note= all images below are clickable (click to enlarge)

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1 THE WALL


The area delimited by the defensive walls was smaller than the actual Roman city, because many houses, streets, important monuments and civic services (ex., the amphitheatre and 1 roman mile long colonnade) were outside. All around the wall, there was a moat, supplied by an appropriate water-channel network. Built during the reign of Emperor Maximian (296-305 A.D.), the wall was approx. 4,5 km long, 11 meters high, and equipped with a number of 24-sided towers and almost 8 monumental gates (see below).

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2 THE CIRCUS


The circus (470 x 85 meters, III c. A.D.) was on the west side, and partly incorporated into the defensive wall.
The dimensions of this building were 155 x 125 m (major and minor axes). Also, 38.40 m high, the arena was 71 x 40.5m.

The bell tower of San Maurizio (now 16.6 m high), formerly one of the two monumental circus towers (white square on plan at left)

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3 THE IMPERIAL PALACE


Close by the circus, was the Imperial Palace complex, with many different buildings used for the Emperor's private or public life, or for his court officials and the imperial bureaucracy. Like in other cities, there was a direct access from the Imperial palace to the circus.

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4 THE THEATRE

Another typical Roman city feature, built to support the arts, probably Augustan in date and with similarities to Rome’s Theatre of Marcellus.

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5 THE FORUM

A typical feature of all Roman cities was the forum, primarily a marketplace but also the location for major temples and civic buildings, and located at the intersection of a planned Roman city’s two major streets, the Cardo and the Decumanus.

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6 THE BASILICAS



The Christian neighborhood (also called The Bishop's Area) arose to the northeast, but still inside the city walls, approximately in the same area of the modern Duomo. In the time of Saint Ambrose (374-397 A.D.), a number of basilicas were built, notably four basilicas corresponding to the four cardinal points, in a sort of magic square to preserve the city either from the devil or from physical attack.

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This bathtub, carved from costly Egyptian red porphyry, was prepared for Maximian’s use. Now it serves as the baptismal font of the Duomo di Milano.


Beneath the Duomo di Milano are the remains of a far earlier baptistery from the 4th century A.D. This may be the site where St. Ambrose baptized the future Saint Augustine.

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7 THE BATHS OF HERCULES

Roman baths were a very important part of life, not only in cities but also in villas and even in military camps. They might include exercise facilities, shops, libraries, and small parks, in addition to the actual baths. In cities, the baths were places “to see and be seen.” This is a recent archaeological discovery.

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8 COLONNADED STREET

Outside the wall, on the road leading to Rome, there was a monumental street, built with a colonnade on either side supporting covered sidewalks and, behind them, shops and housing. At the end of this street (1 roman mile long) there was a large, 4-sided, gate or triumphal arch called a tetrapylon.

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9 SAN LORENZO

These pictures show the Romans columns taken away from some other monument more antique, and repositioned here to build a courtyard in front of Basilica di San Lorenzo (end of IV or beg. of V century A.D.).
This basilica is very large (the main room is 45 m) and had an enormous cupola. This cupola later collapsed during an earthquake and was rebuilt in baroque style.

Close to Basilica di San Lorenzo (IV or V c. A.D.) there was likely a port, some water channels and a link to the river Padum (the modern Po River).

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10 THE AMPHITHEATRE


Outside the wall, on the southwest side, between two major Roman roads (one leading to Habiate –mod.Abbiategrasso- and the other to Ticinium –mod.Pavia- ) was a large amphitheatre, built in the first century A.D. Although at this time Milan was not yet the major city it would later be, when built this amphitheatre was the third largest known, after the Colosseum in Rome and the one in Capua (the Milanese one was 155 x 125 meters, with an arena of 71 x 41.5 meters).

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11 SANT'AMBROGIO



This single Roman column outside the basilica was used to proclaim the Germanic Holy Roman Emperor "King of Romans" following an curious rite: the emperor embraced this column.

Galvano Fiamma (c. 1300 A.D.) wrote:
When the King of the Romans [i.e., the Holy Roman Emperor] wants to receive the crown of the Italian Kingdom in the Ambrosian basilica, the Emperor must go before the marble column that rises near that same Ambrosian basilica ...(cut)... The Emperor will swear that he will be obedient to the Pope and to the Roman Church in the temporal and spiritual things… (cut)… Therefore the Archbishop or the Abbot of S.Ambrogio must crown him with the iron crown as King d' Italy. Then the Emperor must embrace that straight marble column in show that his justice will be straight alike this column.

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12 THE MAUSOLEUM

For centuries Roman law forbade cemeteries within cities, so a virtual “city of the dead” sprouted up along the roads outside city limits. On the west side, beyond the area shown on the map, was the large mausoleum of Emperor Maximian.
Maximian built a mausoleum for his own burial. The design of the structure is exactly the same as the mausoleum built for Diocletian at his palace in Spalatum (mod. Split). Around an octagonal enclosure, and in the core, lay his sarcophagus.

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COPYRIGHT
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All contents of this site are original, or from documents or places opened to public.
We permit the re-use of any part of this site subject to these conditions:
1- cite of the source; 2-send an email to web@serenoeditore.com


Acknowledgements
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The text of this page is due to the courtesy of
Dr
Richard "Dick" Vedder - University of North Texas - vedder@unt.edu

original pics by Lorenzo Fratti

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ABOUT THE ANCIENT GATES

Each gate of the Maximian wall had a different name. In counter-clockwise order, they were:
1 - Porta Ticinensis (southwest, on the Roman road to Ticinium, now Pavia)
2 - Porta Romana (close to actual piazza Missori, on the road to Placentia - modern Piacenza- and Rome)
3 - Porta Argentia (close to actual piazza S.Babila, on the road to mod.Bergamo, Aquileia and the Eastern Empire)
4 - Porta Nova or "Erculea", so called in honour of Maximian (north-east, close to actual Porta Venezia)
5 - Porta Comacina (north, towards Comum (mod. Como), Lake Lario, and passes across the Alps),
6 - Porta Jovia (so called in honour of Diocletian), on the road to Novarium (mod. Novara), close to actual Castello Sforzesco.
7 - Porta Vercellina also on a road leading to Novarium.
These gates were monumental in size, equipped with towers, arches, etc.


Remains of the bridge outside porta Argenta (towards Bergamo and Aquileia) over the water channel just outside the wall.

IMPORTANT NOTICE
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The maps on this document show the approximate location of the ancient monuments relative to the modern city, and are not exactly to scale.

NOTE
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"mile" in this page corresponds to "roman mile", that is 1.480 meters.

 

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ANCIENT ROMAN MILAN MEDIOLANUM
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