"Gate/ Porta San Sebastiano (Ancient Appia Gate) & Museum of Walls (Museo Mura)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Sunday 17th July 2011
The ancient gate Porta Appia, better known as Porta San Sebastiano successively took the name of the nearby basilica of S.Sebastiano. It is the largest and best preserved gateway in the Aurelian Wall. The two medieval towers at the sides rest on basements of marble blocks. The gate was reconstructed by Honorius in the beginning of the 5th century and restored a century later. Inside of the construction is an inscription of 1327 with a figure of arch-angel St Michael celebrating the victory of Romans over the king Robert of Naples. Here the last triumphal procession to enter the city by the Via Appia took place in 1571, in honour of the victory at Lepanto. In the inner space of the gate was arranged a Museum of the Walls. It contains models, prints and other documents illustrating the history of walls.
This gate, originally called the Appian Gate because of its position on the road of the same name, is the largest in the Aurelian walls and is still in an excellent state of conservation. It originally had two twin-arched gateways flanked by two semi-circular towers. These were later enlarged and raised another storey, and a fortified courtyard was created inside the gateway. The two arched entrances were reduced to just one, probably under emperor Honorius (395-423 AD), as seen today, and the towers were encased in two large square bases covered with marble.
The Aurelian Walls were built by emperor Aurelian in 271-275. They included all the seven famous hills of Rome and Trastevere. The necessity to erect them was caused by the loss of the strength of Empire and probable attacks on its capital. Most of it survives till our days. It was about 19kn round and had 18 main gates and 381 towers. The walls were 6-8 meters high and 3.5 meters thick. The walls incorporated the Seven Hills, thus protecting Rome from the Marcomanni, the Quadi, the Iatungi and the German, defeated by Aurelian himself.
The towers were located on a distance of 30 meters one from another. The walls were raised to almost twice their height by Honorius and Arcadius in 403 A.D. and the main entrances to Rome were fortified with the towers. Popes restored the walls many times and Urban VIII in the 17th century substituted the old limited tract of the Aurelian walls in Trastevere with the new ones. They continued to be the defence of Rome until 1870, when were breached by the modern artillery of the Italian army.
As early as the fifth century, in Honorius’ time, the gate had been narrowed to a single arch and square f oundations with marble cladding had been put around the semi -cylindrical laterite towers; at this point the gate was joined to the Arch of Drusus (Arco di Druso) by two curved arms, forming an internal courtyard for the guards.
On your way out, the right gate jamb contains the figure of the archangel Gabriel engraved in the marble and also a Medieval inscription, which commemorates the victory of the city’s populace against Robert of Anjou in a battle that took place near this gate in 1327. The internal structures underwent many changes, above all, in 1942-43, when the building became the residence of Fascist Party Secretary Ettore Muti. Today, it houses the Museum of the Walls.
This stretch of the via Appia Antica is called the urban stretch because in ancient times it was part of the city, it starts from the central archeo logical zone, opposite the Circus Maximus near the baths of Caracalla – where the ancient Porta Capena was situated in republican times, the starting point of the via Appia and via Latina – and ends at Porta S.Sebastiano, a gate in the walls built by emperor Aurelian in the third century A.D.
From Porta San Sebastiano, inside which is located the interesting Museum of the Walls, the road runs down slightly following the ancient Clivo di Marte thus called after the sanctuary arising there and of which a number of remains were recently unearthed. Immediately before the fly-over bridge, on the right, are the remains of a group of tombs dating to some time between the I century B.C. and the II century A.D..
Porta San Sebastianois one of the largest and best preserved of the Aurelian Walls, the fortified walls erected by emperor Aurelian at the end of the third century AD. The current setting illustrates the history and the architectonic transformations of the town walls from their origin to our days, through a didactic itinerary divided in sections (ancient, medieval and modern) supported by panels, plastic models and plaster casts. Some panels are dedicated to the previous walls of the Royal Age and to the history of the Via Appia.
From the Museum the visitor can access the patrol path on the walls and walk through towers, maneuver chambers, and galleries for a good tract. The suggestive walk allows grasping the different building and defensive solutions that followed one another in the centuries, from the slits to the battlements, to the different rises. Videotapes on ancient Rome can also be played in a special projection room.
From the Museum you have access to the rounds way all along the top of the walls as far as the fornices in Via Cristoforo Colombo and you will surely enjoy the breathtaking view from the two Towers.
Gate/Porta San Sebastiano (Ancient Appia Gate) & Museum of Walls (Museo Mura)
Via di Porta San Sebastiano (Appio), 18 (Rione XIX Celio, Municipio I, Regio I Porta Capena)
00179, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Celio (Terme di Caracalla) (Roma centro)/ Quartiere Appio Latino (Roma sud)
Gate/Porta San Sebastiano (Ancient Appia Gate) & Museum of Walls (Museo Mura) is Shown By "Map K Zone" As "92"
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 9.00 am 2.00 pm. Closed Monday, 25 December, 1 January, 1 May. Last admission 1/2 hour before closing time.
Entrance: Fees refer to the regular tickets of the museum; during cultural events and exhibitions these fees may vary. Some temporary exhibitions and/or cultural events may require an additional fee, even for visitors entitled to free admission. Always check, at the time of your visit, the fee of the museum you wish to visit on its official website.
Regular Tickets: Adults: € 4,00, Concessions: € 3,00.
Roman Citizens only (by showing a vaild ID): Adults: € 3,00, Concessions: € 2,00.
Groups: Min 12 - max 30 people € 25.00 - Free booking and guided tours for schools. Booking required on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, tel. +39 060608, daily from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm.