Palatine and Roman Forum (Rome, Italy)


The Roman Forum, as depicted by Constant Moyaux (1866). Image from wikipedia.

From the Colosseum, our guide led us on a walk through the Roman Forum, an area between the Palatine and Capitoline hills that served as ancient Rome’s commercial area. All the buildings now lay in ruins, with only pediments, partial columns, arches and fragments of floors remaining after 2,000 years. The state of the ruins, scattered over a large area, belies what must have been a magnificent civic center with grand structures and paved pathways, a tribute to the engineering prowess of the ancient Romans.

The Arch of Constantine, built by Emperor Constantine in AD 312 to commemorate his victory in battle over a rival co-emperor, marks the time when Rome converted to Christianity. It is now surrounded by a gate. As you walk past, you notice the decorations all over the arch. The marble friezes were re-used from earlier imperial monuments so that the overall impression is a lack of a coherent style.

Arch of Constantine

Arch of Constantine

The artistic style of the roundels from Hadrian's time (first third of the second century) markedly differs from the rectangular panel below (4th century)

The artistic style of the roundels from Hadrian’s time (first third of the second century) markedly differs from the rectangular panel below (4th century)

All that remains of the Temple of Venus and Roma are a row of Corinthian columns and a portion of the temple housing an impressive apse with a coffered dome. The temple is thought to have been the largest in ancient Rome.

Temple of Venus and Roma

Temple of Venus and Roma

To commemorate his brother and the victory over the Jews at Masada, Emperor Domitian built the Arch of Titus. In one panel under the soffit is a depiction of the Romans removing valuable treasure from the Temple of Jerusalem, including the menorah.

Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus

Sacking of the Temple of Jerusalem

Sacking of the Temple of Jerusalem

The arch is said to be the model for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The Basilica of Maxentius was the largest structure built by the Romans at the time. It used to house an enormous statue, the Colossus of Constantine, that has since been moved to the Palazzo dei Conservatori. It used the latest technology to build the vast interior space, including soaring ceilings of perpendicular, coffered barrel vaults, which can still be seen today. A 9th century earthquake leveled most of the structure. All that remains today is the north wall.

North wall of the Basilica of Maxentius

North wall of the Basilica of Maxentius

As you approach the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina,built in the 2nd century, it looks like a traditional temple with portico of Corinthian columns. But as you get closer, you realize that it is the front of a Roman Catholic church (San Lorenzo in Miranda), the temple having been converted in the 7th century.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

A temple dedicated to the twins Castor and Pollux, known as the Dioscuri, had to be rebuilt several times because of deterioration or fires that destroyed earlier constructions. The temple was used as a meeting place by the Senate as well as housing civic offices. Only a portion of the podium remains, three beautiful, fluted Corinthian columns topped by a portion of the architrave.

Three columns are all that remain of the Temple of Castor and Pollux

Three columns are all that remain of the Temple of Castor and Pollux

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s