Why are the Romans considered great city builders?

The Roman Empire continues to be of historical importance even today.  This is because the political, social, architectural and cultural achievements made by Romans during their Empire’s peak, continues to inspire people even today.  The capital city of Rome was especially famous for its detailed planning and organization.  It is difficult to perceive how city planners of Rome could have pulled off such a grand and sweeping project without the aid of modern architectural aids.  Yet, it is a fact that the monuments, government buildings, public recreation houses and other structures and provisions within the city were quite advanced for the time.  And some of the technology used by Romans continues to find application in modern cities today.

With no greater aid than stones, bricks, wood and mortar, the Romans constructed great works of architectural value.  The Bridges over Danube and Rhine are prime examples of Roman architecture.    These two rivers, which set the northern limits of the empire, proved to be a hurdle for the northward expansion of the empire.  To overcome this problem Julius Caesar brought together the best architectural minds at his disposal to build these politically and militarily important bridges.

The Colosseum is another landmark in the historic city of Rome.  Even after several centuries of its construction, the structure has largely remained intact, offering visitors a theatrical experience.  Built by Emperor Titus, the Colosseum was meant to host gladiator fights and animal fights.  So during its functioning days, it was witness to some of the most gory battles for life.  The most striking feature of the Colosseum was its sheer magnitude and scale.  Comparable to a modern football stadium in its seating capacity, this original model of amphitheatre continues to astound laypeople and modern architects alike.

In order to facilitate transportation between different corners of the empire, the Romans built a complex network of roads, covered with stone slabs.  Another proof of Romans’ reputation as great city builders comes from the aqueducts they erected.  Irrigation and water supplies to city dwellers can be a dauting task.  But the Romans solved this problem by building aqueducts – some of which survive even today.  An ingenious method for storing and transporting water across regions, the aqueducts supplied water to houses and public buildings alike.  The Pont du Gard aqueduct in France has survived intact till today, allowing visitors a first-hand look at Roman building excellence.

Understanding the need of Roman citizens to attend a place of worship, all Roman emperors undertook church building projects.  The most famous instance of Roman churches is the Hagia Sophia, built in the city of Constantinople, which is a key urban center for the empire.  The churches built by Romans also served as a mark of status for various kings, adding both political and cultural value to the monuments.

Hence, in conclusion, it is clear why Romans gained a reputation for being great city builders.  Their buildings and engineering projects not only had a practical utility but also proved to be aesthetically pleasing.  The architectural works and other city buildings built by the Romans help keep the empire’s legacy alive.  To this extent, one can attach cultural, political and historical values to their buildings.

Works Cited:

MacDonald, William L., The Architecture of the Roman Empire I: An Introductory Study, Yale University Press, 1982

Wilson-Jones, Mark, Principles of Roman Architecture, Yale University Press, 2000