Roman Forum

Dating back to around 500 B.C or earlier, the Roman Forum is a rectangular plaza situated on low-lying land between the Palatine and Capitoline Hill which once housed ancient Rome’s most important temples, monuments and political venues. At its peak, the Forum was considered the heart of Rome, and the location where several public events including elections, speeches, criminal trials, religious ceremonies, educational events, and trade and commerce were conducted. Today, the site has several historical ruins, the most important of which are:

1. The Via Sacra – The main road that runs through the Roman Forum, and stretching all the way to the Colosseum, this street connected all the important buildings in the Forum, and served as the pathway for ceremonies and processions.

2. The Arch of Titus – Constructed in 81 A.D by Emperor Domitian, this Arch commemorates Domitian’s brother Emperor Titus, and his victory in the siege of Jerusalem.

3. Basilica Santa Francesca Romana – Built in the 10th century on top of the ruins of Hadrian’s Temple of Venus and Roma, thought to have been the largest temple in Ancient Rome, the Basilica Santa Francesca Romana can be found on the north side of the Via Sacra.

4. Palatine Hill – Towering over the Roman Forum and the Circus Maximus, Palatine Hill is one of the most important of the seven hills in Rome, as it is believed to be the location of the Lupercal, the cave where Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were found by a she-wolf. Today, the Palatine is an extensive archaelogical site where the ruins of the Flavian palace and the Stadium of Domitian can still be seen.

5. Basilica of Maxentius – Begun by the Emperor Maxentius and finished by Constantine around 313 AD, this building is one of the largest of the ancient Roman basilicas, with an area of nearly 5,600 meters squared.

6. Temple of Romulus – Standing between the Basilica of Maxentius and the Temple of Antoninus & Faustina, the Temple of Romulus is believed to have been dedicated by the Emperor Maxentius to his son Valerio Romolo, who died prematurely in 309 AD at the age of 4.

7. The Temple of Antoninus & Faustina – Built in 141 AD, this temple is dedicated to Antoninus Pius and his wife Faustina. It was converted into the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda during the 12th century.

8. The Temple of Vesta – One of the most holy and important building in ancient Rome, the Temple of Vesta contained the Sacred Fire which was guarded by six priestesses called the Vestals, who were children of the best families in Rome. The temple was likely circular in structure with 20 slender columns supporting the roof, and an opening in the center, to let out the smoke from the sacred flame. The current ruins date back to between 193 and 211 AD.

9. The Temple of Castor & Pollux – Originally built in 484 BC, and rebuilt by Tiberius in the first century AD, this temple was built to honor the Dioscuri – Castor and Pollux, who according to legend rode to Rome and watered their horses at a spring in the Forum, after the defeat of the Tarquins. All that remains of the temple today is three 12-meter Corinthian columns that are referred to as The Three Sisters.

10. The Temple of Caesar – A few days after his murder on 15th March 44 BC (the Ides of March), and following Marc Antony’s funeral speech at the Forum, the distraught Roman public spontaneously cremated Caesar’s body on this site. In 42 BC, Caesar became the first Roman to be deified by the Senate, after which it was decided to build a temple on the site. The temple was not inaugurated until 29 BC, after Octavian had prevailed over Marc Antony and Cleopatra to establish himself as Emperor.

11. The Curia (Roman Senate) – One of the best preserved buildings in the Forum, The Curia was once the meeting place of the Roman Senate, with the capacity to seat up to 300 senators. It was rebuilt several times, and finally converted to a Church in the 7th century. Outside the Curia is a slab of black marble under which, according to legend, Romulus (the founder of Rome) is buried.

12. The Temple of Saturn – Dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, this building was used as the treasury in Roman times, and is where all of Rome’s wealth was stored and managed. Originally built in 497 BC, the temple was destroyed by fire several times and repeatedly rebuilt. The current structure, with its eight weathered ionic columns dates back to around 42 BC.


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