Rome is dotted with gorgeous, old-fashioned piazzas that are popular hubs of recreation and sightseeing, many of which you can visit with the Vatican museum tour. Today in ruins, The Roman Forum is an erstwhile plaza situated at the heart of Rome. At first glance, the Forum seems to be like any other ancient site in Rome scattered with dilapidated structures and debris. But in reality, this place hides captivating stories about the glorious Roman Empire and the unique customs and traditions of the citizens. Below are some fascinating facts and information about the Roman Forum:
- From slaves to noblemen, criminals to politicians – people from all spheres of life could be sighted at Forum Romanum, which was the bustling heart of civic, social, political and religious activities in ancient Rome. Originally, the site was a marshy, low-lying wetland in the middle of the Capitoline and Palentine Hills unfit to be a meeting place or the foundation for monuments. However, proper, heavy-duty development was initiated by the construction of the massive sewage system Cloaca Maxima in 600 BC, which was also one the earliest sewer lines in the world.
The Roman Forum was the site of sacred architecture since the Early Republican period. The Temple of Saturn, now recognizable by the remains of eight Ionic columns, is a well-known religious building of the Forum that dates back to the 5th century BC. This iconic temple was dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture and wealth, and functioned as the state treasury housing the Roman Republic’s gold and silver reserves.
As horrific as it sounds, it was a common practice in ancient Rome to display the dismembered bodies of enemies in public spaces. The Rostra, a podium in the Forum where orators delivered speeches, was used as an exhibition space for severed heads of defeated political rivals.
- The Temple of Vesta was the residence of the Vestal Virgins. Young girls between the ages of six and ten were chosen and raised to be holy priestesses entrusted with the important duty of keeping the sacred fire in the temple burning. It was believed that this fire fueled the fortunes of the Roman Empire and hence, any vestal guilty of neglecting her duty would be punished severely (beaten or flogged). However the punishment was crueler if they dared to break their vows of chastity – then they would be buried alive!
In ancient times, rivalry between siblings of royal houses was pretty intense. The Arch of Septimius Severus is testament to the deadly sibling rivalry between Caracalla and Geta, the sons of Emperor Septimius Severus. Erected in 203 AD, the Arch of Septimius was meant to be a family archway exhibiting the victories of the royal bloodline. But as history would have it, one of the brothers (Caracalla) ordered the assassination of the other (Geta) and even removed the fallen brother’s name from this ancestral arch!
There are many more thrilling things you’ll enjoy discovering about the Roman Forum. So, definitely include this significant historical scene in your list of must-sees in the Eternal City. To deepen your experience, book guided tours offered by Vatican Tours. Native English Speaking Guides convey their knowledge of the ancient city through gripping tales, ensuring the beauty and grandeur of Rome is etched on your heart forever!
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