Piazza della Rocca, 16
Ostia Antica (Roma sud)
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(all’interno del borgo antico)
The site where the Borgo and castle of Ostia Antica stand today was once a burial ground during the Roman Empire. On the site where the tomb of the martyr Saint Aurea stands was once a 5th century basilica which, restored in later centuries, in the 9th century became the centre around which a little hamlet developed – the Borgo. This was built by Pope Gregory IV (827-844) to protect the inhabitants of the area from Saracen raids and he called it Gregoriopolis. The settlement was protected by a defensive wall and ditch and became an important centre for controlling the nearby salt deposits and trade on the Tiber, which flowed alongside the settlement up to 1557. Indeed, to better control Tiber trade tax collecting, which was the monopoly of the Curia, in the 15th century Pope Martin V (1417-1431) built a round tower surrounded by a moat. There was further development of the Borgo by cardinal Guglielmo d’Estouteville, bishop of Ostia between 1461 and 1483, who restored the hamlet’s walls and improved the living conditions of the inhabitants, continuously threatened by malaria, by creating three lines of terrace houses, still present inside the little Borgo. Between 1483 and 1487, cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Pope Julius II, used his own money to build the castle on the drawings of Baccio Pontelli (as reported in the inscription on the gateway leading to the courtyard). The castle has a triangular plan and consists of three towers, the main one (the keep) incorporating the previous tower of Pope Martin V, connected together by casemates (firing chambers) and a drawbridge overlooking a wide moat that gave access to the inner courtyard. Later on, during the pontificate of Julius II (1503-1513) some residential quarters were created inside the castle as well as a great stairway on three ramps with vaults and walls decorated with frescoes attributed to the school of Baldassarre Peruzzi. The Tiber flood of 1557 shifted the course of the river in this area and thus led to the castle’s decline – trade tax collecting was from then carried on at the nearby tower called Tor Boacciana (near the Scafa bridge), dating back to 12th century, and at the tower called Tor San Michele, built by Giovanni Lippi in 1568 on the drawings of Michelangelo.
PLEASE NOTE: Open only on Thursday: 11.00 am and on Sunday: 11.00 am and 12.00 pm. Advance phone booking is required: tel. +39 0656358044