Hi friends, welcome back to my Italy series! After visiting the Capitoline Museum, we joined an enjoyable three-hour tour of the Underground Colosseum and Forum with the tour company Italy with Family. There were about twelve of us in the group and our guide was very knowledgeable and engaging. We started in the Forum and saw the highlights pretty quickly. Next time I’m in Rome I’d love to spend more time among these ruins. If you don’t want to join an official tour of the Forum, you could also download Rick Steve’s free audio guide, I’m sure it’s great!
The Roman Forum was the political, religious, and commercial center of the city. The main road is the Via Sacra and it goes from the Arch of Titus to Capitoline Hill. At its peak, the Forum used to be more colorful, but a lot of the materials were taken for other building projects.
The Arch of Titus commemorates Rome’s victory over Judea in 70 AD.
The Basilica of Constantine was the hall of justice where the Romans went to settle their legal disputes. Only one third of the original building remains and the roof was about 55 feet higher than what we see today.
The Temple of Antonius Pius and Faustina was built to honor the beloved Emperor Antonius Pius and his wife Faustina. The diagonal slits at the top of the columns are from an attempt to pillage the pillars and the site is currently used as a church.
The Temple of Vesta was the most sacred place in Rome at the time. There was an eternal flame in the middle of the temple and it represented the prosperity of Rome. The fire was attended by six Vestal Virgins who lived next door in the House of Vestal Virgins. The Vestal Virgins were girls chosen from noble families before they turned ten and they served a 30-year term for taking care of the Temple of Vesta. If they fulfilled their duties, they were given a large dowry and allowed to marry. If they did not, they were paraded through town and buried alive.
Caligula’s Palace was built for Emperor Caligula and overlooked the Forum.
Temple of Castor and Pollux was built in the fifth century BC to commemorate Roman victory over the Tarquin. It was used as meeting place for senators and as a platform for free speech. In the picture below all that remains are the three pillars.
The Temple of Julius Caesar was built to honor him after his brutal stabbing. He was cremated on this spot and people still leave flowers to pay their respects.
The Curia (Senate House) was the site of Rome’s official center of government. This building dates to 283 AD and is well preserved because it was a church until the 1930s. In the picture below it is the rectangle building on the left next to the dome.
The Arch of Septimus Severus (AD 203) commemorates Emperor Severus’ battles in Mesopotamia.
On our tour we walked up Palatine Hill, but only spent about fifteen minutes here. This area was where the palaces of the Roman emperors were. My favorite part of this area was the view of the Forum below and the Colosseum in the background. It’s definitely worth walking up to Palatine Hill for the incredible views. I’m sure the emperors loved looking out over their territory.
I highly recommend taking a tour here because it’s hard to know what you’re looking at and the significance. We only saw parts of the Forum and Palatine Hill, so I’d love to spend more time here one day. Stay tuned for our time at the Colosseum!
P.S. we are headed to Switzerland tonight, so I’ll be taking a break next week from posting 🙂
Posts in this series:
- Where to Stay & Eat
- Piazza Michelangelo & Ponte Vecchio
- Uffizi Gallery
- Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Accademia
- Climbing the Duomo
- Duomo Museum, Bell Tower, & Baptistry
- Palazzo Vecchio & Tuscon Wine Tour