Emperor Hadrian

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Emperor Hadrian, full name ”Caesar Traianus Hadrianus”, was born in 76 AD. He came from a Roman family who moved to Spain. His parents were from the city of Atri in Italy. His father was a Roman senator and maybe the most important of all Hadrian was the first cousin of Emperor Trajan. This connection of Hadrian later leaded to him becoming emperor.

Emperor Hadrian of the Roman Empire
Emperor Hadrian of the Roman Empire

Rise of Hadrian

Hadrian became a quaestor (high-ranking official in charge of controlling the state treasury and financial affairs in Rome) in 101, and in 102 he accompanied Trajan in his first battle in Dacia. In 105, he became the tribune of the Plebs, in 106 he was promoted to Praetor. In 107, he was brought to the governorship of Lower Pannonia. He reached the peak of his senatorial career and became consul in the year 108. Hadrian was a civil servant during the Parthian wars that coincided with the end of Trajan’s rule. In 117, when Trajan began his westward expedition, Hadrianus was appointed head of the army in Syria. On August 9, he learned that Trajan had adopted him this was a clear sign of succession. Trajan died en route to Rome from his expedition in Cilicia and then the army declared Hadrianus emperor On August 11.

A Denari Minted in Hadrian’s Era

Hadrian Becoming the Roman Emperor

Hadrian turned the Roman Empire’s policies into a different direction. His predecessor Trajan was focusing on war and the expansion of the Empire but the policies of Hadrian were quite opposite. Emperor Hadrian thought having a stable country with safe borders is much more important. Maybe the biggest example of this idea is the Hadrian’s Wall. He made peace with all the Roman enemies in Roman Province of Mesopotamia and Roman Province of Armenia.

Roman Empire at the Time of Hadrian

Hadrian’s Travels Around the Roman Empire

If you ask anyone who was the biggest traveler of the Roman Empire, the answer definitely will be Emperor Hadrian. He visited nearly all major cities and provinces of the Roman Empire. When he had his visits, he was not alone. Hadrian had an entourage of engineers, generals and businessman with him. He made generous donations to the cities he visited and built many monuments which are still standing today. The most well known of these monuments are the Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus and the Gate of Hadrian in Ephesus.

Gate of Hadrian in Antalya, Turkey

Cities Visited by Emperor Hadrian in Asia Minor


Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the city in 129. In order to honor the Emperor, the city built the Hadrian’s Gate and Agora, the remains of which are still standing today.


Hadrian’s Gate is one of the monumental gates on the city wall surrounding the city. Also called marble door. It was addressed to the Roman Emperor Hadrian during his visit to Antalya in 130.


The Temple of Hadrian was built as a monumental temple in the name of Emperor Hadrian.

Hadrian Temple in Ephesus


Hadrian visited Claudiopolis while he was spending winter in Nicomedia. Here he met Antinous who later became his lover.


Andriake harbor, which was built by Hadrian includes a granary and this harbor had a connection with Myra.


The city of Patara was also a port where grains transported from Anatolia to Rome were stored and kept. A massive grain warehouse was built here as in Andriake during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. The Roman Emperor Hadrian came to Patara with his wife Sabine and rested here for a while.


Hadrian spent a full winter in Nicomedia city which was the capital of the Roman Province of Bithynia and Pontus. Hadrian made genarous donations to Nicomedia which was struck by an earthquake earlier.

Aureus, a golden coin, from Hadrian’s Era


There are four temples found in the ancient city so far. The biggest and most important of these is the Hadrian Temple.


The most striking part of the city is the temple built for the Roman Emperor Trajan. After Trajan died, Hadrian, who replaced him, finished the construction of the temple. That’s why there are relief sculptures of him on one side of the temple.

Euphrates River

Hadrian met the Parthian Emperor Osroes the first and made a treaty with Osroes the first by the bank of the Euphrates. This agreement secured the eastern border of the Asia Minor.

Laodicea on the Lycus

An inscription indicating that the gymnasium built in the second century AD was built by Proconsul Gargilius Antioius and dedicated to Emperor Hadrianus and his wife Sabina.

Hadrian and Antinous

Antinous, boyfriend of Hadrian

It is alleged that Hadrian met Antinous, his eromenos (boyfriend) in Claudiopolis, which we know today as Bolu. Antinous was a young man in his 20s. Antinous accompanied him for the rest of his journey in Anatolia and later died in the year 130 by drowning in the Nile. It is claimed that Antinous let himself into the river as a sacrifice to extend the life of the elder lover Hadrian. Another rumor claims that he was killed. It is said in various sources that after Antinous’s death, Hadrian cried for days. The city named Antinopolis was established on the banks of the Nile River and became a cult area. Hadrian declared Antinous a god, had his sculptures erected in many cities and depicted him on coins. A constellation had also been named after Antinous.

Death and Legacy of Emperor Hadrian

Hadrian’s death took place on July 10 138. Emperor Hadrian was at the age of 62. He was not quite old for a man of his own social class. His accomplishments as a ruler were worthy of a leader committed to revitalizing his empire and securing his people’s future. Hadrian ruled one of the largest empires the world has ever seen, spanning three continents and encompassing 40 countries for 21 years. The empire he left behind was transformed and developed, and his legacy is still with us today.

Hasan Gülday

Hasan Gülday. Professional licensed tour guide working in Turkey.

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