Our travels also took us to Rome, and I the ruins of the Roman Forum.

Built on the site of an ancient necropolis, the Roman Forum was the center of both governmental and public life during both the days of the Republic and the Empire. Over time, the addition of new buildings and new temples filled this plot of land.

This Forum was where the Senate met, where Julius Caesar’s ashes were placed in a shrine, and where the hapless orator Cicero’s hands and head wer placed on display on the Rostra.

Back at its start, the forum was a swampy, ancient burial ground or necropolis. However, the invading Etruscans, the dominant power in Italy until the sixth century B.C., decided to drain the swampy ground, raise it up and turn it into the focal point for the city. When the Romans finally overthrew the last Etruscan king in 509 B.C., they continued to build on and improve the Forum. However, these improvements to the Forum came with one crucial caveat: once built, a Temple could never be destroyed or moved. This led to the Forum becoming almost crowded with temples, until the eventual legalization of Christianity and the fall of Rome shortly thereafter saw them eventually fall into disrepair.

The Forum today is very accessible to the public, although the smaller artifacts seem to have, understandably and thankfully, been removed by archaeologists.


A view of the Forum for what once was the House of the Vestal Virgins.
House of the Vestal Virgins, with the Temple of Antonius and Faustina in the background.
The tomb of Julius Caesar. His ashes have long since been removed, but they were once kept in this shrine.
These bits of an ancient inscription sit just off the path. Unfortunately, not enough of them is left to make a guess as to what they once said.
The Arch of Septimus Severus
Part of the Arch of Septimus Severus for which I’m having a hard time finding any explanation. Unless I’m mistaken, the man in the Arch seems to be caring for or protecting the child, but so far I haven’t been able to find anything definitive about them. If any readers of this blog have answers or theories, please feel free to post them in the comments.
Looking up at the Temple of Saturn
A look at the entire forum from ground level. You can see the Temple of Castor and Pollux to the right and the Column of Phocas, the last addition to the Forum, to the left.
Ruins near the Curia Julia
The three pillars are all that’s left of the Temple of Castor and Pollux (also known as the Gemini). The more modern-looking brick building to the right is the most recent iteration of the Curia Julia, where the Senate met.
In the center of this image you can see the Temple of Antonius and Faustina, which, in the Middle Ages, had a Christian church built inside of it
Another shot of the entire forum from above.
Exterior of the Tomb of Julius Caesar
Ruins near the Forum


The view from the Forum to the valley where the Circus Maximus once existed (on this side of the highway).