Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) is a small island in Rome, on the river Tiber, conected to the two banks of the river by Ponte Cestio and Ponte Fabricio.
According to legend, the island was formed in 510 BC from the wheat and grain harvested in the nearby area of Campo Marzio (Field of Mars), a land owned by the hated tyrant Tarquinius Superbus.
In the 3rd century BC, the island housed the temple of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. In the first half of the 1st century BC, Isola Tiberina was paved with travertine and the bridges Fabricio and Cestio were built.
By then, the island resembled a ship, and an obelisk was erected in the middle, symbolizing the vessel’s mast. In time, the obelisk was destroyed and replaced with a column. After it was removed in 1867, Pope Pius IX had an aedicula (small shrine) put in its place.
In 998, Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, built the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola, on the ruins of the Asclepius temple. Due to the church, in the early 20th century, the Tiber Island was called the Isola di San Bartolomeo (Saint Bartholomew Island) and the Cestius Bridge was called Ponte San Bartolomeo.
In 1584, a hospital was built on the western area of the island, which is still in operation.
The island has the shape of a boat, and is approximately 270 meters long and 67 meters wide. The island was always associated with medicine and healing, due to the ancient Temple of Asclepius and to the hospital built in the 16th century.
The main attractions of the island are the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola, the column of Pope Pius IX, and the two ancient bridges, Ponte Cestio and Ponte Fabricio.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest Metro station is Circo Massimo, located about 1.3 kilometers away, on the Metro Line B. The closest bus stop in Piazza Monte Savello, about 130 meters away, on the bus Lines 23 and 280.