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The phrase

All roads lead to Rome

is an idiom meaning that several paths can lead to the same goal. It originates from the Roman road system, whose main arteries all met and merged in a single point: the Milliarum Aureum, which was placed right smack in the middle of the Forum in Rome.

Many years later, how many roads still lead to Rome?

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    Surely this is blindingly obvious when island nations have roads, which cannot possible lead to Rome? :/ – Mark Mayo Dec 16 '15 at 21:10
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it isn't related to travel in any meaningful way. – Kris Dec 17 '15 at 9:23
  • @MarkMayo You don't even need to consider island nations when you have 2 entire inhabited continents with no land connection to Europe :) – Nigel Harper Dec 17 '15 at 13:21
  • The question I am not sure fits travel SE, but the answer is definitly very interesting. And the system presented also. It allows you to know where you can drive in a given time, given also a starting point. I have seen a few questions asking this before. It would be intersting if it had other means of transportation besides car. – nsn Dec 17 '15 at 14:19
  • How do you define what constitutes a single road? Infrastructure has been built out so that most roads connect to most other roads in Europe. See e.g. smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/… . – choster Apr 8 '16 at 20:55
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Roman Roads

The road system developed by the Romans during their Empire was indeed impressive. Wherever the Romans went, they paved their way there. After all, what's the point of an Empire encompassing such a vast area if one cannot easily reach everywhere from everywhere? Wikipedia states:

At the peak of Rome's development, no fewer than 29 great military highways radiated from the capital, and the late Empire's 113 provinces were interconnected by 372 great roads. The whole comprised more than 400,000 km of roads, of which over 80,500 kilometres (50,000 mi) were stone-paved. In Gaul alone, no less than 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi) of roadways are said to have been improved, and in Britain at least 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi). The courses (and sometimes the surfaces) of many Roman roads survived for millennia. Some are overlaid by modern roads.

Or, to put it in the words of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ant. Rom. 3.67.5:

The extraordinary greatness of the Roman Empire manifests itself above all in three things: the aqueducts, the paved roads, and the construction of the drains. [Ref1]

Tracing the Roads

According to the folks at Moovel Lab, most roads in Europe do indeed lead to Rome. By crunching Open Street Map data using Graph Hopper, they traced all the roads leading to Rome given some 486,713 starting points. The result is the following cartographic representation of Europe:

Roads lead to Rome
Roads to Rome, Moovel Lab, Fair Use

But it doesn't end here. As it turns out, in the US alone there are at least 10 cities named after the original Rome. Below are the 312,719 US roads which lead to one of these Rome's:

US Roads lead to Rome Roads to Rome [US], Moovel Lab, Fair Use

Many Roads Lead to Rome

As it turns out, many roads do indeed lead to Rome. Some of which are still in use, and can be travelled on. Keep this in mind when you plan your next trip.


[Ref1]: Quilici, Lorenzo (2008): "Land Transport, Part 1: Roads and Bridges", in: Oleson, John Peter (ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World, Oxford University Press, New York, ISBN 978-0-19-518731-1, pp. 551–579 (552)

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    Those maps show that you can pick any arbitrary point, and see that most roads lead there. It is not really specific to Rome. – vclaw Dec 16 '15 at 19:16
  • @vclaw No. Those maps show all the routes leading to a designated point. If you change the target point you'll change the topology of the map. – JoErNanO Dec 16 '15 at 19:45
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    @JoErNanO If you change the target, you'll of course get a different map. But the point is that you can make this map for any point. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 16 '15 at 22:00
  • @Gilles You can generate a map for any given destination point. The question is will you get a similar map in terms of number of starting points, ramifications, spread, and country coverage? – JoErNanO Dec 16 '15 at 22:29
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    @JoErNanO Yes – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 16 '15 at 22:45

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