The Roman Forum, also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum, is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.
For centuries the Forum was the center of day-to-day life in Rome: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city's great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million sightseers yearly.
Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman Kingdom's earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Regia (8th century BC), and the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome.
Other archaic shrines to the northwest, such as the Umbilicus Urbis and the Vulcanal (Shrine of Vulcan), developed into the Republic's formal Comitium (assembly area). This is where the Senate as well as Republican government itself began. The Senate House, government offices, tribunals, temples, memorials and statues gradually cluttered the area.
Over time the archaic Comitium was replaced by the larger adjacent Forum and the focus of judicial activity moved to the new Basilica Aemilia (179 BC). Some 130 years later, Julius Caesar built the Basilica Julia, along with the new Curia Julia, refocusing both the judicial offices and the Senate itself. This new Forum, in what proved to be its final form, then served as a revitalized city square where the people of Rome could gather for commercial, political, judicial and religious pursuits in ever greater numbers.
Eventually much economic and judicial business would transfer away from the Forum Romanum to the larger and more extravagant structures (Trajan's Forum and the Basilica Ulpia) to the north. The reign of Constantine the Great saw the construction of the last major expansion of the Forum complex�the Basilica of Maxentius (312 AD). This returned the political center to the Forum until the fall of the Western Roman Empire almost two centuries later.
Arch Of Titus
The Arch of Titus is a 1st-century AD honorific arch, located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum. It was constructed in c. AD 82 by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus's victories, including the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70). The arch has provided the general model for many triumphal arches erected since the 16th century; perhaps most famously it is the inspiration for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
The soffit of the axial archway is deeply coffered with a relief of the apotheosis of Titus at the center. The sculptural program also includes two panel reliefs lining the passageway within the arch. Both commemorate the joint triumph celebrated by Titus and his father Vespasian in the summer of 71.
The south panel depicts the spoils taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. The golden candelabrum or Menorah is the main focus and is carved in deep relief. Other sacred objects being carried in the triumphal procession are the Gold Trumpets, the fire pans for removing the ashes from the altar, and the Table of Shew bread. These spoils were likely originally colored gold, with the background in blue. In 2012 the Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project discovered remains of yellow ochre paint on the menorah relief.
The north panel depicts Titus as triumphator attended by various genii and lictors, who carry fasces. A helmeted Amazonian, Valour, leads the quadriga or four horsed chariot, which carries Titus. Winged Victory crowns him with a laurel wreath. The juxtaposition is significant in that it is one of the first examples of divinities and humans being present in one scene together. This contrasts with the panels of the Ara Pacis, where humans and divinities are separated.
The House Of The Vestals
The House of the Vestal Virgins was the residence of Vestal Virgins, located behind the circular Temple of Vesta at the eastern edge of the Roman Forum, between the Regia and the Palatine Hill. The domus publicae, where the Pontifex Maximus dwelled, was located near the Atrium until that role was assumed by the emperors.
The Atrium Vestae was a three-story 50-room palace in the ancient Roman Forum built around an elegant elongated atrium or court with a double pool. To the very east is an open vaulted hall with a statue of Numa Pompilius, the mythological founder of the cult.
The complex lay at the foot of the Palatine Hill, where a sacred grove that was slowly encroached upon lingered into Imperial times, when all was swept away by the Fire of Rome in 64. The House of the Vestals was rebuilt several times in the course of the Empire. After the dissolution of the College of the Vestals and the introduction of compulsory Christianity by Theodosius I in the late 4th century AD, the House of the Vestals continued to serve as a residence building. It now housed officials of the imperial court, and subsequently the papal court. Archaeological finds from this period include a hoard of 397 gold coins from the 5th century and another 830 Anglo-Saxon coins dating from the 9th and 10th centuries. The site was abandoned in the 11th/12th century.
The Basilica Julia was built on the site of the earlier Basilica Sempronia (170 BC) along the south side of the Forum, opposite the Basilica Aemilia. It was initially dedicated in 46 BC by Julius Caesar, with building costs paid from the spoils of the Gallic War, and was completed by Augustus, who named the building after his adoptive father.
The Basilica housed the civil law courts and tabernae (shops), and provided space for government offices and banking. In the 1st century, it also was used for sessions of the Centumviri (Court of the Hundred), who presided over matters of inheritance. In his Epistles, Pliny the Younger describes the scene as he pleaded for a senatorial lady whose 80-year-old father had disinherited her ten days after taking a new wife.
It was the favorite meeting place of the Roman people. This basilica housed public meeting places and shops, but it was mainly used as a law court. On the pavement of the portico, there are diagrams of games scratched into the white marble. One stone, on the upper tier of the side facing the Curia, is marked with an eight by eight square grid on which games similar to chess or checkers could have been played.
Basilica of Maxentius
The Basilica Maxentius is a marvel of Roman engineering work. At the time of construction, it was the largest structure to be built and thus is a unique building taking both aspects from Roman baths as well as typical Roman basilicas. At that time, it used the most advanced engineering techniques known including innovations taken from the Markets of Trajan and the Baths of Diocletian.
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.
The building consisted of a central nave covered by three groin vaults suspended 39 meters above the floor on four large piers, ending in an apse at the western end containing a colossal statue of Constantine (remnants of which are now in a courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini). The lateral forces of the groin vaults were held by flanking aisles measuring 23 by 17 metres (75 x 56 feet). The aisles were spanned by three semi-circular barrel vaults perpendicular to the nave, and narrow arcades ran parallel to the nave beneath the barrel vaults. The nave itself measured 25 metres by 80 metres (83 x 265 feet) creating a 2000 square meter floor. Like the great imperial baths, the basilica made use of vast interior space with its emotional effect.
Temple of Divius Romulus
The basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano is a church in the Roman Forum, parts of which incorporate original Roman buildings. The circular building at the entrance onto the Forum (not used today) was built in the early 4th century as a Roman temple, thought to have been dedicated to Valerius Romulus, deified son of the emperor Maxentius. The main building was perhaps the library of an imperial forum.
It became a church in 527 and contains important but much restored early Christian art, especially in its mosaics. Today it is one of the ancient churches called tituli, of which cardinals are patrons as cardinal-deacons: the current Cardinal Deacon of the Titulus Ss. Cosmae et Damiani is Beniamino Stella, created Cardinal on 22 February 2014. The basilica, devoted to the two Greek brothers, doctors, martyrs and saints Cosmas and Damian, is located in the Forum of Vespasian, also known as the Forum of Peace.
The Temple is traditionally held to have been dedicated by Emperor Maxentius to his son and co-consul Valerius Romulus, who died in 309 and was given divine honours. The temple building was probably part of a rebuilding program of "incredible intensity" undertaken by Maxentius in the area, following a disastrous fire in 306; the project was only part-complete at his death. The temple's identification with Valerius Romulus is tentative, based on the spot-find of a coin dated to 307 AD showing the distinctive shape of the building, and a nearby dedication to Valerius Romulus as a divinised mortal. The temple has also been speculated as a rebuilding of the original temple of "Jupiter Stator", or one dedicated to Penates, restored by Maxentius.
Temple of Castor and Pollux
The Temple of Castor and Pollux was originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (495 BC). Castor and Pollux were the Dioscuri, the "twins" of Gemini, the twin sons of Zeus (Jupiter) and Leda. Their cult came to Rome from Greece via Magna Graecia and the Greek culture of Southern Italy.
The last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, and his allies, the Latins, waged war on the infant Roman Republic. Before the battle, the Roman dictator Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis vowed to build a temple to the Dioscuri if the Republic were victorious.
According to legend Castor and Pollux appeared on the battlefield as two able horsemen in aid of the Republic; and after the battle had been won they again appeared on the Forum in Rome watering their horses at the Spring of Juturna thereby announcing the victory. The temple stands on the supposed spot of their appearance.
In Republican times the temple served as a meeting place for the Roman Senate, and from the middle of the 2nd century BC the front of the podium served as a speaker's platform. During the imperial period the temple housed the office for weights and measures, and was a depository for the State treasury.
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
The temple was begun in 141 AD by the Emperor Antoninus Pius and was initially dedicated to his deceased and deified wife, Faustina the Elder. When Antoninus Pius was deified after his death in 161 AD, the temple was re-dedicated jointly to Antoninus and Faustina at the instigation of his successor, Marcus Aurelius.
The building stands on a high platform of large peperino blocks. The later of two dedicatory inscriptions says, "Divo Antonino et Divae Faustinae Ex S.C." meaning, �To the divine Antoninus and to the divine Faustina by decree of the Senate.
The temple was converted into a Roman Catholic church, the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Miranda, perhaps as early as the seventh century, but it is only attested from the eleventh century work Mirabilia Urbis Romae. "Miranda" may derive from the name of a benefactress. It was then thought that this was the locus of the sentencing of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr to death by the Prefect of Rome, hence its dedication.
Temple of Saturn
The Temple of Saturn ruins stand at the foot of the Capitoline Hill at the western end of the Roman Forum. The original dedication of the temple is traditionally dated to 497 BC, but ancient writers disagreed greatly about the history of this site.
Construction of the temple is thought to have begun in the later years of the Roman Kingdom under Tarquinius Superbus. Its inauguration by the consul Titus Lartius took place in the early years of the Republic. The temple was completely reconstructed by Munatius Plancus in 42 BC.
The present ruins represent the third incarnation of the Temple of Saturn, replacing the version destroyed by the fire of Carinus in 283 AD. The extant inscription on the frieze commemorates this restoration undertaken after the fire.
In Roman mythology, Saturn ruled during the Golden Age, and he continued to be associated with wealth. His temple housed the treasury where the Roman Republic's reserves of gold and silver were stored. The state archives and the insignia and official scale for the weighing of metals were also housed there. Later, the aerarium was moved to another building, and the archives transferred to the nearby Tabularium. The temple's podium, in concrete covered with travertine, was used for posting bills.
Arch of Septimus Severus
The Arch of Septimius Severus (Italian: Arco di Settimio Severo) at the northwest end of the Roman Forum is a white marble 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 of 194/195 and 197/199.
After the death of Septimius Severus, his sons Caracalla and Geta were initially joint emperors. Caracalla had Geta assassinated in 212; Geta's memorials were destroyed and all images or mentions of him were removed from public buildings and monuments. Accordingly, Geta's image and inscriptions referring to him were removed from the arch.
Forum of Augustus
The triumvir Octavian vowed to build a temple honoring Mars, the Roman God of War, during the battle of Philippi in 42 BC. After winning the battle, with the help of Mark Antony and Lepidus, Octavian had avenged the assassination of his adoptive father Julius Caesar. He became the Princeps of Rome in 27 BC under the name Augustus, and planned for the temple to be built in a new forum named after himself. Augustus used social propaganda by continuing Julius Caesar's will to create a Temple to Mars Ultor "greater than any in existence", by placing it within the Temple, linking himself to his divine adopted father, obtaining a strong link to the Roman population through their love for the deceased dictator.
The land the Forum was to be built on was already owned by Augustus himself. However, the initial plans called for more space than he had. In order to keep those on the land he would need to purchase to build upon, the plans were altered slightly, so some asymmetry is apparent, especially in the Eastern corner of the precinct; for which Suetonius states that Augustus did not want to take the houses of the nearby owners by force. This self-proclaimed good deed was more than likely just a ploy to save Augustus money and trouble. These land issues, as well as numerous architectural mishaps, prolonged construction. The incomplete forum and its temple were inaugurated, 40 years after they were first vowed, in 2 BC. In 19 AD Tiberius added two triumphal arches either side of the temple in honour of Drusus the Elder and Germanicus and their victories in Germania.
Porticus Deorum Consentium
The Porticus Deorum Consentium (Italian: Portico degli Dei Consenti; English: Portico of the Harmonious Gods), sometimes known as the Area of the Dii Consentes, is located at the bottom of the ancient Roman road that leads up to the Capitol in Rome and to the Temple of Jupiter at its summit. The Clivus Capitolinus ("Capitoline Rise") turned sharply at the head of the Forum Romanum where this portico of marble and composite material was discovered and re-erected in 1835.
It was last rebuilt in 367 AD and was thus the last functioning pagan shrine in the Forum (such shrines had been forbidden by law more than a decade earlier). The Portico housed twelve recessed rooms where it is believed the judicial clerks of the Capitoline Assent held their offices.
The Tabularium was the official records office of ancient Rome, and also housed the offices of many city officials. Situated within the Roman Forum, it was on the front slope of the Capitoline Hill, below the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, to the southeast of the Arx and Tarpeian Rock.
Within the building were the remains of the temple of Veiovis. In front of it were the Temples of Vespasian & Concord, as well as the Rostra and the rest of the forum. Presently the Tabularium is only accessible from within the Capitoline Museum, although it still provides a panoramic view over the Forum.