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This page refers to the main forum in the center of Rome. See Imperial forums or Other forums in Rome (below) for other forums in Romemarker and other Roman provincial cities.
See Forum for the type of building.

The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum), sometimes known by its original Latin name, is located between the Palatine hillmarker and the Capitoline hillmarker of the city of Romemarker. It is the central area around which the ancient Roman civilization developed. Citizens referred to the location as the "Forum Magnum" or just the "Forum".

The oldest and most important structures of the ancient city are located in the forum, including its ancient former royal residency, the Regiamarker, and the surrounding complex of the Vestal virgins. The Old Republic had its formal Comitiummarker there where the senate, as well as Republican government began. The forum served as a city square and central hub where the people of Rome gathered for justice, and faith. The forum was also the economic hub of the city and considered to be the center of the Republic and Empire.


The Roman Forum at its full glory
The area of the forum was originally a grassy wetland. It was drained in the 7th century BC by building the Cloaca Maxima, a large covered sewer system that drained into the Tiber River, as more people began to settle between the two hills.

According to tradition, the forum's beginnings are connected with the alliance between Romulus, the first king of Rome controlling the Palatine hill, and his rival, Titus Tatius who occupied the Capitoline hill. Accordingly, an alliance formed after combat had been halted by the prayers and cries of the Sabine Women. Because the valley lay between the two settlements it was the designated place for the two peoples to meet. Since the early forum area was mostly pools of stagnant water the only accessible area was the northern part of the valley which was designated as the comitium. It was here that the two parties laid down their weapons and formed an alliance.

The forum was outside the walls of the original Sabine fortress, which was entered through the Porta Saturni. These walls were mostly destroyed when the two hills were joined.

The second king, Numa Pompilius, is said to have begun the cult of Vesta, building its house and temple as well as the Regiamarker as the city's first royal palace. Later Tullus Hostilius erected the Curia and enclosed the Comitium. In 600 BC Tarquinius Priscus had the area paved for the first time.

Over time the Comitium was lost to the ever-growing Curia and Julius Caesar's rearranging of the forum before his assassination in 44 BC. After Caesar's death Octavius finished the work.

Many of the forum's temples are from either the kingdom or the Republican era. Many have been destroyed and rebuilt several times.

Structures within the Forum

The ruins within the forum clearly show how urban spaces were utilized during the Roman Age. The Roman Forum includes a modern statue of Julius Caesar and the following major monuments, buildings, and ancient ruins:

Map of the Roman Forum, from Samuel Ball Platner's The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome (1904) (altered for clarity)




Other structures

  • Regiamarker, originally the residence of the kings of Rome or at least their main headquarters, and later the office of the Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Roman religion.
  • Rostramarker, from where politicians made their speeches to the Roman citizens.
  • Curia Hostiliamarker (later rebuilt as the Curia Julia), the site of the Roman Senate.
  • Tabularium, the records office of Rome.
  • Gemonian stairsstepsmarker situated in the central part of Rome, leading from the Arx of the Capitoline Hill down to the Roman Forum.
  • Clivus Capitolinus was the street that started at the Arch of Tiberius, wound around the Temple of Saturn, and ended at Capitoline Hill.
  • Umbilicus Urbimarker, the designated centre of the city from which and to which all distances in Rome and the Roman Empire were measured.
  • Milliarium Aureummarker After Augustus erected this monument, all roads were considered to begin here and all distances in the Roman Empire were measured relative to that point.
  • Lapis Niger, a shrine also known as the Black Stone.
  • Atrium Vestaemarker, the house of the Vestal Virgins.
  • A processional street, the Via Sacra, linked the Atrium Vestae with the Colosseummarker. By the end of the Empire, it had lost its everyday use but remained a sacred place.
  • Column of Phocasmarker, the last monument built within the Forum.
  • Tullianummarker, the prison used to hold various foreign leaders and generals.
  • The Lacus Curtius, the site of a mysterious pool venerated by Romans even after they'd forgotten what it signified.

Excavation and preservation

Original archeology sketch of the forum.
An anonymous 8th century traveler from Einsiedelnmarker (now in Switzerland) reported that the Forum was already falling apart in his time. During the Middle Ages, though the memory of the Forum Romanum persisted, its monuments were for the most part buried under debris, and its location was designated the "Campo Vaccino" or "cattle field," located between the Capitoline Hillmarker and the Colosseummarker. The return of Pope Urban V from Avignon in 1367 led to an increased interest in ancient monuments, partly for their moral lesson and partly as a quarry for new buildings being undertaken in Rome after a long lapse. Artists from the late 15th century drew the ruins in the Forum, antiquaries copied inscriptions in the 16th century, and a tentative excavation was begun in the late 18th century.

Sequences of remains of paving show that sediment eroded from the surrounding hills was already raising the level of the forum in early Republican times. Originally it had been marshy ground, which was drained by the Tarquins with the Cloaca Maxima. Its final travertine paving, still visible, dates from the reign of Augustus.

A cardinal took measures to drain it again and built the Alessandrine neighborhood over it. But the excavation by Carlo Fea, who began clearing the debris from the Arch of Septimius Severus in 1803, and archaeologists under the Napoleonic regime marked the beginning of clearing the Forum, which was only fully excavated in the early 20th century.

Remains from several centuries are shown together, due to the Roman practice of building over earlier ruins.

Other forums in Rome

The column erected in honour of the Byzantine emperor Phocas, 608: the last addition to the Roman Forum

Other fora existed in other areas of the city; remains of most of them, sometimes substantial, still exist. The most important of these are a number of large imperial fora forming a complex with the Forum Romanum: the Forum Iuliummarker, Forum Augustummarker, the Forum Transitorium (also: Forum Nervae), and Trajan's Forummarker. The planners of the Mussolini era removed most of the Medieval and Baroque strata and built the Via dei Fori Imperiali road between the Imperial Fora and the Forum. There is also:

Other markets were known but remain unidentifiable due to a lack of precise information on the function of the sites. Among these, the Forum cuppedinis, was known as a general market for many goods.

External links

Comprehensive sites

Primarily visual


File:ForumRomanum.jpg|Temple of SaturnmarkerFile:RomaForoRomanoTempioCastori.jpg|Temple of Castor and PolluxmarkerFile:Temple of Vesta elevation.jpg|Temple of VestamarkerFile:Forum View.jpgFile:Rome-Forum romain-Temple d'Antonin et Faustine.jpg|Temple of Antoninus and FaustinamarkerFile:RomanForumWest1.jpg|Temple of ConcordmarkerFile:ClaudeL.jpg|Campo Vaccino, by Claude LorrainFile:TRF hh.jpg|The Roman ForumFile:Forum 3.jpg|Roman ForumFile:Forum 1.jpg|The Roman ForumFile:Forum 2.jpg|View of the Roman ForumFile:Tempio di Venere e Roma - abside - antmoose.jpg|Temple of Venus and Romamarker


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