(Via dei Fori Imperiali. open: weekdays and holidays 9-13. from Spring to Autumn 9-19, closed Mondays). Situated in a valley between the Palatine, the Capitoline and the Esquiline hills, the area was originally a mos: inhospitable zone, swampy and unhealthy, until surprisingly modern reclamation work was carried out by the king Tarquinius Priscus, who provided the area with a highly developed drainage system (Cloaca Maxima). Once this complex reclamation work was linished, the Roman Forum became a piace lor trade and barter. Numerous shops and a large square known as the markesquare were built and a zone was set apart lor public ceremonies. It was here that the magistrates were elected, the traditional religious holidays were kep: and those charged with various crimes were judged by a real court organization. After the Punic wars, thanks to the extraordinary development of the city, the urban labric of the Forum took on a new look. As early as the 2nd century B.C., various basilicas – Porcia, Sempronia, and Aemilia – were built the temples of the Castors and of Concordia were rebuilt, and the network of roads connecting the Forum to the quarters of the city continued to grow. After various transformations under the emperor Augustus, the Roman Forum became so large as to be considered the secular, religious and commercial center of the city. After a period in which secular and political interests centered on other parts of the city, the Roman Forum reacquired its originai prestige under Maxentius and Constantine who ordered the construction of the Temple of Romulus and the great Basilica of Constantine. With the decadence of the Roman Empire, the splendid venerable structures of the Forum were severely damaged by the Barbarian invasions, especially the Goths (A.D. 410) and the Vandals (A.D. 455). The Roman Forum meanwhile became a place of worship for the early Christians who built the Churches of SS. Sergio e Bacco (on the Via Sacra), of S. Adriano (on the Curia), SS. Cosma e Damiano (Tempie of Peace). As time passed, the Forum was completely abandoned. What was left of the antique monuments was used by the people or demolished. During the Middle Ages the Forum became a pasture for sheep and cattle (hence its name of Campo Vaccino). For many centuries the prestige of the Roman Forum was a thing of the past. Not until the early 20th century was there a systematic re-evaluation of the area with excavation campaigns which lasted for various decades and which brought back to light the splendid evidence of the Rome of the kings as well as that of the republic and the empire.
17 aprile 2008 By Leave a Comment