How Long Did It Take to Build Rome – A Tale of Centuries

how long did it take to build rome


The city of Rome, often referred to as the Eternal City, is a symbol of antiquity and grandeur, known for its rich history, magnificent architecture, and enduring cultural legacy. But how long did it take to build Rome? The answer to this question is a complex and fascinating journey through millennia of human endeavor, innovation, and transformation. In this article, we will explore the various stages of Rome’s development and the incredible time span it took to shape the city we know today.

The Mythical Founding of Rome

According to Roman mythology, the city’s founding can be traced back to 753 BC when Romulus and Remus, twin brothers raised by a she-wolf, are said to have founded Rome on the banks of the Tiber River. While this story is more legend than history, it reflects the mythical origins of the city. It’s essential to note that Rome was already inhabited for centuries before this legendary event. These early settlements laid the groundwork for the future city.

The Republican Era and the Expansion of Rome

Rome’s early history is marked by its transition from a monarchy to a republic around 509 BC. During this period, Rome experienced significant expansion and development. The construction of critical infrastructure, such as the Cloaca Maxima, an extensive sewer system, and the first public buildings, laid the foundation for the city’s growth. By 270 BC, Rome had expanded to control most of the Italian Peninsula, marking the beginning of its rise as a major power in the Mediterranean.

The Golden Age – The Roman Empire

The Roman Republic eventually transformed into the Roman Empire, a process that culminated with the rise of Augustus as the first Emperor in 27 BC. The Roman Empire entered a period of unprecedented expansion and prosperity. During this time, Rome’s urban development reached its zenith.

The city saw the construction of grand structures such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Roman Forum. The impressive aqueduct system, including the Aqua Claudia, supplied Rome with fresh water, enabling the city to grow and sustain a population estimated to have reached one million at its height. The Roman Empire was at the height of its power for several centuries, and Rome’s urbanization continued to evolve.

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire began to decline in the 3rd century AD, primarily due to internal strife, economic instability, and external pressures from barbarian invasions. Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD, and the Western Roman Empire officially fell in 476 AD. This period marked a significant turning point in Rome’s history, as the city’s population dwindled, and many grand structures fell into disrepair.

The Middle Ages and the Papal Influence

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Rome entered the Middle Ages. During this time, the city’s role shifted as it became the center of Christianity. The rise of the Papal States and the influence of the Catholic Church had a profound impact on Rome’s development.

The construction of religious edifices, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, symbolized this era. While Rome’s urbanization during the Middle Ages was not characterized by grand public works, the city remained an important religious and cultural center in Europe.

Renaissance and the Rebirth of Rome

The Renaissance marked a resurgence in the city’s fortunes. From the late 14th to the 17th century, Rome underwent a renaissance of art, architecture, and culture. The Papal patronage of artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini led to the creation of some of the world’s most renowned masterpieces. St. Peter’s Basilica was completed, and the Vatican City, as we know it today, began to take shape.

Modernization and the Unification of Italy

Rome was officially declared the capital of the newly unified Kingdom of Italy in 1871. The city underwent significant modernization and expansion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This era saw the construction of grand boulevards, the enlargement of the city’s boundaries, and the development of a more modern infrastructure.

Contemporary Rome

Today, Rome stands as a city of immense historical, cultural, and architectural significance. Its ancient, medieval, and modern layers coexist, creating a unique urban landscape that attracts millions of visitors every year. The city continues to evolve, with ongoing preservation efforts and modern developments aimed at preserving its heritage while meeting the needs of a 21st-century metropolis.


Did it take 1 day to build Rome?

English playwright, John Heywood’s saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour”, is a reminder of the fact that it requires time and patience to create something big and great.

Why wasn’t Rome built in a day?

Building a city is complicated and, even with a huge amount of manpower, building materials need time to cure and set once used. The Colosseum of Rome took at least eight years to build, but the Romans could build much faster when they wanted to.


So, how long did it take to build Rome? The answer to this question is not a straightforward one, as the city’s history spans over two and a half millennia. Rome’s development can be divided into distinct eras, each contributing to the city’s unique character and charm. From its legendary foundation in 753 BC to its transformation into the capital of a unified Italy in 1871, Rome’s journey is a testament to the enduring spirit of human civilization.

The story of Rome’s construction is a story of resilience, creativity, and adaptability. It is a tale of legendary leaders, legendary architecture, and the legacy of a once-mighty empire. The answer to the question is that Rome is not just a city that was built; it’s a city that has been continuously rebuilt, reimagined, and revitalized over the course of centuries. Rome’s history is a testament to the enduring power of human innovation and the ability of a city to evolve while retaining its unique identity.

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