Roman Forum

Gazing on it today, a picturesque shambles of ruins and weeds, you would hardly guess that the forum was the symbol of civic pride for 1000 years. Its humble beginning, more than 3000 years ago, was a swampy cemeteryfor the orginal village on Palatine Hill. Gradually it rose, ever more glorified, as Rome's power grew. After the marsh was finally drained off in the 6th century BC, it took on its central role in the life of the republic. The Forum showed its most elegant face starting with the reign of augustus, the first Roman emperor, who is said to have turned the city from brick to marble.

 Top 10 Features of Roman Forum

Arche of Septimius Severus
Click to enlargeThe well-preserved triumphal arch celebrate the emperor's Middle Estern victories. It was erected in aAD 2003 by his sons, Geta and Caracalla, then co-emperors.

Temple of Vesta and House of the Vestal virgins
Click to enlargeA graceful round temple and its adjacent palace were the centre for one of Rome's most revered cults. Noble priestesses tended the sacred flame and enjoyed the gratest privilages.

Click to enlargeThe 3rd-century-AD senate retains its orginal polichrom inlaid floor, its risers, where the 300 senators in deliberation, and the speker's platform. For the 2nd-century views of the Forum, examine the large marble reliefs, showing Emperor Trajan's good works.

Temple of Castor and Pollux
Click to enlargeThree Corinthian columns remain of this temple to Dioscori - twin brothers of Helen of Troy and sons of Jupiter and Leda. The shrine marked the spot where they miracolously appeared in 499 BC to announce a crucial Roman victory.

Arche of Titus
Click to enlargeThe arche was erected in AD 18 by Emperor Domitian to honour his brother, Titus, and his father, Vespasian, for putting down the Jewish Revolt. Reliefs show soldiers sacking Jerusalem's Holy of Holies and carrying of sacred objects, including a goden menorah.

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine
Click to enlargeThree vast, coffered varrel vaults proclaim the Forum's largest structur, built arround AD 315 and used as the legal and financial centre of the Empire.

Temple of Vespasian
Click to enlargeUntil 18th-century excavation were undertaken, these graceful corner columns (AD 79) of the temple to a former emperor stood mostly buried beneath centuries of detritus.

Via Sacra
Click to enlargePaved with broad, flat, black basalt stones, Rome's oldest road wound from the Arch of Titus trough the Forum and up to the Capitoline. republican heroes staged triumphal processions here, but degenereted into a hangout for gossips, pick-pockets and other idlers.

Temple of Saturn
Click to enlargeEight grey-and-red lonic columns constitute what's left of this temple (also the state treasury) to the ruler of agriculture and of a mythic "Golden Age". Saturnalia, celebrated each December, was very similar to modern-day Christmas.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Click to enlargeDedicted by Antoninus Pius in AD 41 to his deified wife Faustina, this is one of the best preserved temples With its Barogue-style top-knot, it is also one of the oddest. Note the carvings of griffins along the side frieze.