Lost Path of the Roman Walls of Milan

There is yet another smaller and more ancient circle within the Medieval Walls, but it can hardly be described as a ring road as the route is no longer continuous. This of course marks the Roman Walls around Mediolanum - the city's name during Roman times. Some roads here and there still trace the path of these walls (SEE the Milanfinally Ring Roads of Milan Google Map), and a handful of towers and some wall ruins remain.


book cover of the biography by J. McCall, of the Roman conqueror over the northern Italian Celtic Gauls - Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus - depicted on the cover of this book by Jeremiah McCall, the only biography of this Roman hero and leader - was the Roman leader and general, elected co-Consul of the Roman Republic, famed for gaining northern Italy for Rome from the population of Celtic Gauls there, including their main settlement at Mediolanum-Milan, and killing his adversary the king of those Gauls with his very own own spear. Despite having taken Mediolanum in 222 BC, the Roman Walls around Milan were not built until some centuries later during the times of Julius Caesar in the mid 1st century AD. SEE more in the article on the Origins and Foundation of the City of Milan.

Five of the six gates in the walls of the earlier Roman Republic era (seen in the maps below) had their equivalents in the later and larger, and very round, Medieval Walls: Porta Comasina (the name of the gate in the Spanish Wall was changed to Porta Garibaldi in 1860), Porta Nuova (so named in the
"new" Roman Imperial northward expansion of the wall), Porta Romana, Porta Ticinese and Porta Vercellina (the name of the gate in the Spanish Wall was changed to Porta Magenta in 1860) - these five gates certainly have a very long lineage!

Although without direct lineage to an existing city gate, the Roman Porta Giovia was later moved north but subsequently subsumed by the Sforza Castle after the 15th century. However, the Porta Giovia name persisted in its association with the area where Porta Sempione (the Arch of Peace - Arco della Pace) now stands, even after the establishment of the Corso Sempione in 1801 and further into the 19th century; but this use of the Porta Giovia name has eventually faded.

It is also said that the pronunciation of the name of one of the later gates in the extension during the Roman Empire era, Porta Argentea, later became corrupted into Porta Renza and Porta Orientale, and the name of the equivalent gate in the Spanish Wall was eventually officially changed to Porta Venezia in 1862.

In the depictions below of Mediolanum, you will see how the Roman walls jutted out to fit in the large circus so important for Roman entertainment and social life, and that even present-day streets show the centre of Roman Mediolanum to be where their forum was - which was later developed by a bishop of Milan into the Palazzo dell'Ambrosiana, home of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana & Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, that is, the Ambrosian Library & Art Gallery - Milan's oldest museum since 1618, home of the Codex Atlanticus, the largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci's original writings & illustrations.

Click on any of the following maps to enlarge:

map of Mura Milano, the Milan wall, in Roman Milan map of Milano Romana superimposed on the present day streets of Milan


map of Mediolanum, Roman Milan map of the Roman Walls of Milan


There is no line of transport that traces any kind of circle or part of a circle closer in to the centre than Bus 94 for the Cerchia dei Navigli (which, despite its Medieval age, is a path almost 1,000 years younger than the path around the Roman Walls of Milan). The roads are too narrow and knotted within this most ancient of Milan's districts right at the centre. If you wish to trace the loop of the old Roman Walls, you will have to do it on your own. Not even buses penetrate where the Roman Circus used to be; and at the other end of the ancient Roman settlement, many of the alleys north of the Piazza del Duomo are accessible mainly just by pedestrians.

path of the old Roman Walls around Milan as shown on the interactive Google Map of the Ring Roads of Milan by Milanfinally.com
The lost path of Milan's ancient Roman Republic walls (coloured light orange) shown within the Cerchia dei Navigli ring road following the later Medieval Walls of Milan (red) - as seen on the interactive Milanfinally Ring Roads of Milan Google Map.


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