Porta Metronia Rome

The Porta Metronia is an ancient city gate along the Aurelian Walls in Rome. It is located along the Via dell’Amba Aradam, which leads to Basilica of Saint John In Lateran.

Porta Metronia Rome

History

Porta Metronia Rome
Porta Metronia

The Porta Metronia is probably named for a certain Metrobius, who used to own various properties in the area. Another name it was known by is Porta Gabiusa. This is because the road that used to lead to the ancient Volscian city of Gabii used to start here. This road more or less corresponds to the present Via Gallia.

Initially the Porta Metronia was no more than a so-called posterula, a small secret exit out of the city. This is clear because it was included at the base of a small tower on the inside of the wall. Had it been a real gate, it would have been flanked by defensive towers on each side.

In the 12th century the Porta Metronia was closed. The gate became used for a passage of a marrana, as the Romans called ditches that ran through the city. This ditch started near Grottaferrata and was brought to Rome by Pope Callisto II. A grating was put in front of the passage, so that smugglers could not enter the city.

After flowing through the gate, the ditch continued towards the San Sisto Vecchio Church, and via the Circus Maximus ended in the Tiber. Here, in the area called Cloaca Maxima, it fed 14 water mills.

The ditch created a swampy area outside the gate, which came to be called “il Pantano”. Often the stagnant water was the cause of epidemics. This swampy area was completely filled up in the beginning of the 20th century. The Marrana itself was diverted to end in the river Almone.

Description

Porta Metronia Inscriptions
Inscriptions

The gate itself has been bricked up, but its contours are still visible. It is much lower than the present street level.

On both sides of the Porta Metronia there are two arches. On one side these stem from the fascist period and on the other from the period after the war. They were created to facilitate the flow of traffic.

The two plaques on the inside refer to restoration works in 1157 and in 1579.

The 1157 restoration was carried out by the People and the Senate of Rome. The inscription states the names of the counsillors who had had the work commissioned. In those days the city displayed a strong streak of independence from the church, which is why the Pope is not mentioned in the inscription.

In the 16th century, as the inscription shows, times had changed. Pope Gregorius XIII made sure that everyone knew that it was he who had had the gate fixed out of his own pocket, 421 years after the last restoration.

Porta Metronia, Rome

Porta Latina Rome

The Porta Latina in Rome is located nearby the Terme di Caracalla and the Porta di San Sebastiano. It is named for the street of the same name and is one of the best preserved Roman gates in the Aurelian Walls.

Porta Latina Rome

History

Porta Latina Rome (outside the walls)
Porta Latina from outside the walls.

The Porta Latina is named for the Via Latina, which led from Rome to what is now Capua, but was at the time still called Casilinum. In those days this territory was taken up by the 30 or so villages that were part of the Latin League. This was a confederation, founded to create a protection against common enemies. Initially these enemies were the Etruscans, but later they came to include the Romans. Still later Rome joined the Latin League, then took a dominant role and finally submitted the other villages. In 338 BC the organization was disbanded.

In the Republican Age (509-27 BC) the road started, together with the Old Appian Way, at the Porta Capena. The two roads separated near what is now the Piazzale di Numa Pompilio. The initial name of the street is now Via di Porta Latina. After the gate it becomes Via Latina.

Initially the opening was 6.55 metres tall and 4.20 metres wide. Between 401 and 403 Emperor Honorius had this reduced to 5.65 by 3.73 metres. The outline of the original fornix is still visible. The reduction of the wall was part of a completely restructuring to make it easier to defend the city. Honorius also had the right tower rebuilt and the travertine facade restructured.

In the middle ages the right tower was again restored.

Both in 1576 and in 1656 the gate was closed during an epidemic of the plague.

After the construction of the Via Appia Nuova the gate lost importance.

Until the early 20th century it was only open when there were special events at the San Giovanni a Porta Latina Church. Even when the Italian troops tried to enter the city here in 1870, they ended up having to give up on the attempt. Their brothers in arms at the Porta Pia ended up having more luck, though, which is why Italy now exists.

Description

The two windowless semicircular towers on each side have holes that were to be used by archers. The five openings in the upper part were created during the reign of Honorius.

The keystone of the outer arch has the Constantinian Chi Ro monogram on it. The Greek letters forming this monogram stand for Christ. To the left and right of the monogram the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (alpha and omega) can be seen, symbolizing the beginning and the end.

The Greek cross on the inner side of the arch is also a Christian symbol.

The entrance could be closed off with a hinged gate on the inside and with a portcullis on the outside.

There is a small door behind the western door, which gives access to a walkway and a room with 17th century walls. According to legend the god Saturn hid in this chamber from his son Jupiter after the latter had dethroned him.

Porta Latina, Rome

Arco di Tiradiavoli Rome

The Arco di Tiradiavoli (“Devilthrower’s Arch”) is a gate along the Via Aurelia Antica in Rome, not far from the Porta San Pancrazia. It was constructed in 1612 by order of Pope Paul V Borghese as part of restoration works of the ancient Aqua Traiana Aqueduct.

Arco di Tiradiavoli Rome

Pope Paul had deemed a reconstruction of this aquaduct (hence to be called Aqua Paola) necessary in order to bring water to the rione Trastevere and to the districts around the Vatican. Building the arch was necessary in order to support the aquaduct that passed over the Via Aurelia.

At the upper part of the arch, the Pope’s coat-of-arms can be seen. There is also an inscription telling everybody what a great guy the Pope was for having restored the aqueduct, but unfortunately this inscription is wrong: They thought to have reconstructed the Aqua Alsietina aqueduct, which had been built by Augustus, instead of the Aqua Traiana.

The part of the Via Aurelia where the arch is situated until 1914 used to be called the Via di Tiradiavoli. The ghost of Pope Innocent X‘s sister-in-law, Donna Olimpia Pamphili, when there was a full moon used to race this street, leaving fire in her wake. She would continue all the way to the Ponte Sisto bridge and then throw herself into the river, only to be picked up by devils who then took her to hell.

Another theory that could explain the name is the abundance of relics of Christian martyrs that used to be found at various sites along the Via Aurelia and scared off the devils.

There was also a Marrana di Tiradiavoli (a marrana being a sort of ditch in medieval Rome) that flowed from the Villa Pamphili to the river Tiber. That ditch still exists, but runs underneath the Via di Donna Olimpia.

Porta Tiburtina Rome

The Porta Tiburtina is also known as the Porta San Lorenzo and is located in the (unofficial quarter) of San Lorenzo.

Porta Tiburtina

Address

The Porta Tiburtina can be found along the Viale di Porta Tiburtina. District: Quartiere Tiburtino.

History and description

Porta Tiburtina Rome
Porta Tiburtina on the outside

The name Tiburtina comes from the Via Tiburtina, since that street left the city through this gate. The name Porta San Lorenzo came from the Church of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, since the Via Tiburtina led to this church. To confuse matters further, at one point the gate was also known under the name Porta Taurina, thanks to the bull’s head on the arch’s keystone.

Originally the gate was just a commemorative arch, in honor of the three aqueducts, the Acqua Marcia, the Acqua Tepula and the Acqua Giulia, and it was not until later that it became part of the Aurelian Walls.

It is probably Aurelian who was responsible for the two towers flanking the gate.

In the 5th century BC Augustus restored the gate. Later, as inscriptions indicate, Vespasian and Septimius Severus also had work done on the gate and/or aqueducts.

Another inscription, over the outer arch, mentions a restoration by Honorius, who also had the inner arch, later removed by Pope Pius IX, built.

Viale di Porta Tiburtina – Rome

Porta del Popolo Rome

The Porta del Popolo connects the Piazzale Flaminio to the Piazza del Popolo in Rome and is named for the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo.

Porta del Popolo Rome

History

It was constructed in 1561 by the architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola who used a design by Michelangelo.

The Porta del Popolo is built where the ancient Roman Porta Flaminia used to be located. At the time this was the most important gate in the Aurelian Walls in Rome, connecting the Capitol Hill, by means of the Via Flaminia, to the Ponte Milvio and from there to the city of Rimini on the other coast of Italy. (The part of the old Via Flaminia that is inside the city walls is nowadays Rome’s most important shopping street, Via del Corso).

Pope Sixtus IV had the old Porta Flaminia demolished because he wanted to make a more imposing entrance to the city for the many pilgrims arriving from the north.

The Porta del Popolo in detail

The pillars on each side were taken from the old Saint Peter’s Basilica, which had just been destroyed to make place for the present one.

When Queen Christina of Sweden visisted Rome in 1655 Pope Alexander VII had the inside of the gate redesigned by Bernini in her honor. The pope’s coat of arms (6 stones and a star) was placed above the entrance with a sign bidding welcome to the Queen: “Felici Faustoque Evento”.

Until 1877 there were two square towers on each side of the gate. These were demolished in order to make place for the two extra entrances.

The statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul were added in 1658 by Francesco Mochi.

Porta del Popolo Rome Photo Gallery

Porta del Popolo – Rome

Arch of Dolabella Rome

The Arch of Dolabella (Arco di Dolabella) in Rome was built in the 10th century, in a spot where originally a part of the Mure Serviane (Servian Walls) was located. It is assumed that the Arco di Dolabella was the old Porta Celimontana (or Caelimontana) in these Servian Walls.

Arch of Dolabella Rome

Address: The Arco di Dolabella is located where the Via Claudia and the Via San Paolo della Croce meet.

History and description

Arch of Dolabella, Rome, Italy.
Arch of Dolabella

The Servian Walls were the first walls that were built around Rome, in the 6th century BC, and included 6 of the famous 7 hills. (The Palatine Hill was left outside the walls.)

The Arch of Dolabella and Silano was built in 10 A.D. by consuls Cornelio Dolabella and Gaius Junius Silano, as indicated in the inscription on the  monument.

On the right side of the arch some blocks of tuff stone from a location called Grotta Oscura were used. This proves that it used to be part of the Servian Walls, since the same stone was also used for other parts of this wall, for example the section that can still be seen in front of Termini station. Other monuments that used the Grotta Oscura stone were the Theater of Marcellus and temples A and C in the Largo di Torre Argentina. After the 1st century this stone stopped being used in Rome.

Later Emperor Nero incorporated the arch into a side brach of the Aquedotto Claudio. Nero had this branch constructed to get water to his Domus Aurea.

When, in the 1st century, the power of the Roman Empire became immense, the walls were deemed unnecessary and gradually were dismantled or fell into disrepair.

In 211 A.D., during the restoration works at the behest of Septimius Severus and Caracalla, the original arch was used to support the large arches that were built on top.

In the 10th century the gate was rebuilt, by orders of the Senate.

There is a small shrine decorated with medieval mosaics to the right of the arch.

Saint Giovanni de Matha had two small rooms created inside one of the supporting pillars and lived ther from 1209 till his death in 1213. This space is behind the small window in the monument. Giovanni de Matha was the founder of the Trinitarian Order, whose mission it was to free slaves held captive by Muslims.

Over the course of the centuries the ground level in Rome has been raised and the Arch, which used to stand 6,50m tall, is now only 4,50m.

Arch of Dolabella – Via di San Paolo della Croce, Rome