Area Sacra - Largo Argentina, Rome
Cats taking shelter in Roman ruins are quite a common sight in Rome, but nowhere is this phenomenon as obvious as in the Area Sacra dell'Argentina :o) In the late 1920s, four Ancient temples were discovered and excavated across the street from the Teatro Argentina (Rome's historic opera house), just off Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. These temples are among the oldest ever found in Rome. For this reason, archeologists can only guess as to the purpose of these temples, which are usually described as Temples A, B, C and D. In the southwest corner of the Area Sacra, a stairway leads visitors down to the cat sanctuary. Cats have lived in the ruins ever since they were excavated, and by the 1990s, their population on this particular site had grown to about 100. A handful of volunteers built a primitive underground shelter, and began feeding, nursering, spaying and neutering them. Today, the Area Sacra's cat population has grown to about 250, and over 3,000 sterilizations have been performed since its creation. Because the sanctuary has never received official permission to be created, it is constantly being threatened with eviction; however, the Roman population fully supports its presence and so far it has managed to remain open. Healthy cats are put up for adoption and I was very tempted to bring one home with me, but I doubt it would have enjoyed the 11-hour plane ride to Canada. Instead, I gave the shelter a small donation to support its good work. There are also several items up for sale, the profits of which are invested in cat food and medicine.
Discovered in the 1920s, this square in the center of an area of Rome that is bustling with traffic is the site of four temples dating back to the Roman Republic. Excavations are still taking place and archeologists disagree on the purpose of some of the structures. Until their purpose can be determined, these excavated buildings are given the highly original names of Temple A, B, C, and D. It is also believed that it was in one of these temples where Julius Caesar was murdered on the Ides of March in 44 BC. Visitors to the area can walk completely around the rectangular piazza and look down into the excavated ruins, which is also home to lots of cats that can be seen laying in the sun.
Temple A is the structure on the northern end along Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II. This was built in the 3rd century BC and is thought to be the temple of Juturna. It was later rebuilt into a Christian church, as can be seen by the apse and traces of frescoes.
Temple B is next to Temple A heading in a southerly direction. This round temple has the remains of six columns as well as the original steps and altar. It was built around 100 BC and is believed to have been built to celebrate Quintus Lutatius Catulus’ victory over Cimbri. A massive statue was found here which is now on display in the Capitoline Museum.
Next in the row of temples is Temple C, which is thought to be the oldest of the four temples here, dating to the 3rd or 4th century BC. Archaeologists believe this was a temple to Feronia, the ancient goddess of fertility. Reconstructed after a fire in 80 AD, the temple ruins still show black and white mosaics inside.
The last temple and most southern structure on the site is Temple D, which is also the biggest and dates back to the 2nd century BC. Only a portion of this temple is seen since most of the structure is underneath the streets.
Where was Julius Caesar killed? Part of Pompey’s Theatre is also on this spot, which was where the Curia met on that fateful day. These ruins can be seen behind Temples B and C along the Via di Torre Argentina; a large platform made of stones is visible and this is the murder site.
There is no admission into the excavation site, but you can walk all the way around the piazza. Much of the ancient structures were damaged by construction and shoddy excavation work, but what is seen today appears in an organized manner. There are a few signs telling you what you are looking at.
Oh – and the cats are cared for by a volunteer organization that has a shelter next to the site. www.romancats.com.
So I mentioned in my "Et Tu, Brute?" review that Julius Caesar wasn't polished off in the Forum? It happened here. Yep, Pompey's Curia - part of a huge theater - was the temporary hangout of the senate at the time, and was located directly behind the ruins of four temples in this square. This little piece of real estate was once part of a large cluster of villas, public buildings, circuses, arenas, baths and temples - including the original Pantheon - known as Campus Martinus: Field of Mars. It was originally a wheat field, pasture and military training ground outside of the Servian Wall that became part of the city around the turn of the 1st millennium, and later enclosed by the Aurelian Walls.
The temples were uncovered in an urban renewal project in the 1920s, and some shoddy archeological work destroyed some of the clues as to their identities but they range in age from 3rd to 1st-century BC with restoration work occurring after a huge fire in 80 AD. Excavation is still in process and while you can't putter about the ruins, you can see them (free) from surrounding sidewalks, and there are signs in English to tell you what is known about each temple. Numeral 1 in the blue circle on the diagram in photo #5 marks the scene of Caesar's undoing. Oddly, the ruins have also become a shelter for about 250 homeless cats.
The Curia? Boarded up after Julius' unfortunate demise and later converted to a latrine.
Some ancient remains were unearthed at this site. You cannot enter them but can look across them. The remains are interesting and the site is also used as a cat sanctuary. The remains are part of an ancient temple and the Theatre of Pompey. Julis Caesar was murdered on the steps of this theatre.
For five consecutive days, we crossed Largo del Torre Argentina or simply, Largo Argentina, either after alighting from Tram No. 8 or running to board the same tram back home or changing buses here to visit yet another tourist destination. It was only on Day 3 that one finally crossed the road, marvelled at the sunken ruins and snapped a few photos while catching glimpses of the insouciant cats strewn all around. Given the ordinariness of the place, it was difficult to imagine that this was the very place that Julius Caesar muttered, "Et tu, Brute?" before succumbing to the mortal dagger stabs of his assassins.
Building work carried out in the 1920’s disinterred four Roman Republican-era temples in the square of Largo di Torre Argentina. These temples of Area Sacra di Largo Argentina are now called Temples A, B, C and D. The oldest temple is temple C, built in the early half of the third century BC. You can recognise it as a rectangular structure placed atop a platform with an altar. It may date to the second century BC. The largest temple is the one with the tall columns jutting out. Alongside Via di Torre Argentina, are the ruins of the Curia of Pompey - a senate meeting place - part of the complex which included the Theatre of Pompey. It was here that Julius Caesar was assassinated on 15 March 44 BC.
The site remains permanently closed but you can see the ruins from the road itself and visualise Pompey's Theatre and Baths which the Roman Senate used for their meetings while the Roman Forum was being built. It was while exiting one of such meetings that Brutus, Cassius and co-conspirators felled Caesar. Unfortunately, there’s no sign around to tell you of such a profound event. Today, Largo del Torre Argentina is home to the largest collection of stray cats in Rome. Pity Caesar didn’t have 9 lives.
First Written: Sep. 4, 2012
This may not be the reason you travel to Rome but it's a fun place to visit esp. if you're an animal lover. On my third trip I made sure I got there. We must have spent an hour watching the cats. It's not exactly exciting but it is a good diversion from the hustle and bustle of the tourist attractions. Besides, I don't know of any other city that makes a special place for it's stray cats among ruins! Julius Ceasar was killed near here but the cats are the attraction.
Because I love animals and I miss mine who have long since been gone, when in Rome for any length of time, I will volunteer at the Roman Cat Sanctuary.
This wonderful cat sanctuary in Rome is right across from the trolly stop at Torre Argentina where the ruins are. It is easily missed, however, because you have to go down some steps and into a sort of basement to get there. Don't give up. I did volunteer work there once a week while I lived in Rome.
Many famous opera's had their premiere in this theatre, built in 1732 by the Sforza Cesarini family. The facade was placed a century later though. There are still performances in this beautiful building!
This square consists of four temples unearthed by excavation works in the 1920s. The four temples date from the late fourth to the late second century BC . The square has been identified as the Porticus Minucia Venus, founded 107 BC as the last of the four temples was finished. It can be viewed from four sides, notably from Corso Vittorio Emanuelle I, just at Largo Argentina , i.e. where you jump the No.8 tram for Trastevere. You are looing down as you walk round perhaps five metres - this was of course street level in ancient Rome, which has been altered naturally over time and by the great fire. The area was destroyed by fire AD80 , a year before Pompeii (AD 79) - no small irony that one of the buildings to have been positively identified was the Statio Aquarum, or water board which would today be responsible for water supply and fire hydrants!
Inadvertently unearthed during an excavation project ordered by Benito Mussolini, the fascinating Area Sacra dell’Argentina is one of the best sites to see the remains of Roman architecture from the Republican era.
The four temples of the Area Sacra dell’Argentina date from the 4th to 2nd centuries B.C. The remains we see now are the result of renovations by emperor Domitianus.
Discovered by chance in 1926 during a construction project, the Area Sacra is an archeological site containing the remains of four Ancient Roman temples. It is located in Largo di Torre Argentina, now a large square in central Rome, named after the mediaeval tower (Torre Argentina) in the square. Because archeologists are still uncertain to whom the four temples were dedicated, they have designated them with the letters A to D. Although entry into the area is restricted, a walk along the outside railing provides excellent views of the imprint of the temples and some of the standing columns. Roman cats, however, seem to have full access to the site and many have taken refuge among the ruins (see attached photos).
This is a great place to check out if you're traveling with kids or just like cats. The cats wander and sun themselves among the ruins. A dedicated group of volunteers take care of them and place many in homes. A few brave cats venture out to the steps to say hi.
Largo di Torre Argentina is another place you should not miss while visiting Rome. It is a very short and pleasant walk (5 min) from The Pantheon.
You will see the ruins of 4 temples: A, B, C, D. This is how all the audio guides refer to them in order to make it easy for you to identify the ruins. Temple A was built in the 3rd century BC. Temple B, a circular temple with six columns remaining, was built in 101 BC. Temple C is dating back to 4th or 3rd century BC. Some people say that this temple was devoted devoted to Feronia, the goddess of fertility. Temple D dates back to 2nd century BC.
Look for the remains of some brick walls. This was the exit to Pompey's Theater and the Baths complex, which the Roman Senate was using in the 1st century BC to hold their meetings while the main Senate house in the Forum was being rebuilt.
The area today is the shelter of 250 cats. Volunteers take care of them and open up the site for visiting every day around 4:30pm (4:00pm in the summer). The entrance is free, but they ask you for donations, so they can keep the shelter running. You can also adopt a cat if you want.
It was pouring when we were there and it was very cold. This was one of the last sights we planned visiting during particular day and we were soaked to the bones. We spent few minutes here, listening to the audio guide we had with us, but we did not wait for the volunteers to show up and open the sight. I can just imagine how great this experience would have been in a nice weather!
If you are a cat lover, head for the Largo del Torre Argentina to visit the cat sanctuary amongst the ruins of the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated, known as the Area Sacra. There are over 200 very happy cats roaming around in what must be cat paradise, right in the centre of Rome! You can visit the sanctuary's shop and infirmary (between 12 noon to 6pm I think) which is manned by the lady volunteers and lots of feline helpers and there is a guided tour of the ruins at 4pm most days (we didn't manage that, but would go back another time).
An interesting place: to see exactly the place/spot to where Julius Ceasar (100 B.C. - 44 B.C.) was killed! It was almost an unrealistic feeling; Ceasar was so well-known all over the world and still is. It was just amazing to stand there and start imagining...
Nowadays there is a "nursery" for homeless cats of Rome. There is even a small office where one can visit to take a brochure, donate some coins or join the unity of Friends of Roman Cats (main office located in California, U.S.)