Castello di Giulio II

Castello di Giulio II, Ostia Antica: Hours, Address, Castello di Giulio II Reviews: 4.5/5

Castello di Giulio II
9:30 AM - 6:30 PM
9:30 AM - 6:30 PM
Suggested duration
< 1 hour
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125 reviews
Very good

Peter S
Rome, Italy3,333 contributions
Aug 2019
Review covers the Castello di Giulio II, Ostia Antica, Rome
Ostia Antica is a hidden gem of a small town 40 minutes from the centre of Rome by train – explore the three separate but easily identified towns that span >2,400 years; from the beginning of the Ancient Roman Empire through to the Middle Ages and on to the modern day. Well, the 19th century town that has developed along the Viale dei Romagnola and to one side of the Via del Mare. This is where you take a day away from the Eternal City, escape the crowds in the Centro Storico Romano and enjoy a mix of urban and rural images of Italy through the ages.
Getting to Ostia Antica from Rome is easy – take the San Paolo to Ostia Lido train and get off at Ostia Antica station – the seventh stop. Ticket will cost you €1.50. You need to change at Piramide if you’re on the Metro B Line - direction Laurentina – follow the crowds at Piramide - same ticket. Follow the signs from Ostia Antica Station across the footbridge into the town – 250 m. At the Viale dei Romagnola crossing the Castello di Giulio II is clearly visible on your right with the town behind it; if you’re heading towards the Archeological Park (i.e. the scavi/excavations) – once the originally the port of Rome - keep following the signs straight ahead.
Originally located at the mouth of the Tevere, Ostia (i.e. Latin/Ostium/entrance/river mouth) is now 4 km in land (with the modern town of Ostia Lido on the coast). The mouth of the Tevere has shifted further north to Fiumicino. The scavi represents Ancient Rome in all its delightful heritage – 34 ha of housing, public baths, shops, temples, mills, markets, etc. that are typical of local towns through the ages. Frequently compared to the better-known Pompeii – but different.
Then there is the mediaeval village of Ostia Antica – officially the Borgo di Gregoriopolis – behind fortified walls and beneath the walls and towers of the Castello di Giulio II. There are a couple of gates in the walls that open on to the Viale dei Romagnola – enter the first gate into the spacious Piazza della Rocca – il Castello is there to your right.
Marvel at the integrity of this old settlement – so close to the modern city of Rome – robustly inhabited. It’s a museum piece - couple of times each year you’ll find a film crew here taping a heritage television programme. You will also find half-dozen well-placed restaurants and bars (and a gelateria) for that early evening meal before taking the train back to the city. The walking distances are short. At some time during the day, take ten minutes and sit quietly inside the Borgo or just outside the wall in Piazza Umberto 1 and reflect upon the timeliness of it all, including the monument on the wall to the workers who drained the Pontine Marshes hereabouts 130 years ago.
The medieval Borgo is a gem – classical images in the features of the separate buildings, the paving in the piazza and the fountain to one side; the way the houses on the perimeter blend into the walls. Then, of course, there is the castle. The entrance is through an iron gateway set into the wall opposite the Basilica di Sant’Aurea. Check the time of opening on the gate. Typically, this is at the weekend during the summer months. Step down into the earthworks/ditch/moat and cross to the ticket office/Cassa behind the ravelin.
The renovation of Gregoriopolis and the construction of the castle that followed dates from the late 15th century into the beginning of the 16th century around 1,000 years after the original Roman Ostia was abandoned. The work is attributable to Pope Giulio II – and thus the popular name. A papal apartment and complementary artwork were subsequently added.
The Tevere had silted and shifted with the years largely cutting the port off from the sea, although it continued to provide for passenger traffic. Walls and castle provided protection from pirates and maritime/customs control of light shipping until flooding inundated the castle, moat and Borgo creating extensive marshlands in the area. By then the Tevere had shifted permanently one km west leaving the castle high/dry. The castle had a military/service history of <100 years before being abandoned. Four hundred years later – in the modern era - both Borgo and castle were restored.
The castle is small with triangular shape ground plan – designed to fit into the limited space between the Borgo and the river. The walls are the same length and feature a tower in each corner; two level with the battlements and the third substantially higher - perhaps twice the height of the walls. Vision and field of fire would have been good. The higher tower predates the castle by 60 years and had been constructed for much the purpose – control; it was incorporated into the castle
Having collected our tickets, we waited next to the Cassa for the group to form. Our guide arrived and distributed hard helmets – they’ve been provided for a couple of years now – exemplifying the inevitable march of health and safety issues across the country.
The tour begins on the ground floor – narrow passageways with limited headroom through the subterranean space required for ground-level fire positions, utilities, stores, munitions, food, water, etc. sufficient to counter the siege mentality typical of those time; before rescue forces arrived. Dark and, with a moat around it, presumably damp and inhospitable. (For a time during the 19th century the castle was used as prison.)
A steep narrow masonry staircase with rope handrail leads to the floors above. Large open rooms – both original/undeveloped and others modernised – power/climatized/windows – and containing museum artifacts/items in glass cabinets. The guide provided the stories that bring the rooms and contents to life. Then more stairs to the spacious open deck on top – surrounded by the battlements – perhaps 4 m high with crenels (i.e. protected fire positions) with a walkway around the inside from where to fire the muskets/guns of those times. All rather novel, quaint even, but representing the latest in military defence 600 years ago – with increased use of explosives and cannon – and the vulnerability of masonry/brick walls. The castle is in fine well-maintained condition.
And, the ‘pièce de résistance’ of our visit – no, not the frescoes – they come later, but the gorgeous views from the battlements across the surrounding country, Borgo and parklands – spectacular. The view from the top of the high tower is no longer on the guided tour, although it was during our visit two years earlier.
You descend slowly through the papal apartment – long shallow staircase passed wall decorations – fresco paintings and mosaics – taking time to appreciate the stories behind the images courtesy of the guide - and leave the castle through the gate into the piazza.

Peter Steele
20 July 2020
Written July 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jeanne Noel W
30 contributions
Oct 2019 • Couples
They do free guided tours of the castle at scheduled times. Reservations are made at castle and walks in can join if space available. It is a beautiful fortress in this ancient walled city. Very quiet gem to visit!
Written November 7, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Manuela L
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg7,086 contributions
Sep 2018 • Family
Located on Piazza dlla Rocca, near the ancient city of Ostia, a wonderful castel from Giulio II, very good preservation from outside, you can see it from the station; I don't vist it, I think it was closed, a nice excursion for an other trip to Ostia Antica.
Written August 5, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Christine F
Heysham, UK219 contributions
May 2019 • Family
As this is just across the street from Ostia Antica anyone getting off when we did - wasn't interested at all making it a lovely visit again all to ourselves. It's a wonderful well intact walled castle very quiet and beautiful
Written May 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Hugh B
Mobile, AL114 contributions
Apr 2019 • Couples
We did not go inside but my wife and I enjoyed seeing the exterior while leaving Parco Archeolgico do Osta Antica. We hope to visit the inside on our next trip.
Written May 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

California296 contributions
Jul 2018 • Friends
A beautiful brick construction with a photogenic courtyard, and a walk up to tower to see an all-round view. Julius II who had the castle built was Michelangelo's pope. The scale is human and its proportions really satisfying. Entrance is free, but tours have timed schedules.
Written July 7, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Rome, Italy20 contributions
Mar 2018 • Solo
Saw this place from road - read about on google - asked locals who said not open. The key interesting points are: it once sat on the Tiber River and the river circulated around the castle making the moat water more dangerous, but the Tiber moves leaving this place landlocked which made it easier to attack and fell more than once. So if you wonder where the antica ostia seaport is - it was along the river - but every major flood took it out.
Written April 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

North Mankato, MN102 contributions
Mar 2018 • Couples
Very cool place to visit. Take the guided tour, you won't be sorry. We think our history is old, bah 250 yrs is nothing compared to the Etruscan and Roman history
Written March 12, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Menlo Park, CA47 contributions
Mar 2017 • Family
The hotel is right in the heart of the city, just down the street from many great local restaurants.

And not only is this a great hotel, it was also featured in the U2 video "All I Want Is You."
Written February 12, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Feb L
Taipei, Taiwan31 contributions
Jan 2018 • Family
Several good restaurants within the historical walls of the castle... a great day trip from Rome with a good lunch then take the guide tour in the afternoon with many historical insights (1 hour tour was only in Italian; we don't know of there are other languages available). Several teenager children were interested by the medieval rooms and corridors in the castle and did not fuss. Very pleasant views from the top of the castle especially in good weather.
Written January 21, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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  • Sat - Sun 9:30 AM - 6:30 PM
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