Sunday, April 19, 2020


Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 52

212/216 AD for Caracalla (211/217)

The baths were known as Thermae Antoninianae from the real name of the emperor Caracalla, which was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
He was nicknamed Caracalla from the name of the Gallic hooded robe he used to dress. He was in fact born in Gaul, in the city of Lugdunum, today Lyon

Tha baths were dedicated in the year 216 but were completed by Elagabalus (218/222) and Alexander Severus (222/235), a great lover of athletics, with the external enclosure
The baths were restored by Aurelian (270/275)

The complex remained in operation until the year 537 (about 300 years!) when the Goths of Vitige cut the acqueduct of the Aqua Antoniniana Iovia derived from the Aqua Marcia and passing on the Arch of Drusus

Since 1938 the baths were used for summer performances of operas and here sang for the first time ever in 1990 the three tenors Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo

“The water flow of the aqueduct service of the Baths of Caracalla could have been up to 20,000 m³ (5,283,500 gallons) per day, enough for a modern city of 70,000 inhabitants; at least 3,500 m (11,500 feet) of lead piping, 550 tons (606 tons) heavy, distributing water in different rooms; 49 ovens warmed the rooms up, consuming no less than 10 tons (11 tons) of wood a day, which required warehouses for 2,000 tons (2,200 tons), of supply for 7 months. The number of users of 1600, also provided by an ancient source, refers only to one shift lasting 2 hours, which allows to evaluate between 6500 and 8000 the number of swimmers who used the complete cycle of the baths, and about 10,000 people daily. On this basis it is possible to calculate the number of people using daily the whole system of the Rome public and private baths, which could reach 150,000 people, a figure roughly equivalent to that of those entitled to free wheat and representing therefore a real ‘baths culture’ that, in this size, knows no parallel in any period of history” (Filippo Coarelli)

337 x 328 m (1,105 x 1,076 feet) but with the projection of the square the larger side would have been 400 m (1,312 feet)


STADIUM that hid the huge tanks (64 rooms) capable of 80,000 liters (21,100 gallons)


FRIGIDARIUM, TEPIDARIUM and round CALDARIUM WITH dome of 34 m (112 feet) in diameter

CENTRAL BASILICA 58 x 24 m (190 x 79 feet)

NATATIO (swimming pool) with no ceiling

Vast underground areas on two levels: the upper for services, the lower for drainage

Near the large exedra of northwest was installed the largest MITHRAIC TEMPLE ever found in Rome, which retains the white mosaic floor with black bands

Among the works of art found here:

Taurus, Flora and the Hercules Farnese in Naples

The tanks of the fountains on Piazza Farnese

The mosaic with athletes at the Vatican Museums
One of the four pillars of the natatio is in Piazza S. Trinita in Florence


Via dell’Arco della Ciambella 12

25/19 BC for Agrippa (about 63/12 BC) who used the water of the acqueduct Aqua Virgo which had been completed just then

Restored in 80 AD and then again by Hadrian (117/138) simultaneously to the construction of the Pantheon
Restored again in the years 344/345 at the time of Constantius II (337/361) and Constant (337/350)

The size was about 120 x 100 m (400 x 330 feet)
It consisted of large rooms irregularly arranged around a large circular hall

Half of this LARGE CIRCULAR HALL is still visible in Via dell’Arco della Ciambella (diameter 25 m - 82 feet)

Here was kept the original “Apoxyomenos” by Lysippus, one of the most popular statues among the Romans
To the west of the baths was the STAGNUM AGRIPPAE, artificial lake maybe used for naval battles, from which came off the Euripos channel which ended up into the Tiber River near today's Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II


Piazza del Colosseo

Begun in the year 121 AD for Hadrian (117/138) who, maybe, was the architect
Built on the vestibule of the Domus Aurea, after having leveled the Velia Hill

It seems that Apollodorus of Damascus, architect of Trajan, had criticized the ability of Hadrian as an architect and had been sentenced to death by the offended emperor

Dedicated on April 21, 135 AD
It was completed at the time of Antoninus Pius (138/161)
Restored on the year 307 AD for Maxentius (307/312)

It was the largest temple of ancient Rome and perhaps in the world, together with the Temple of Serapis of similar size:
Platform 100 x 145 m (330 x 476 feet) occupied for about ¾ by the temple

To give an idea of the size it can be said that the Parthenon in Athens is 31 x 70 m (101 x 230 feet) and the Temple of Apollo Didimeo in Miletus is 51 x 110 m (167 x 361 feet)

It was a dipteral decastile temple, with 10 x 22 columns, three rows of columns on both sides and two opposing cellas according to a tradition definitely Greek, on a crepidoma of seven steps

Two porticos with double colonnade with a central small propylaeum on the long sides of the platform
Inside the two cellas there used to be statues of Venus Felix (towards the Colosseum) and Eternal Rome (towards the Forum)

It was opened to the public in November 2010. During the restorations traces of gold that covered the roof shingles were found

The BRONZE COLOSSUS 35.40 m (116 feet) high by Zenodorus, representing Nero (54/68), the largest bronze statue ever made in the world (the Colossus of Rhodes was 32 m high - 105 feet) later transformed by Vespasian (69/79) in the Sun God Helios, formerly placed in the vestibule of the Domus Aurea, was moved at the behest of Hadrian near the Colosseum with the help of 24 elephants

“The temple is placed in alignment with the axis of the Colosseum: it renews, in a different key, the relationship between theater and temple we saw frequently in the Hellenistic period, where, however, to represent the gathered community of the Roman people is now the (…) more prestigious building of the city, its amphitheater: the colossus of Sol Invictus, erected between the two buildings, in front of the façade of the temple, represented the cosmic guarantee of the eternity of the city. It has been said, effectively modernizing, that Hadrian had established a proper national cult” (Francesca de Caprariis and Fausto Zevi)


Piazza del Quirinale

Built by Caracalla (211/217)
It was the largest temple of ancient Rome and perhaps in the world together with the Temple of Venus and Rome, of similar size:

135 x 98 m (443 x 322 feet) with an area of 13,230 m² (3.25 acres)
The columns had a diameter of nearly 2 m (6.5 feet) and were 21.17 m (70 feet) high

Serapis was a Greek-Egyptian god, whose cult was introduced in Alexandria by Ptolemy I, who built there the Serapeum
There are conflicting theories about the origins of the deity: the most reliable are the Sinopitic-Babylonian origin (Sinope is in northern Turkey) and the Memphis origin connected with Osiris-Apis 
For the syncretistic phenomenon typical of the Hellenistic age, it was identified with various Greek gods, especially Zeus

In the nearby Villa Colonna there is the largest architectural element existing in Rome of 34 sqm (366 square feet) and weighing 100 tons (110 tons)

Important statues found in the nearby Baths of Constantine were probably part of the decoration of the temple:

“Two Dioscuri” now in Piazza del Quirinale
Two colossal river gods “Tiber”, originally the Tigris River, later transformed with the addition of the twins, and “Nile”, both now in Piazza del Campidoglio


Via XXIV Maggio

Maybe originally founded by Titus Tatius the Sabine king who, according to tradition, shared power with Romulus
Semo Sancus was a deity of Sabine origin

The temple area corresponds to the current area of the church of S. Silvestro al Quirinale
The temple building was probably begun by Tarquinius Superbus and inaugurated in the year 466 BC

Inside there was a bronze statue of Tanaquil, wife of Tarquinio Prisco, and the Foedus Gabinus, a treaty signed with Gabii, one of the oldest examples of treaties of alliance of Roman history, written on a shield made out of cowhide

“His sanctuary stood on the Quirinal Hill, and it gave the name to the Sanqualis Gate. Another shrine was on the Tiberina Island. This temple, generally attributed to the Tarquin kings (Varro, De Ling. Lat., V, 52 and 66), was dedicated in 466 by the consul Spurious Posthumus Regillense, according to the Venosino Calendar. Dius Fidius can be linked for some of his attributes to Hercules and Jupiter. Like Hercules he was worshiped ‘propter viam’, and in Rome people used to swear ‘Mehercle’ and ‘Me and Dius Fidius’ (Prop., Iv, 9, 71 ff .; Tertull., De idol., 20). Jupiter is also called Dius Fidius, Ζεὺς πίστιος (Dion Hal., Ant. Rom., iv, 58, 4; ix, 60, 8), so we can consider Semo Sancus, a ‘Genus Iovis’, a demigod protector of marital fidelity and of the law of nations. On the other hand it was also a rural divinity, protector of the fields and crops” (Susanna Meschini - Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica Treccani)


Piazza Bocca della Verità

Built in the fourth or third century BC
Rebuilt in the second half of the second century BC with renovations in the first century BC

Mistakenly believed to be the Tempio della Fortuna Virile (Temple of Manly Fortune)

It is a temple pseudoperipteral, ionic and tetrastyle
Travertine columns, half-columns and wall of the cella in tuff of the Aniene River with bases and capitals in travertine
It was originally completely covered with stucco

It became a church in the year 872 with the name of S. Maria Egiziaca (St. Mary of Egypt), the patron saint of prostitutes, and it was granted to the Armenians

It was commonly called S. Maria ad Gradellis (S. Mary at the Steps) for the staircase that used to connect this area with the River Tiber
It was deconsecrated in 1924 and the copy of the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which was kept in it, was moved to St. Nicholas of Tolentino

“St. Mary of Egypt” by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)


Via Giovanni Giolitti 409

Built in the fourth century AD
Grandiose structure maybe formerly part of the HORTI LICINIANI (Gardens of Licinius) of the emperor Licinius Gallienus (253/268) according to Filippo Coarelli

According to Federico Guidobaldi it was rebuilt for Constantine (306/337) with bricks marked with dates of the time of Maxentius (306/312) and used for the private sector of Costantine’s PALATIUM SESSORIANUM, the large urban residence of Constantine and his family

Unusual plan with ten sides and a diameter of 25 m (82 feet)
The polygonal-shaped DOME gradually assumes an hemispheric aspect 
Is often mistakenly considered a nympheum or a fountain

Among the statues found here:

A “Minerva with serpent” called “Athena Giustiniani” now in the Vatican Museums that gave the arbitrary name to the building
“Two judges in place to launch a small sack to start the races in the circus”, “Statue of dancing satyr” and “Statue of Dionysus with a panther” now on display at the Centrale Montemartini, together with the mosaic “Hunting Scenes” found in the vicinity and in part still incredibly buried under rail tracks


Vicolo della Spada d'Orlando

Built on the year 119 AD for Hadrian (117/138) who had it built in honor of his mother-in-law Matidia (mother of his wife Sabina) who had died during that same year

There are remains visible in Vicolo della Spada d'Orlando: a column of cipollino marble that had to be high not less than 17 m (56 feet) and a brick wall

The site of the temple corresponds to the current Piazza Capranica
It was placed between two buildings similar to porticos probably the BASILICA OF MATIDIA on the site of the present church of St. Mary in Aquiro and the BASILICA MARCIANA (mother of Matidia) on the area of the buildings along Via dei Pastini


Via degli Specchi/Piazza S. Salvatore in Campo

135 BC maybe Hermodoros of Salamis (active in Rome in the II century BC) for Brutus Callaicus
Nothing is left to be seen of this temple

It was located at the west end of the Circus Flaminius corresponding precisely to the block between Via degli Specchi, the Via and the Piazza di San Salvatore in Campo to left the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà

It was a peripteral temple made out of Pentelic marble on a crepidoma with no podium and therefore in purely Greek style
The church of S. SALVATORE IN CAMPO was built on the exact area of the temple

Thursday, April 16, 2020


Via di S. Pietro in Carcere

On the prominence of the Capitol Hill known as Arx
The festival of Iuno Moneta, Juno Warner, was celebrated here every June 1st

It was the anniversary of the dedication (dedication) of the temple made by the son of Camillus in the year 343 BC
Nearby, between the late fourth and early third century BC, was built the mint of Rome, later moved by Domitian in the area of the church of St. Clement

From the name of the goddess came the Italian word moneta (money in English): it dates from the time of the siege of the Gauls of Brennus in the year 396 BC, when the sacred geese of the Temple of Juno, the famous geese of the Capitol, with their squawking woke former consul Manlius who gave the alarm

In the area of the Garden of the Aracoeli there were other facilities:

Used for ritual observations to foresee the future

Dating back at least to the year 58 BC, when it was mentioned for the first time by the sources
To the temple maybe belonged the Obelisk of Villa Celimontana built for Ramses II (1297/1213 BC) around 1200 BC


Via di S. Stefano del Cacco 26

Maybe built at the behest of the members of the second triumvirate in the year 43 BC

It was known as Iseum Campensis and it was the most important sanctuary of the Egyptian religion in Rome

The site of the temple corresponds to the present church of S. Stefano del Cacco (St. Stephen of Cacco)
It was hardly tolerated by Augustus and Tiberius, and it was rebuilt by Caligula, Domitian and Alexander Severus
Grand entrance from the north in the current Via del Seminario and two side entrances closer to the temple. The east side entrance was the so-called ARCO DI CAMIGLIANO (Arch of Camigliano) the left pilaster of which is still visible

“The historian Dio Cassius says that in 53 BC the Senate ordered the demolition of all the private temples, within the walls, not only dedicated to Isis, but also to Serapis, other male deity imported from Egyptian, corresponding to the Hellenized form of the god Osiris, brother and husband of Isis. The construction of the Iseum Campensis took place significantly in 43 BC, ten years after the senatorial ban, if another testimony of Dio Cassius is properly interpreted, and the patrons are the protagonists of the second triumvirate, who most likely continued the building program begun by Julius Caesar in the Campus Martius. After a few years after its construction, the Temple of Isis was, on and off, at the center of repressions and temporary suspensions, from Agrippa in 21 BC, to the more incisive one of Tiberius, who even had the priests executed. After the reintroduction of the cult by Caligula, and the complete reconstruction of Domitian after the fire of 80 AD, the Iseum Campensis and the worship of the goddess Isis continued until the end of the imperial period” (Paolo Vigliarolo - ArcheoCommons)

The structure was decorated with five small obelisks of about 6 m (20 feet) in height:

1) Piazza della Rotonda from Heliopolis by Ramses II (1297/1213 BC) about 1250 BC

2) War Memorial of Dogali from Heliopolis by Ramses II about 1250 BC

3) Piazza della Minerva by Apries about 500 BC

4) Florence, Boboli Gardens from Heliopolis by Ramses II about 1250 BC

5) Urbino, Palazzo Ducale by Apries by 500 BC

There was also a higher one, perhaps the Agonal Obelisk later moved to the Circus of Maxentius and later on again to Piazza Navona, with the name of Domitian in hieroglyphics
Filippo Coarelli and Jean-Claude Grenier deem it however coming originally from the TEMPLUM GENTIS FLAVIAE that was erected in Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando where now the Hall Octagonal or Hall of Minerva is, the former Planetarium

Maybe it was another obelisk whose pieces of pink granite were used for the thresholds of the Collegio Romano, Palazzo Giustiniani and S. Andrea della Valle
Maybe it corresponds to the square in the center of Via Pie' di Marmo on the Forma Urbis marble map

MANY STATUES were found in the area of the temple, including:
The two statues of men representing rivers lying down: the “Nile” in the Vatican Museums and the “Tiber” in the Louvre
Those that make up the Egyptian Collection of the Capitoline Museums found here in 1883
The “Pie' di Marmo” placed in the street with the same name, Via del Pie’ di Marmo
The “Madama Lucretia” in Piazza Venezia
The “Dog-headed God Thoth” now the Gregorian Egyptian Museum in the Vatican and mistakenly considered a macaque monkey


Piazza di Porta Capena

Built in the year 234 BC
The location just outside Porta Capena is known, but no trace of it remains

Augustus (27 BC/AD 14) fixed to May 29, the date of the feast of Honos and Virtus

Built by Quintus Fabius Maximus the Procrastinator (275/203 BC)
Honos was the deified personification of Honor, maybe specifically Military Honor, revered in Rome from the third century BC on

Added in 208 BC by Claudius Marcellus, the conqueror of Syracuse
Virtus was the deified personification of Military Virtue and almost always appears with Honos in literary and epigraphic sources
“All the figurative monuments present Honos as male personification, almost always as a kind of a young man covered with pallium on one shoulder and on the lower part of the body, with naked chest, and bearing in one or both hands attributes, including frequently a cornucopia and an olive branch. We cannot exclude that these iconographic characters would be the main differentiation in worship between Honos and Virtus, the latter being constantly represented with military attributes (helmet) as a warrior god” (Giovanni Scichilone - Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica Treccani)


Piazza Bocca della Verità

About 120 BC maybe by Hermodoros of Salamis (active in Rome during the second century BC) in Pentelic Greek marble for the merchant Marcus Octavius Herennus, perhaps enriched with the olive oil business

This temple is mistakenly believed to be the “Temple of Vesta”

On a block of stone that was found here, probably the base of the statue of worship, there is the name of the deity Hercules Olivarius, and the name of the sculptor of the statue Skopas Minor, Greek sculptor who also worked in the area of the Circus Flaminius
So the temple was dedicated to Hercules Olivarius and maybe not to Hercules Victor

It was restored under Tiberius (14/37), perhaps after the flood of the year 15 AD
On that occasion nine columns and eleven capitals of marble from Luni were rebuilt

It is the oldest marble building remained in Rome. The first to be built in marble was the Temple of Jupiter Stator in the Porticus of Octavia

It is a peripteral round temple (Tholos) with twenty columns (there is only one base and perhaps the missing column is the “Column of Phocas” of the Roman Forum) on a stepped plinth (crepidoma) with circular foundation of tuff from Grotta Oscura

It became a church in 1132 as S. Stefano delle Carrozze (St. Stephen of the Coaches) from the name of the nearby street Via delle Carrozze (Coahes Street) now disappeared
In 1560 the name was changed into S. Maria del Sole (S. Mary of the Sun) maybe because of a legend (a woman of 115 years emanated light after a picture of the Virgin Mary found in the Tiber River was taken in her house), or maybe because of the proximity of the Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus with the god Mithra represented as the Sun

The structures and the walls of the church were dismantled during the years 1809/14 by Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839)

Last renovation in 1996
Frescoes with “Scenes of the Virgin Mary and Saints” 1475 by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471/84) who wanted to place a commemorative plaque on the floor


Via Portuense/Via Ettore Rolli

About first century BC

It was discovered in 1889
Here were found the “Eight herms of charioteers” now at the National Roman Museum of Palazzo Massimo