The Forum’s humble beginning, more than 3000 years ago, was as a swampy cemetery for the original village on Palatine Hill. After the marsh was drained off in the 6th century BC, it took on its central role in the life of the Republic. It was filled with food stalls and brothels, as well as temples and the Senate House. By the 2nd century BC food stores were replaced by business centres and law courts. The Forum remained the ceremonial centre of the city under the Empire, with emperors renovating old buildings and erecting new temples and monuments.
Hubby and I started our walk through the Forum from the Arch of Titus on Via Sacra, the oldest road in Rome which runs through the Forum to the Capitoline. Republican heroes staged triumphal processions along here …
The Arch of Titus is the oldest triumphal arch in Rome. It was erected in AD 81 by Emperor Domitian to honour his brother, Titus and his father, Vespasian for putting down the Jewish Revolt. Reliefs show soldiers sacking Jerusalem’s Holy of Holies and taking sacred objects, such as a golden menorah
Part of Farnese Gardens of Palatine Hill is on the left …
Temple of Romulus … originally built as a vestibule to the Temple of Peace. Maxentius dedicated the building in 309 AD as a temple in honour of his son Valerius Romulus. The Basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano stands behind it. The original 4th century bronze doors open into the rotunda measuring 15 ft in diameter covered by a cupola
Temple of Romulus and remains of Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius behind on the right with arches..
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is now incorporated into the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. I was listening to a guide close-by who said it was built at ground level. The church was subsequently also built at ground level. Excavations down to where we were standing makes the door look odd being so high up …
Below on left – Temple of Castor and Pollux ….. right – Temple of Vesta …
Temple of Vesta …
Temple of Castor and Pollux – there has been a temple here since the 5th century BC, the columns and elaborate cornice date from AD 6 when the temple was rebuilt ..
House of the Vestal Virgins – six priestesses who lived here tended the sacred flame in the Temple of Vesta. The girls, from noble families, were selected when they were between 6 and 10 years old and served for 30 years. ‘They had high status and financial security, but were buried alive if they lost their virginity and whipped by the high priest if the sacred flame died out. Although they were permitted to marry after finishing their service, few did so. ‘ The house was a large rectangular building around a central garden ..
Chariot wheel grooves in the Via Sacra …
On left – Temple of Saturn. Middle – the Rostra, the orator’s tribune from which speeches were made. On right – Arch of Septimius Severus ..
Temple of Saturn – traditionally dated to 497 BC “but ancient writers disagreed about the history of this site”
Arch of Septimius Severus with Church of Santi Luca e Martina behind. A 6th or 7th century church located outside the archaeological site, also known as the ‘church of the 3 Forums’ as it stands where the Roman Forum meets the fori of Augustus and Caesar. The Curia, behind the Arch and out of view, I thought was particularly dull building not realising it’s the reconstructed Roman Senate House ..
Arch of Septimius Severus – triumphal arch erected in AD 203 on the 10th anniversary of Emporer Septimius Severus’ accession ..
When we returned to Capitoline Hill with our tour group a few days later, we were taken to a good vantage point above the Forum. I’m including those photos here as it ties into my story ..
Under the tiled roof close to the ground, is the spot where the Romans believed was the centre of the world .. the centre of humanity .. the centre of all life !
‘ All roads lead to Rome ‘ : every road in the Roman Empire either led directly to Rome, or linked to one of the major roads that led directly to Rome. One of the reasons why the Roman Empire worked so efficiently for such a long time was because travel was easy. Trade routes could move more efficiently, and troops could be moved more effectively
Moving on … dinner on Via Veneto, one of the most famous streets in Rome .. next in our Italian adventure