19 Fun And Interesting Tiber River Facts: Know Its Importance

Oluniyi Akande
Jan 23, 2024 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Apr 05, 2022
One of the Tiber River facts is that it used to be an important trade channel for the city of Rome in the past.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

Tiber River is one of the longest rivers in Italy.

Tiber River meanders alongside the city of Rome. It sometimes also acts as a border between Rome and its neighboring lands in several places.

The source of the river is situated at Mount Fumaiolo of the Apennine Mountains range. Meanwhile, the mouth of the river opens into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The name 'Tiber' is believed to be pre-Latin and derived from 'Tibur,' a noun used as a name for the town of Tivoli situated a little distance away from Rome.

Tiber River flows around the many hills located in the city and the banks of the river are surrounded by beautiful medieval architecture. Several bridges connect both the banks of the river, thereby enhancing the beauty and the romantic appearance of Rome.

Read further to explore more fascinating facts about River Tiber.

What is Tiber River famous for?

Tiber River has been a significant river since ancient times. It was an identifying mark of the Italian capital with other notable landmarks lining the river bank as the river meandered through the capital. Some interesting facts about the popularity of Tiber River are mentioned below.

Tiber River is famously known to be the third-longest river in Italy.

The many bridges along the course join Tiber's left bank and the right bank.

There are, in total, 26 bridges across Tiber River.

In addition to the new bridges that were recently constructed, some of the older bridges have still survived.

In the first century BC, the Milvian bridge, also known as Ponte Milvio or Ponte Molle in Italian, was established to extend the utility of the ancient Roman road called Via Flaminia.

Another purpose of the bridge was to Ariminum, a modern-day Rimini with Rome.

The famous battle between Constantine the Great and Maxentius took place on Milvian Bridge in the fourth century AD.

Ponte Sisto is a medieval stone bridge created to help the pedestrians to cross over from Tiber's right bank to Trastevere.

The banks of Tiber River are lined with historical monuments such as majestic temples, luxurious palaces, and medieval castles.

In the river towards the south of the Vatican, there is a small island by the name Isola Tiberina.

When viewed from a bird's eye view, the island appears in a shape that resembles a fishing boat.

The Basilica of St. Bartholomew, also known in Italian as Basilica di San Bartolomeo al Isola, where the tomb of San Bartolomeo is located, was established on the Isola Tiberina in the 10th century.

Ponte Sant Angelo is a bridge meant only for walking and has the Mausoleum of Hadrian across from it.

The bridge was embellished with Saints Peter and Paul's statues in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini finished the decor by adding 10 angel statues.

Tiber River Mythology

Tiber River has a rich history and has been a river of great significance for the ancient city of Rome. There is a myth associated with the river that has been known for several centuries. Some intriguing facts about the mythology of River Tiber are listed below.

One of the myths from the river's biography talks about King Tiberinus, who used to live during the 900s BC.

The myth says that the king was drowned in River Albula, which was later renamed 'Tiberius' and is now known as 'Tiber.'

The legend further adds that the dead king was transformed into a guardian of the stormy waters by Jupiter.

The myth of the Tiber River is associated with the birth of Ancient Rome.

According to the legend, newborn twins Remus and Romulus were born as a result of the forbidden relationship between the Vestal Rhea Silvia and Mars.

The reigning Amulius ordered the twins to be left to drown in the waters of River Tiber.

It is said that they were rescued by river god Tiberinus and were given to Lupa, a she-wolf who had just then lost her own cubs.

The legend states that Lupa raised the twins who later became the founders of Ancient Rome.

Tiber River has many historical monuments and beautiful boulevards lined on its banks.

How old is the River Tiber?

The exact time of the formation of Tiber River is unknown. While its origin or source is noted in history, its first discovery may have happened before the foundation of Rome. Some amazing facts related to the River Tiber and several other discoveries along the river are mentioned as follows.

Since ancient times, there have been many instances that some development took place near or on the banks of Tiber River, which made more people in the world aware of the river's existence.

The most notable of these was the establishment of the city of Rome.

The city is said to have been founded in 753 BC. It was founded along the banks of Tiber River.

If the legend about the twin founders of Rome drowning in Tiber when they were newborns is based on factually valid grounds, then it may be possible that the river existed even before the twins were born.

Later on, the river gained more importance and recognition due to the trade business and channel enabled by the river.

Why was Tiber River important to Ancient Rome?

The significance of the River Tiber can be dated from the time Rome was first constructed along the river bank. Most of the city of Rome is situated on the east side. Some interesting facts about the past significance of the River Tiber to Ancient Rome are listed below.

Tiber River acted as a border between Rome and Etruscans land in the west direction, the Sabines in the east direction, and the Latins in the south direction.

The river served as an important trade channel for the city of Rome, shipping various items ranging from grains to foodstuff, timber, and stone in the later years.

When the Punic Wars took place in the third century BC, the harbor located at Ostia transformed into an important naval base.

The same harbor later went on to become the most important port of Rome, where the import of wine, olive oil, and wheat from the Roman colonies was carried out.

Wharfs built along the riverside started lining up around the area of Campus Martius in Rome.

The river was then linked with a sewage system by the Romans so as to supply the middle area of the city with water through the establishment of an underground tunnels network.

In the first century BC, the wealthy people of Rome had garden parks they owned along the riverbanks of Tiber River, which were also known as 'Horti.'

Around one century later, these garden parks were further developed after they were sold.

The emperors Trajan and Claudius had to create a new port at Fiumicino during the first century AD, when the maintenance of Ostia became difficult because of the river's heavy sedimentation.

Both ports were then abandoned because of sitting.

Later in the 17th and 18th centuries, many popes tried to revive and improve Tiber River's navigation, and the extensive dredging continued further into the 19th century.

Trade got a boost for a while, but the sitting led to the navigation of the river reaching only Rome by the 20th century.

In early times, there were also bodies of the executed criminals thrown into the Tiber, and the tradition continued for many more centuries.

The significance of the Tiber for the Romans started to decrease due to the sitting and establishment of newer ports.

No big ships or trade takes place on the Tiber now.

No tourist ships or boats sail the river either, since the waterway has been deemed too dirty for tourists.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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