Castro Pretorio (Praetorian Camp)

"Castro Pretorio (Praetorian Camp)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 23rd May 2011

In 21-23 A.D. by initiative of a minister Sejanus, on the edge of the city, the Castra Praetoria, the seat of emperor's bodyguards, was erected. The walls around these barracks were 3m high, 440m long and 380m wide, with the four gates. It was compound of the camp for military exercises, the seat of the commander, praetorium, aerarium (cash-box), armamentarium (armoury), valetudinarium (infirmary) and the horrea (stores).

Castro Pretorio (Praetorian Camp), Viale Castro Pretorio, Rome
The Praetorian Camp was built by Emperor Tiberius between 21 and 23 AD. It was situated between the ancient Roman roads called the Via Nomentana and Via Tiburtina, today corresponding to the area lying between Umberto I hospital and the National Library. Only a part of the original walling of this camp is visible today, along the modern Viale Bianchi, Viale del Policlinico and Viale dell’Università.

The Praetorian Guard, Praetoriae Cohortes, originally nine or ten cohorts (9000-10,000 men), were instituted by Augustus. In later Imperial times the Praetorian Guard acquired undue influence in the conduct of state affairs. They could choose an emperor in sort of auction basing on the money offers for each candidate (the case of emperor Julian, who governed only 33 days as was killed by his "electors"). Emperor Constantine suppressed the permanent camp of turbulent soldiers in 313, and made a corps of singular bodyguards. The Castro Pretorio was transformed in the public place with the gardens; the walls dividing the camp from the city were demolished and only external fortifications were left.
Castra Pretoria wall
In the 17th century Castro Pretorio passed into the hands of the Jesuits, who renamed it Macao after their most successful foreign mission in the Chinese city Macao. They made of it a vineyard and a place of recreation together with the territories around it. It was again used as barracks in the epoch of Pius IX (1862), amplified and enlarged when Rome became a capital (1870). At present, the greatest part of the Castro Pretorio is occupied by huge Biblioteca Nazionale (National Library).

Some of these buildings were still visible at the end of the 19th century, while others have been excavated more recently during the construction work for the National Library. Three sides of the camp’s walls were later incorporated in the Aurelian walls. When the Praetorian Guards were finally disbanded by Emperor Constantine, the inside wall facing the city was pulled down.

Address:
Castro Pretorio (Praetorian Camp)
Viale Castro Pretorio
00185, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Castro Pretorio (Porta Pia) (Roma centro)
Castro Pretorio (Praetorian Camp) is Shown By "Map F Zone" As "37"
Underground: B line, Castro Pretorio exit
Bus: 75, 310, 492, 649, 9

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