Insula (Roman city)

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An insula (Latin for island) is a city block in an ancient Roman city plan, i.e. one that is surrounded by four streets.[1] The term was also used for apartment buildings that took up an entire city block.[2][3]

A standard Roman city plan[4] was based on a grid of orthogonal streets[5][full citation needed] and was probably founded on the ancient Greek model of Hippodamus and was used when new cities were established, e.g. in Roman coloniae.

The main streets of each city would be the Decumanus Maximus (east–west-oriented) and Cardo Maximus (north–south) which intersected at, or close to, the forum around which the most important public buildings would be sited.

Plan of Roman Cologne (Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium)
Plan of Silchester


  1. ^ Chaitanya Iyyer (1 December 2009). Land Management. Global India Publications. p. 147. ISBN 978-93-80228-48-8.
  2. ^ Gregory S. Aldrete (2004). Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii and Ostia. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 78–80. ISBN 978-0-313-33174-9.
  3. ^ Stephen L. Dyson (1 August 2010). Rome: A Living Portrait of an Ancient City. JHU Press. pp. 217–9. ISBN 978-1-4214-0101-0.
  4. ^ Macaulay, David (1974). City: A Story of Roman Planning and Engineering. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
  5. ^ "Roman Engineers: A Plan for a Small Roman City".

Sources and further reading[edit]