My Hadrian 1900 project

According to the Historia Augusta, no other Roman emperor travelled as much as Hadrian. He was famed for his endless journeys around the empire and devoted a full half of his 21-year reign to the inspection of the provinces (he remained in Rome in 119-120, 126-127 and in the final years of his reign). My fascination for Hadrian and my passion for travelling has motivated me to follow him in his footsteps.

“So fond was he of travel, that he wished to inform himself in person about all that he had read concerning all parts of the world.”

Historia Augusta – The Life of Hadrian

2017 marked the 1,900th anniversary of Hadrian’s accession as emperor. I took this opportunity to celebrate Hadrian’s legacy in a even more exciting way. The commemoration will last for 21 years, from 2017 to 2038. I usually try to use Hadrian’s journeys as a leading thread for my own adventures but with this project I want to go one step further. My aim is to try to follow Hadrian’s journeys according to the year they were undertaken. I have already planned the first two years of Hadrian’s reign.

117–118: Returning to Rome from Syria by way of the north-eastern frontier

Hadrian’s first imperial journey began soon after he had been proclaimed emperor by the army in Syria. At the time Hadrian had taken up residence in Antioch as governor of Syria while Trajan was campaigning in the East. Trajan died on the 8 August AD 117, on the 9th it was announced that he had adopted Hadrian, on the 11th the troops hailed Hadrian as emperor.

After receiving the news of Trajan’s death, Hadrian did not travel directly back to Rome. According to the HA, Hadrian set out from Antioch to view the remains of Trajan. Trajan’s ashes were sent on to Rome by ship whilst Hadrian returned to Antioch. He finally left Antioch in September 117 and journeyed north-westwards to sort out the Danube frontier. Hadrian’s path took him from Syria to Ancyra and Byzantium before heading to Dacia where he conducted negotiations with the king of the Roxolani. Then Hadrian’s remained in the Danube lands for a couple of months and finally left for Rome which he reached on the 9th of July AD 118.

The journey of Hadrian in Cilicia was recorded on an inscription in Rome (CIL VI 5076) which carries the names of stations on the highroad from Tarsus to Andabalis in Cappadocia, and is equipped with dates from October 13 to 19. However the end of his journey from Pannonia to Rome is uncertain and I decided to use Antony R. Birley’s suggestion that Hadrian travelled from Pannonia to Rome overland into the plains around the Venetian lagoon, and headed south along the coast to Ariminum (Rimini) and down the Via Flaminia.

View this map on Google Map

This map has been produced with the help of two online maps; a Roman route planner with all the main roads and cities of the Roman Empire based on the Tabula Peutingeriana (a medieval copy of a Roman roadmap from about the year AD 300) and an archaeological atlas of antiquity, both of which were created by René Voorburg.

and also


And finally, I was born exactly 1900 years after Hadrian… AD 76 – 1976 🙂

My main sources:

  • Birley, Anthony R. (1997). Hadrian. The restless emperor. Routledge, London
  • Boatwright, Mary T. (2002). Hadrian and the Cities of the Roman Empire. Princeton University Press.
  • Boatwright, Mary T. (1987). Hadrian and the City of Rome. Princeton University Press.
  • Opper, T. (2008). Hadrian: Empire and Conflict. The British Museum Press.
  • R. Syme, Journeys of Hadrian, ZPE, 73 (1988), 159-170;
  • Fraser, Trudie E . (2006). Hadrian as Builder and Benefactor in the Western Provinces. BAR International Series 1484

28 thoughts on “My Hadrian 1900 project”

  1. What a fantastic project! I have just finished reading Margueritte Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, which has piqued my interest in this emperor, which led me to your blog. Good luck with your journeys!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very nice project but in the map there is an error….Via Flaminia after Terni goes to Narni ( where you can see the huge Augustus bridge, the highest in Italy) and then Otricoli ( where there are still many ruins..)which was the first big city outside Rome’s area By the time of Claudius, Trajan and Hadrian it was used also the west branch of the via Flaminia where the city of Carsulae was, very often used by the army to rest . Carsulae had baths, theater and an amphiteather…now an amazing archeological site.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You are very welcome! 🙂 just wanted to inform you … I can see that we have the same great passion for Hadrian and Rome, the Via Flaminia in particular I have traveled all over and there are many places along this path of great interest that perhaps not everyone knows about ( like the little city of Bevagna ). The map is correct, you can leave the track between Spoleto and Terni because reaching Spoleto or Narni, the road was divided into two branches.( the west one, via Carsulae, which was the first road built on a previous ancient Umbrians road, and it was used mainly for the military army and the East branch which was built mainly for the commercial trades because facilitated by a 32 miles shorter distance between Narni and Spoleto.) :-))

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Guess what? I’ve been there already! 😉 I visited both theatres. They were indeed built during the reign of Hadrian.


  3. Im proud of you:) When you have been there? Because this year are finishing the archaeological excavations at the theater in Scupi (which is the biggest one in R.Macedonia) and until the end of the next year its planned whole theater to be reconstructed..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a really super project! I was studying the map on the link you posted and it sounds really interesting! Wish you all the best and I hope your project will be real! Take your time… Adriano was going by horses.. Maybe a bicycle will be the right way! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, I was in Jerusalem last week and went to see the exhibition where I had a special tour with the curator. I went especially to see the reunited inscription because I was in Jerusalem in October 2014 on the day the second part of the inscription was presented to the public. You might want to read all my posts related to Hadrian in Judea.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bonjour Carole
    Bravissima! Vous avez crée un site magnifique – très utile, super documenté et nostalgique – surtout pour ceux qui n’ont pas (ou plus) l’occasion de visiter toutes ces places et musées!
    Je ne connais que la Villa Hadriana et les statues dans la région romaine. Mon prénom et nom d’artiste étant Adriano, ça va sans dire que j’ai étudié la vie de ce grand empereur et que je possède une collection de livres importants. Connaissez-vous l’étude de Hugo Meyer sur Antinoos, avec d’innombrables photos des statues et bas-reliefs retrouvé dans tout le monde?
    Mes compliments et salutations de Zürich!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bonjour Adriano,
      Merci beaucoup pour votre commentaire. 🙂
      Est ce que l’étude de Hugo Meyer sur Antinoos a été publiée en francais ou en anglais ?


  6. Thank you for this, and congratulations-I am very admiring, and very jealous! Hadrian is one of the most fascinating characters in all of history-you chose well to do this project, arduous though it probably is. I will be following for more posts-you have already illuminated this topic for many of us-thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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