How Many Roads Actually Lead to Rome?

This interactive map will let you view them all.

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When Roman emperor Caesar Augustus erected the Milliarium Aureum (or Golden Milestone) in the heart of Ancient Rome, all roads were designed to begin at the monument, and all distance across the Roman Empire measured through it. Today, a pair of designers have actually created an interactive map that shows every road that leads to Rome, with the help of data, Google maps, and code. The map shows an intricate network laid atop Europe, with thick branches (the most frequently used routes) and tiny spidery branches in a total of almost 500,000 routes.

Designers Benedikt Groß and Philipp Schmitt began with where to begin. They aligned starting points in a 26,503,452 km² grid that covered all of Europe, and pinned 486,713 starting points. Then, they created an algorithm that calculated a different route for every trip. The more frequently a street segment was used, the bolder it became on the map.

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They didn't stop there: in their research, they discovered that Rome (or at least, cities named Rome or Roma) existed on every continent. In the U.S. alone, there are nine cities named after the ancient capital. They decided to create a map that routed paths to the closest Rome to every location in the U.S.A. Their colorful map shows the fastest route to any Rome in the U.S., with 312,719 routes that took the algorithm two hours to flag.

Why stop there? The designers also mapped routes to each state capital in the U.S. and in Europe, and then tried roads to Paris and Berlin to investigate whether the roads could reveal the political structures of a country. "The maps as an outcome of this project are somewhere between information visualization and data art, unveiling mobility on a very large scale," the designers wrote.

(via Open Culture)

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