Rome – Forum & Palatine Hill Tour

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 🙂 

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21 thoughts on “Rome – Forum & Palatine Hill Tour

  1. I recall so little of what we saw on our tour in 1984, but am sure we did the exact same tour. The history was all around. And like most warring nations, their monuments celebrated their warriors and victories, rather than their humanity. Thanks for sharing Lyssy. Allan

    1. It wouldn’t be a trip to Rome without a tour of the Forum and Colosseum. It is amazing how long these sites have lasted and how some fared better than others.

  2. Wow, it’s all just so old! Aside from the tragic history that occurred at some of these places, it looks so amazing to visit. I already wanted to go to Italy but you’ve moved it much further up my list!

    1. It was really neat to visit! Between the food and sites you’ll definitely love Italy!

  3. That definitely sounds like a place that a tour would be extremely beneficial. It’s just amazing to me to see so many ruins right in what looks like the middle of the city.

    1. It’s so amazing how much there is to see at every corner! They want to add a metro system, or at least more stations, but they never make progress because every time they dig they find more ruins that have to be excavated by archaeologists and it takes forever.

    1. I would too! Our guide said a lot of the poor girls were buried alive. Don’t think. that’s worth the better seats at the Colosseum.

  4. I enjoyed seeing the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill through the lens of your camera. It’s incredible just how extensive it is and how much history there is. Sounds like the tour was a great call. Safe travels to Switzerland!

  5. Great photos and good summary of the area. I have been to the Forum and Palatine Hills twice and didn’t know many things you shared in your post.

  6. We decided not to take a tour of the Forum while we were here because we were short on time. We did notice that much of the Forum seemed visible just by walking around the public area in Rome- did you notice any areas that were more exclusive to the tour?

  7. I’ve visited the Forum and Palatine Hill, but I didn’t spend too much time exploring each ruin on the ground floor, as I mostly saw the landmarks from the outside while passing through…it certainly pays to check out the ruins in detail, and to learn more about how it was back in the Roman days!

  8. There’s such a density of history in such a small space, it’s hard to imagine. I remember how overwhelming it was after a while.

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