Coastal town of the Agro Romano area, perched on a cliff of tuff stone, at short distance from the western foothills of the Alban Hills and the Castelli Romani area, Ardea was part of the municipality of Pomezia until 1970. Mentioned by Virgil in the VIII chapter of the Aeneid ("Great is the name of Ardea, but its glory has faded") when the Rutuli are defeated by the Trojans of Aeneas and their city is set on fire, that according to the legend, is also reported by the Latin writer Ovid in "Metamorphosis", the city's origins date back to Danae, daughter of the king of Argos, married to Rutuli Pilumno.
With its important commercial traditions and port area, Ardea played an important role in controlling the trade between the Hellenic world and the Latin world. The first settlements date back to the Paleolithic Ages; Plimio, however, confirms that the area was under the control of Rutuli, a population of probable Etruscan origin, that in pre-Roman times, lived here in a large area of "Latium vetus". Allied and enemy of the Romans on several occasions, the decline of the town of Ardea coincided with the sacking by the Samnites between the III and II centuries B.C., although there was still an inhabited village till the V century A.D. In the Middle Ages it became a small fortified place, surrounded by swamps. In 1130 the Benedictine monks of St. Paul acquired, from the antipapa Anacleto II, the rights of the area with the "Ardeae Civitas," and in 1419 Pope Martino V Colonna devolved Ardea to his family, as a reward for the help provided for the reconstruction of the Papal States.
Sites of Interest:
- the remains of Ardeatine Shrines, which date back to the IV century B.C., discovered on the Acropolis and Civitavecchia;
- the remains of the Basilica and the Forum;
- the numerous underground tunnels, excavated into the tuff stone and form part of the sewerage system of the ancient city (V century B.C.);
- warehouses and water tanks of the Acropolis;
- the remains of the fortified walls and ancient gate entrances of the city;
- the mosaic of Publius Creviso, discovered in the 50s of the XX century, in a Republican home in the I century B.C.;
- the Church of Santa Marina, located inside the cemetery of Ardea, which according to an inscription dates back to 1191. The entrance door is supported by two lions and the lintel is carved with representations of three saints, one of which the center is Santa Marina. The interior features a single nave plan and there are three pairs of pillars that support the gabled roof;
- the Church of San Pietro, in Romanesque style, built by the Benedictines of the XII century, using material from a nearby pagan temple. It features a central nave and apse that opens into two small aisles with a series of six round arches;
- the underground Christian Oratory, originally an ancient pagan sanctuary dedicated to a nymph;
- the remains of the Palazzo Sforza Cesarini, severely damaged during the Second World War;
- the Tower of San Lorenzo (XVI century);
- the Gardens of Landriana, designed by Russell Page.