The Appian Way (Latin and Italian: Via Appia) is one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, in southeast Italy. Its importance is indicated by its common name, recorded by Statius:
Appia longarum… regina viarum
“the Appian Way the queen of the long roads”
The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BC during the Samnite Wars.
The Roman Empire was at its territorial peak under the reign of Trajan in 116 AD
In the 2nd century AD the Roman Empire reached its greatest expansion, extending over 5 million km sq. The network of paved roads covered over 100000km. From works of art to temples, the Roman culture stretched from Scotland to the Sahara, and from the Iberian Peninsula to the Near East.
The Via Appia is the oldest and most famous of the grand military roads of Ancient Rome, called “Longarum Regina Viarum”, Queen of the long distance roads.
During the course of millennia the Phoenician civilization developed and expanded across the Mediterranean towards Cyprus, Crete, North Africa and Southern Europe, thanks to their navigation expertise.
The starting port was Jbeil, ancient Byblos, the end of the land trail that came from Palmyra, Damascus, Baalbek and the Bekaa Valley and sometimes from the Middle and Far East. This road was used under the Roman Empire for military, administrative, commerce and pilgrimage purposes.
Essentially, there were two roads that ensured a strategic interest and importance to these regions:
Rome-Brindisi known as the Via Appia
Byblos-Damascus via Mount Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, to be called the Via Appia Orientale
A multitude of cultures found along these roads, traces of which can still be found today, contributed to an immense commercial, spiritual and intellectual exchange.