The Porta Maggiore (“Greatest Gate”) is one of the biggest gates into the city. Originally built as part of one of the aqueducts, it later was incorporated into the ancient Aurelian walls.
It was constructed by the Emperor Claudius in the year 52 AD. In 271 Aurelian incorporated it into the city walls.
The reason it had a double archway was that it was constructed at the convergence point of two aqueducts, the Emperor’s own Acqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. The Acqua Claudia is of slightly more recent built and is therefore the upper one of the two.
Next to the gate is the famous Baker’s Tomb.
The two roads that ran underneath its archways were the Via Praenestina (hence the original name of the gate, which was Porta Prenestina) and the Via Labicana. The Via Praenestina used to lead to the city of Palestrina and the Via Labicana traveled in southeastern direction. (This is not the present day Via Labicana, but corresponds to what is now the Via Casilina.)
The material used when building the Porta Maggiore was the famous travertine marble. It was supported by Corinthian columns, only the capitals of which were ornately carved.
There are inscriptions on the top part of the aqueduct that shed light on the history of the aqueducts. They also boast the aqueduct-building prowess of Claudius, Titus and Vespasian, all of whom contributed to its construction.
Honorius added to the walls in the fifth century, and at this particular site, a guardhouse was built. Visitors can still view a portion of this later addition, though the upper portion of the guardhouse has been moved to the left side of the Porta Maggiore.
Porta Maggiore Practical Information
|Address||Piazza di Porta Maggiore, Rome, Italy.|
|Hotels nearby||All Rome hotels|
|Opening Hours||Not applicable, can be viewed from outside.|
|Public transport||Tram: 2, 3, 5, 8, 14, 19: Bus: 105, 105L, 150, N12, N18; Train: FC1.|
Directions to the Porta Maggiore
Take bus 105 from Termini.