MAY 05,2014 - MAY 05,2014 (1 DAYS)
The Roman Forum:
Start and End: Colosseum Metro station.
From the Colosseum Metro station cross the (Via dei Fori Imperiali) street, slight left (towards the Colesseum) and follow the Forum signposts. It is 2-minutes walk to the Roman Forum entrance. (Pause here to use the restrooms - the next one is far away - and to buy a Forum/Palatine map or the Palatine guide book. Don't buy the Palatine Museum book: it's full of inaccuracies, and everything in the Museum is labeled).
Way to Palatine Hill: Turn left at the bottom of the ramp and head for the Arch of Titus. From there you can see the ticket kiosk at the base of the Palatine. As you enter the Palatine, don't follow the ramp up the hill that is directly in front of you. Instead, climb the stairway to your right, stopping on the first platform to see the view over the forum. Climb more steps, stopping to see the fishpond and the moss covered waterfall and pausing at various stages to see the views. At the top there is an overlook of the forum from the balcony between the twin pavilions of the Vignola aviary that is heart-stopping, (and that's why this is the recommended route.)
The other entrance to the Palatine Hill is opposite (north to) the Colesseum. You cannot miss this either. Really just follow the crowd! This area is pretty well sign posted, so that should help as well.
Weather: DO NOT VISIT the Forum in wet or very hot days.
Duration: 3 - 5 1/2 hours (Forum only).
Best Times: Mornings (and the the Palatine Hill in the afternoon). You start your visit in the Forum when the sun is in the east and you are into the Forum - the best for your photos of the Forum and the Palatine Hill.
Opening hours: every day from 8.30 to 19.00.
The ticket office closes one hour before the site closing time.
Tickets: Colosseum/ Palatine Hill /Roman Forum: single ticket: Full price: € 12,00, Reduced: € 7,50 for European Union citizens ages 18 to 24 and for European Union teachers, Free: Visitors 17 and under and European Union citizens 65 and over. The ticket is valid for two days.
With a ROMA PASS you get in without the long queue.
+ There are only 2-3 restrooms in the Forum. Use the one in the entrance. There are ALWAYS long queues in front of the very few restrooms into the Forum.
+Wear comfortable shoes because the landscaping is uneven and some of the stones are loose.
+Bring a few bottles of water.
+Pack a lunch for the WHOLE day.
+Buy the combined ticket (Forum + Palatine Hill + Colosseum) of 12 euro in the Forum. The queues in the Forum entrance ARE FAR SMALLER than in the Colosseum.
+ In other words: devote your first day to the Forum and the Palatine Hill. Devote your NEXT (second) day to the Colosseum and the Imperial Forums and Markets.
+You can buy the combined ticket online: http://www.coopculture.it/en/heritage.cfm?id=4# (2 euro - reservation fee).
+A map would be helpful to navigate around this place. The signage on the site is minimal at explaining the various ruins.
+ One of the best maps is a Google map with symbols of all the ruins in the Forum: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=203239472758068199076.00046891f6ca054a0dfc5&msa=0&ll=41.893429,12.488236&spn=0.007923,0.013711
+Climb up to the Palatine Hill gardens where you get a perspective on the site below.
+ Make sure to use the map and guidebook, available for free at the entrance, you must ask for it.
+ Audioguides can be hired for 4 euro near the Arch of Titus. These audioguides contain an audio jack meaning that two people can easily share one. Make sure you aren't caught out by returning your audio guide near to closing time. You will have been required to hand over a passport or credit card as a deposit for your audio guide. The counters where you can recover your deposit may close half an hour before the area itself shuts - leaving you with no way of recovering your deposit!
+ Near the Arch of Titus at the entrance to the Roman Forum, you might be approached by young, native-English speakers (often students) offering you free guided tours of the Forum. This is not a scam and is done as a way for tour companies to promote their other tours (i.e. at the end of the free tour, the guide hands out a brochure telling you about other tours around town that do cost). Even if you're not interested in the other tours, take the free one and you'll learn a lot about the most important archaeological site in the city.
+ But be careful of the men dressed up as gladiators outside the forum wanting to take your photo, they will try to rip you off by demanding a huge amount of money.
Our tour of the Forum starts at the entrance closest to the Colosseum, where the cobbled via Sacra - the Sacred Way, which ran through the Forum, past its most important buildings - climbs past the towering columns (on the right) of the Temple of Venus and Roma, the two goddesses who protected the city.
Again: You can pick up an audioguide (€4) from the office on the left after the Arch of Titus - worth doing as there's a total lack of explanation of the Forum's highlights. You must deposit your ID (or credit card) in return of using the audioguide. But, still - you can use this trip blog with its photos as your guide. It is difficult to track our trip, step by step - BUT, with the photos, tips and little amount of text - IT WILL HELP A LOT !
Behind the entrance. at the top of the rise is the (arco di Tito) Arch of Titus, built in AD 81 to celebrate the conquest and sack of Jerusalem by the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus ten years earlier. One of the bas-reliefs shows Roman soldiers with their plundered prize from the Temple of Jerusalem: the Menorah and the sacred silver trumpets. The triumphal procession is shown on the east interior wall, with Titus himself accompanied by a winged Victory driving a four-horse chariot. In the centre of the vault there's a square panel that shows Titus riding to the heavens on the back of an eagle.
From the Arch of Titus turn RIGHT to a small lookout-point to get an overall view of the Forum:
Return to the Arch of Titus and bear right (north-west) past the church of Santa Francesca Romana:
Generally closed to the public. During Spring 2014 there were excavations and restoration there. The church was built in the second half of the 10th century.
Continue on to the towering brick ruins of the Basilica di Massenzio (Maxentius), also known as the Basilica of Constantine, begun in 306 by Maxentius but completed in 312 by Constantine. The Basilica will probably be a 3 minute detour off your walking route along the Via Sacra. Probably the last really magnificent building constructed before Rome began her decline. Construction began on the northern side of the forum under the emperor Maxentius in 308, and was completed in 312 by Constantine I after his defeat of Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. The building rose close to the Temple of Peace, at that time probably neglected, and the Temple of Venus and Rome, whose reconstruction was part of Maxentius' interventions. its marble-clad walls occupied three times the space now covered. The great vaults are considered to have inspired Bramante when he was designing St Peter's.
Retrace your steps to the via Sacra. Passing the brick remains of a medieval porticos you come to a building with a set of bronze doors: this is the so-called Temple of Romulus. Today, a portion of the site of this temple lies within the basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano, and has since the 6th century A.D.
The Temple of Romulus was dedicated by Emperor Maxentius to his son Valerius Romulus, who died in 309 and was rendered divine honors. It is possible that the temple was in origin the temple of "Jupiter Stator" or the one dedicated to Penates, and that Maxentius restored it before the re-dedication. Built in the fourth century and named after the Emperor Maxentius' son, to whom it may or may not have been dedicated. The interior of the temple is under seemingly constant restoration, but is visible from the church of San Giovanni in Laterano. A better perspective of the temple can be gained from the Palatine Hill.
Behind the Romulus Tomb is the oldest church in Rome's Imperial Forum - the Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano, or the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian, was built during the 6th century AD and is the oldest church in the Imperial Forum in Rome. It is connected to the 3rd century ancient Roman pagan Temple of Romulus, (see below) and is known for its early Christian mosaics. In addition to its beautiful 6th-century mosaics, the Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano offers a great deal of treasures to explore. The ancient temple’s excavated interior can be viewed through a full-length glass wall in the back of the church. Its high altar, by Domenico Castelli, offers a good representation of Baroque art and displays a 12th-century Byzantine-style icon of the Madonna. Relics of Cosmas and Damian are in a downstairs crypt, and the famous Neopolitan Crib holds an 18th-century hand-carved nativity scene. The basilica, devoted to the two Greek brothers, doctors, martyrs and saints Cosmas and Damian.
View of the Temple of Romulus/Temple of "Jupiter Stator" with Santi Cosma e Damiano in the background, as seen from the Palatine Hill:
Also on the right (more forward to the west) are the great columns of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina honoring Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius, and his wife Faustina. Temple of Antoninus and Faustina – built by Antoninus Pius in A.D. 141, this temple honored the Emperor’s wife, Faustina, who had just died. It was rededicated when he died and was deified in A.D. 161. It stands today in seemingly excellent condition, but this is due in part to the fact that it was converted to the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda in the 7th century A.D. and heavily re-modeled in the 17th century. The remains of the original Roman temple were incorporated, and the church was built on its site. The church is normally closed to the public, but may be visited 10.00-12.00 on most Thursdays. Ten monolithic Corinthian columns of its Pronaos are 17 m. tall:
Continuing towards the Capitoline, what's left of the giant Basilica Aemilia takes up nearly a whole block. Today only the plan and some rebuilt elements can be seen. The Basilica was 100 meters long and about 30 meters wide. Along the sides were two orders of 16 arches, and it was accessed through one of three entrances. Erected in 179 BC by the censors Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (after whom the basilica is named) and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, completely rebuilt over two decades and dedicated in 34 BC, restored after a fire by Augustus in 14 BC, and then again in AD 22 on its two-hundredth anniversary, the Basilica Aemilia was considered by Pliny to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Rome. A large chunk of a dedicatory inscription can be seen on the Via Sacra corner. The wooden roof, the Tabernae as well as the facade of the basilica were completely destroyed by fire when Rome was sacked by Alaric the Visigoth in 410 AD. On the colored marble floor one still can see the green stains of bronze coins from the early fifth century that melted in the fire.
This is what was left of the building. You are looking NW; the brick building in the background is the Curia, with behind it a bit of the dome of the church of SS. Luca e Martina, and a bit of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele:
Portico of Gaius and Lucius - connected to Basilica Aemilia:
The Roman Forum - The Palatine Hill from Basilica Aemilia:
Beyond is the Curia / Roman Curia / Curia Julia / Senate House of Julius. It is the third named Curia, or Senate House, in the ancient city of Rome. It was built in 44 BC when Julius Caesar replaced Faustus Cornelius Sulla’s reconstructed Curia Cornelia, which itself had replaced the Curia Hostilia (The first Roman Senate House was built by Tullus Hostilius). As the home of the Senate, it was begun in 45 BC by Julius Caesar and finished in 29 BC by Augustus. It was rebuilt after the fire that heavily damaged the Forum in AD 283; in the seventh century AD it became the church of St Hadrian, almost all trace of which was removed during Mussolini's restoration of 1935-8, although some fresco fragments still cling on inside. The floor is fabulous.The doors aren't the originals, though - they found their way to in 1660.
Inside the Curia (or Curia Julia), the restored Senate House:
The Three Trees: In the central space of the forum, before the curia and the comitium stand three trees, a fig, a vine and an olive. The trees were planted in the 20th century, but mark the spot where, according to Pliny the Elder, the same three plants grew in antiquity and were held sacred. The fig and vine had apparently sprung out of a hole in the ground, while the olive was planted to give some shade.
We walk back from the Curia eastward (because the Arch of Septimius Severus is blocked due to excavations. We shall bypass the Piazza del Foro RIGHT, and again, RIGHT - with our face to Arch of Septimius Severus.
Opposite, directly in front of the arch of Septimius Severus, is a fenced-off, irregular patch of greyish limestone: this is the Lapis Niger (black stone) that was believed to mark the tomb of Romulus. One of the only surviving remnants of the old Comitium, an early assembly area that preceded the Forum.
Forward, a bit to the left (west) is the white marble Arch of Septimius Severus. It is in the northwest end of the Roman Forum. It is a triumphal arch dedicated in AD 203 to commemorate the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus and his two sons, Caracalla and Geta, in the two campaigns against the Parthians (modern-day Iran) of 194/195 and 197-199. The reliefs of military exploits are now blurred, but some of those at the base of the columns are better preserved, having been buried until the 19th century. These show Roman soldiers (with no head-gear and wearing shoes) leading away their Parthian prisoners.
Just to the left after you pass through the arch is a circular brick structure believed to be the Umbilicus Urbis (the navel of the city).
Next to it, the curved white steps are all that remains of the Rostra of Julius Caesar. The Rōstra (Italian: Rostri) was a large platform built in the city of Rome that stood during the republican and imperial periods. Speakers would stand on the Rostra and face the north side of the Comitium towards the senate house and deliver orations to those assembled in between.
With your back to the temple of Saturn, the solitary Column of Phocas is clearly visible (east to the Temple of Saturn) - actually, in the middle of the Rostra. Dedicated or rededicated in honor of the murderous Eastern Roman Emperor Phocas on August 1, 608 AD. The last monument erected in the Forum before the area became a quarry for Christian structures.
North-west to the Temple of Saturn (below) is the Temple from the Republican era. Portico of the Consenting Gods:
Towards the Capitoline hill, (left, west of Arch of Septimius Severus) is the eight massive columns of the Temple of Saturn. The ruins of the temple stand at the foot of the Capitoline Hill in the western end of the Forum Romanum. The Temple of Saturn is a temple to the god Saturn in ancient Rome. The original dedication of a temple to Saturn was traditionally dated to 497 BC, but ancient writers disagreed greatly about the history of this site. Dedicated, probably, in 498 BC, the Temple of Saturn is the oldest sacred place in Rome, after the Temples of Vesta and Jupiter. It bears an inscription that says it was rebuilt after a fire (probably around AD 360). The cult of Saturn was an ancient one: the first temple to him was built here around 497 BC. The feast dedicated to Saturn, the Saturnalia, was celebrated for three days beginning on December 17 and turned the social order on its head, with slaves and servants being served by their masters...
Now, reverse 180 degrees back and turn EASTWARD when the Basilica Julia on your right. Turn RIGHT and walk along the eastern wing of Basilica Julia. On the far side of the via Sacra stand the foundations of the Basilica Julia, built by Julius Caesar in 55 BC and once a major - and by all accounts very noisy - law court. What is left from its classical period are mostly foundations, floors, a small back corner wall with a few arches that are part of both the original building and later Imperial reconstructions and a single column from its first building phase.
From this path, diverts another path (to the right) to one of the few restrooms in the Roman Forum.
Following the basilica to the right, you come across an opening to the Cloaca Maxima - one of the world's earliest sewage systems.
At the end of this path is a fenced-off area around the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua (south to the Temple of Castor and Pollux), where beautiful seventh- and eighth-century frescoes are under restoration. Built in the 5th century, and for a long time the monumental access to the Palatine imperial palaces. Located at the foot of the Palatine Hill, Santa Maria Antiqua is the oldest Christian monument in the Roman Forum. The church contains the earliest Roman depiction of Santa Maria Regina, the Virgin Mary as a Queen, from the 6th century.
Oratory of the Fory Martyrs, by the entrance to Santa Maria Antiqua (church is behind):
Rising beside the Basilica Julia are three elegant columns that formed part of the Temple of Castor and Pollux (twins, sons of Zeus/Jupiter). Castor,one of the twin sons of Jupiter who, according to legend, appeared to Roman troops in 499 BC, helping the Republic to victory over the Latins:
We return back the whole last path and turn RIGHT (back towards the centre of the Forum). On our left is the Temple of Caesar / Temple of Divus Julius. A nondescript mass of concrete masonry beneath a low-pitched green roof is all that remains of the temple dedicated to the memory of the deified Julius by Augustus in 29 BC. It's popularly held to be the place of Caesar's cremation (though in fact this took place at the other end of the Forum, across the via Sacra from the temple of Antoninus and Faustina), and flowers are still left here on March 15 (the Ides) each year.
View from behind:
Commemorative plaque beside Caesar's altar:
Between the temples of Castor and Divus Julius are the scant remains of the Arch of Augustus, believed to be the arch built in 29 BC to commemorate his victories, including that at Actium over Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC. It spanned the road between the Temple of Castor and Pollux and the Temple of Caesar, near the Temple of Vesta.
Just beyond, three small columns arranged in a curve mark the round Temple of Vesta where the vestal virgins tended the sacred fire. Within its garden, the rectangular house of the Vestal Virgins was where they lived chastely: if not they could expect to be buried alive in the 'field of wickedness' (campus scleratus) by the Quirinale. This complex consists of a small circular shrine, along with the private apartments and garden of the Vestals. The shrine or 'Sacellum', for this was not actually a dedicated temple, but a shrine, was small and served by the Vestals. It contained a secret recess in which were kept sacred objects, and was also home to the sacred fire which was kept burning at all times. The temple has a history of damage (particularly by fire) and restoration, having undergone repair after 390 BC, 241 BC, 14 BC, 64 AD and 191 AD. It survived these multiple destructions, only to be closed in 394 AD by Theodosius. The remains as seen today date from the restoration by Julia Domna in 191 AD. Of the house of the Vestals, among the buildings surrounding the garden was also the Domus Publica, where the Pontifex Maximus (or High Priest of Rome) had lived before the Emperors took on this responsibility. The rest of this palacial residence of more than 50 rooms on three floors around a central garden with a pool, was occupied purely by the Vestal virgins. The complex occupies the site of a sacred grove that continued to exist among the buildings of the forum until the fire in the reign of Nero. That fire also destroyed the house of the Vestals that had hitherto existed and the currently visible building dates from the rebuild after the great fire. After the closing of the temple in 394 AD, the house was turned into offices for the Imperial administration. The entire complex is visible from the forum, but access is generally not permitted and the garden must be viewed from a small platform at one end.
Temple of Castor and Pollux from the Temple of Vesta:
Temple of Vesta & House of the Vestals:
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina from the Temple of Vesta:
House of Vestals - further north-east to the Temple of Vesta:
We completed our half-day tour of the Roman Forum. We devote the second half to the Palatine Hill. The sun, now, is in the west and we'll get spectacular views of the Forum from the top (and on our way to the top) of the Palatine Hill. We return to whole way to the Arch of Titus and turn RIGHT (south). On our right is the Via Nova. Here we can take photo of the whole Forum from the end of the Via Nova:
We shall turn right and climb the stairs to the Orti Farnese or Farnese Gardens. the rest of the way up to the Palatine Hill - see our trip to the Palatine Hill. Please turn to the Palatine Hill trip.