Though the Roman Empire fell in the late 400’s, its spirit of innovative power is still alive and well in the modern city center thanks to well-preserved ruins and historical sites.
Discovering the mysteries of this ancient culture warrants at least half a day during a visit to Rome. Though the most popular sites are located in a compact area, they are quite expansive, so start your day by putting on your best pair of walking shoes and stocking up on water.
Visit the Roman Forum
Begin your day and visit the Roman Forum, from the end of the 7th century BC until the decline of the Empire. Your entry ticket here will also be good for the Colosseum, and by coming to the Forum first you will be able to skip the inevitable long line at the more visited Colosseum.
One of the most important archeological sites in the world, here you can get a unique insight into the way of life centuries ago. The ruins are, well ruins, and it can often be difficult to understand what you are looking at, so rent an audio guide or go on a guided tour to make the most of your visit. Highlights include:
Arco di Settimo Severo
The Arco di Settimo Severo, one of the grandest surviving triumphal arches still in existence. Built in AD 203, the arch celebrated a Roman victory over the Parthians.
Temple of Julius Cesar
The Temple of Julius Caesar lies over the site of the emperor’s cremated remains. To this day, the Roman people leave flowers on the alter in tribute.
Temple of Saturn
One of the earliest temples in Rome, the Temple of Saturn also house the state treasury and laws. Nearby, the Temple of Vesta & House of Vestals housed a sacred flame protected by six virgin priestesses. Selected from patrician families between the ages of six and ten, the priestesses served for 30 years and would be buried alive if found no longer to be a virgin.
Temple of Antonius & Faustin
Converted to a Christian church during the rise of Catholicism, the Temple of Antonius & Faustina was spared from much destruction and therefore stands as one of the most intact structures in the Forum.
All sites are linked by the Sacra Via, the main road. A thorough visit would last at least four hours, however you can see the highlights in two. Follow your visit with a visit to the Colosseum, a site I will discuss in my next post.