The columns of the Temple of Saturn and overview of the ruined Roman Forum, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rome, Lazio, Italy, Europe
Neale Clark/age fotostock
The Roman Forum is where ancient Rome began. The sprawling archaeological park gives us just a hint of what the Roman Empire once was—a dominant and diverse society. The Forum itself was the political, social, religious, and commercial focal point for the Roman Republic and eventually the whole Empire—for the most elite members of society as well as the common plebs. Walking through the Forum is a walk through history, from its beginning as a valley with small hilltop communities (8th century B.C.E.) to its rise as the capital of an empire. The ruins of basilicas, temples, public forum spaces, and shops can be explored, and the adventure leads to Palatine Hill, an area of high-society patrician homes including the house of Caesar Augustus.
The Roman Forum
Roman Forum was the epicenter of one of history’s most compelling time periods: a long stretch of basilicas, temples, and public squares teeming with markets, orators, and even criminal trials. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the ruins were covered with pastureland, then rediscovered in the 18th century. Highlights include the Arco di Settimio Severo, the Casa delle Vestali, and the Campidoglio terraces, from which you can see a stunning view of the entire forum. It’s impossible to take a bad photo here.
Against our middle child’s protests that we were going in a ramp that stated “Exit Only,” we rambled into the Roman Forum area after hours. Which is why we found ourselves at the top of a hill, overlooking the city, with only two young Italian families to share the moment of a perfect sunset over matching pink buildings and glowing marble. Sometimes, it pays to be a rebel.
The Meeting Place for Friends, Romans, Countrymen...
Centuries ago, the Forum was the center of Roman public life, a grand sprawl of temples, basilicas, and government buildings. Two notable events in Roman history that happened here were Marc Antony’s funeral speech for the murdered Caesar and the burning of Caesar’s body. Fragments of the temples of Saturn, Concord, and Castor and Pollux still stand, and the excavation of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins is a must-see.
Where Caesar Walked
The ancient Roman Forum was built on a drained marsh in the valley between Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill. In Roman times the plaza was a marketplace. Speeches were given there, criminal trials were held there, processions were carried out, and there were even gladiatorial matches.The great men of the city were commemorated with huge monuments and statues.History has it that this plaza was the most celebrated meeting place in the world. The Forum was started in 484 B.C. and with each new ruler, buildings, arches, and temples were erected.By the early 4th century A.D., the Forum was very cluttered with memorials and monuments.When Rome fell in 476 A.D., the Forum was abandoned and eventually was in ruins. By the 18th century, excavations began. Much of the Forum was destroyed but some blocks, arches, and columns remained. By the early 20th, the Roman Forum was fully excavated. I wandered the ruins with other tourists and was awed by the size and intricate designs and details of the architecture. I couldn’t help but think of Cicero delivering his famous speech there and Julius Caesar marching through the Forum with grand authority. I was emotional just thinking about the history of this site. And I kept thinking that I was standing where the Senate and government of Rome used to meet as they conducted their work. The historical Roman Forum is an important attraction in Rome. Should be on your list.
Lend Me Your Ears!
The ancient romans and senators are long dead, but there are plenty of tourists here to view their legacy. With Cicero ringing in our ears we imagined what the Forum must have looked liked from our vantage at the Tabularium. Despite time and ruin, that grandeur remains.
Roman Forum in the morning
Go to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill in the morning to avoid the crowds! Virtually no line, and then you can use the same ticket to bypass the huge lines at the Colosseum later in the day.
Walking through history
The Roman Forum is an unbelievable place to walk through history. It is easy to imagine ancient Romans walking on these very same paths hundreds of years ago. And it really is amazing to picture the buildings that used to be there. Plus, the view is pretty nice too.