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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in October 2010.


Mura dell'antico Castro Pretorio (Book 1) (Map A2) (Rione Monti)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
Castro Pretorio

The Plate (No. 5 - ii)

Mura dell'antico Castro Pretorio

This 1747 small etching by Giuseppe Vasi is a bird's-eye view of the ancient walls which surrounded Castra Praetoria, the barracks of the Praetoriani, the Roman imperial guards; at Vasi's time balloon flights were yet to come, but this kind of views were very popular and the "maps" of Rome were all drawn with this approach, with the exception in 1748 of the first "modern" map of Rome by Giovan Battista Nolli.
The theoretical observation point is indicated by a green dot in the excerpt from Nolli's map here below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1)
Porta Chiusa; 2) Via Tiburtina; 3) Porta Pia; 4) Via Nomentana; 5) Various villas; 6) Villa Patrizi. 1), 3) and 6) are shown in other pages.

Small ViewSmall View


The view today
View of the north-eastern corner of Castro Pretorio in June 2010 (on an early Sunday morning)

Today very busy roads go round the ancient walls, which have lost most of the small towers shown in the etching. The vast space inside the wall is now occupied by the Italian National Library and by modern barracks of the Italian Army.

Castro Pretorio

Mura dell'antico Castro Pretorio
(left) Eastern side of the walls; (centre) a former gate in the northern side; (right) a small chapel between the projecting walls of a former tower

The barracks were built at the time of
Emperor Tiberius on a site which was well outside the city limits, in compliance with the law which forbade armed people from entering Rome. The castra had a rectangular shape and were protected by walls with a gate on each side; in 275 Emperor Aurelian incorporated them into the new walls of Rome; the external gates were closed. The Praetorian Guard was dissolved by Emperor Constantine who probably ordered the demolition of the western wall of the barracks which was not part of the city fortifications.

Next plate in Book 1: Porta S. Lorenzo
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Porta Chiusa