ROMAN FORUM, Itinerary Start

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English / USA Language: English / USA

I suggest starting your tour through the Forum from above, at the arches of the Tabularium, which is the imposing building you can see under Capitoline Hill, or from the panoramic balconies behind the Vittoriano (the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II) in order to take in the entire excavation site.

I suggest using the best preserved monuments as reference points: in the foreground you can admire the Arch of Septimius Severus with its three arches, and on the right, the remaining pillars of the Temple of Neptune.

The ancient Via Sacra (or Sacred Road) begins behind the arch, where on the left you can see the Curia Julia and the clearing where the Emilia Basilica once stood. As I mentioned, the buildings that were converted into Christian churches are the ones that have been best preserved over time, such as the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.

In the center, isolated, you can easily recognize the column that the Byzantine Emperor Foca had erected in the year 608. The three beautiful columns on its right behind the podium with steps, the cobblestones, and the remains of the Basilica Julia are all that's left of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, next to which you can see the circular Temple of Hercules Victor.

Farther along the path of the Via Sacra, you can see the façade of the church of Santa Francesca Romana. On the left you have the mighty arches of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, and behind them the unmistakable shape of the Colosseum; to the right you can see The Arch of Titus and behind that the Arch of Constantine; even more to the right, you can see Palatine Hill.

Now you can go down into the archaeological area, entering from Via dei Fori Imperiali next to the Emilia Basilica. Once you've entered the forum, I suggest going all the way back and to the right, underneath Capitoline Hill, which is dominated by the impressive remains of the Tabularium.

The first monument that you'll see along the Via Sacra is the impressive Arch of Septimius Severus with three archways; it was erected in the Emperor's honor in the year 203 after his successful military campaigns in the East. On the piers of the tall columns you can see the "barbarians" that were taken prisoners, sculpted in a highly effective and even noble fashion.

The eight granite columns near you are from the Temple of Saturn and are among the oldest standing columns in Rome, more than 2300 years old! They are smooth with Ionic capitals with a double curl. The State Treasury once stood near here, but has since been destroyed.


FUN FACT: between The Arch of Septimius Severus and the Temple of Neptune, you can still recognize the remains of the platform where the metal bows of the defeated Carthaginian ships had been placed.

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