The hub of life in Ancient Rome was the city. The local city was the place to trade goods, be entertained, and meet important people. While Rome was the center of the empire, there were many large and important cities throughout the empire.
The Romans built cities throughout their vast empire. When they built a new city, they typically used the same type of city plans. The streets were straight and on a grid. Through the center of the town were the two widest streets which went east-to-west and north-to-south. At the center of the town was the forum with the government buildings, temples, markets, and meeting area.
Surrounding the town was a tall fortified wall to help keep out invaders. These walls were especially important for towns near the borders of the empire. Aqueducts were built outside of the town to bring fresh water to the fountains and public baths.
The most important area of every Roman city was the forum. The forum was the center of the local government and the main marketplace for the city. It was at the forum where politicians would give speeches when they were up for election.
The city served as a central point for commerce. Farmers could bring their produce into the city to trade for other goods or coins. In the forum there was generally a table where standard weights and measures could be verified. This kept people from being cheated when doing business.
There were two main types of housing in the cities. The poor and middle class people lived in large apartment buildings called insulae. The majority of the people lived in insulae. The wealthy lived in private homes. You can go here to read more about Roman homes.
Larger Roman cities all had some public buildings for entertainment. These included an outdoor amphitheatre (for events like gladiator fights), a circus (used for chariot races), a theatre, and public baths.
Keeping clean was important to Romans living in the city. Any large Roman city had public baths where people would go to bathe. Bathing was a popular pastime for the Romans. They would hang out with their friends and even hold business meetings at the bathhouses.
How many people lived in a Roman city?
Rome was the largest of the cities. Historians estimate that the population of Rome may have reached up to 1 million people at its peak. Other major cities such as Alexandria, Ephesus, Carthage, and Antioch had peak populations of 200,000 or more.
Interesting Facts About Life in an Ancient Roman City
Roman city streets were generally paved with stone. Many had raised sidewalks for people to walk on.
Most Roman cities had a population between 5,000 and 15,000 people.
Cities were important to the Roman Empire because they were where the empire collected taxes.
Wealthy Romans typically worked a six hour day from sunrise to noon in the city. The afternoon was spent at leisure, possibly at the baths or the games.