Historic roads

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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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Hærvejen (Danish, meaning the army road) ran from Viborg, Denmark through Flensburg (in the present 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 Land Road, the Kulmer Steig, and the Salt Road to Hallstadt in Salzkammergut and Halle an der Saale and Reichenhall.


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

Roman Empire[edit]

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.


Ireland's prehistoric roads were minimally developed, but oak-plank pathways covered many bog areas, and five great 'ways' (slighe) converged at the Hill of Tara. The Esker Riada, a series of glacial eskers formed at the end of the last Ice Age, formed an elevated pathway from east to west, connecting modern Galway to Dublin.

East Asia[edit]


The Silk Road was a major trade route between China and India, Europe, and Arabia.

South Asia[edit]

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. A route since antiquity, it was constructed into a coherent highway by the Maurya Empire in 300BC. Soon after, the Greek diplomat Megasthenes wrote of his travels along the road to reach Hindu kingdoms in the 3rd century BC. After invading India over 1,500 years later, Mughals extended the Grand Trunk Road westwards from Lahore 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,[when?] the road has acted as a major trade route and facilitated travel and postal communication. The Grand Trunk Road remains under use for transportation in modern India.

Middle East[edit]

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.

According to Deuteronomy 19:2-3 in the Hebrew Bible, roads were built to facilitate ease of access to the three regional Cities of Refuge in Israel.


South America[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 Lincoln Highway (dedicated 1913) was the first road for the automobile across the United States of America, spanning 3389 miles coast-to-coast from New York City to San Francisco. 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 Canada–US border. The Yellowhead Highway is an east – west route connecting British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in western Canada.


General information

External links[edit]