The original settlement was founded in 830 by Gregory IV whose houses are enclosed within a very high wall and a ditch to defend the inhabitants from the Saracen. The borgo served as a home for the workers of the salt mines along the Via Ostiense. In the 15th century, the fortifications were further extended by Martino V with the construction of a large tower now incorporated into the castle. He also dug a moat to contain Tiber's waters.
In 1483 the fortress, as well as the nearby church dedicated to Santa Aurea, was completely restored by Giuliano della Rovere, Bishop of Ostia, who widened the moat around the tower and built a gate house to further protect the access. It had an imposing 24 metres high look-out tower at the centre of the polygonal bastion and the fortifications could now once again be deemed safe from incursions.
In 1587 an extraordinary flood deviated the course of the Tiber leaving the moat around the wall dry. Then with developments in military technology the castle lost its purpose and fell to ruin. It was used as a stable and deposit by the few farmers and shepherds of the area. The castle and the borgo were restored in the 1900s and now constitute, together with the neighbouring archaeological digs, a very interesting area to visit.
Opening Times: The Castle of Julius II can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm. Until 7 September 2019 Saturday night extraordinary openings from 8.00pm to 10.30pm. Free admission.
How to get there: take the Roma-Lido train from Porta San Paolo (Metro B Piramide Station), from Metro B San Paolo Station or from Metro B Eur Magliana Station, to Ostia Antica Station; cross the pedestrian bridge and follow the signs.
More Info: www.ostiaantica.beniculturali.it