The Romans - Roads

Last Updated: 08/03/2014 - 17:38

Narbonne: Via Domitia uncovered in front of the Archbishop's palace.

The Romans are noted for their skill at building roads. At the time of the Empire there was a vast network of roads that all led to the centre of Rome. Many of these roads still exist today.

The Romans were the first people to build paved roads that would be able to be used in all types of weather. They built their roads so that they were higher in the middle than at the edges. This meant that when it rained the rain would run off the sides of the roads. They often put a drainage system alongside the roads to catch the water as it ran off.

roman road

Rich people travelled along the roads in litters carried either by six or eight men or pulled by mules. Those who could not afford a litter often travelled in small groups for safety. They would travel in carriages. Messengers, who had to travel alone and fast, would ride in a light carriage like a chariot.

litter              chariot

Travel was not safe, especially at night. There were roadside inns along all the roads but even these were not safe. Fights would break out and sometimes people were murdered. Travellers preferred to stay with either friends of their own or friends of their friends.