Tarracina/Anxur

Terracina is a picturesque town on the Tyrrhenian coast situated approximately half-way between Rome and Naples. Legend has it that Odysseus sailed here on his travels and surrendered to Circe’s enchantment. Circe is said to have lived on Mount Circeo, a promontory stretching-out into the sea best visible from Mounte San’t Angelo above the town of Terracina. Nowadays the area is called the Riviera of Ulysses.

Coordinates: 41° 17′ 0″ N, 13° 15′ 0″ E

Terracina

After occupation by the Ausoni, Terracina was taken over by the Etruscans, followed by the Volsci in the 5th century BC who called it Anxur and made it a fortress against the Romans. In 329 BC, however, the city became Roman under the name of Colonia Anxurnas. It was later renamed Tarracina. A few years later, the Via Appia joining Rome with Capua was built, climbing to Tarracina on its way South.

Tarracina experienced a long phase of intense building from the time of Sulla (c. 138 BC – 78 BC) to Trajan and Antoninus Pius. Much of the acropolis development dates to the time of Sulla, including the Forum Aemilianum. It was  named after Aulus Aemilius, a local wealthy man who ordered its construction.

Many Roman ruins were brought to light only after the World War II bombings. These include a quadrifrons arch, which served as entrance to the forum. Under it is a well-preserved stretch of the ancient Via Appia. The present Piazza del Municipio lays over the ancient forum. Its pavement is well preserved and it is still possible to see the inscription ” A. Aemilius A. F. Stravi(t)” in letters which were once filled in with bronze. At the north end of the forum, the 11th century cathedral (consecrated to San Cesareo in 1074) is built upon the site of a temple identifiable as the Temple of Rome and Augustus whose column drums were reused in the building.

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Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy
Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Tarracina.
Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy
Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Tarracina.
Forum Aemilianum, stretch of the Via Appia, Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy
Forum Aemilianum, stretch of the Via Appia, Tarracina.
Remaining side of the quadrifrons (four-sided) arch under which lay a well-preserved stretch of the ancient Via Appia, Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy
Remaining side of the quadrifrons (four-sided) arch under which lay a well-preserved stretch of the ancient Via Appia.
The Capitolium (temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva) dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy
The Capitolium (temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva) dating back to ca. 50-40 BC.
The cellas the of the Capitolium (temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva) dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy
The cellas the of the Capitolium (temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva) dating back to ca. 50-40 BC.
The podium of the Capitolium with the door leading to the favissae (the rooms where the votive offering were kept), Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy
The podium of the Capitolium with the door leading to the favissae (the rooms where the votive offering were kept).

The Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur is perhaps Terracina’s most famous historical site. It dates back to the fourth century BC, although much of the development belongs to the first century BC at the time of the Roman general Sulla. Built on Mount Saint Angelo (known as Mons Neptunius in the Roman era), about 270 metres above sea level, the complex is large and spectacularly sited, dominating the shoreline and sea. From here one can admire the extraordinary panorama, which to one side gives onto Mount Circeo, on the other, onto the Fondi Plain.

View of the Fondi plain from the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
View of the Fondi plain from the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina.

The most impressive remains are those of the underground passageway, the cryptoporticus, resting on twelve massive arches in opus incertum on the south and west sides.

The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur.
The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur.
The ruins of the podium of the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
The ruins of the podium of the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur.

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Minturnae

The Archaeological Area of Minturnae (Comprensorio Archeologico di Minturnae) is a little-known but impressive archaeological site along the Appian Way. It is located in the town of Minturno in the southern Lazio, about 160 kilometres south of Rome and 75 kilometres north of Naples.

Coordinates: 41° 14′ 31.7″ N, 13° 46′ 5.38″ E

Minturnae was originally an Auruncian city (of which no archaeological traces have been found), one of the three towns of the Aurunci which allied themselves with the Samnites and made war against Rome in 314 BC. After being defeated by Rome, the city suffered severe repression and was burned to the ground. The Romans settled in the area and built a castrum along the river Liris after realising the strategic and commercial importance of its close location to the sea. The military settlement grew into a Roman colony in 296 BC and became an important trading port of the Mediterranean as well as a fortified commercial centre along the Appian Way.

In the 1st century BC, Minturnae was a flourishing city provided with a Capitolium (temple dedicated to the triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), a forum and a theatre. During the Imperial era, a new forum was built, surrounded by public buildings such as a Basilica, thermal baths, an amphitheatre and a macellum (market).

Today, there are still significant Roman remains scattered on both sides of the Appian Way.

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The Republican forum and the Roman theatre, built in the late Republican ear or at the beginning of the Empire, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The Republican forum and the Roman theatre were built in the Late Republican era or at the beginning of the Empire.
The Roman theatre, built in the late Republican era or at the beginning of the Empire, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The Roman theatre was built in the Late Republican era or at the beginning of the Empire.
The podium of the Temple of Augustus, built at the beginning of the Imperial age right alongside the Capitolium, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The podium of the Temple of Augustus was built at the beginning of the Imperial age right alongside the Capitolium.
The podium of the Temple of Augustus, built at the beginning of the Imperial age right alongside the Capitolium, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The Republican forum and the podium of the Temple of Augustus.
The ruins of the Capitolium (temple dedicated to the triad Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), an Etrusco-Italic type temple built ca. 191 BC, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The ruins of the Capitolium (temple dedicated to the triad Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), an Etrusco-Italic type temple built ca. 191 BC.
The reconstructed monumental colonnade along the Appian Way with the macellum behind, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The reconstructed monumental colonnade along the Appian Way with the macellum behind.
The macellum (market) and the tabernae dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138), Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The macellum (market) and the tabernae dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138 AD).
The macellum (market) and the tabernae dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138), Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The macellum (market) and the tabernae dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138 AD).
Black & white mosaic in the caldarium of the thermae depicting cupids pressing grapes, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
Black & white mosaic in the caldarium of the thermae depicting cupids pressing grapes.
The tepidarium, the warm bathroom of the baths complex heated by a hypocaust (underfloor heating system), Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The tepidarium, the warm bathroom of the baths complex heated by a hypocaust (underfloor heating system).
The ruins of the Hadrianic Basilica of the Imperial forum, Minturnae, Minturno, Italy
The ruins of the Hadrianic Basilica of the Imperial forum.
Aqueduct near Minturnae, built between the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire, Minturno, Italy
Aqueduct near Minturnae, built between the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire.

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