Do you long for a trip to Italy? Right in the heart of London, you can get a taste of Roman history.
Although Italy and its sun-drenched charms may appear far away at the moment, London has plenty of Roman remains to offer. We can’t promise the weather, but if you bring your own gelato, you can have a taste of Rome right here in London. The Roman city of Londinium was located in what is now the modern-day City of London. It was founded in 47-50 AD primarily as a commercial center, although it was a cosmopolitan city from the start.
Legionaries from Spain and Hungary mingled with merchants from North Africa, such as Lucius Tettius, who imported the Romans’ favorite fish sauce from the south of France. Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, led her clan into combat against the Romans, slaying the inhabitants of Londinium before setting fire to the city less than 20 years later. Londinium was restored after the Iceni were defeated, and it was soon booming again.
It had become the capital of Britannia by the second century, welcome the emperor Hadrian and others.
Here’s a fast guide to Roman Londinium if you wish to walk in the footsteps of emperors.
City Walls of the Roman Empire
The Roman Walls may be visited in their entirety, however visitors who only want a quick glance can go to Tower Hill. A pretty realistic portion of the wall at about full height may be found just outside the Tube station’s entrance.
Londinium didn’t get permanent city walls until late in the second century AD, when a renegade commander named Clodius Albinus declared himself emperor and led the British troops into Gaul against the actual emperor, Septimius Severus. The insurrection was promptly put down, and Severus ordered the construction of city walls to keep out any marauding locals who may have taken advantage of the tumult.
By the way, don’t be deceived by the Trajan statue; he never visited Britain. The council purchased the statue from a junkyard, believing it would complement the Roman wall!
Head to London Wall car park and bay 52, where the wall never has to pay for parking, to witness one of the last portions of wall in a unique location.
Tower Hill, Barbican, and Noble Street are all good places to look.
Tower Hill tube station
By the Tower, All Hallows
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