Roman roads (Latin: viae Romanae IPA: [ˈwjjae̯ ˈrɔːmaːnae̯]; singular: via Romana IPA: [ˈwjja rɔːˈmaːna]; meaning "Roman way") were physical infrastructure vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 300 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. They provided efficient means for the overland movement of armies, officials, civilians, inland carriage of official communications, and trade goods. Roman roads were of several kinds, ranging from small local roads to broad, long-distance highways built to connect cities, major towns and military bases. These major roads were often stone-paved and metaled, cambered for drainage, and were flanked by footpaths, bridleways and drainage ditches. They were laid along accurately surveyed courses, and some were cut through hills, or conducted over rivers and ravines on bridgework. Sections could be supported over marshy ground on rafted or piled foundations.
At the peak of Rome's development, no fewer than 29 great military highways radiated from the capital, and the late Empire's 113 provinces were interconnected by 372 great roads. The whole comprised more than 400,000 kilometres (250,000 miles) of roads, of which over 80,500 kilometres (50,000 mi) were stone-paved. In Gaul alone, no less than 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi) of roadways are said to have been improved, and in Britain at least 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi). The courses (and sometimes the surfaces) of many Roman roads survived for millennia; some are overlaid by modern roads.
Livy mentions some of the most familiar roads near Rome, and the milestones on them, at times long before the first paved road—the Appian Way. Unless these allusions are just simple anachronisms, the roads referred to were probably at the time little more than levelled earthen tracks. Thus, the Via Gabina (during the time of Porsena) is mentioned in about 500 BC; the Via Latina (during the time of Coriolanus) in about 490 BC; the Via Nomentana (also known as "Via Ficulensis"), in 449 BC; the Via Labicana in 421 BC; and the Via Salaria in 361 BC.
"With the exception of some outlying portions, such as Britain north of the Wall, Dacia, and certain provinces east of the Euphrates, the whole Empire was penetrated by these itinera (plural of iter). There is hardly a district to which we might expect a Roman official to be sent, on service either civil or military, where we do not find roads. They reach the Wall in Britain; run along the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates; and cover, as with a network, the interior provinces of the Empire."
A road map of the empire reveals that it was generally laced with a dense network of prepared viae. Beyond its borders there were no paved roads; however, it can be supposed that footpaths and dirt roads allowed some transport. There were, for instance, some pre-Roman ancient trackways in Britain, such as the Ridgeway and the Icknield Way.
The Laws of the Twelve Tables, dated to about 450 BC, required that any public road (Latin via) be 8 Roman feet (perhaps about 2.37 m) wide where straight and twice that width where curved. These were probably the minimum widths for a via; in the later Republic, widths of around 12 Roman feet were common for public roads in rural regions, permitting the passing of two carts of standard (4 foot) width without interference to pedestrian traffic. Actual practices varied from this standard. The Tables command Romans to build public roads and give wayfarers the right to pass over private land where the road is in disrepair. Building roads that would not need frequent repair therefore became an ideological objective, as well as building them as straight as practicable to construct the shortest possible roads, and thus save on material.
Roman law defined the right to use a road as a servitus, or liability. The ius eundi ("right of going") established a claim to use an iter, or footpath, across private land; the ius agendi ("right of driving"), an actus, or carriage track. A via combined both types of servitutes, provided it was of the proper width, which was determined by an arbiter. The default width was the latitudo legitima of 8 feet.
Roman law and tradition forbade the use of vehicles in urban areas, except in certain cases. Married women and government officials on business could ride. The Lex Iulia Municipalis restricted commercial carts to night-time access in the city within the walls and within a mile outside the walls.
Roman roads varied from simple corduroy roads to paved roads using deep roadbeds of tamped rubble as an underlying layer to ensure that they kept dry, as the water would flow out from between the stones and fragments of rubble, instead of becoming mud in clay soils. According to Ulpian, there were three types of roads:
The first type of road included public high or main roads, constructed and maintained at the public expense, and with their soil vested in the state. Such roads led either to the sea, or to a town, or to a public river (one with a constant flow), or to another public road. Siculus Flaccus, who lived under Trajan (98-117), calls them viae publicae regalesque, and describes their characteristics as follows:
Roman roads were named after the censor who had ordered their construction or reconstruction. The same person often served afterwards as consul, but the road name is dated to his term as censor. If the road was older than the office of censor or was of unknown origin, it took the name of its destination or of the region through which it mainly passed. A road was renamed if the censor ordered major work on it, such as paving, repaving, or rerouting. With the term viae regales compare the roads of the Persian kings (who probably organized the first system of public roads) and the King's highway. With the term viae militariae compare the Icknield Way (e.g., Icen-hilde-weg, or "War-way of the Iceni").
However, there were many other people, besides special officials, who from time to time, and for a variety of reasons, sought to connect their names with a great public service like that of the roads. Gaius Gracchus, when Tribune of the People (123-122 BC), paved or gravelled many of the public roads, and provided them with milestones and mounting-blocks for riders. Again, Gaius Scribonius Curio, when Tribune (50 BC), sought popularity by introducing a Lex Viaria, under which he was to be chief inspector or commissioner for five years. Dio Cassius mentions as one of the forcible acts of the triumvirs of 43 BC (Octavianus, Antony, and Lepidus), that they obliged the senators to repair the public roads at their own expense.
The second category included private or country roads, originally constructed by private individuals, in whom their soil was vested, and who had the power to dedicate them to the public use. Such roads benefited from a right of way, in favor either of the public or of the owner of a particular estate. Under the heading of viae privatae were also included roads leading from the public or high roads to particular estates or settlements. These Ulpian considers to be public roads in themselves.
Features off the via were connected to the via by viae rusticae, or secondary roads. Both main or secondary roads might either be paved, or left unpaved, with a gravel surface, as they were in North Africa. These prepared but unpaved roads were viae glareae or sternendae ("to be strewn"). Beyond the secondary roads were the viae terrenae, "dirt roads".
The third category comprised roads at or in villages, districts, or crossroads, leading through or towards a vicus or village. Such roads ran either into a high road, or into other viae vicinales, without any direct communication with a high road. They were considered public or private, according to the fact of their original construction out of public or private funds or materials. Such a road, though privately constructed, became a public road when the memory of its private constructors had perished.
Siculus Flaccus describes viae vicinales as roads "de publicis quae divertunt in agros et saepe ad alteras publicas perveniunt" (which turn off the public roads into fields, and often reach to other public roads). The repairing authorities, in this case, were the magistri pagorum or magistrates of the cantons. They could require the neighboring landowners either to furnish laborers for the general repair of the viae vicinales, or to keep in repair, at their own expense, a certain length of road passing through their respective properties.
With the conquest of Italy, prepared viae were extended from Rome and its vicinity to outlying municipalities, sometimes overlying earlier roads. Building viae was a military responsibility and thus came under the jurisdiction of a consul. The process had a military name, viam munire, as though the via were a fortification. Municipalities, however, were responsible for their own roads, which the Romans called viae vicinales. The beauty and grandeur of the roads might tempt us to believe that any Roman citizen could use them for free, but this was not the case. Tolls abounded, especially at bridges. Often they were collected at the city gate. Freight costs were made heavier still by import and export taxes. These were only the charges for using the roads. Costs of services on the journey went up from there.
Financing road building was a Roman government responsibility. Maintenance, however, was generally left to the province. The officials tasked with fund-raising were the curatores viarum. They had a number of methods available to them. Private citizens with an interest in the road could be asked to contribute to its repair. High officials might distribute largesse to be used for roads. Censors, who were in charge of public morals and public works, were expected to fund repairs suâ pecuniâ (with their own money). Beyond those means, taxes were required.
A via connected two cities. Viae were generally centrally placed in the countryside. The construction and care of the public roads, whether in Rome, in Italy, or in the provinces, was, at all periods of Roman history, considered to be a function of the greatest weight and importance. This is clearly shown by the fact that the censors, in some respects the most venerable of Roman magistrates, had the earliest paramount authority to construct and repair all roads and streets. Indeed, all the various functionaries, not excluding the emperors themselves, who succeeded the censors in this portion of their duties, may be said to have exercised a devolved censorial jurisdiction.
The devolution to the censorial jurisdictions soon became a practical necessity, resulting from the growth of the Roman dominions and the diverse labors which detained the censors in the capital city. Certain ad hoc official bodies successively acted as constructing and repairing authorities. In Italy, the censorial responsibility passed to the commanders of the Roman armies, and later to special commissioners – and in some cases perhaps to the local magistrates. In the provinces, the consul or praetor and his legates received authority to deal directly with the contractor.
The care of the streets and roads within the Roman territory was committed in the earliest times to the censors. They eventually made contracts for paving the street inside Rome, including the Clivus Capitolinus, with lava, and for laying down the roads outside the city with gravel. Sidewalks were also provided. The aediles, probably by virtue of their responsibility for the freedom of traffic and policing the streets, co-operated with the censors and the bodies that succeeded them.
It would seem that in the reign of Claudius (AD 41-54) the quaestors had become responsible for the paving of the streets of Rome, or at least shared that responsibility with the quattuorviri viarum. It has been suggested that the quaestors were obliged to buy their right to an official career by personal outlay on the streets. There was certainly no lack of precedents for this enforced liberality, and the change made by Claudius may have been a mere change in the nature of the expenditure imposed on the quaestors.
The official bodies which first succeeded the censors in the care of the streets and roads were two in number. They were:
Both these bodies were probably of ancient origin, but the true year of their institution is unknown. Little reliance can be placed on Pomponius, who states that the quattuorviri were instituted eodem tempore (at the same time) as the praetor peregrinus (i.e. about 242 BC) and the Decemviri litibus iudicandis (time unknown). The first mention of either body occurs in the Lex Julia Municipalis of 45 BC. The quattuorviri were afterwards called Quattuorviri viarum curandarum. The extent of jurisdiction of the Duoviri is derived from their full title as Duoviri viis extra propiusve urbem Romam passus mille purgandis. Their authority extended over all roads between their respective gates of issue in the city wall and the first milestone beyond.
In case of an emergency in the condition of a particular road, men of influence and liberality were appointed, or voluntarily acted, as curatores or temporary commissioners to superintend the work of repair. The dignity attached to such a curatorship is attested by a passage of Cicero. Among those who performed this duty in connection with particular roads was Julius Caesar, who became curator (67 BC) of the Via Appia, and spent his own money liberally upon it. Certain persons appear also to have acted alone and taken responsibility for certain roads.
In the country districts, as has been stated, the magistri pagorum had authority to maintain the viae vicinales. In Rome itself each householder was legally responsible for the repairs to that portion of the street which passed his own house. It was the duty of the aediles to enforce this responsibility. The portion of any street which passed a temple or public building was repaired by the aediles at the public expense. When a street passed between a public building or temple and a private house, the public treasury and the private owner shared the expense equally. No doubt, if only to secure uniformity, the personal liability of householders to execute repairs of the streets was commuted for a paving rate payable to the public authorities who were responsible from time to time.
The governing structure was changed by Augustus. In the course of his reconstitution of the urban administration he created new offices in connection with the public works, streets, and aqueducts of Rome. He found the quattuorviri and duoviri forming part of the body of magistrates known as vigintisexviri. These he reduced from 26 to 20 members (vigintiviri), but retained the quattuorviri among them. The latter were certainly still in existence under Hadrian (117–138). Augustus abolished the duoviri, no doubt because the time had come to deal comprehensively with the superintendence of the roads which connected Rome with Italy and the provinces. Dio Cassius relates that Augustus personally accepted the post of superintendent. In this capacity he represented the paramount authority which belonged originally to the censors. Moreover, he appointed men of praetorian rank to be road-makers, assigning to each of them two lictors. He also made the office of curator of each of the great public roads a perpetual magistracy, instead of a special and temporary commission, as had been the case hitherto.
In Augustus' capacity as supreme head of the public road system, he converted the temporary cura of each of the great roads into a permanent magistracy. The persons appointed under the new system were of senatorial or equestrian rank, according to the relative importance of the roads respectively assigned to them. It was the duty of each curator to issue contracts for the maintenance and repairs of his road, and to see that the contractor who undertook the work performed it faithfully, as to both quantity and quality. Moreover, he authorized the construction of sewers and removed obstructions to traffic, as the aediles did in Rome. It was in the character of an imperial curator, though probably of one armed with extraordinary powers, that Corbulo (as has been already mentioned) denounced the magistratus and mancipes of the Italian roads to Tiberius. He pursued them and their families with fines and imprisonment for 18 years (AD 21–39), and was rewarded with a consulship by Caligula, who was himself in the habit of condemning well-born citizens to work on the roads. It is noticeable that Claudius brought Corbulo to justice, and repaid the money which had been extorted from his victims.
Special curatores for a term seem to have been appointed on occasion, even after the institution of the permanent magistrates bearing that title. The Emperors who succeeded Augustus exercised a vigilant control over the condition of the public highways. Their names occur frequently in the inscriptions to restorers of roads and bridges. Thus, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Trajan, and Septimius Severus were commemorated in this capacity at Emérita. The Itinerary of Antoninus, which was probably a work of much earlier date, republished in an improved and enlarged form, under one of the Antonine emperors, remains as standing evidence of the minute care which was bestowed on the service of the public roads.
Ancient Rome boasted impressive technological feats, using many advances that would be lost in the Middle Ages. These accomplishments would not be rivaled until the Modern Age. Many practical Roman innovations were adopted from earlier designs. Some of the common, earlier designs incorporated arches.
Roman road builders aimed at a regulation width (see Laws and traditions above), but actual widths have been measured at between 3.6 feet (1.1 metres) and more than 23 feet (7.0 metres). Today, the concrete has worn from the spaces around the stones, giving the impression of a very bumpy road, but the original practice was to produce a surface that was no doubt much closer to being flat. Many roads were built to resist rain, freezing and flooding. They were constructed to need as little repair as possible.
Roman construction took a directional straightness. Many long sections are ruler-straight, but it should not be thought that all of them were. Some links in the network were as long as 55 miles (89 km). Gradients of 10%–12% are known in ordinary terrain, 15%–20% in mountainous country. The Roman emphasis on constructing straight roads often resulted in steep slopes relatively impractical for most commercial traffic; over the years the Romans themselves realized this and built longer, but more manageable, alternatives to existing roads. Roman roads generally went straight up and down hills, rather than in a serpentine pattern.
As to the standard Imperial terminology that was used, the words were localized for different elements used in construction and varied from region to region. Also, in the course of time, the terms via munita and vía publica became identical.
Viae were distinguished not only according to their public or private character, but according to the materials employed and the methods followed in their construction. Ulpian divided them up in the following fashion:
The Romans, though certainly inheriting some of the art of road construction from the Etruscans, borrowed the knowledge of construction of viae munitae from the Carthaginians according to Isidore of Sevilla.
The Viae terrenae were plain roads of leveled earth. These were mere tracks worn down by the feet of humans and animals, and possibly by wheeled carriages.
The Viae glareatae were earthed roads with a graveled surface or a gravel subsurface and paving on top. Livy speaks of the censors of his time as being the first to contract for paving the streets of Rome with flint stones, for laying gravel on the roads outside the city, and for forming raised footpaths at the sides. In these roads, the surface was hardened with gravel, and although pavements were introduced shortly afterwards, the blocks were allowed to rest merely on a bed of small stones. An example of this type is found on the Praenestine Way. Another example is found near the Via Latina.
The best sources of information as regards the construction of a regulation via munita are:
After the civil engineer looked over the site of the proposed road and determined roughly where it should go, the agrimensores went to work surveying the road bed. They used two main devices, the rod and a device called a groma, which helped them obtain right angles. The gromatici, the Roman equivalent of rod men, placed rods and put down a line called the rigor. As they did not possess anything like a transit, a civil engineering surveyor tried to achieve straightness by looking along the rods and commanding the gromatici to move them as required. Using the gromae they then laid out a grid on the plan of the road.
The libratores then began their work using ploughs and, sometimes with the help of legionaries, with spades excavated the road bed down to bed rock or at least to the firmest ground they could find. The excavation was called the fossa, the Latin word for ditch. The depth varied according to terrain.
The method varied according to geographic locality, materials available and terrain, but the plan, or ideal at which the engineer aimed was always the same. The roadbed was layered. The road was constructed by filling the ditch. This was done by layering rock over other stones.
Into the ditch was dumped large amounts of rubble, gravel and stone, whatever fill was available. Sometimes a layer of sand was put down, if it could be found. When it came to within 1 yd (1 m) or so of the surface it was covered with gravel and tamped down, a process called pavire, or pavimentare. The flat surface was then the pavimentum. It could be used as the road, or additional layers could be constructed. A statumen or "foundation" of flat stones set in cement might support the additional layers.
The final steps utilized lime-based concrete, which the Romans had discovered. They seem to have mixed the mortar and the stones in the ditch. First a small layer of coarse concrete, the rudus, then a little layer of fine concrete, the nucleus, went onto the pavement or statumen. Into or onto the nucleus went a course of polygonal or square paving stones, called the summa crusta. The crusta was crowned for drainage.
An example is found in an early basalt road by the Temple of Saturn on the Clivus Capitolinus. It had travertine paving, polygonal basalt blocks, concrete bedding (substituted for the gravel), and a rain-water gutter.
Romans preferred to engineer solutions to obstacles rather than circumvent them. Outcroppings of stone, ravines, or hilly or mountainous terrain called for cuttings and tunnels. An example of this is found on the Roman road from Cazanes near the Iron Gates. This road was half carved into the rock, about 5 ft to 5 ft 9 in (1.5 to 1.75 m), the rest of the road, above the Danube, was made from wooden structure, projecting out of the cliff. The road functioned as a towpath, making the Danube navigable. Tabula Traiana memorial plaque in Serbia is all that remains of the now-submerged road.
Roman bridges, built by ancient Romans, were the first large and lasting bridges built. River crossings were achieved by bridges, or pontes. Single slabs went over rills. A bridge could be of wood, stone, or both. Wooden bridges were constructed on pilings sunk into the river, or on stone piers. Larger or more permanent bridges required arches. These larger bridges were built with stone and had the arch as its basic structure (see arch bridge). Most also used concrete, which the Romans were the first to use for bridges. Roman bridges were so well constructed that a number remain in use today.
Causeways were built over marshy ground. The road was first marked out with pilings. Between them were sunk large quantities of stone so as to raise the causeway to more than 5 feet (1.5 metres) above the marsh. In the provinces, the Romans often did not bother with a stone causeway, but used log roads (pontes longi).
The public road system of the Romans was thoroughly military in its aims and spirit. It was designed to unite and consolidate the conquests of the Roman people, whether within or without the limits of Italy proper. A legion on the march brought its own baggage train (impedimenta) and constructed its own camp (castra) every evening at the side of the road.
Milestones divided the via Appia even before 250 BC into numbered miles, and most viae after 124 BC. The modern word "mile" derives from the Latin milia passuum, "one thousand paces", which amounted to 4,841 feet (1,476 metres). A milestone, or miliarium, was a circular column on a solid rectangular base, set for more than 2 feet (0.61 metres) into the ground, standing 5 feet (1.5 metres) tall, 20 inches (51 centimetres) in diameter, and weighing more than 2 tons. At the base was inscribed the number of the mile relative to the road it was on. In a panel at eye-height was the distance to the Roman Forum and various other information about the officials who made or repaired the road and when. These miliaria are valuable historical documents now. Their inscriptions are collected in the volume XVII of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.
The Romans had a preference for standardization wherever possible, so Augustus, after becoming permanent commissioner of roads in 20 BC, set up the miliarium aureum ("golden milestone") near the Temple of Saturn. All roads were considered to begin from this gilded bronze monument. On it were listed all the major cities in the empire and distances to them. Constantine called it the umbilicus Romae ("navel of Rome"), and built a similar—although more complex—monument in Constantinople, the Milion.
Milestones permitted distances and locations to be known and recorded exactly. It was not long before historians began to refer to the milestone at which an event occurred.
Combined topographical and road-maps may have existed as specialty items in some Roman libraries, but they were expensive, hard to copy and not in general use. Travelers wishing to plan a journey could consult an itinerarium, which in its most basic form was a simple list of cities and towns along a given road, and the distances between them. It was only a short step from lists to a master list, or a schematic route-planner in which roads and their branches were represented more or less in parallel, as in the Tabula Peutingeriana. From this master list, parts could be copied and sold on the streets. The most thorough used different symbols for cities, way stations, water courses, and so on. The Roman government from time to time would produce a master road-itinerary. The first known were commissioned in 44 BC by Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Three Greek geographers, Zenodoxus, Theodotus and Polyclitus, were hired to survey the system and compile a master itinerary; the task required over 25 years and the resulting stone-engraved master itinerary was set up near the Pantheon. Travelers and itinerary sellers could make copies from it.
Outside the cities, Romans were avid riders and rode on or drove quite a number of vehicle types, some of which are mentioned here. Carts driven by oxen were used. Horse-drawn carts could travel up to 40 to 50 kilometres (25 to 31 mi) per day, pedestrians 20 to 25 kilometres (12 to 16 mi). For purposes of description, Roman vehicles can be divided into the car, the coach, and the cart. Cars were used to transport one or two individuals, coaches were used to transport parties, and carts to transport cargo.
Of the cars, the most popular was the carrus, a standard chariot form descending to the Romans from a greater antiquity. The top was open, the front closed. One survives in the Vatican. It carried a driver and a passenger. A carrus with two horses was a biga; three horses, a triga; and four horses a quadriga. The tyres were of iron. When not in use, its wheels were removed for easier storage.
A more luxurious version, the carpentum, transported women and officials. It had an arched overhead covering of cloth and was drawn by mules. A lighter version, the cisium, equivalent to a gig, was open above and in front and had a seat. Drawn by one or two mules or horses, it was used for cab work, the cab drivers being called cisiani. The builder was a cisarius.
Of the coaches, the mainstay was the raeda or reda, which had four wheels. The high sides formed a sort of box in which seats were placed, with a notch on each side for entry. It carried several people with baggage up to the legal limit of 1000 Roman librae (pounds), modern equivalent 328 kilograms (723 pounds). It was drawn by teams of oxen, horses or mules. A cloth top could be put on for weather, in which case it resembled a covered wagon.
The raeda was probably the main vehicle for travel on the roads. Raedae meritoriae were hired coaches. The fiscalis raeda was a government coach. The driver and the builder were both referred to as a raedarius.
Of the carts, the main one was the plaustrum or plostrum. This was simply a platform of boards attached to wheels and a cross-tree. The wheels, or tympana, were solid and were several centimetres (inches) thick. The sides could be built up with boards or rails. A large wicker basket was sometimes placed on it. A two-wheel version existed along with the normal four-wheel type called the plaustrum maius.
The military used a standard wagon. Their transportation service was the cursus clabularis, after the standard wagon, called a carrus clabularius, clabularis, clavularis, or clabulare. It transported the impedimenta (baggage) of a military column.
Non-military officials and people on official business had no legion at their service and the government maintained way stations, or mansiones ("staying places"), for their use. Passports were required for identification. Mansiones were located about 25 to 30 kilometres (16 to 19 mi) apart. There the official traveller found a complete villa dedicated to his use. Often a permanent military camp or a town grew up around the mansio. For non-official travelers in need of refreshment, a private system of "inns" or cauponae were placed near the mansiones. They performed the same functions but were somewhat disreputable, as they were frequented by thieves and prostitutes. Graffiti decorate the walls of the few whose ruins have been found.
Genteel travelers needed something better than cauponae. In the early days of the viae, when little unofficial provision existed, houses placed near the road were required by law to offer hospitality on demand. Frequented houses no doubt became the first tabernae, which were hostels, rather than the "taverns" we know today. As Rome grew, so did its tabernae, becoming more luxurious and acquiring good or bad reputations as the case may be. One of the best hotels was the Tabernae Caediciae at Sinuessa on the Via Appia. It had a large storage room containing barrels of wine, cheese and ham. Many cities of today grew up around a taberna complex, such as Rheinzabern in the Rhineland, and Saverne in Alsace.
A third system of way stations serviced vehicles and animals: the mutationes ("changing stations"). They were located every 20 to 30 kilometres (12 to 19 mi). In these complexes, the driver could purchase the services of wheelwrights, cartwrights, and equarii medici, or veterinarians. Using these stations in chariot relays, the emperor Tiberius hastened 296 kilometres (184 mi) in 24 hours to join his brother, Drusus Germanicus, who was dying of gangrene as a result of a fall from a horse.
Two postal services were available under the empire, one public and one private. The Cursus publicus, founded by Augustus, carried the mail of officials by relay throughout the Roman road system. The vehicle for carrying mail was a cisium with a box, but for special delivery, a horse and rider was faster. On average, a relay of horses could carry a letter 80 kilometres (50 mi) in a day. The postman wore a characteristic leather hat, the petanus. The postal service was a somewhat dangerous occupation, as postmen were a target for bandits and enemies of Rome. Private mail of the well-to-do was carried by tabellarii, an organization of slaves available for a price.
There are many examples of roads that still follow the route of Roman roads.
In France, a Roman road is called voie romaine in vernacular language.
These roads connected modern Italy and Germany
Ancient road ( Turkish: Antik yol) at (36°55′04″N 34°53′33″E extending to 36°55′02″N 34°53′35″E) is the unearthed section of an ancient road in the historical city of Tarsus, Turkey.
Tarsus, an ancient city known as the birthplace of Paul the Apostle, is now a major district center in Mersin Province, Turkey. The road was accidentally unearthed in a construction pit in 1993. The construction was abandoned and the road is now surrounded by mesh wire panel for protection.
The road was undoubtedly constructed during the Roman Empire period and probably in the first century AD. The width of the road is 6.5 metres (21 ft) The construction material is basalt stone and underneath the road a sewage system had been laid down which makes the road unique among the other Anatolian roads of the era. On the west and east of the road there are stylobates.There is a Roman road at the north of Tarsus. But it is not known if the two roads were connected during the ancient ages.Appian Way
The Appian Way (Latin and Italian: Via Appia) is one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, in southeast Italy. Its importance is indicated by its common name, recorded by Statius:
Appia longarum... regina viarum
"the Appian Way the queen of the long roads"
The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BC during the Samnite Wars.Decumanus Maximus
In Roman city planning, a decumanus was an east-west-oriented road in a Roman city, castrum (military camp), or colonia. The main decumanus was the Decumanus Maximus, which normally connected the Porta Praetoria (in a military camp, closest to the enemy) to the Porta Decumana (away from the enemy).This name comes from the fact that the via decumana or decimana (the tenth) separated the Tenth Cohort from the Ninth in the legionary encampment, in the same way as the via quintana separated the Fifth Cohort from the Sixth.
In the middle, or groma, the Decumanus Maximus crosses the perpendicular Cardo Maximus, the primary north-south road that was the usual main street. The Forum is normally located close to this intersection of the Decumanus Maximus and the Cardo Maximus.Ermine Street
Ermine Street is the name of a major Roman road in England that ran from London (Londinium) to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) and York (Eboracum). The Old English name was "Earninga Straete" (1012), named after a tribe called the Earningas, who inhabited a district later known as Armingford Hundred, around Arrington, Cambridgeshire and Royston, Hertfordshire. "Armingford", and "Arrington" share the same Old English origin. The original Celtic and Roman names for the route remain unknown. It is also known as the Old North Road from London to where it joins the A1 Great North Road near Godmanchester.Fosse Way
The Fosse Way was a Roman road in England that linked Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) in South West England to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) in Lincolnshire, via Ilchester (Lindinis), Bath (Aquae Sulis), Cirencester (Corinium) and Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvorum).
It joined Akeman Street and Ermin Way at Cirencester, crossed Watling Street at Venonis (High Cross) south of Leicester, and joined Ermine Street at Lincoln.
The word Fosse is derived from the Latin fossa, meaning ditch. For the first few decades after the Roman invasion of Britain in CE 43, the Fosse Way marked the western frontier of Roman rule in Iron Age Britain. It is possible that the road began as a defensive ditch that was later filled in and converted into a road, or possibly a defensive ditch ran alongside the road for at least some of its length.It is remarkable for its extremely direct route: from Lincoln to Ilchester in Somerset, a distance of 182 miles (293 km), it is never more than 6 miles (10 km) from a straight line.High Street (Lake District)
High Street is a fell in the English Lake District. At 828 metres (2,718 ft), its summit is the highest point in the far eastern part of the national park. The fell is named after the Roman road which ran over the summit.Kaidō
Kaidō (街道, road) were roads in Japan dating from the Edo period. They act important roles in transportation like the Appian way of ancient Roman roads. Major examples include the Edo Five Routes, all of which started at Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Minor examples include sub-routes such as the Hokuriku Kaidō and the Nagasaki Kaidō.
Kaidō, however, do not include San'yōdō, San'indō, Nankaidō and Saikaidō, which were part of the even more ancient system of Yamato government called Gokishichidō. These names were used for administrative units, and the roads within these units.
Many highways and railway lines in modern Japan follow the ancient routes and carry the same names. The early roads radiated from the capital at Nara or Kyoto. Later, Edo was the reference, and even today Japan reckons directions and measures distances along its highways from Nihonbashi in Chūō, Tokyo.Military Way (Hadrian's Wall)
The Military Way is the modern name given to a Roman road constructed immediately to the south of Hadrian's Wall.Roman road in Cilicia
The Roman road in Cilicia (Turkish: Roma yolu) is a part of a Roman road in Mersin Province, Turkey.Roman roads in Britannia
Roman roads in Britannia were initially designed for military use, created by the Roman Army during the nearly four centuries (43 – 410 AD) that Britannia was a province of the Roman Empire. It is estimated that about 2,000 mi (3,200 km) of paved trunk roads (i.e. surfaced roads running between two towns or cities) were constructed and maintained throughout the province. Most of the known network was completed by AD 180. The primary function of the network was to allow rapid movement of troops and military supplies, but it subsequently provided vital infrastructure for commerce, trade and the transportation of goods.
A considerable number of Roman roads remained in daily use as core trunk roads for centuries after the end of Roman rule in Britain in AD 410. Some routes are now part of the UK's national road network. Others have been lost or are of archeological and historical interest only.
After the Romans departed, systematic construction of paved highways in the United Kingdom did not resume until the early 18th century. The Roman road network remained the only nationally-managed highway system within Britain until the establishment of the Ministry of Transport in the early 20th century.The Long Lane (Derbyshire)
The Long Lane is the medieval and modern name of the Roman road that ran almost due westwards from Derventio, the Roman fort and vicus in the suburbs of modern Derby, through Derbyshire to Rocester (where there was a Roman settlement) and Draycott in the Moors. From that point onwards the same road -- no longer called "The Long Lane" -- continued through Staffordshire to Chesterton near Newcastle-under-Lyme. Its destination was Middlewich (Latin Salinae), from which the important city of Chester (Latin Deva) was in easy reach.The Street (Derbyshire)
The Street is the medieval name of the Roman road that ran through the Peak District of Derbyshire from the spa town of Buxton (Latin Aquae Arnemetiae) southeast towards modern Derby. The line of the road can be traced from surviving features, confirmed by archaeology, from Buxton as far as just north of Brassington. It is believed that from Brassington the road ran eastwards to Wirksworth and there joined another road which crossed the Derwent at Milford and ran on the east bank of the Derwent and can be traced to the northern suburbs of Derby to Little Chester, the site of the Roman settlement of Derventio.
The Romans built farmsteads near the Street, to feed the soldiers and growing population in the area. Remains of a farm have been found near Minninglow.Via Aurelia
The Via Aurelia (Latin for "Aurelian Way") is Roman road in Italy constructed in approximately 241 BC. The project was undertaken by Gaius Aurelius Cotta, who at that time was censor. Cotta had a history of building roads for Rome, as he had overseen the construction of a military road in Sicily (as consul in 252 BC, during the First Punic War) connecting Agrigentum (modern Agrigento) and Panormus (modern Palermo).Via Cassia
The Via Cassia was an important Roman road striking out of the Via Flaminia near the Milvian Bridge in the immediate vicinity of Rome and, passing not far from Veii, traversed Etruria. The Via Cassia passed through Baccanae, Sutrium, Volsinii, Clusium, Arretium, Florentia, Pistoria, and Luca, joining the Via Aurelia at Luna.The Via Cassia intersected other important roads. At mile 11 the Via Clodia diverged north-north-west. At Sette Vene, another road, probably the Via Annia, branched off to Falerii. In Sutrium, the Via Ciminia split off and later rejoined.The date of its construction is uncertain: it cannot have been earlier than 187 BC, when the consul Gaius Flaminius constructed a road from Bononia to Arretium, which must have coincided with a portion of the later Via Cassia. It is not mentioned by any ancient authorities before the time of Cicero, who in 45 BC speaks of the existence of three roads from Rome to Mutina: the Flaminia, the Aurelia and the Cassia. A milestone of AD 124 mentions repairs to the road made by Hadrian from the boundary of the territory of Clusium to Florentia, a distance of 86 miles (138 km).Via Claudia Augusta
The Via Claudia Augusta is an ancient Roman road, which linked the valley of the Po River with Rhaetia (modern Southern Germany) across the Alps.
The route still exists, and since the 1990s increased interest in long-distance hiking and cycling have made the German and Austrian stretches of the Via Claudia Augusta popular among tourists, with the result that modern signage (illustration) identifies the revitalised track. Since 2007, the Giontech Archeological Site, in Mezzocorona/Kronmetz (Italy) serves as the Via Claudia Augusta International Research Center with the support of the Foundation Piana Rotaliana and the Government of the City of Mezzocorona/Kronmetz.Via Egnatia
The Via Egnatia (Greek: Ἐγνατία Ὁδός Egnatía Hodós) was a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. It crossed Illyricum, Macedonia, and Thrace, running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey as a continuation of Via Appia.
Starting at Dyrrachium (now Durrës) on the Adriatic Sea, the road followed a difficult route along the river Genusus (Shkumbin), over the Candaviae (Jablanica) mountains and thence to the highlands around Lake Ohrid. It then turned south, following several high mountain passes to reach the northern coastline of the Aegean Sea at Thessalonica. From there it ran through Thrace to the city of Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul). It covered a total distance of about 1,120 km (696 miles/746 Roman miles). Like other major Roman roads, it was about six metres (19.6 ft) wide, paved with large polygonal stone slabs or covered with a hard layer of sand.Via Sacra
The Via Sacra (Latin: Sacra Via, "Sacred Street") was the main street of ancient Rome, leading from the top of the Capitoline Hill, through some of the most important religious sites of the Forum (where it is the widest street), to the Colosseum.
The road was part of the traditional route of the Roman Triumph that began on the outskirts of the city and proceeded through the Roman Forum.
In the 5th century BC, the road was supported by a super-structure to protect it from the rain. Later it was paved and during the reign of Nero it was lined with colonnades.
The road provided the setting for many deeds and misdeeds of Rome's history, the solemn religious festivals, the magnificent triumphs of victorious generals, and the daily throng assembling in the Basilicas to chat, throw dice, engage in business, or secure justice. Many prostitutes lined the street as well, looking for potential customers. From the reign of Augustus, the Via Sacra played a role in the Apotheosis ceremony by which deceased Roman Emperors were formally deified. The body of the Emperor, concealed under a wax death mask, was carried on a pall from the Palatine hill down the Via Sacra into the Forum, where funeral orations were held before the procession of Knights and Senators resumed its course to the Campus Martius.Vicus Tuscus
Vicus Tuscus ("Etruscan Street" or "Tuscan Street") was an ancient street in the city of Rome, running southwest out of the Roman Forum between the Basilica Julia and the Temple of Castor and Pollux towards the Forum Boarium and Circus Maximus via the west side of the Palatine Hill and Velabrum.Watling Street
Watling Street is a route in England that began as an ancient trackway first used by the Britons, mainly between the areas of modern Canterbury and St Albans using a natural ford near Westminster. The Romans later paved the route, which then connected the Kentish ports of Dubris (Dover), Rutupiae (Richborough), Lemanis (Lympne), and Regulbium (Reculver) to their bridge over the Thames at Londinium (London). The route continued northwest past Verulamium (St Albans) on its way to Viroconium (Wroxeter). The Romans considered the continuation on to Blatobulgium (Birrens) beyond Hadrian's Wall to be part of the same route, leading some scholars to call this Watling Street as well, although others restrict it to the southern leg.
Watling Street was the site of Boudica's defeat by the Romans and was later the southwestern border of the Danelaw. In the early 19th century, the course between London and the Channel was paved and became known as the Great Dover Road: today, the route from Dover to London forms part of the A2 road. The route from London to Wroxeter forms much of the A5 road. At various points along the historic route, the name Watling Street remains in modern use.