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In the ancient religion of Roman paganism, practitioners often performed their worship at a temple. Sacrifices would take place at an altar outside the temple, as this meant any mess was easier to clean up, and the ceremony could be attended by many. Roman temples were not large and were basically houses for cult statues which were kept in the main room, called the cella. The cella may also have a small altar for burning incense. Behind the cella was a room or rooms used by the attendants for storage of equipment and offerings.


At the temples, Romans prayed and made ritual worship offerings of a small gift or animal sacrifices to their Roman Gods, the most common 12 are as follows:

  1. Jupiter- King of the Gods/God of rain, thunder, and lightning
  2. Juno- Queen of the Gods/Goddess of women and childbirth
  3. Neptune- God of the Sea/Storms
  4. Pluto- God of the underworld
  5. Apollo- God of Prophesy
  6. Mars- God of War
  7. Venus- Goddess of Love and beauty
  8. Mercury- Messenger of the Gods/God of trade and thieves
  9. Saturn- Father of Jupiter
  10. Uranus- Father of Saturn
  11. Diana- Goddess of the Hunt
  12. Cupid- God of Love, also Venus' son.

The Romans used the Latin word fanum meaning "sacred precinct" for other cult sites that did not contain a temple, such as the early sacred site of the grove of Diana Nemorensis ("Diana of Nemimarker") and 'temples' of divinities other than those traditionally revered by their native paganism, the state religion.

  • Like the corresponding Latin adjective, fanaticus, the modern word fanatic still reflects the disapproval by pious traditional Romans of various exotic religious practices. Nevertheless under the Roman Empire some of the imported cults, mainly from conquered people, such as the Persian Mithras and Ancient Egyptian divinities such as the mother-goddess Isis and Serapis (for his fanum the specific term serapeum was used) would gain great popularity, demonstrated in rich temple cults. The temple of Isis and Serapis in the Campus Martius, built of Egyptianmarker materials and in the Egyptian style to house the Hellenized cult of the Egyptian deity Isis, is typical of the heterogeneity of later Roman religious monuments.
  • The word became part of several Roman place names, notably Fanum Voltumnae (possibly Viterbomarker or Montefiasconemarker), Fanum Martis Famarsmarker or Fanum Fortunaemarker (modern Fano)
  • They would only be virtually wiped out together with the Roman paganism after early Christianity and Christianity was officially adopted by the Roman Empire. The word temple would be transferred to its churches, as well as synagogues; occasionally fanum was also used as such, e.g. Fanum S. Andreae for Santandermarker.

List of Roman temples

Temples and locations within Ancient Rome

Locations outside Rome:

See also

Sources and external links

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