Free attraction: visit Rome’s walls at Museo delle Mura
Many visitors spend only a few days in Rome and so they only have time for those unavoidable landmarks everyone knows: the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain…
As such, most people’s explorations of Rome are limited to one very small area of the city map, and they often leave yearning for more – more monuments, more secluded… less crowded!
The Museo delle Mura (“Museum of the Walls”) is one of such places. Established in 1990, it is placed on the first and second floors of Porta San Sebastiano, the southernmost, majestic entrance gate to the city of Rome where the ancient Appian Way begins.
What is inside the Museo delle MuraMost people wanting to walk the Appian Way pass by the Museo delle Mura daily, but don’t even know that a museum is there at all, because of its tight opening times – it can only be visited in the morning (from 9AM to 2PM, and will be closed all day on Mondays).
What they also don’t know is that access is free to everyone, and how spectacular experiencing it is. While most of the Aurelian Walls, one of ancient Rome’s lines of defense, cannot be accessed yet, Museo delle Mura will give visitors a chance to climb to the top of those, and enjoy a spectacular view of south Rome.
While plans exist to transform the whole Aurelian Walls circuit in a museum, Museo delle Mura is the only place currently available to learn more about the building of this massive construction that has stood the test of time for millennia.
The surreal history of Porta San Sebastiano
A visit to Museo delle Mura is also a chance to ponder on how sensibilities have changed when it comes to archaeology. In the early 1940s, this very space was the home to Ettore Muti, Party Secretary of Italy’s Fascist Party, in spite of the opinion of Rome’s Department of Antiquities and Fine Arts.
In the 1960s, it housed the gate’s groundkeeper and his family, following which the same space was used as offices for the nascent museum of the Appian Way (which never came to be). It is only in the late 1980s that the decision was taken to turn the two floors in a museum of its own.
And until the whole of the Aurelian Walls become walkable, we can only be grateful that a place like this exists… and it’s free of charge! Museo delle Mura is walking distance from our managed accommodation at Via Gallia, and is easily reachable from Via Annia Faustina.