If you love ancient history, you are probably familiar with the Forum Romanum, the religious, legal, and political center of the Roman Empire during Emperor Augustus’ reign. The ruins of this historical site were discovered in the 19th century, and they have drawn tourists ever since.
Although many buildings of the Forum Romanum had been damaged by plundering and earthquakes after the 7th century, the ruins can still reveal a lot about ancient Rome’s history. Traveling to Rome would never be complete without visiting the mystical Forum Romanum.
You reach the excavations’ site through the Via Sacra, which is the most popular and oldest street in Rome. In English, the name means “Sacred Street”, and it came from the holy sites and temples that can be found along this road. Some of them are Maxentius’s basilica, Saturn’s Temple, the rex sacrorum, and the Temple of Vesta. You can also see the ruins of the speaker’s platform, arches, and even market halls.
There is a lot to see when you visit the Roman Forum. Let us check out some of its best attractions:
- Via Sacra – This is the main street that crosses the Forum Romanum. Today, all you can see is a road that connects Capitoline Hill and the Colosseum. However, this street existed long before the Colosseum was built. It is said to have been built during the Augustan period. Historically, Via Sacra was used for ceremonial processions following triumphal military operations.
- Arch of Titus – This is among the three famous arches built in the 1st century AD. Emperor Domitian ordered the said arch as a tribute to his predecessor Titus. Based on the carvings and inscription, the arch venerated Rome’s triumph over Jerusalem in 70 AD.
- Temple of Antoninus and Faustina – This temple is among the best-preserved and most beautiful buildings in the Forum Romanum. You can find it in the area where the Forum and the Via Sacra meet. According to historians, it was built for Emperor Antoninus Pius and his wife, Faustina, in 141 AD.
- Roman Forum Square – This is a vast area in the center of the Roman Forum. It was where the most important public events and business transactions happened back in the day.
- Curia- This was the ancient seat honored in the Roman Senate. Julius Caesar ordered the huge brick building, but it was Augustus who inaugurated it. Later on, it was renovated by Diocletian, and in 630 AD, it was made into a church.
Generally, there is no dress code for visiting the Forum Romanum. You can wear anything you want when visiting the archaeological sites. However, if you want to visit the main basilicas and religious buildings, like St. Peter, avoid wearing strappy tops and shorts.
Just a practical tip, too—make sure you wear durable and comfortable shoes. The Forum has uneven terrain, so you must choose good walking sneakers. It is not advisable to wear heels.
Also, wear outfits that are appropriate for the season to ensure comfort. During warmer seasons, do not forget to bring a hat with you. If you plan to go there during winter, see to it that you wrap yourself well to protect yourself from the cold.
If you are familiar with Rome’s history, you are probably aware that the city was founded on seven hills. The Roman Forum, the city’s center, was surrounded by three hills: the Capitoline, the Palatine, and the Quirinal Hills. Legend has it that Romulus built the city on the Palatine.
In ancient Rome, Capitoline Hill was considered the most sacred among the seven hills. It was where the early Romans’ most revered temple—devoted to Jupiter—was built in the 6th century BCE. This temple was also shared with other important deities, the Roman goddesses Juno and Minerva.
Moreover, Capitoline Hill served as the fortified stronghold of Rome. Although the fortifications and temples have been ruined over the centuries, and only a few remains are visible, the Roman walls still serve as the foundations of the Renaissance buildings.
Meanwhile, Palatine Hill was where the Roman elite built their houses. Some prominent people who had their homes on the Palatine were Augustus, Mark Anthony, Cicero, and Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. According to stories, the hill was also home to the deities Apollo, Vesta, and Victory.
After the reign of Augustus, Palatine Hill became the center of imperial power. Then, the hill was eventually occupied mainly by the imperial palace. In fact, the term “palace” is derived from the hill’s name.
Furthermore, the Roman Forum was where the battle between the Sabines and Romans happened in the 8th century BCE. This place is situated between the Palatine and the Capitoline Hills.
Iron Age cemeteries were discovered during excavations. These cemeteries were greatly used between the 11th century BCE and the 9th century BCE. To keep it out of the annual flood from the River Tiber, the place was filled in with a large amount of rubble and earth for elevation. Then, around the late 8th century BCE or early 7th century BCE, the area was paved.
The Forum Romanum became the center of the city, thanks to the temples and ritual spaces in it. It became a focal point for legal, commercial, political, and religious activities. As centuries passed, local shops were transferred to other places, thus, making the Roman Forum more ceremonial and imposing in function. This was evident in the development of the site’s architecture.
Do you wonder if visiting the Roman Forum is worth it? If you are a history lover, you should not miss the opportunity to explore this historical tourist destination. It would be like traveling back in time and experiencing the rich ancient Roman history.
In addition, the Roman Forum is not only an excellent place for reminiscing history. If you love beautiful scenery, put this on your bucket list. It is best to visit this fantastic destination in spring and autumn so you can appreciate its regal beauty to the fullest.
What are you waiting for? Plan your next trip to Italy now, and do not forget to include the Roman Forum in your itinerary.