Esquiline hill (Esquilino) truly is a place for seasoned travelers, who are ready to explore the depth of the ancient Roman history and immerse into incredible vibrant atmosphere of one of the eldest parts of Rome.
The Esquiline hill is one of the seven hills upon which Rome has been built and consists of three prominent points. The northern point – Cispian (Cispius), southern – Oppian (Oppius); and the western point – Fagutal (Fagutalis)
Being considered the largest of seven Roman hills, during the ancient times Esquiline has been carrying reputation of the city dumpster and cemetery for the poorest. Soon after, in 1st century BC, the art patron and political advisor of emperor Augustus, first emperor of the Roman Empire, named Maecenas ordered to lay down his gardens on the Esquiline hill. Known as Horti Marcenatis, it became first Hellenistic-Persian garden in Rome. In 64 AD when the Great Fire have destroyed emperor Nero’s possessions on Palatine hill, he ordered to build his exorbitant palace Domus Aurea (Golden House) that upon the biggest part of Esquiline hill. Later in 104 AD, emperor Trajan built a bath complex on top of the parts of Domus Aurea, which soon served as prototype for well-known baths of Caracalla. Remains of Domus Aurea and Trajan bath complex are still visible today.
In the 19th century the area of the Esquiline hill undergone a major reconstruction. With the redevelopment of the hill, archeologists were able to excavate numerous relics that are now kept in the halls of famous Roman museums. Today the Esquiline hill is a multicultural epicenter of Rome that is famous for its historical and religious monuments.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica di S. Maria Maggiore) is one of the four papal and major basilicas in Rome. The construction of this basilica is surrounded by quite an interesting legend. In one of the summer nights of 352 AD Pope Liberius and wealthy roman patrician John both had a dream. The vision of Virgin Mary came to them and ordered them to build a church on the place where first snow will fall. It soon turned out, that on August 5th of 352 AD the snow first fell on the Esquiline hill and soon the construction of church has begun.
The basilica has since undergone multiple reconstructions under the patronage of different popes. Inside, visitors are still able to see elements of the mosaic of Santa Maria Maggiore, extant from 5th century
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The main relics of the Basilica is the Holy Crib that is situated under the high altar. The statue of Pope Pius IX kneeling before the Holy Crib symbolizes faith and reverence to the ancient shrine.
Porta Maggiore (or Porta Prenestina) one of the eastern gates in the Aurelian wall of Rome, which dates back to 3rd century. The gate itself was built in 52 AD by emperor Claudius and supported two aqueducts, Acqua Claudia and Anio Novus, the greatness of which laid in their length. For example, the length of Anio Novus was 87 km. At the very top of Porta Maggiore visitors can see a cross section of the gate where two aqueducts laying on top of one another. Today Porta Maggiore is a transit point for Roman tram lines running to and from the city center.
Bath of Trajan that was mentioned earlier, was built under the commission of emperor Trajan in 104-109 AD and used to be a massive bathing and leisure complex. The complex consisted of outdoor and indoor pools with different water temperatures, gyms and basilica in the center. Interestingly, in ancient Rome the bath complexes were used both by men and women not only for recreational, but for social purposes as well. Thus, archeologists found evidence of libraries and amphitheater having place in the Trajan bath complex. Today, visitors can see a big fragment of a wall and ruins that reached our days.
Author: Kate Zusmann
For the last 6 years I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is to share my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)
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