From the Colosseum
|Arch of Titus||View of Roman Forum||Tempio Antonino e Faustina||Forum Romano|
The best way to approach the Roman Forum is from the Colosseum along the Via dei Fori Imperiali which sounds grander than it is and as you reach the Arco di Titus (AD79) the first of the Roman triumphal arches which commemorated the defeat (and sacking of) Jerusalem by Emperor Titus. It continued as both a symbol of suppression of the Jews; who were required, by papal decree, to give an annual oath of allegiance in the 16th century and, more recently, as a symbol of defiance when Rome's Jews performed a procession out through the arch with the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. Beyond lie the remaining buildings and excavations of the Forum Romano. On your right is the Tempio di Antonino e Faustina (141AD) built by Emperor Antoninus Pius in honour of his wife Faustina but which on his death was renamed by the Senate in their joint names. Within its perimeter was built the Chiesa di Sant-Laurence in Miranda (7th/8th century, rebuilt in the 16th century). It is in many ways difficult to imagine the power that was wielded from this area given its current condition, Romans in the middle ages saw it as more of a recycling yard taking its historic stones to build new palaces and churches.
|Temple of Saturn||Arch of Septimus Severus||Arch of Septimus Severus||San Luca e Santa Martina|
The Temple of Saturn whose original foundations are the oldest within the Forum (498BC) now displays remains from the end of the 4th century AD. Dedicated to the God saturn it's practical role was as the Roman Empire's treasury, storing gold and silver. The Arch of Septimus Severus (AD203) is another triumphal arch celebrating the victory in the Parthian wars at the end of the 3rd century AD by Emperor Septimus Severus and his two sons. It stands at the bottom of the Capitoline Hill. On the higher ground overlooking the arch is the Chiesa di San Luca e Santa Martina which was rebuilt in 1653-64, on the site of a 6th century church dedicated to St Luke the Evangelist and St Martina, a 3rd century martyr whose relics are kept in its altar.
|Piazza del Campidoglio||Cordonata Steps||Piazza Venezia|
Proceeding uphill you then pass into the Piazza del Campidoglio of the Capitolini Museum whose origins extend back to the donation by Pope Sixtus IV of bronze statues in 1471. The exhibits are in the buildings surrounding and indeed below the piazza; the Palazzo Senatorio (originally 12th century), the Palazzo dei Conservatori (originally 16th century) and the Palazzo Nuovo (17th century). The "harmonised" design you see now is the result of a a mid 16th century redesign by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni "Michelangelo". They hold ancient Roman statues and coins as well as medieval and Renaissance art. Passing down the Cordonata Steps you then reach the busy intersection around Piazza Venezia with on its other side the Palazzo Venezia (1455), originally the Venetian "embassy" in Rome, constructed partly from stone recovered from the Colosseum. It was subsequently a Papal Palace, the residence of the Austrian ambassador before passing to State ownership in 1917. From one of its balconies Benito Mussolini made many of his famous speeches.It now hosts a museum with tapestries, pottery and art.
Towards the Tiber
|Piazza Venezia||Teatro Marcello||San Nicola In Carcere|
Heading south from Piazza Venezia along "Via del Teatro Marcello" you will find the ancient theatre of the same name. Originally planned by Julius Ceasar when he (unpopularly) expropriated its site adjacent to the Tiber but completed by Augustus and dedicated to his nephew Marcellus. Subsequently in the middle ages a fortress was built on its arches and in the 16th century it was converted into a palazzo. Unfortunately it is very difficult to properly visualise its scale and riverside position being effectively sandwiched by surrounding buildings. It is also not normally possible to enter into its interior. San Nicola In Carcere (AD1128 rebuilt 1599)is on the site of a 6th century church, was built from the ruins of the Forum Holitorium including columns from the Temple of Juno Sospita.