The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was the center of civic and economic life in Republican times and the Imperial period. The Via Sacra crossed the site, which led to the Capitoline Hill and served as the route of the triumphal parades of victorious generals laden with loot and accompanied by rows of prisoners.
According to historians, people first began publicity meeting in the open-air Forum around 500 BC.
The Roman Forum area housed many important religious, political, and social activities and was home to many ancient temples, statues, and monuments. Nowadays, it is considered one of the most famous tourist sites globally, attracting more than 4.5 million visitors annually. Previously, there was the ancient former royal residence, the Regia from 8 century BC, the Temple of Vesta from 7 century BC, and the complex of the Vestal Virgins.
However, these structures were reconstructed after the rise of imperial Rome. In 179 BC, the new Basilica Aemilia was created, and all judicial activity moved there. One hundred thirty years later, Julius Caesar built the Basilica Julia and Curia Julia, so both judicial offices and the Senate became based there.
People gathered on the Forum for commercial, political, judicial, and religious aims
Later, the Forum Romanum was extended with structures such as the Trajan’s Forum and the Basilica Ulpia. Finally, the last construction was finished on this site in 312 by Constantine the Great, and it was the Basilica of Maxentius.
If you are going to visit the Roman Forum, one of the most ancient and essential sites of Rome, you will need to buy an entrance ticket, which includes a visit to the Colosseum and Palatine hill. But, of course, the best option is to book an individual guided tour to discover Roman Forum statues, buildings, and monuments, remainings of ancient palaces on the Palatine hill, innovative structures inside the Flavian Amphitheater, and recognize interesting historical facts about ancient Rome. Also, Colosseum to Roman Forum walking tours can skip the line with the same ticket price.
Equip yourself with these fascinating insights about the Roman Forum, guaranteed to enrich your visit and impress your companions with your historical acumen.
Here’s a 3D Model of the Forum:
The Roman Forum was developed gradually over the centuries. Initially, its site was a lake with waters from the surrounding hills. Consequently, it was drained in the 7th century BC by the Tarquins with the building of Cloaca Maxima. Finally, it was a vast covered sewer system connected to the Tiber River. Historically, the creation of the Forum is related to Romulus, the first king of Rome, who lived on the Palatine Hill, and his rival, Titus Tatius, who lived on the Capitoline Hill. An alliance between them appeared after the cries of the Sabine women had stopped combat. Moreover, the Forum was outside the walls of the Sabine fortress, located through the Porta Saturni. However, these walls were destroyed when two folks became joined.
Fix price transfer from the Fiumicino Airport to Rome
Rome’s second king, Numa Pompilius (715-673 BC), began Vesta’s cult. Thus, the house and Temple of Vesta were created along with the city’s first royal palace, the Regia. The following king, Tullus Hostilius (r. 673-642 BC), made the borders of the Comitium and became the place where the Senate would meet. During the Republican period, all judicial and political issues in the city were still solved there. Therefore, the Senate decided to expand the open area between the Comitium and the Temple of Vesta to create more space. Previously, private houses covered this area, but the Senate bought them and made them for public use.
Earliest Forum temples are The Temple of Saturn (497 BC) and The Temple of Castor and Pollux (484 BC), while the first basilicas were built in 184 BC by Marcus Porcius Cato
The 80s BC was the period of the dictatorship of Sulla, and many works were done on the reconstruction of the Forum. Consequently, the Comitium was lost because of the increase of Curia and changes made by Julius Caesar until his assassination in 44 BC. The same year, Marc Antony’s funeral oration for Caesar from the New Rostra and the public burning of Caesar’s body on the site in front of the Rostra. Later, the Temple to the Deified Caesar was built by his great-nephew Octavius (Augustus), who became the first Emperor of the Roman Empire. Moreover, after Caesar’s death, Augustus finished the projects of his uncle, so the Forum acquired its final form. Such structures as the Temple of Divus Iulius and the Arch of Augustus were added in 29 BC.
In 110 AD, the Trajan’s Forum was built. Thus, many economic and judicial activities transferred to the Basilica Ulpia. Also, the Arch of Septimius Severus was added near Capitoline Hill, which commemorated the Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severus and his two sons. Later, Emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305) was the last who reorganized and refurbished the Forum. He added a renewed Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vesta, and the Curia. Since the previous version of Curia was burned, the one built by Diocletian can still be seen today. Notably, during the reign of Constantine the Great, the Basilica of Maxentius was completed in 312 AD, which became the last major expansion of the territory of the Forum. The political focus was moved to the Forum until the fall of the Western Roman Empire almost two centuries later.
Read also about Triumphal Arch of Constantine
The Medieval period is notable for the dramatic decrease in Roman population: from 750-800.000 to 450.000 in 450 to 250.000 by 500 AD.
Moreover, in the 6th century, some of the old structures located on the territory of the Forum began to be transformed into Christian churches. In 608, the Column of Phocas was erected near the Rostra, dedicated in honor of the Eastern Roman Emperor Phocas. It was the last monumental addition made to the Roman Forum. Later, by the 8th century, the whole area was surrounded by Christian churches. Many structures were dismantled, recreated, and used to construct castles and feudal towers. In the 13th century, these constructions were torn down, so the area became a dumping ground.
The Roman Forum includes existing and former buildings, memorials, and other essential structures from its 1.400 years of active use (8th century BC – 600 AD).
The Temple of Saturn (Tempio di Saturno) was an ancient Roman Temple dedicated in honor of the god Saturn. It stands near Capitoline hill. It is said that the Temple was built in 497 BC. Even today, you can see the inscription on its pediment: “Senatus Populusque Romanus incendio consumption restitute,” meaning “The Senate and People of Rome restored (the temple) consumed by fire.” Moreover, Saturn ruled during the Golden Age in Roman mythology and was always associated with wealth. Thus, his Temple housed the treasury (aerarium) with the Republic’s reserves of gold and silver. However, the aerarium was later moved to the nearby Tabularium, the building with all essential archives.
The Temple of Vesta (Tempio di Vesta) was an ancient building near the Regia and the House of the Vestal Virgins in the Roman Forum. It had Greek architecture with twenty Corinthian columns, marble, and a central cella with a famous circular footprint. In addition, all temples to Vesta were round with entrances facing east. It symbolized the connection between Vesta’s fire and the sun as sources of life. The Temple of Vesta dates to the 7th century BC, and it is believed that Numa Pompilius constructed it.
The Temple of Jupiter Stator is a former sanctuary on the slope of Capitoline Hill. According to the legend, Romulus founded it after he promised to construct it during a battle between Romans and Sabines. On the battle spot, Romulus founded the Temple, probably near the Porta. However, the Temple was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD.
The Tabularium was the records office with laws and official deeds of ancient Rome with offices of many city officials. Located near the Capitoline hill, below the Temple of Jupiter, and with the Temples of Vespasian and Concord in front of it, the Tabularium’s construction was ordered around 78 BC by the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla. However, it was completed by Quintus Lutatius Catulus, who was consul in 78 BC. In the Middle Ages, a fortress was built over the remaining part of the Tabularium, which was later transformed into the Palazzo Senatorio. Thus, the construction has been adopted for the city’s administration activities since then.
Arches were an architectural invention throughout the period of the Roman Empire. Moreover, triumphal arches were used to celebrate victories of wars.
The Arch of Titus (Arco di Tito) is a 1st-century triumphal arch located on Via Sacra. It was built in 82 AD by Emperor Domitian after the death of his older brother Titus. The arch commemorates the victories of the Emperor, including the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
The arch served as the model for many triumphal arches in the world that were erected in the 16th century. Also, the inspiration for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was taken from the Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus symbolizes the Jewish diaspora. The menorah depicted on it was the model for the menorah used on the emblem of the state of Israel.
The Arch of Septimius Severus (Arco di Settimio Severo) is a white marble triumphal arch constructed in 203 to commemorate the Parthian victories of emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta. After the death of the Emperor, his sons became emperors, but Caracalla had Geta assassinated in 212. Moreover, all Geta’s memorials were destroyed. The arch was made from travertine with dimensions of about 23 meters in height and 25 meters in width. There were two sets of reliefs: the first with four large panels on each side of the attic, while the second with eight panels set into the inner side of the four archways.
Read about Main Attractions in Rome.
Embark on an intellectual challenge and measure the depth of your understanding of the Roman Forum. Below, a series of carefully curated questions and insightful answers await—indispensable knowledge for every true connoisseur of antiquity.
Feast your eyes upon our editorially handpicked collection of the finest accommodations near the Roman Forum. Each, renowned for their exemplary service and enviable location, serves as a perfect base for delving into the myriad wonders of the Eternal City.
Palm Suites Luxury Hotel, positioned in the heart of Rome, is an embodiment of luxury and homeliness.
Praise for this property centers around its exceptional location, a stone’s throw from the Colosseum and major attractions. Commendations for the warm, dedicated staff are frequent, with their customer service drawing particular appreciation. The rooms are spacious, clean, and well-equipped, providing a peaceful oasis amidst the bustle. The high-quality fittings, excellent breakfast offerings, and responsive service make Palm Suites a top recommendation for travelers.
The Inn at the Roman Forum, nestled in ancient Rome, captivates with its intimate charm, historical setting, and impeccable service.
Guests are charmed by the warm, personalized interactions with staff, making them feel like family. Unforgettable experiences include breakfast with a Roman Forum view and the unique experience of onsite ruins. The property’s central location offers easy access to sights, restaurants, and amenities. Its spacious, tastefully decorated rooms and exceptional staff amplify the feeling of an exclusive retreat in the heart of the Eternal City.
Foro Romano Luxury Suites, a stone’s throw from the Roman Forum, offers a serene yet central location.
Praised for their friendly and helpful hosts, this property boasts immaculate, cozy rooms with modern amenities, including free WiFi. Guests are thrilled by the excellent hospitality, making special mention of personalized services like dinner reservations and tour bookings. Nearby dining options and notable attractions enrich the locale. It’s highly recommended for its comfortable beds and commendable cleanliness.
Situated between iconic landmarks, Romano Boutique Hotel offers a unique charm with its one-of-a-kind rooms in a historic building.
Despite the compact nature of the rooms, which is common across Europe, the hotel garners praise for its comfort, cleanliness, and soundproofing. The locale’s safety and proximity to major attractions like the Colosseum, along with the excellent customer service, particularly the helpful and friendly staff, make it a cherished choice. The hotel’s value is further enhanced by conveniences like nearby dining options and discounted breakfast.
The Elegant Apartment Behind the Colosseum is praised for its unbeatable location, mere steps from the Roman Forum and Colosseum.
Guests appreciate the nearby amenities and the comfortable, fully-equipped space with efficient heating and a welcoming atmosphere. The attentive host receives accolades for their exceptional service, including tailored recommendations, transportation assistance, and constant communication. Notable features include the rooftop terrace, and the apartment’s ability to offer a true Roman living experience.
Madonna dei Monti – beautiful accommodations only 1.1 km from the Colosseum and the Forum.
Free wi-fi, a private bathroom, coffee machine, electric teapot, flat-screen TV, and other amenities. Living in this area of Rome is very convenient for travelers interested in food, history, and architecture.
The Inn at the Roman Forum – has fantastic reviews from its visitors. It is located in the heart of ancient Rome within walking distance of the Colosseum and Roman Forum.
Moreover, it houses ruins inside the property. There are modern rooms, and a rich breakfast is offered every morning. Also, travelers love this hotel for its location, service, and spacious and clean rooms.
Have you ever visited the Roman Forum and Colosseum? Tell us about your experience in the comments! 🙂
Author: Artur Jakucewicz Rome Holiday Planning Expert
I have lived in Rome for over 10 years and am glad to share my experience and knowledge. I love ancient history and architecture — author of travel guides in Italy for independent travelers.
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