Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome: Historic Evolution of Tourism
Only for Military Use
In the beginning the Roman roads were designed for military use. Legions and military equipment could be moved much faster than if they were transferred to cross country. The time of transfer between cities was shortened not only for military use but for trade and tourism.
Patrician families used to send their children to Greece to receive rhetoric and philosophy classes. In this case, the route by sea was the most chosen, for the comforts and speed compared to the terrestrial displacement. Accommodation facilities on routes far from the Roman metropolis were very scarce.
Julio César, who was traveling at an extraordinary speed, traveled from the Rhone ( germany) to Rome in about eight days. However, the fastest journey of antiquity was, the one that made Tiberius to Drusus from Tichinum in Germany, a distance of 200 miles, made in 20 hours even though he had only one guide and had to make several changes of mount.
ORBIS – University of Stanford Raod & Network Calculator on Line
The Roman Empire Roads
Stones on The Roads
Tourism: Only the Upper Class
They also hired local guides and consulted papyri that explained a certain area and their entertainment possibilities. They were the tour guides of that time. Of course they bought something smaller as souvenirs and had a tendency to engrave the traveler’s name on the stones of the monuments they visited. This was at the request of the inhabitants, since the prestige of a noble visitor attracted more tourists.
The trips were made for pleasure, business or health or religious issues. Religious tourism and pilgrimages to both Greek and Roman temples became part of almost every tourist itinerary. But it was not about devotion but about entertainment. These temples were visited by tourists who in some cases were no longer sacred places, but monuments to visit. (almost equal to what happens today in the Catholic churches of Europe)
Weekend Roman Villas: Capri & Pompeii
The Romans also liked to spend a leisure time away from the city and used to move to the Campania (Naples). From the time of the empire of Octavius Augustus, the Senate was no longer an institution of power. The emperor reigned and were not consulted.
The senators retired to live in the countryside, near Rome but away from it. The area chosen was Campania, Cities such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, Tivoli, Beneventum and Islands such as Capri, where luxury villas were built. Infrastructure was also built as additional roads, ports, passenger ships, inns and markets.
The houses in the city of Rome became the second residence and the country villa the habitual residence. You find the infrastructure was also built in those compestres places. Amphitheatres (Pompeii), circus maxima, thermal baths and medicinal baths. all this thanks to the pax romana that lasted approximately 250 years from the reign of Octavius Augustus.
Emperor Caracalla built in Rome the baths that bear his name. They were public baths that had steam rooms, pools of hot water (caldarium) and cold (frigidarium), gymnastics, rest and massage rooms. There were also writing rooms, libraries and gardens.
On the island of Capri, the Tiberian emperor built a luxurious villa with a swimming pool. You can still visit today’s day
Amphitheaters for all
The construction of the Maximum Circus and the Colosseum in Rome, led to tourism also going in the other direction. Inhabitants of the entire empire wished to know Rome. The network of roads, security and the pax romana contributed to a flow of tourists to the Rome.
They also built amphitheatres like the Colosseum in Rome and theaters in other cities, which also enjoyed a fair share of tourists. We can name the theater of Orange (France) and the amphitheaters of Nimes and Arles (France). That amphitheaters can be visited nowadays and in a very good state of conservation.