Jun 11, 2024 3 min read

Ultimate Travel Guide to Rome, Italy - The Roman Forum

The most important landmarks are in the central core, the old part of the city. Here, business was conducted, discussions were held, goods were exchanged, money was changed, ideas were shared... people socialized.

The Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

With the help of a pocket guide, I identified most of the former landmarks, now all in a state of ruin.

The Via Sacra was the main street that ran through the Roman Forum. It was flanked by temples, and processions would travel along it toward the Capitol.

As I mentioned, I viewed the Forum from the height of the Capitoline Hill and identified on the left side of this sacred way:

The Arch of Septimius Severus, the best-preserved and easiest to recognize. It was erected in 203 AD to commemorate the emperor's victory over the Parthians (modern-day Iran and Iraq). A short distance away, we can see a light-colored building, probably restored, where the Curia was located,

The Curia, the meeting place for representatives of the provincial cities and later the seat of the Roman Senate. In a closer view, three elegant columns with Corinthian capitals stand from the Temple of Vespasian, and nearby,

The Rostra, a raised platform, originally a speaker's platform. It existed since the 4th century BC but was built from marble in the late imperial period. Continuing along the left side, we identify,

The Sacred Zone, where temples, the equestrian statue of Constantine the Great, another of Emperor Domitian, commemorative monuments, and honorific columns were located, of which only the

Column of Phocas remains intact, erected in 608 AD in honor of the Byzantine Emperor Phocas, the last monument placed in the Forum.

The Basilica Aemilia, from which only a few stones remain, was a tax collection site. It's important to know that the notion of a Basilica initially referred to a rectangular building where people gathered for various purposes. Later, the term referred to a church. We identify some remaining columns from

The Temple of Emperor Antoninus and his wife Faustina. The frieze on the sides of these columns is worked in relief with griffins and candelabras. Of course, these were not visible from the height where we were, but later we walked along the Via dei Fori Imperiali, which runs along the Forum, visited the Colosseum, and then entered the Forum through Piazza del Colosseo.

The Basilica of Maxentius, of which only the northern aisle remains, was completed by Emperor Constantine. On the outer wall along the Via dei Fori Imperiali, panels with maps explaining the history and expansion of the Roman Empire are displayed.

I understood that the Forum hosted many monuments and public buildings, being the political, commercial, religious, and judicial center of the city. After the fall of the empire and Rome, the Forum became a source of construction materials, weathered by the elements and abandoned.

On the right side of the Via Sacra, we recognize:

The Temple of Saturn, of which only eight columns remain, dating from the 4th century AD, but its existence was much older, remaining from the Etruscans from the 4th century BC. For a time, it was used as a Treasury, decisions of the Senate were posted here, and a column was mounted from which distances were measured, a kind of Km 0 of the city. From the steps of this temple began

The Via Sacra, along which we identified the vast area of the former,

Basilica Julia, from which only a few columns and pedestals remain from the grand building of Julius Caesar, where the empire's valuable documents were kept. Three slender columns mark the location of

The Temple of Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of the god Jupiter, and worshipped in the temple erected to them in the 4th century BC. The ruins we see today date from 6 AD. A round structure indicates the location of

The Temple of Vesta. Here there was a circular altar in the middle of which, on a hearth from the 7th century BC, a sacred flame burned perpetually in honor of the goddess of fire, Vesta. The flame was maintained by the vestal virgins, who lived in

The House of the Vestals, located behind the temple and dedicated strictly to these priestesses. The building had an atrium, of which a few marble columns remain, a green space still existing, bordered by pedestals with statues of these vestals, most of them decapitated.

The Roman Forum is vast. Here were libraries, celebrations, ceremonies, games, and the slave trade.

I looked at the ruins left from the former grandeur of the Forum, which still existed in the 6th century AD. Following the invasions, Rome was devastated, the Forum destroyed, the temples looted, everything passed through fire and sword.

On a possible visit to Rome, you shouldn't face the Forum right on the first day. First, you need to decipher its layout on the seven hills (Capitoline, Caelian, Aventine, Viminal, Palatine, Esquiline, and Quirinal).

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