Guided visits to the Trajanic Harbour (including
the Claudian Harbour, Fiumicino RM, entrance gate under the motorway
bridge of the Via dell'Aeroporto di Fiumicino) are held every first saturday and last sunday of the month; meeting at 9.30 o' clock
at the Museo delle Navi. No reservation necessary. The visit is free.
The Museum of the Roman Vessels ("Museo delle
Navi Romane di Fiumicino")
The construction of the Trajanic Harbour started at the end of the first centrury A.D., in order to create a new harbour basin at the service of Rome. The construction was initiated by the roman emperor Trajan and completed in the year 112 or 113. The urban centre of Porto, with a size comparable to the nearby city of Ostia, developed closeby. The harbour structures included a hexagonal basin, a channel to the sea with quays and lighthouse, a dockyard and a channel to the "Fossa Traiana", the whole surrounded by service buildings of remarkable size.
The best known strucure is the hexagonal basin (see the image on the coin of roman age). The diagonal measure is 716 m. and the depth at least 5 meters. The hexagon allowed the mooring of more than 200 crafts. Considering also the quays of the connected spaces and the Trajanic channel, the total capacity of the harbour structures can be estimated at 350-400 shipcrafts. The Trajanic structures exploit a previous harbour, by then in the course of natural degradation and anyway undersized. The construction of this first harbour was initiated by Claudius in the year 42 A.D. and then completed by Nero in 64. Both harbour complexes were constructed by partly excavating the sandy deposits of the coastal belt.
During the next centuries, in relation to the expansion of the coastline, the harbour basins partially silted up. A fresco of 1582, preserved in the Vatican Museums, shows, in an apparently real bird's-eye view, the basin of Claudius dried up, whereas the Trajanic hexagon, the dockyard and the channels still contain a sheet of water. A map of 1880 depicts the hexagon, by then degraded and surrounded by reclamation channels. In the thirties of this century, the area underwent strong modifications, in order to create a water reserve for irrigational use.
Presently, the Trajanic Harbour complex is in restauration, with the aim to create in short time an Archaeological Park open to the general public. The remains of the Claudian Harbour are partially visible near the Fiumicino Airport. The nearby Museum of the Roman vessels preserves several roman ships wrecked in (or near) the harbour of Claudius.
Manucci V. (editor), 1996 - Il Parco Archeologico Naturalistico del Porto di Traiano; Ministero per i Beni Culturali Ambientali, Soprintendenza Archeologica di Ostia
Testaguzza O. (1970) - Portus, Illustrazione dei Porti di Claudio e Traiano e della Cittą di Porto a Fiumicino; Julia Editrice, Roma.