A Tourist in Rome - Piazza Manfredo Fanti

Location:Three blocks east from Santa Maria Maggiore, or four blocks southeast from Termini
Metro:Vittorio Emanuele or Termini, located along my Southeastern Sights Walking Tour
Time:about 10 minutes
Hours:Viewable at any time

The Servian Wall (the black wall in the map below), also known as the Republican Wall, was a defensive wall constructed in the early 4th century BC, and named after the 6th king of Rome, Servius Tullius, who ruled from about 550 BC until about 510 BC. It superseded defensive walls that might have been dismantled in response to Etruscan demands, called the Archaic Wall. [The Archaic Wall was built in the 6th-5th centuries BC from grey granular tuff blocks, 272 cm (9 feet) on a side, and can be seen along Via Venti Settembre, between Porta Collina (at Via Goito) and Largo Santa Susanna.] The Servian Wall was itself superceeded by the taller, stronger and much larger Aurelian Wall, built between 271 AD and 275 AD. The Servian Wall was 32 feet tall in places, 12 feet thick at its base, and 7 miles long. It was built from large blocks of tufa. To my eyes, it looks like a rough wall made of square blocks piled on top of each other, with the joints being very well done. Here we are, 2500 years after its construction, and there are not really any gaps between the stones. It is believed to have had 16 gates, but only three still exist (Porta Esquilina = Arch of Gallienus, Arcus Caelimontani, Porta Sanqualis). The Servian Wall was maintained throughout the age of the Roman Republic and the early Empire, but by this time, Rome became well-protected by its military strength and the city was essentially not walled for the first three centuries of the Roman Empire. However, when German tribes attacked the frontier in the 3rd century, Aurelian had the larger Aurelian Wall built to protect Rome. In the end, even that was not enough.

Servian Wall (black) and Aurelian Wall (red)

In the Piazza Manfredo Fanti stands the Roman Aquarium, a large white domed building, with a few blocks of the Servian Wall in front of it (1st and 3rd photos below). Remains of brick houses are at the same site (2nd photo below) which had been built against the old wall, which can be seen at the left edge of the image. The neighborhood is not the greatest; the Aquarium looks rather dilapidated, the fountain in front is not running, and a burned car (4th image below) was on the street just outside the piazza. Was this some form of protest that I don't understand, or was it crime?

Servian Wall fragment in Piazza Manfredo Fanti
See all Servian Wall and Gates photos.
Brick houses built against the Servian Wall in Piazza Manfredo Fanti
See all Servian Wall and Gates photos.
Servian Wall fragment in Piazza Manfredo Fanti (at bottom of image)
See all Servian Wall and Gates photos.
Burned-out car next to Piazza Manfredo Fanti
See all Servian Wall and Gates photos.
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