Classical sources that tell of a foundation of Ostia by King Anco Marzio (640-616 BC), however, this stage nothing has survived. The town we knew was founded by the Romans in the fourth century full. BC, with the function of outpost for the control of the coastal strip. However from the beginning Ostia is also a river port, to which the Annona the city of Rome. From the middle of the first century. BC became a Roman colony optimo jure and then with its judiciary and civil servants, Ostia begins to know a considerable economic, political and demographic. Becomes a core of attraction of masses in search of fortune, the ideal setting for a lively class “middle-class”, dedicated to business and manufacturing (especially freedmen or freed slaves following the manumissio).
The town receives its peculiar physiognomy, from the point of view of both architectural and urbanistic both social and economic. After the construction of the walls, presumably invented by Cicero, Ostia was the subject of a rational urban planning, where key role played other action taken by the emperors. They in fact, responsible for frumentationes (free distribution of food to the populace of Rome), maintained a strong link with the port city of Ostia, whose functioning was essential stillness of the masses of Rome. The decline of Ostia began in the third century A.D. and it became unstoppable in the fifth century A.D. Probably it was implemented progressively abandoned, which ended with a final population shift to the nearby Gregoriopolis in the ninth century, at the time of Pope Gregory IV.
The guided visit to the excavations of Ostia Antica introduces in an expanse of ruins romantically surrounded by nature, but essentially remained untouched since late antiquity, from the hand of man interventions other than simple excavation and restoration. Ostia cross continuing on foot along the decumanus maximus, which is the continuation of the Via Ostiense from Porta Romana Porta Marina.
Through this long paved road and a trip into the stringers and in parallel, you get to buildings of any historical phase, intended for different functions, which characterize the public and private life in a colony of Rome. First of all private homes, including more features are the great buildings of rent arising from the end of the first century. A.D. (Condominiums structured around a courtyard, with shops on the ground floor and apartments are set on upper floors, to house the families of the mercantile middle class and urban). In addition, the stores (the horrea), concentrated in the Republican North, along the ancient bed of the river Tiber.
It then Augusteo Theatre, completed and inaugurated at the time of Septimius Severus and Caracalla, behind the so-called Square of the Guilds, a large porticoed square with a central temple probably dedicated to Ceres, patron goddess of abundance and prosperity, and a series of rooms behind the colonnade, which will receive the stationes, or representative offices of commercial and maritime corporations and trade associations, the symbols of which are reproduced in mosaic floors. Other offices of corporations, the collegia, are scattered around the city.
Every profession is in Ostia their representative building: the barracks of Vigiles (with the main stage of the Hadrian era, equipped with a large colonnaded courtyard); Terme (among the many spa buildings, worthy of mention are the thermal baths, built towards 160 AD, and characterized by the presence of several environments curvilinear, and the Baths of Neptune, who have handed down the most spectacular floor mosaics Ostia, dating back to Hadrian and Antoninus Pius); the Basilica and the Curia on the Forum; the religious buildings.
Of the latter the most important are the four small temples of the Republican era, built to the north of the Decumanus Maximus by a member of one of the greatest noble families in the local, the Lucilii Gamalae; then we mitrei, proving the huge spread of the worship of the deity Mithras eastern from the second century. d.C .; Finally the great temples that overlook the court: the Temple of Rome and Augustus, erected shortly after the death of Augustus by his successor Tiberius, and the powerful Capitol, which dominates with its height (20 meters) to the entire Ostia, rebuilt by Hadrian in 125 AD on the previous stage of Augustus, with intent obviously propagandistic precursors and the start of an age imperial completely renovated.
The necropolis of Ostia, that of Via Ostiense immediately at the entrance of the archaeological and that of Via Laurentina, provide a rich type of funerary structures perfectly preserved, which have handed down the memory and testimony of complex funerary rituals celebrated by the Romans