Rome – city of culture, city of art, city of history, and at one point the centre of an empire the likes of which the world had never seen. Today, Rome is quite deservedly one of the most visited ports in the entire world. In fact, cruises to Rome are so popular that 7-10 million visit Italy’s capital every single year.
Hundreds of thousands visit the ruins of Rome’s landmarks, which unfortunately spend more time being admired as remnants than as once vital, flourishing parts of an empire. With a history so fascinating, we thought it only right that some of Rome’s greatest landmarks get the time travel treatment – with an imagined look at their former glory at the very height of the Roman Empire. This is cruises to rome, 1.914 years ago.
In 100 A.D., Rome had a burgeoning population of around a million, and even that was considered a huge figure. But even with over-crowding, the city of Rome had become legendary since it had expanded its empire. The Pax Romana had fallen over the whole of its territories. Rome at this point, had no major enemies, had a huge boom in culture and the arts, and top it all off, was expanding in territory like it never had before.
Back home, in the empire’s capital, landmarks were being built that would enthrall people centuries down the line. If you were to reach Rome by the water during the height of the empire, you’d find yourself being taken to the city via the River Tiber – the indispensable Roman trade route which saw nearly all of the produce consumed by the people of Rome cross its waters at some point or another.
Glassware, beef, corn, wheat, jewels, silver, gold, perfumes and silk from every corner of the world would make their way to the docks of Rome via the Tiber. The Middle East, Africa, Northern Europe – the entire globe made Rome their trading post, so sailing to the centre of the world, you would be joined by emissaries and traders from all over the empire. And that’s before you would even reach the city proper.
If you thought the landmarks of Rome were massively popular today, consider this – to the plebeians of Rome in 100 A.D., the stadia, statues and towering buildings represented to them leisure and entertainment, not just artifacts. Standing in the midst Colloseum today, it’s hard to imagine the baying crowds cheering on everything from tributes to generals, to gladiators fighting to the death, but they did – all 80,000 of them.
These shows were known as Munera, and contrary to popular belief, they were never thrown by the Roman Senate- instead, private citizens, often the aristocrats of Rome would pay for these lavish events out of their own pockets. Normally to win votes, power, or popularity with the masses.
If you were to make your way to the Colloseum in 100 A.D., chances are you’d be witnessing such outlandish spectacles as re-enactments of great battles. The most outrageous of these was the exact re-creation of a legendary sea battle between the Corinthians and the Greeks, including full-size warships and of course, a flooded arena floor.
For many, visiting the arena was a rare thing, a monthly experience at the most. But there’s no doubt as to where the centre of everyday Roman life was. The Forum Romana was the heart of the world’s busiest capital in 100 A.D., becoming, as was needed, the centre of government, the prime point for public speaking in Rome, and a marketplace for the masses. If anything else, it’s the place where the fates of whole countries have been decided, governments formed and enemies of the state exiled.
There was even massive scale ‘triumphs’ – tributes to the deeds of generals and politicians which often involved half of the city turning out to watch processions of chariots, slaves and treasure from far- away lands being paraded as sign of strength. On a less-serious note, the Forum dominated civilian trading in such a way that more than likely the highlight of your cruise to Rome would be haggling over the price of chickens with a very enthusiastic street vendor.
Just kidding. The highlight of cruises to Rome would have no doubt been the technology. During the Pax Romana, the empire rolled out such revolutionary features as waterways, aqueducts, and would you believe it, paved roads. During 100 A.D., this was still going on, so you’d be lucky to be cruising towards Rome, rather than trying to get there through any other means. With the revolution of properly made roads came even more expansion, more conquests and more spoils. Regardless, to cruise to Rome over 1900 years ago would have demonstrated the true power of the ruins we take for granted today.