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History and development role of Roman Routes
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Objectives and goals

IntroductionClick to read  

At the end of this module you will know:

•  the main European Roman routes
•  the basic history of the European Roman routes
•  the development of the European Roman routes
• the role of the European Roman routes during the Roman Empire
Different Types of Roman RoadsClick to read  

Roman roads varied from simple corduroy roads to paved roads using deep roadbeds of tamped rubble as an underlying layer to ensure that they kept dry, as the water would flow out from between the stones and fragments of rubble, instead of becoming mud in clay soils. According to Ulpian, there were three types of roads:

  1. Viae publicae, consulares, praetoriae or militares;
  2. Viae vicinales, rusticae, glareae or agrariae;
  3. Viae privatae.
The "viae publicae", commonly called "consular", connected the most important cities. These roads were crossed by the Roman legions in their transfers and the couriers of the state postal service ("cursus publicus") traveled on them.
Next to the network of viae publicae there were numerous roads of regional interest, the viae vicinalis or viae rusticae, which connected the smaller settlements ("vici") with each other or with the main streets, the maintenance of which was borne by local administrations, and finally viae privatee, of local interest and maintained at the expense of the communities or individual citizens who used them.
While the "viae publicae" were generally paved, the secondary roads could be paved or not, for example with only a layer of gravel or stones: in this case they were called viae glareatae. After the secondary roads came the viae terrenae, normally unpaved.
Main European Roman RoadsClick to read  

Italy - Major Roads:
Albania / North Macedonia / Greece / Turkey
Austria / Serbia / Bulgaria / Turkey
In France, a Roman road is called voie romaine in vernacular language.
Germania Inferior (Germany, Belgium, Netherlands);
Middle East
Romania/ Bulgaria
Spain and Portugal
  • Via Asturica Burdigalam   linked the towns of Asturica Augusta (modern Astorga) in Gallaecia and Burdigala (modern Bordeaux) in Aquitania. It is well known for being the gateway for Santiago for the religious Santiago’s Walk (Camino de Santiago). It is a Trans-Pyrenean road;
  • Via Augusta, from Cádiz to the Pyrénées, where it joins to the Via Domitia at the Coll de Panissars, near La Jonquera. It passes   through ValenciaTarragona (anciently Tarraco), and Barcelona;
  • Camiño de Oro, ending in Ourense, capital of the Province of Ourense, passing near the village of Reboledo;
  • ‘Via De la Plata’ crosses Spain in vertical from the northern Astorga, capital city of the homonym region to Sevilla, the capital city of Andalucia and is the Spanish routes for pilgrimages to Santiago De Compostela;
  • ‘Via Caesaraugustana’ crosses Spain in diagonal from Zaragozza (in Aragon) to Merida in Extremadura;
  • Via Baetica from Bolonia to Cordoba;
  • Via Terraconecla from Tarragona to Pamplona.
Trans-Alpine roads
These roads connected modern Italy and Germany
United Kingdom
High Street, a fell in the English Lake District, named after the apparent Roman road which runs over the summit, which is claimed to be the highest Roman road in Britain. Its status as a Roman road is problematic, as it appears to be a holloway or sunken lane, whereas the Romans built their roads on an agger or embankment.
A Special Case. Via Francigena:
Via Francigena is the common name of a medieval pilgrim route running from France to Rome and then continuing to Apulia, where there were the pilgrims sailed to the Holy Land. It is usually considered to have its starting point on the other side of the English Channel, in the cathedral city of Canterbury. As such, the route passes through England, France, Switzerland and Italy.
The route was known in Italy as the "Via Francigena" ("the road that comes from France") or the "Via Romea Francigena" ("the road to Rome that comes from France"). In medieval times it was an important road and pilgrimage route for those wishing to visit the Holy See and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul.
Road networks contribute to the economy and cultureClick to read  

Since the ancient years up until today, large-scale transport infrastructures have shaped connectivity and determined the distribution of economic activity, not only locally, but also across various regions.
Connectivity may have long-lasting consequences for the connected regions such as reduced information frictions and increased cultural integration. However, there is still not enough information about the potential origins of systematic differences in bilateral transport connectivity and information frictions between regions (Flückiger et all., 2019).