Ostia Antica is the old harbor city of ancient Rome. It is located about 25 kilometers from the center of Rome and a couple of kilometers away from the coast – the last bit might strike you as a bit odd for a coastal city – but the shore of the Mediterranean has shifted since the time of ancient Rome – hence explaining the inland location of the harbor city.
According to legend Ostia was the first colony found by Rome by the forth king of Rome some time during the 7th century BC about a century after the legendary founding of Rome itself. It’s a bit uncertain if the city was actually founded at this time since the oldest archeological remains date from the 4th century BC – but despite the uncertainty of the age the city is pretty old for sure.
The city grew to a fairly large size during the heyday of the Roman Empire with a population peaking around 100,000. Hence the city had all what you would expect of an old Roman city. The good times didn’t last for the city – when Rome started declining the need for a big harbor city also declined – and the population dropped. By the 9th century the city suffered repeated raids by Arab pirates and the settlement was finally abandoned.
Today it is fortunate the city was abandoned and nobody was living on the old settlement – since a lot of the old town has actually survived to this and we can enjoy the old city and explore the ancient streets of the city. It is actually a nice place to visit and the ruins here is actually more impressive than many of the ruins in Rome since you get more of an impression of this actually being the remains of an ancient city. In Rome the ruins left is more scattered since the city has been inhabited continuously since Roman days so the remains has disappeared under the foundations of newer buildings.
The city can be visited as a daytrip from Rome itself or if you have rental car from Fiumicino Airport you can stop here on the way to or from the airport since it is only a very short drive to the airport from here.