ROMAN FORUM, Curia And Basilicas

Audio File length: 2.54
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

You're now at the Curia Julia, a simple and sober brick structure which is one of the best preserved monuments in the Forum, both because it was transformed into the Christian church of Sant'Adriano, and because the twentieth-century restorations saw to restoring its roof. It was first rebuilt at the time of Julius Caesar and then again at the end of the third century AD, when it took on its present form. Inside you can still see part of the original marble floor, as well as two beautiful bas-reliefs named the "Plutei of Trajan". They are the remains of a parapet that was made near here, in front of the rostrum's platform. The sculptures illustrate two important economic decisions that were made by Emperor Trajan: the cancellation of tax debts, which is represented by the people throwing away heavy tax registers, and the distribution of low-interest agricultural loans.

Behind the Curia you can see the dome of the beautiful Church of the Saints Luca and Martina, the Baroque work of Pietro da Cortona with a travertine façade that's perfectly harmonized with the remains of ancient Roman civilization.

The Forum's central clearing opened up in front of the Curia, and you can still see a few original cobbles here and there. Built in 179 BC, the Emilia Basilica stood to one side; today all that remains is little more than its foundation. But be careful not to confuse the structure: in ancient times a "basilica" wasn't a sacred building, but a seat of economic and political activity, and especially judicial activity, presided over by the "basileus", which in Greek means "sovereign".

On the Via Sacra side you can see the remains of the Julia Basilica built by Julius Caesar and restored in the third century under Emperor Diocletian. The partially rebuilt ruins barely help give you an idea of its past splendor; in fact, it was the largest and most magnificent building of the entire Forum, which you can see from its foundation that's 101 meters long and 49 wide, as big as a soccer field! It was the home of the civil court: the large central hall was supported by brick and travertine arches, and the building was divided into several sections so that it could simultaneously host several trials.

 

FUN FACT: unbelievably famous episodes of Roman history took place in the Curia. During the Punic wars, Cato the Elder repeated the words "Karthago delenda est!" here every day: we must destroy Carthage!

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