Via Domitia

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Via Domitia
Ambrussum voies marquees 10-04-2006.jpg
Chariot ruts in the Via Domitia
Location Briançon, France to La Junquera, Spain
Type Roman road
Builder Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus
Periods118 BC
Route of the Via Domitia Via domitia map600x600 (1).png
Route of the Via Domitia
Via Domitia in purple France map Lambert-93 topographic-ancient Roman roads.svg
Via Domitia in purple
St-Thibery: Roman Bridge St-Thibery-Pont-Romain1.JPG
St-Thibéry: Roman Bridge
Narbonne: Via Domitia uncovered in front of the Archbishop's palace Via Domitia (Narbonne).jpg
Narbonne: Via Domitia uncovered in front of the Archbishop's palace
The Via Domitia in Pinet, Herault Pinet via Domitia.jpg
The Via Domitia in Pinet, Hérault
Via Domitia and Via Augusta junction at the Trophy of Pompey Photos-0018.jpg
Via Domitia and Via Augusta junction at the Trophy of Pompey

The Via Domitia was the first Roman road built in Gaul, to link Italy and Hispania through Gallia Narbonensis, across what is now southern France. The route that the Romans regularised and paved was ancient when they set out to survey it, so old that it traces the mythic route travelled by Heracles. [1]

Gaul region of ancient Europe

Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, Netherlands, and Germany, particularly the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi). According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.

Italy European country

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Italy is located in Southern Europe, and it is sometimes considered as part of Western Europe. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

Hispania Roman province

Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and its provinces. Under the Republic, Hispania was divided into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. During the Principate, Hispania Ulterior was divided into two new provinces, Baetica and Lusitania, while Hispania Citerior was renamed Hispania Tarraconensis. Subsequently, the western part of Tarraconensis was split off, first as Hispania Nova, later renamed "Callaecia". From Diocletian's Tetrarchy onwards, the south of remaining Tarraconensis was again split off as Carthaginensis, and probably then too the Balearic Islands and all the resulting provinces formed one civil diocese under the vicarius for the Hispaniae. The name Hispania was also used in the period of Visigothic rule.


The construction of the road was commissioned by Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, whose name it bore, following the defeat of the Allobroges and Averni by himself and Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus. Gnaeus Domitius also established a fortified garrison at Narbo (modern Narbonne) on the coast, near Hispania, to guard its construction. It soon developed into a full Roman colony Colonia Narbo Martius. [2] The lands on the western part of the route, beyond the River Rhône had been under the control of the Averni who, according to Strabo, had stretched their control to Narbo and the Pyrenees. [3]

Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus was consul of Rome in 122 BC. He was the son of the Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus who was consul in 162 BC.

Allobroges historical ethnical group

The Allobroges were a Gallic tribe of ancient Gaul, located between the Rhône River and Lake Geneva in what later became Savoy, Dauphiné, and Vivarais. Their cities were in the areas of modern-day Annecy, Chambéry and Grenoble, the modern departement of Isère, and modern Switzerland. Their capital was today's Vienne.

Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus, was a Roman statesman and general who was elected consul in 121 BC.

The Via Domitia connected Italy to Hispania. Crossing the Alps by the easiest passage, the Col de Montgenèvre (1850 m), it followed the valley of the Durance, crossed the Rhône at Beaucaire passed through Nîmes (Nemausus) then followed the coastal plain along the Gulf of Lion. At Narbonne, it met the Via Aquitania (which led toward the Atlantic Ocean through Toulouse and Bordeaux). Thus Narbonne was a crucial strategic crossroads of the Via Domitia and the Via Aquitania, and it was an accessible, but well-defensible, port at that time. This "cusp point" in the Roman westwards expansion and ensuing supply, communication and fortification was a very important asset, and was treated as such (see Narbonne). In between the cities that it linked, the Via Domitia was provided with a series of mansiones at distances of a day's journey for a loaded cart, at which shelter, provender and fresh horses could be obtained for travellers on official business.

Col de Montgenèvre mountain pass

The Col de Montgenèvre is a high mountain pass in the Cottian Alps, in France 2 kilometres away from Italy.

Durance major river in south-eastern France

The Durance is a major river in south-eastern France.

Rhône river in Switzerland and France

The Rhône is one of the major rivers of Europe and has twice the average discharge of the Loire, rising in the Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Alps at the far eastern end of the Swiss canton of Valais, passing through Lake Geneva and running through southeastern France. At Arles, near its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two branches, known as the Great Rhône and the Little Rhône. The resulting delta constitutes the Camargue region.

The route as it was in Late Antiquity is represented in schematic fashion on the Tabula Peutingeriana .

<i>Tabula Peutingeriana</i> map of the road network in the Roman Empire

Tabula Peutingeriana, also referred to as Peutinger's Tabula or Peutinger Table, is an illustrated itinerarium showing the layout of the cursus publicus, the road network of the Roman Empire.


This route can be traced on topographical maps overprinted with the ancient route, in G. Castellve, J.-B. Compsa, J. Kotarba and A. Pezin, eds. Voies romaines du Rhône à l'Èbre: Via Domitia et Via Augusta (DAF61) Paris 1997.

Briançon Subprefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Briançon is a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.

Chorges Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Chorges is a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in southeastern France.

Gap, Hautes-Alpes Prefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Gap is a commune in southeastern France, the capital and largest town of the Hautes-Alpes department. At a height of 750 m above sea level, it is France's highest prefecture.

At Ruscino, the road separates in two: the Inland Route and the Coastal Route, which rejoin at La Junquera.

Coastal Route

Inland Route

Rejoins at:

Here the Via Augusta begins.

Roman bridges

For an overview of the location of Roman bridges, see List of Roman bridges .

There are the remains of several Roman bridges along the road, including the Roman Bridge of Saint-Thibéry, the Pont Ambroix at Ambrussum, the Pont Julien and the Pont Serme.

See also


  1. F. Benoît, "La légende d'Héraclès et la colonisation grecque dans le delta du Rhône", L'Humanité8 (1949:104-48), noted by Fred S. Kleiner, "Gallia Graeca, Gallia Romana and the Introduction of Classical Sculpture in Gaul" American Journal of Archaeology77.4 (October 1973:379-390) p. 381 note 20, with further bibliography.
  2. Brennan,T.C.,The Praetorship in the Roman Republic, p. 507
  3. Strabo, Geography, 4.2.3
  4. Narbonne: Remains of the Domitian Way Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine


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Gallia Narbonensis Roman province

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<i>Via Aquitania</i>

The Via Aquitania was a Roman road created in 118 BC in the Roman province of Gaul. It started at Narbonne, where it connected to the Via Domitia. It then went toward the Atlantic Ocean, via Toulouse and Bordeaux, covering approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi).

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Pont Ambroix

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Roman Bridge (Saint-Thibéry)

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The gens Domitia was a plebeian family at Rome. The first of the gens to achieve prominence was Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, consul in 332 BC. His son, Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus Maximus, was consul in 283, and the first plebeian censor. The family produced several distinguished generals, and towards the end of the Republic, the Domitii were looked upon as one of the most illustrious gentes.