The Trevi Fountain is one of the oldest water sources in Rome. It dates back to ancient Roman times, since the construction of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct in 19 B.C. that provided water to the Roman baths and the fountains of central Rome.
Beginning in the eighth century B.C., Ancient Rome grew from a small town on central Italy’s Tiber River into an empire that at its peak encompassed most of continental Europe, Britain, much of western Asia, northern Africa and the Mediterranean islands. Among the many legacies of Roman dominance are the widespread use of the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian) derived from Latin, the modern Western alphabet and calendar and the emergence of Christianity as a major world religion. After 450 years as a republic, Rome became an empire in the wake of Julius Caesar’s rise and fall in the first century B.C. The long and triumphant reign of its first emperor, Augustus, began a golden age of peace and prosperity; by contrast, the Roman Empire’s decline and fall by the fifth century A.D. was one of the most dramatic implosions in the history of human civilization.
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Four decades after Constantine made Christianity Rome's official religion, Emperor Julian—known as the Apostate—tried to revive the pagan cults and temples of the past, but the process was reversed after his death (AD 363), and Julian was the last pagan emperor of Rome.
Roman architecture and engineering innovations have had a lasting impact on the modern world. Roman aqueducts, first developed in 312 B.C., enabled the rise of cities by transporting water to urban areas, improving public health and sanitation. Some Roman aqueducts transported water up to 60 miles from its source and the Fountain of Trevi in Rome still relies on an updated version of an original Roman aqueduct.
Roman cement and concrete are part of the reason ancient buildings like the Colosseum and Roman Forum are still standing strong today. Roman arches, or segmented arches, improved upon earlier arches to build strong bridges and buildings, evenly distributing weight throughout the structure.
Roman roads, the most advanced roads in the ancient world, enabled the Roman Empire—which was over 1.7 million square miles at the pinnacle of its power—to stay connected. They included such modern-seeming innovations as mile markers and drainage. Over 50,000 miles of road were built by 200 B.C. and several are still in use today.