An Overivew of Buildings in the Roman Forum

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A Picture of the Buildings in the Roman Forum

The Roman Forum Restored
Pantheon 1, 2 | Roman Temple of Antoninus and Faustina | Temple Ruins: Saturn, Castor & Pollux | Temple of Vesta | Buildings in the Roman Forum. Forum Restored "A History of Rome," by Robert Fowler Leighton. New York: Clark & Maynard. 1888

The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) began as a marketplace but became the economic, political, and religious center of all Rome. It is thought to have been created as a result of a deliberate landfill project. The forum stood between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills in the center of Rome.

With this overview, learn more about the buildings that could be found in this space. 

"On the Origins of the Forum Romanum," by Albert J. Ammerman American Journal of Archaeology (Oct., 1990).

 

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Temple of Jupiter

Legend says Romulus vowed to build a temple to Jupiter during a battle of Romans against the Sabines, but he never fulfilled the vow. In 294 B.C., in a later fight between the same contenders, M. Atilius Regulus made a similar vow, but he carried it out. The location of the temple of Jupiter (Stator) is not known for sure.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's "Aedes Jovis Statoris."

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Basilica Julia

The Basilica Julia may have been built by Aemilius Paullus for Caesar starting in 56 B.C. Its dedication was 10 years later, but it still wasn't finished. Augustus finished the building; then it burned. Augustus rebuilt it and dedicated it in A.D. 12, this time to Gaius and Lucius Caesar. Again, the dedication may have preceded completion. A sequence of fire and rebuilding of the marble structure with wooden roof was repeated. The Basilica Julia had streets on all sides. Its dimensions were 101 meters long by 49 meters wide.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's Basilica Julia.

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Temple of Vesta

 The hearth goddess, Vesta, had a temple in the Roman forum in which her sacred fire was guarded by the Vestal Virgins, who lived next door. Today's ruins come from one of many re-buildings of the temple, this one by Julia Domna in A.D. 191. The round, concrete temple stood on a circular substructure 46 inches in diameter and was surrounded by a narrow portico. The columns were close together, but the space between them had a screen, which is shown in ancient illustrations of the temple of Vesta.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's The Temple of Vesta

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Regia

 The building in which the king Numa Pompilius is said to have lived in. It was the headquarters for the pontifex maximus during the republic, and located directly northwest of the Temple of Vesta. It was burned and restored as a result of the Gallic Wars, in 148 B.C. and in 36 B.C. The shape of the white marble building was trapezoidal. There were three rooms.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's Regia

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Temple of Castor and Pollux

 Legend says this temple was vowed by dictator Aulus Postumius Albinus at the Battle of Lake Regillus in 499 B.C. when Castor and Pollux (the Dioscuri) appeared. It was dedicated in 484. In 117 B.C., it was rebuilt by L. Cecilius Metellus Dalmaticus after his victory over the Dalmatians. In 73 B.C, it was restored by Gaius Verres. In 14 B.C. a fired destroyed it except the podium, the front of which was used as a speaker's platform, so the soon-to-be-emperor Tiberius rebuilt it.

The temple of Castor and Pollux was officially the aedes Castoris. During the Republic, the Senate met there. During the Empire, it served as a treasury.

References:

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Tabularium

The Tabularium was a trapezoidal building for storing state archives. The palazzo Senatorio is in the background on the site of Sulla's Tabularium in this photo.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's Tabularium

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Temple of Vespasian

This temple was built to honor the first Flavian emperor, Vespasian, by his sons Titus and the Domitian. It is described as "prostyle hexastyle," with a length of 33 meters and width of 22. There are three surviving white marble columns, 15.20 meters high and 1.57 in diameter at the base. It was once called the temple of Jupiter Tonans.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's Temple of Vespasian

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Column of Phocas

The Column of Phocas, erected August 1, A.D. 608 in honor of Emperor Phocas, is 44 ft. 7 in. high and 4 ft. 5 in. in diameter. It was made of white marble with a Corinthian capital.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Christian Hülsen's The Column of Phocas

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Statue of Domitian

Platner writes: "Equus  Domitiani: a bronze equestrian statue of [Emperor] Domitian erected in the forum in 91 A.D. in honour of his campaign in Germany [and Dacia]." After Domitian's death, as a result of the Senate's "damnatio memoriae" of Domitian, all traces of the horse had disappeared; then Giacomo Boni found what he thought were the foundations, in 1902. Subsequent work on the strata in the area has given insight into the development of the forum.

References:

  • Lacus Curtius: Platner's Equus Domitiani
  • "(Re)locating Domitian's Horse of Glory: The 'Equus Domitiani' and Flavian Urban Design," by Michael L. Thomas; Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome (2004)
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Statue of Domitian

A speakers' platform in the forum, it is called the rostra because it was decorated with the prows (rostra) of ships taken at Antium in 338 B.C.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's Rostra Augusti

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Arch of Septimius Severus

The triumphal arch of Septimius Severus was made of travertine, brick, and marble in 203 to commemorate the victory of Emperor Septimius Severus (and his sons) over the Parthians. There are three arches. The middle archway is 12x7m; the side archways are 7.8x3m. Over the side ones (and on both sides) are large relief panels narrating scenes from the wars. Overall, the arch is 23m high, 25m wide, and 11.85m deep.

References:

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Basilicae

A basilica was a building where people met for matters of law or business.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's The Basilica Aemilia

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Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Antoninus Pius built this temple in the forum, to the east of the basilica Aemilia, to honor his deified wife, who died in 141. When Antoninus Pius died 20 years later, the temple was re-dedicated to the two of them. This temple was turned into the Church of S. Lorenzo in Miranda.

Reference: Lacus Curtius: Platner's Templum Antonini et Faustinae

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Gill, N.S. "An Overivew of Buildings in the Roman Forum." ThoughtCo, May. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/buildings-in-the-roman-forum-117756. Gill, N.S. (2017, May 8). An Overivew of Buildings in the Roman Forum. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/buildings-in-the-roman-forum-117756 Gill, N.S. "An Overivew of Buildings in the Roman Forum." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/buildings-in-the-roman-forum-117756 (accessed November 23, 2017).