Roman Architecture and Monuments

Articles on Roman architecture, monuments, and other buildings

Ancient Rome is renowned for its architecture, especially its use of the arch and concrete -- seemingly small items -- that made possible some of their engineering feats, like aqueducts built with rows of graceful arches (arcades) to carry water to cities more than fifty miles away from area springs.

Here are articles on architecture and monuments in ancient Rome: the multipurpose forum, the utilitarian aqueducts, heated baths and sewer system, residences, monuments, religious buildings, and spectator event facilities.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum Restored
The Roman Forum Restored. "A History of Rome," by Robert Fowler Leighton. New York: Clark & Maynard. 1888

There were actually several fora (plural of forum) in ancient Rome, but the Roman Forum was the heart of Rome. It was filled with a variety of buildings, religious and secular. This article describes buildings listed in a drawing of the reconstructed ancient Roman forum.


Roman Aqueduct in Spain, courtesy of the History Channel
Roman Aqueduct in Spain. History Channel

The Roman aqueduct was one of the ancient Romans' main architectural accomplishments. 

Cloaca Maxima

Cloaca Maxima
Cloaca Maxima. Public Domain. Courtesy of Lalupa at Wikipedia.

The Cloaca Maxima was the sewer system of ancient Rome, conventionally attributed to the Etruscan King Tarquinius Priscus to drain the Esquiline, Viminal and Quirinal. It flowed through the forum and Velabrum (the low ground between the Palatine and Capitoline) to the Tiber.

Source: Lacus Curtius - Platner's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1929).

Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla
Baths of Caracalla. Argenberg

The Roman baths were another area where Roman engineers showed their ingenuity figuring out ways to make hot rooms for the public social gathering and bathing centers. The Baths of Caracalla would have accommodated 1600 people.

Roman Apartments - Insulae

Roman Insula
Roman Insula. CC Photo Flickr User antmoose

In ancient Rome most city people lived in several story-high fire traps.

Early Roman Houses and Huts

Floor plan of a Roman House
Floor plan of a Roman House. Judith Geary

On this page from her longer article on Republican Roman construction, writer Judith Geary shows the layout of the typical Roman home in Republican times and describes the homes of the earlier period.

Mausoleum of Augustus

Mausoleum of Augustus From the Interior
Mausoleum of Augustus From the Interior. CC Flickr User Alun Salt

The Mausoleum of Augustus was the first of the monumental tombs for the Roman emperors. Of course, Augustus was the first of the Roman emperors.

Trajan's Column

Trajan's Column
Trajan's Column.

ConspiracyofHappiness / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 

Trajan's Column was dedicated in A.D. 113, as part of Trajan's Forum, and is remarkably intact. The marble column is almost 30m high resting on a 6m high base. Inside the column is a spiral staircase leading to a balcony along the top. The outside shows a continuous spiral frieze depicting events of Trajan's campaigns against the Dacians.

The Pantheon

Pantheon. CC Flickr User Alun Salt.

(Latin for 'eye') to let in light.

The Temple of Vesta

Temple of Vesta
Temple of Vesta. Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries," by Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani (1899).

The Temple of Vesta held the sacred fire of Rome. The temple itself was round, made of concrete and was surrounded by close columns with a screen of grill-work between them. The Temple of Vesta was by the Regia and the house of the Vestals in the Roman Forum.

Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus at Rome
Circus Maximus at Rome. CC jemartin03

The Circus Maximus was the first and the biggest circus in Ancient Rome. You wouldn't have attended a Roman circus to see trapeze artists and clowns, although you might have seen exotic animals.


Exterior of the Roman Colosseum
Exterior of the Roman Colosseum. CC Flickr User Alun Salt.

Pictures of the Colosseum

The Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheater is one of the most well-known of the ancient Roman structures because so much of it still remains. The tallest Roman structure -- at about 160 feet high, it is said to have been able to hold 87,000 spectators and several hundred fighting animals. It is made of concrete, travertine, and tufa, with 3 tiers of arches and columns different orders. Elliptical in shape, it held a wooded floor over the underground passageways.

Source : Colosseum - From Great Buildings Online

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "Roman Architecture and Monuments." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 26). Roman Architecture and Monuments. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Roman Architecture and Monuments." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).