The Roman Forum

Our first view of the Roman Forum came from the Palatine, with a panorama over the site including the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Curia and (just in shot) the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. In the foreground,  there’s also the beautiful (partial reconstruction of the) House of the Vestal Virgins  …

The remains of the massive Basilica of Maxentius were also viewed from the Palatine.  We would pass this regularly by bus from the other side, and what you don’t see in this picture is that other side currently shored up by scaffolding, as building of Rome’s Metro Line C is underway next to Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Moving into the Forum proper, the Arch of Titus, erected to celebrate the AD 70 Flavian victory in Jerusalem, looms large.  While it has seen much reconstruction, the reliefs, including that depicting the carrying away of artefacts from the Temple of Jerusalem, remain vivid and emotive.


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Nearby stands the remains of Hadrian’s Temple of Venus and Roma. Like his villa in Tivoli, the emperor Hadrian designed this unusual and innovative construction himself (its two cellas dedicated to the goddesses Roma and Venus were back to back). Here it’s viewed from the Colosseum.

Some later temples survive to us more or less intact, thanks to their reuse as churches. An example is the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, originally erected by Emperor Antoninus Pius in 141 AD and dedicated to his wife Faustina.  It owes its completeness to the fact that it would later became the 17th Century church of San Lorenzo in Mrianda, complete with baroque additions including that curved broken pediment. The door of that church seems suspended in mid-air these days, as the original structure has been revealed.


Meanwhile, the Temple of Romulus (dedicated in the very early years of the 4th Century to the son of the Emperor Maxentius), was the first temple within the forum to be Christianised, and details of that Christian past can be seen in its interior decoration. It’s also part of the church of Saints Cosma and Damiano, whose visitors were watching us watching them.



It’s also one of the few visible sights of the Temple, or Forum, of Peace, built by Vespasian after the sack of Jerusalem depicted in the Arch of Titus.  That temple would act as an early museum for ordinary Romans to see some of the artefacts that had been brought back.  On this visit, this particular temple represented a much welcome respite from the growing morning heat!

No such shelter available from the remains of the Temple of Vesta, which is both incomplete, and largely a 1930s construction.


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At the back of shot below, the tabularium, or official record office of Rome, is accessed via a visit to the Capitoline Museums, and represents one of one of those great Roman layering examples. Itself built over the ancient Temple of Veiove, it went on to have medieval elements added, before being incorporated into the Renaissance Palazzo that would become Rome’s “city hall”.  It also provides some great (and shady) views over the Forum as a whole.



One comment

  1. I love walking through the forum in Rome. The Arch of Titus mesmerizes me it is so intricate…and so huge! Wouldn’t it be so cool to catch a glimpse of the forum at the height of its power?

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