Plan of Ancient Rome



  • About the work
    Country: Holy See
    City: Vatican City
    Place: British Embassy

    This decorative and highly detailed map shows ancient Rome as it appeared in about 300 AD. It is based upon Pirro Ligorio’s imaginative reconstruction of the Eternal City of 1561 published by Michele Tramezzino. Ligorio’s bird’s eye view of Rome was a Renaissance vision of Roman antiquity and was the result of his interest in antiquarianism and research of classical and literary sources, ruins and antique inscriptions. Pieter van der Aa’s version is an exact reproduction of the 16th-century map except for the title banner and the key embellishments which have been revised. Van der Aa’s map featured in his monumental compendium of ancient and modern maps of the most important cities in the world entitled ‘Galerie Agreable du Monde’, which was published in Leiden in 1729.

    Enclosed within the Aurelian walls (275 BC–271 BC) clearly marked on the map, are the Seven Hills of Rome (Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian and Aventine) densely populated with buildings and monuments. As the keys on either side of the map indicate, there are 269 points of interest. 

    Towards the centre of the map is the Amphiteatrum Flavium or the Colosseum. Nearby, to the left is the Temple of Peace built in 71 AD under Emperor Vespasian, which leads into the Via Sacra and the Forum Traiani. A complex of buildings attributed to the architect Apollodorus of Damascus, the Forum consisted of a rectangular piazza, Trajan’s column, Basilica Ulpia and the Temple of Venus- all illustrated on the map.  South of the Forum, to the left, rises the dome of Agrippa’s Pantheon. Other significant sites include the large Mausoleum of Augustus with two obelisks flanking the entryway and the Stadium of Domitian located in Campus Martius, the pyramid of Cestius and the Baths of Diocletian. The city-gates, the bridges and the fortifications are also marked on the map.

    Beyond the winding river Tiber, on the lower left is the Vatican Hill with the Circus of Nero and an obelisk. Also outside the boundaries of the ancient city, to the west, is the Janiculum Hill with villas and gardens.

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  • Details
    Plan of Ancient Rome
    Purchased 1972
    GAC number