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Ancient roads

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Title: Ancient roads  
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Ancient roads

Historic roads are existing or once existent travel routes of historic significance. They typically cover great distances.


The Silk Road was a network of trade routes between China and the Mediterranean. It spanned the modern countries of Syria, Iran, Pakistan and India.


Except for Roman roads, European pathways were rarely in good shape and depended on the topology and geography of the region. In the early Middle Ages, people often preferred to travel along elevated drainage divides to lower down. This was due to thick forests and other natural obstacles in valleys.

Frankish Empire

Antsanvia (from the Latin antiana via, old road) was a trade road that ran from Mainz to Thuringia. Due to wide visibility from the Rhön mountains, places along the road became sites for hilltop castles in the Middle Ages. An example is Hauneck Castle (Burg Hauneck) on the Stoppelsberg, the ruins of which are still visible. It served to oversee and protect traffic on Antsanvia and protect the villages in the Haune Valley.

Elisabethenstraße ran from the district of Mainz-Kastel through Hofheim am Taunus to Oppidum Nida and into Wetterau.

The Old Salt Route or Alte Salzstraße (Hanseatic League) was a salt trade route from Lüneburg to Lübeck.

The Rennsteig was a connecting road between small independent states in Thuringia. As of 2013, it is a hiking trail. The route crosses the Thuringia Forest and the slate mountains of Thuringia and Frankenwald, stretching from Hörschel at the river Werra (near Eisenach) to Blankenstein at the river Saale. It is part of the European long-distance paths network.

The Via Regia (King's road) ran from Frankfurt am Main to Görlitz in south-west Poland.

The Via Tolosana is the last Pilgrim route on the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela.

The German Wine Route was established in 1935 and is the oldest of Germany's tourist wine routes. It is located in the Palatinate region of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate,

Birkenhainer Landstraße was a Wine trade road. It ran between Bergische Eisenstraße, Deitweg, Eselsweg, Way of St. James and Schwabenweg.

Germans and Celts

The Amber Road (Bernsteinstraße) was an amber trade route from Lithuania to northern Italy.

The Hellweg was an ancient route through Germany. It ran from the Rhine in the east to the mountains of the Teutoburger Wald in the west, and Duisburg (the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers) to Paderborn. The Sauerland was to its south.

The Ortesweg was a renowned[according to whom?] path from Marburg to Bamberg.

Denmark and Germany

The Hærvejen (Danish, meaning the army road) ran from Viborg, Denmark through Flensburg (in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein) to Hamburg


Roads in Upper Saxony and the Electorate of Saxony included the Old Dresden to Teplitz Post Road, the Old Freiberg to Teplitz Post Road, the Franconian Road, the High Road, the Kulmer Steig, and the Salt Road to Hallstadt in Salzkammergut and the Halle an der Saale and Reichenhall.


The Via Pythia (or Pythian road) was the route to Delphi. It was revered throughout the Ancient Greek world as the site of the Omphalos stone (the centre of the earth and universe).

Roman Empire

Main article: Roman road

Appian Way (of the Roman Empire) was a service road from Rome to south-east Italy. Watling Street, originating in Roman Britain, was an Imperial service road from Dover through London to Wroxeter.

East Asia


South Asia

The Khyber Pass was an all-season mountain pass connecting Afghanistan to western Pakistan.

The Grand Trunk Road in South Asia was the main road from modern day Bangladesh to northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mughals extended the Grand Trunk Road westwards; at one time it extended to Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan) crossing the Khyber Pass. The road was later improved and extended from Calcutta to Peshawar by the British rulers of colonial India. Over the centuries, the road acted as a major trade route and facilitated travel and postal communication. Since the Sur era, the road has been dotted with caravansarais (highway inns) at regular intervals. Trees were planted on the sides of the road to give shade to travellers and merchants. Sher Shah made many roads for tax free trade. The Grand Trunk Road remains under use for transportation in modern India.

Middle East

The Royal Road (in the Persian Empire) was a service road from Turkey to Iran. The Aleppo to Baghdad Road (from the Middle East to the Ottoman Empire) was the main road from Syria to Iraq.


South America

The Camio Real in Peru (part of the Inca road system) was a road that crossed the Andes to connect parts of the Inca Empire.

North America

The Old Natchez Trace was a trade route in the south-east United States. It pre-dated the arrival of Europeans to the Americas.

United States

In the American Old West, the Oregon Trail was a vital[according to whom?] 19th century pioneer route from Illinois to Oregon. The Santa Fe Trail was a major commercial and military artery from Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In modern times, the American Route 66 was a 1930s route from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Blue Ridge Parkway (constructed 1935–1987) is National Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia.


In Canada, the Carlton Trail was a fur trade route from south-west Manitoba to Fort Edmonton in Alberta. The Trans-Canada Highway (completed in 1971) is a highway running the full width of the southern Canadian border. The Yellowhead Highway is an east – west route connecting British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in western Canada.


General information
  • Ramsay, William Mitchell. The Historical Geography of Asia Minor. London: John Murray, 1890.
  • Abbott, Katharine M. Old Paths and Legends of New England; Saunterings Over Historic Roads, with Glimpses of Picturesque Fields and Old Homesteads in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903.
  • Hulbert, Archer Butler. Pioneer Roads and Experiences of Travelers. Historic highways of America, v. 11-12. Cleveland, Ohio: A.H. Clark, 1904.
  • McKinley, Albert E., and William G. Kimmel. The Social Studies. Philadelphia: McKinley Pub. Co, 1909. "Historical Problems of the Near East, The Trade Routes of Western Asia" by W. L. Westermann.

External links

  • Analysis of local roads near Chobham Common
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