Map of Imperial Rome | Student Handouts
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Map of Imperial Rome
Map of Imperial Rome
Map of Imperial Rome: The wall surrounding the city was begun by the Emperor Aurelian, 271 CE. Click here to enlarge this image.

The topography of the ancient city of Rome was a defining feature of the city's layout, development, and daily life. Rome was situated on the Italian Peninsula, specifically on the Tiber River, and its topography consisted of a combination of hills, riverbanks, and low-lying areas.

Seven Hills:
  • Rome was famously known as the "City of Seven Hills." These seven hills were central to the city's geography, and they played a role in shaping its urban development. The seven hills of Rome were:
  • Palatine: This hill was the most central and was where the Roman Forum was located. It later became the site of many imperial palaces, including the Palatine Hill Palace of the emperors.
  • Capitoline: This hill was home to the Capitoline Temple, dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. It became a major religious and political center.
  • Quirinal: The Quirinal Hill was the location of the Temple of Serapis and the Baths of Constantine.
  • Viminal: The Viminal Hill had various residential areas and gardens.
  • Esquiline: The Esquiline Hill contained the Baths of Trajan and the Domus Aurea, a palace built by Emperor Nero.
  • Caelian: The Caelian Hill was known for its residential areas, villas, and churches.
  • Aventine: The Aventine Hill included various temples and became a symbol of luxury and privilege.
Tiber River: The Tiber River, flowing through the city, played a crucial role in Rome's transportation and trade. It was also essential for the city's water supply. Several bridges were built to span the Tiber, facilitating movement within the city.

Low-Lying Areas: Rome's low-lying areas, such as the Campus Martius (Field of Mars), were used for various purposes, including military training, public gatherings, and recreational activities. Over time, this area also became a hub for Roman public buildings, including theaters, temples, and baths.

Hills as Defensive Features: The hills surrounding Rome provided natural defenses for the city, making it more challenging for invading forces to approach. This topographical advantage was critical to Rome's security.

Aqueducts and Water Supply: Rome's hilly terrain and the need for a water supply led to the construction of aqueducts, which transported fresh water from distant sources into the city. These aqueducts, along with the Tiber River, ensured a reliable water supply for the city's inhabitants.

Urban Development: The topography of Rome influenced the city's layout and urban development. The hills often served as focal points for temples and public buildings, while the low-lying areas accommodated residential neighborhoods and markets.

The combination of the seven hills, the Tiber River, and the low-lying areas created a distinctive and varied landscape for ancient Rome. This topography contributed to the city's unique character and had a lasting impact on its historical, architectural, and cultural development.
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