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The Roman forum and the Palatine.
The Roman forum was the political, economical and religious center of Rome during the republic. Originally this site was a marsh. It was also used as cemetery. The Romans drained the area and turned it into an area with several temples and other buildings.
The forum was later abandoned and filled in by a thick layer of earth, becoming a pasture known as Campus Vaccinus. Some temples were transformed into churches.
There are several ruins you can see in the forum. The regia. This was the residence of the kings. The curia; the meeting place of the senate. The rostra that was used as a tribune for orators. The temple of Antonio and Faustina; built in 141 A. D. by Antonius Pius in honor to his late wife Faustina. It was turned into the church of Saint Lorenzo in Miranda in the middle age. There are two triumphal arches at the forum; the arch of Titus and the arch of Septimus Severus.
Once you visited the Forum you can walk up to the Palatine.
The Palatine hill overlooks the Roman forum. It was where Rome began as a village; supposedly founded by Romulus in the 8th century B. C. It was a residential district for the wealthy and aristocratic people in Roman time; as well as a number of emperors. On this hill you can spend some time at the Orti Farnesiani. These gardens were built over the ruins of Tiberio' s palace in the XVI century by the cardinal Alessandro Farnese; pope Paolo III' s nephew. Their construction was finished in the XVII century. You can visit some buildings on the Palatine; as Livia' s house (there are frescoes inside), but you must book a guided tour.
I recommend to take a good book with you or rent an audioguide to visit these sites; in order to know what you will see.
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FORO ROMANO - The heart of ancient Rome.
It seems to me that it is vain trying to describe here a place like the Forum when a well-known guide such as the “Michelin Rome” devotes ten tight pages to it! Best thing to do is to walk around, look in all directions, stop here and there to consult the guide book to find out to what corresponds such section of wall, such columns or ruin. I call that "humer l'air antique" sniff the air of the antic Rome.
My favoured walk starts on the height of the Capitole, then descends the staircases towards Via Sacra and joins the Coliseum. The return is even more spectacular with its superb sights on the Capitol with the back of the Vittoriano monument.
What strikes the visitor is the cluttering of this forum by all sorts of constructions. Already during the five centuries of the Roman Republic this place overflowed of administrative, legal, commercial and religious buildings. From this period not much remains.
It is under the Empire that the Forum fills up with temples, basilica, and triumphal arches dedicated to the emperors of which we see now some vestiges. This glorious period stops with the barbarian invasions of the beginning of 5th c. after J-C.
Rome becomes then the city of the Popes and the imperial buildings are transformed into churches. From the 9th century on the buildings on the forum start to collapse or are stripped off their ancient ornaments. The deserted forum becomes a sewage farm and cows feed on the meadows. During the 16th century the old forum is used as career for the construction of other buildings, of which the St-Peter Basilica!
Finally towards 1800 start systematic excavations by Carlo Fea who are continued during two centuries. It is only in the 20th century that the topography of the heart of ancient Rome is reconstituted such as the tourist discovers it today.
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The ruins of the heart of the ancient Rome
The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) (also known as 'the Forum Magnum' or 'the Forum') is located in a valley between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. Originally the area of the Forum was unsuitable for construction, as it was humid and covered in grass. In the 7th century, the area was drained by the Tarquins with a sewer system called the Cloaca Maxima which is based on a natural stream. The area functioned as a site of a cemetery for a while before being converted into a center of political and social activity; a area around which ancient Rome developed, where commerce and the administration of justice took place and where the communal hearth was located. As so many of us might have heard the saying "All the roads lead to Rome", Fortum Romana used to house, the Umbilicus Urbi, a designated centre of the city from which and to which all distances in Rome and the Roman Empire were measured.
The Forum as it is now is a result of the changes made by Julius Caesar. Caesar didn't see all his plans realised before his death, but most was finished by his adopted son and heir, Octavian, who was later proclaimed Augustus. The Roman Forum essentially is Augustan: the Temples of Saturn, Concord, Castor and Pollux, Divine Julius, the Basilicas of Julia and Aemilia, the Curia and Rostra all took their final form during the triumvirate and principate of Augustus who boasted that he had "found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble."
Since this time, much of the ancient forum has been destroyed. The Forum suffered damage and destruction repeatedly. When political strife in republican times deteriorated into violence, the Forum would regularly be the scene of fierce fights between rivalling factions, often followed by destructive fires. Parts of the Forum burnt down several times, the worst fire being in 283 CE. Later the Forum suffered destruction and pillage at the hands of invaders. Most of the buildings on the Forum was destroyed completely in 410 CE. Many religious sites were abandoned and fell in ruin after the ban of non-Christian cults in 394 CE.
After the fall of the empire in the west, the Forum was abandoned. A few buildings were converted into churches, including the Curia, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Temple of Divus Romulus; the rest was left to shepherds and their animals, to the extent that the popular name of the area became "Campo Vaccino" (the cattle field).
Nowadays, there are only scattered columns and stone blocks that remain of some of the temples that once stood in the place. The arch of Titus and the arch of Septimius Severus still stand and are in good shape, but the vast amount of major monuments, buildings, and ancient ruins such as temples, basilicas, arches, the residence or the main HQ of the Roman kings, senate house and law courts now lay in ruins.
Like many other ancient Roman buildings, stone blocks have been removed from the Forum and used to build nearby churches and palaces. The Forum was only fully excavated in the early 20th century.
Admission: Combined ticket with the Colosseum 11 EUR (in 2007)
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See Ancient Rome come to life before your eyes
The Roman Forum stretches from the Colosseum to the imperial forum. This amazing collection of ruins truly was the political and business heart of Ancient Rome, and it included several monuments, temples, and meeting places. Our guided tour of the Colosseum included the option of a having a quick introduction to the Forum by an archeology student. We met up with him at the exit of the Colosseum and followed him to the entrance of the Forum. During the 20-minute walk along Via dei Fori Imperiali (it doesn't really take that long, but we stopped on several occasions), our guide provided us with enough information to make me sorry he wasn't leading us through the Forum. We had bought a book at the Colosseum of Rome then and now, which basically shows pictures of the Roman ruins as you see them today, on top of which you can overlay graphical reconstitutions of what it once looked like. Along with the descriptions provided in the DK Eyewitness guide I always carried with me, It turned out to be incredibly useful to understand what we were actually looking at and what all these pillars and columns were once part of. It truly was the next best thing to a guided tour (which I kinda wish we had booked), so I highly recommend buying one when you get to Rome. Besides, it makes for a very nice souvenir :o)
So much history....
Walking through the Roman Forum feels like walking through a movie, it's just so unreal.
This once was the central area of the city. Everything took place here, business, administration, cults, prostitution, you name it.
It was designed by architect Vitruvius. It was for many centuries the site of the city's most important buildings : the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Arch of Titus, the Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vesta and the Church of San Luca e Martina, to name a few....
An amazingly visible civilization that was the city center of Rome during 8th and 7th century BC to include churches, government, judicial processes, horse racing, gladiator matches, banquets and many other activities.
Over the course of several hundred years, civil wars occured and then floods brought debris that built up over Rome and eventually was buried. People left to find other places to rebuild and/or live. Rome essentially dwindled down to just a small community.
Rome eventually started rebuilding with the return of the church. The debrised covered Forum was escavated. Of course, this is the short story version.
We had a group tour of the Forum combined with a tour of the Colosseum. This was fairly inexpensive. As we exited the metro station at the Colosseum, we were immediately approached by people asking if you want to join a group tour. For €25 per person (in 2011), this paid for the entrance tickets to both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and tour guide(s). This seemed reasonable to us. You can probably find a tour for less and I'm sure there are other tours for more. Advance reservations for tours are not necessary unless you have a large group and you want to stay altogether. This was convenient for us as we did not have to commit to a time or date of when we would see the Colosseum and Roman Forum.
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No visitor cannot remain indifferent in front of the fact that Rome exist almost three thousands years now. Another amazing fact is that Rome had over million and a half inhabitants, while most of todays European capital towns reached that number only in the 20th century. The whole city structure was built of stone, streets included, and in accordance to the plan designed by the architects who's work reminded unequaled.
In its original sense, word forum is a Latin origin and means a place-hole between three Roman Hills on which people traded, met each other or discuss politics.
We spent a day looking over the early Roman areas; we didn’t see it all, but got a good overview of the area and what’s in it. Our day began at the Roman Forum, primarily because we had read a good VT tip that said the lines were shorter here than at the Colosseum for purchasing your combo-ticket. From what we saw, this tip was spot-on! We waited in line for about five minutes (remember, we weren’t there in high tourist season) but later we were able to bypass the very long line at the Colosseum; so we were very happy about all this.
How do you make sense of all the stones in the Forum? Best thing is to get a good audio tour or a very good guide book. I had done a good bit of reading prior to our trip and my copy of The Blue Guide – Rome more than paid for itself, but there was just too much material to try to read the book during the actual tour (hint: get the book a couple months before your trip and read up on it). So we downloaded the Rick Steves’ audio tour (free from iTunes!) and printed up the free maps (also on iTunes) and used that instead of purchasing the audio guides provided at the Forum. The guided tour was about 45 minutes long and covered all the highlights of the Forum – I thought it was well worth it! Hubby and I each had our own iPods with the tours so we were able to go at our own pace. This is a cost effective method if you are coming with a larger family and want to save a bit of money but still get a good history and cultural history.
Our tour began at the Arch of Titus (on the Colosseum end of the Via Sacra), which was nice since we were there when everything opened and most of the groups arriving were starting in the other section of the Forum, so we pretty much had the area to ourselves!
Highlights of our tour included (see additional tips) the Basilica of Constantine, the temple of the Vesta Virgins, temple of Julius Caesar, the Curia, and the Arch of Septimius Severus.
From the Forum area, you can walk up to the Palatine Hill. All our books told us we could also walk from the Forum to the Capitoline, but that was closed off (not sure if it was temporary or more permanent – it was just a simple chain blocking the access). Once you have had your fill of the Forum area, exit towards the Colosseum to continue your tour of Roman ruins.
There was so much more to see, some closed and some areas blocked by construction or excavations. The Arch of Septimius Severus was massive but due to excavations nearby, you could not get near it from the Forum side. Later in the week we made our way down towards the Mammertime Prison from the Capitoline and from that vantage point had a much better view of the arch.
Bottom line – go on a nice day and get a good audio guide or book to help you understand all that you are seeing. Purchase the combo-ticket if you also want to go to the Colosseum so you can save money and avoid the lines at the Colosseum.
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Ruins of an Empire
Once the Roman center of religion, commerce and justice, the Forum is now a jumbled maze of tumbled columns, ruined foundations, and churches erected on pre-Christian temples. It is not an easy place to visit as you need to either bring a very good guidebook, rent an audioguide or book a tour to make sense of it all. It can also be very crowded, very hot in summer, and tough on your feet but to walk the Via Sacra (Sacred Way) is to follow in the footsteps of Kings, Emperors, Senators, Roman generals and Vestal Virgins over two thousand years ago. This not to be missed - however you choose to do it.
Tickets include entry to Palatine Hill and Colosseum and are good for two days: see this link for hours, prices and other good info:
Best place to buy same-day tickets is at Palatine Hill where lines are shortest (see previous review).
PLEASE NOTE: the Palatine and Forum are considered ONE SITE, even though they are separate, so you cannot split your visits to these two; they must both be done on the SAME DAY. It is possible however to do these two on one day and the Colosseum on the next (or vice versa) you wish to explore the 3 sites over two days.
To help understand the maze of ruins before your walk, there are excellent overlooks from the Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill, and Farnese Gardens on Palatine Hill. Getting a handle on some of the more interesting sites before your trip is a good idea too so I'm attaching this website with lots of pictures and background on many of the remaining structures, and will include individual reviews on a few of those as well.
The Forum is hauntingly beautiful when illuminated night so it's well worth a stroll past the fences just to see it all lit up, or you might want to book an evening tour (not available in winter):
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A center of ancient Rome. Originally a marsh between the hills Palatine, Esquiline Hill and Capitoline Hill. In the sixth century B.C. was drained to use. place as a kind of market. The place became the political and religious center of the city
Today you can still see the remains of this fascinating historical period. The Roman Forum is without any doubt one of the highlights of a trip to Rome
Furthermore, you will find more remains of the Temple of Saturn , Temple of Castor and Pollux , the Temple of Vespasian and Titus . Besides these temples you will find there the basilicas in ancient times served as a market hall , exhibition or court
Thus, including the Basilica Aemilia , which was built for the storage of grain. The Forum will cut right through the middle by the Via Sacra , or " sacred road " . Via Sacra encounter the oldest arch in Rome at the Arch of Titus
The House of the Vestal Virgins was a building in honor of the goddess Vesta . According to legend, the mother of Romulus and Remus was here a priestess
The main entrance to the Roman Forum is located at the Largo Romolo and Remo . You can visit for free daily from 9 am to sunset
Roman Forum or foro Romano
This is one of the highlights of coming to Rome, the old Roman forum is impressive as it is all the buildings around it.
There is so much to see here, it needs a full day, and some previous study on the monuments.
a bit of history
Before becoming the political, administrative and religious centre of Rome, the Forum was an inhospitable marshland. From the late 7th century CE, after the area was drained and reclaimed, several monuments were progressively built on it: first the buildings for political, religious and commercial activities, then, during the 2C BC, the civilian basilicas, where judicial activities took place.
By the end of the Republican era, the ancient Roman Forum was already fully built up so that only a few monuments were added during the Empire: the Temple of Vespasian, that of Antoninus and Faustina, the monumental Arch of Septimius Severus, the imposing Basilica of Maxentius. The last monument was the column erected in 608 BC in honour of the Byzantine Emperor Phocas.
The Palatine is the hill where, according to tradition, Romulus founded Rome in 754 BCE: the remains of huts confirm in full the details of the legend. The elevated position and the proximity to the Tiber made the Palatine very suitable for the settlement; during the Republican era it became the residential district of the Roman aristocracy.
The Emperor Augustus turned the Palatine into the official seat of power and started the construction of the Imperial Palaces, subsequently enlarged by the Julio-Claudian Emperors and by Nero. Yet it was Domitian who radically transformed the hill, by building atop the previous dwellings the majestic Flavian Palace, designed by the architect Rabirius.
Currently situated within the Palace of the Caesars is the Palatine Museum, where the most important finds of the excavations are on display.
Like I said lots of time to see very old buildings so give it ample time and carry a guide book to know what you are looking at. I was just there wandering around as old ruins is not my thing. Been around it before on business trips and now with the family; its a nice place to walk on .
The admission is 12€ per adults and times are :
Open every day from 8.30 to 19.00.
Closed 1 January and 25 December.
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The Center of History
You may go to Rome without seeing the Pope, but it's much more difficult to go without seeing the forums.
If you are just curious, one day is more than enough to see and understand the essential. But if you are a serious student of history or art, then you'd better reserve a full week. And work hard...
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I remember strolling the forum as my favourite part of my first trip to Rome. This time due to huge queues I did not go in. However, if you climb Palatine Hill you get a free view of the forum. You can also see it from Via del Fori and from Capotline Hill. Entry 12 Euro which includes colloseum and Palatine Hill.
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The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.
The main sight of the Forum include the Arch of Titus (Arco di Tito), the Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vesta, and the church of San Luca e Martina. These are all linked by the Sacra Via, the main road through the Forum.
You can watch my 3 min 44 sec Video Rome Forum Romanum Circuses Capitoline Hill and Hyppodrome out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
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The Roman Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. Here were localized the main government buildings and every day politicians of ancient Rome strolled around these streets.
It’s one of the most remarkable sites of the city (you must go there) and at Palatino Hill you have a good view of Rome.
The tickets are 12€ and include Roman Forum, Colloseum and Palatine Hill. The queue at Roman Forum it’s quite smaller than the one of Colloseum, so if you want to go there buy the tickets here.
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