Brindisi in southern Italy, where it also received its original name - VIARUM REGINA, the "Queen of the Road."
As for the catacombs, they were built out of necessity. The Christians in Rome were persecuted and so when they had to bury their loved ones, they did it underground to protect their graves from desecration. What remains of these graves today are ruins, which you can see throughout the Via Appia and are called "catacombs." The tour is fascinating and instructive.
The Slaves of Via AppiaThis peaceful pathway conceals a difficult and unpleasant history. In 73 BC the third slave revolt was led in Rome, led by Spartacus.
There was a huge organization of slaves who planned to escape from the Gladiators' school. The reason is the abuse they underwent from their trainer, Batiatus. He was informed of the escape and only 78 gladiators managed to succeed, equipped with kitchen knives they had taken from the compound. The weapons later served them when the local guard tried to stop their escape. This escape led to a huge revolt that caused great trouble for the Roman army. The revolt was led successfully by Spartacus, who established a mighty army and led them to victories over the Romans. However, in the end the Romans defeated him and captured many of the rebels.
Under the laws of the Republic, where rebels are punished with execution, some 6,000 slaves were crucified along this very road, in order to instill fear in the hearts of others. Everyone who passed by Via Appia saw rows of crosses, with the bodies of Spartacus's soldiers on them. This was the fate that awaited traitors in Rome.