An Interactive Map Shows Just How Many Roads Actually Lead to Rome

…he went away, and pass­ing through what was called the house of Tiberius, went down into the forum, to where a gild­ed col­umn stood, at which all the roads that inter­sect Italy ter­mi­nate.”

- Plutarch, Life of Gal­ba (XXIV.4)

No one can give you exact direc­tions to Mil­liar­i­um Aureum (aka the Gold­en Mile­stone). Just a few carved mar­ble frag­ments of the gild­ed column’s base remain in the Roman Forum, where its orig­i­nal loca­tion is some­what dif­fi­cult to pin­point.

But as the image above, from inter­ac­tive map Roads to Rome, shows (view it here), the mot­to Emper­or Cae­sar Augus­tus’ mighty mile mark­er inspired still holds true.

All roads lead to Rome.

To illus­trate, design­ers Benedikt Groß and Philipp Schmitt worked with dig­i­tal geo­g­ra­ph­er Raphael Reimann to select 486,713 start­ing points on a 26,503,452 km² grid of Europe.

From there, they cre­at­ed an algo­rithm to cal­cu­late the best route from each point to Rome.

(It beats typ­ing a street address into Google Maps 486,713 times.)

From afar, the result­ing map looks like a del­i­cate piece of sea let­tuce or an ear­ly explo­ration in neu­roanato­my.

Zoom in as tight as you can and things become more tra­di­tion­al­ly car­to­graph­ic in appear­ance, names and spa­tial rela­tions of cities assert­ing them­selves. A bold line indi­cates a busy route.

In a nod to map lovers out­side of Europe, the mobil­i­ty-obsessed team came up with anoth­er map, this one geared to state­side users.

Do you know which of the Unit­ed States’ nine Romes you are clos­est to?

Now you do, from 312,719 dis­tinct start­ing points.

To help them in their labor, the cre­ative team made good use of the Graph­Hop­per route opti­miza­tion tool and the Open Street Map wiki. In their own esti­ma­tion, the project’s out­come is “some­where between infor­ma­tion visu­al­iza­tion and data art, unveil­ing mobil­i­ty on a very large scale.”

Buy a poster of the All Roads Lead to Rome map here. Or view the inter­ac­tive map here.

via Arch Dai­ly

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Lon­don Time Machine: Inter­ac­tive Map Lets You Com­pare Mod­ern Lon­don, to the Lon­don Short­ly After the Great Fire of 1666

Watch the His­to­ry of the World Unfold on an Ani­mat­ed Map: From 200,000 BCE to Today

An Inter­ac­tive Map of Every Record Shop in the World

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Wednes­day, May 16 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Comments (6)
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  • Greg Roelofs says:

    While pret­ty, the 9‑way US map seems exceed­ing­ly arbi­trary in its break­down. It’s nei­ther ori­ent­ed around major pop­u­la­tion cen­ters (NYC, LA, Chica­go, SF), nor bal­anced by pop­u­la­tion, nor aligned (or anti-aligned) with his­tor­i­cal migra­tion pat­terns, as far as I recall. (St. Louis was a major debarka­tion point for trav­el­ers head­ing west, but Des Moines or some ran­dom point in the mid­dle of Wis­con­sin??)

    I love it, but I sure don’t under­stand it. :-)

  • Karolyn Hoover says:

    It shows roads lead­ing to US cities named Rome, in the states of Geor­gia, Wis­con­sin, Kansas, Ken­tucky, Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, Iowa, Illi­nois, and Maine, close as I can fig­ure out in the absence of state lines.
    There are oth­ers not shown on the map.
    Hope this clears things up.

  • navi says:

    And could any­body, please, make the same map for Con­stan­tino­ple so that we can com­pare the two trade net­works and see the genius of the archi­tects of our com­mon past!

  • Somebody says:

    Why have you left Fin­land out of map in the visu­al­i­sa­tion at the top of this page?

    On what grounds is Fin­land less impor­tant than the rest of Europe?

    An out­stand­ing Finnish his­to­ri­an Mat­ti Klinge has writ­ten a col­lec­tion of essays with title “Romanus sum”. But appar­ent­ly the mak­ers of this visu­al­i­sa­tion have been think­ing oth­er­wise.

  • The Bou says:

    “Dig­i­tal geo­g­ra­ph­er”? Hmm

  • Milo Theodore 'Troglodyte' 'Yeoval' 'Munter' Hunter says:

    So, would this make Rome the brain of Europe :)

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