ROMAN FORUM TOUR - Abraham Lincoln - James M. McPherson

Rick Steves Rome 2016 - Rick Steves, Gene Openshaw (2015)

ROMAN FORUM TOUR

The Forum was the political, religious, and commercial center of the city. Rome’s most important temples and halls of justice were here. This was the place for religious processions, political demonstrations, elections, important speeches, and parades by conquering generals. As Rome’s empire expanded, these few acres of land became the center of the civilized world.

Orientation

(See “Roman Forum” map, here.)

Cost: €12 combo-ticket covers both the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill and the Colosseum; also covered by the Roma Pass. The combo-ticket is valid two consecutive days, but once it’s scanned, you can’t reenter that sight (even the next day). The Forum is free (and extremely crowded) the first Sunday of the month.

Hours: The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Colosseum are open daily 8:30 until one hour before sunset: April-Aug until 19:15, Sept until 19:00, Oct until 18:30, off-season closing time can be as early as 16:30—for specifics, see “Hours” on here; last entry one hour before closing.

Avoiding Lines: See “Avoiding Lines” on here.

Getting There: The closest Metro stop is Colosseo. Buses #51, #85, #87, #118, #186, and #810 stop along Via dei Fori Imperiali near the Colosseum, the Forum, and Piazza Venezia.

Getting In: The Forum and Palatine Hill share three entrances. The handiest (but often most crowded) is directly across from the Colosseum. This entrance puts you right by the Arch of Titus, where our tour begins. The Palatine Hill ticket office (on Via di San Gregorio) is often less crowded. After buying your ticket, reach the Arch of Titus by taking the path to the right; the path to the left goes uphill to the Palatine Hill ruins. A third entrance is along Via dei Fori Imperiali, about halfway between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia, near the intersection with Via Cavour (and through a low-profile building set well back from the street). To reach the Arch of Titus from here, walk down the ramp and turn left.

Information: The free information center, located across from the Via dei Fori Imperiali entrance, has a TI (which sells the Roma Pass), bookshop, small café, and WCs (daily 9:30-19:00). Vendors outside sell a variety of colorful books with plastic overlays that restore the ruins (official price in bookstore for larger version with DVD is €20 and for smaller version is €10—don’t pay more than these prices). Info office tel. 06-3996-7700, archeoroma.beniculturali.it/en.

Tours: An unexciting yet informative audioguide helps decipher the rubble (€5/2 hours, €7 version includes Palatine Hill and lasts 3 hours, must leave ID), but you have to return it to where you rented it—meaning you may not be able to exit directly to Capitoline Hill or the Colosseum, for example. Official guided tours in English might be available (inquire at ticket office).

Image Download my free Roman Forum audio tour.

Length of This Tour: Allow 1.5 hours. If you have less time, end the walk at the Arch of Septimius Severus. Don’t miss the Basilica of Constantine hiding behind the trees.

Services: WCs are at the Palatine Hill and Via dei Fori Imperiali ticket entrances. Within the Forum itself, there’s one near the Arch of Titus (in the “Soprintendenza” office), and another in the middle, near #6 on the map. Others are atop Palatine Hill (see above). For information on food and other WCs in the area, see the sidebar on here.

Plan Ahead: The ancient paving at the Forum is uneven; wear sturdy shoes. I carry a water bottle and refill it at the Forum’s public drinking fountains.

Improvise: Because of ongoing restoration, paths through the Forum are often rerouted. Use this tour as a starting point, but be prepared for a few detours and backtracking.

The Tour Begins

(See “Roman Forum” map, here.)

Whichever ticket entrance you use, our tour begins at the Arch of Titus (Arco di Tito). It’s the white triumphal arch that rises above the rubble on the east end of the Forum (closest to the Colosseum). Stand at the viewpoint alongside the arch and gaze over the valley known as the Forum.

View of the Forum

The Forum is a rectangular valley running roughly east (the Colosseum end) to west (Capitoline Hill, with its bell tower). The rocky path at your feet is Via Sacra. It leads from the Arch of Titus, through the trees, past the large brick Senate building, through the triumphal arch at the far end, and up Capitoline Hill. The hill to your left (with all the trees) is Palatine Hill.

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Picture being here when a conquering general returned to Rome with crates of booty. The valley was full of gleaming white buildings topped with bronze roofs. The Via Sacra—Main Street of the Forum—would be lined with citizens waving branches and carrying torches. The trumpets would sound as the parade began. First came porters, carrying chests full of gold and jewels. Then a parade of exotic animals from the conquered lands—elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses—for the crowd to “ooh” and “ahh” at. Next came the prisoners in chains, with the captive king on a wheeled platform so the people could jeer and spit at him. Finally, the conquering hero himself would drive down in his four-horse chariot, with rose petals strewn in his path. The whole procession would run the length of the Forum and up the face of Capitoline Hill to the Temple of Saturn (the eight big columns midway up the hill—#14 on the map in this chapter), where they’d place the booty in Rome’s coffers. Then they’d continue up to the summit to the Temple of Jupiter (only ruins of its foundation remain today) to dedicate the victory to the King of the Gods.

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Image Arch of Titus (Arco di Tito)

The Arch of Titus commemorated the Roman victory over the province of Judaea (Israel) in A.D. 70. The Romans had a reputation as benevolent conquerors who tolerated local customs and rulers. All they required was allegiance to the empire, shown by worshipping the emperor as a god. No problem for most conquered people, who already had half a dozen gods on their prayer lists anyway. But Israelites believed in only one god, and it wasn’t the emperor. Israel revolted. After a short but bitter war, the Romans defeated the rebels, took Jerusalem, destroyed their temple (leaving only a fragment of one wall’s foundation—today’s revered “Wailing Wall”), and brought home 50,000 Jewish slaves...who were forced to build this arch (and the Colosseum).

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Roman propaganda decorates the inside of the arch, where a relief shows the emperor Titus in a chariot being crowned by the goddess Victory. (Thanks to modern pollution, they both look like they’ve been through the wars.) The other side shows booty from the sacking of the temple in Jerusalem—soldiers carrying a Jewish menorah and other plunder. The two (unfinished) plaques on poles were to have listed the conquered cities. Look at the top of the ceiling. Constructed after Titus’ death, the relief shows him riding an eagle to heaven, where he’ll become one of the gods.

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The brutal crushing of the A.D. 70 rebellion (and another one 60 years later) devastated the nation of Israel. With no temple as a center for their faith, the Jews scattered throughout the world (the Diaspora). There would be no Jewish political entity again for almost 2,000 years, until modern Israel was created after World War II.

As you begin this Forum tour, here’s a hint for seeing things with “period eyes.” We imagine the structures in ancient Rome as mostly white, but ornate buildings and monuments like the Arch of Titus were originally more colorful. Through the ages, builders scavenged stone from the Forum, and the finest stone—the colored marble—was cannibalized first. If any was left, it was generally the white stone. Statues that filled the niches were vividly painted, but the organic paint rotted away as statues lay buried for centuries. Lettering was inset bronze and eyes were inset ivory. Even seemingly intact structures, like the Arch of Titus, have been reassembled. Notice the columns are half smooth and half fluted. The fluted halves are original; the smooth parts are reconstructions—intentionally not trying to fake the original.

And speaking of cannibalizing marble, remember that when marble burns it becomes lime, which is used to make cement. In the Middle Ages, before the historic importance of antiquity was appreciated, the Forum was surrounded by kilns used to melt marble. Much of the grandeur of ancient Rome—statues, reliefs, marble slabs—was loaded into these ovens, melted, and repoured as concrete into the medieval city.

Rome: Republic and Empire (500 B.C.-A.D. 500)

Ancient Rome lasted for a thousand years, from about 500 B.C. to A.D. 500. During that time, Rome expanded from a small tribe of barbarians to a vast empire, then dwindled slowly to city size again. For the first 500 years, when Rome’s armies made her ruler of the Italian peninsula and beyond, Rome was a republic governed by elected senators. Over the next 500 years, a time of world conquest and eventual decline, Rome was an empire ruled by a military-backed dictator.

Julius Caesar bridged the gap between republic and empire. This ambitious general and politician, popular with the people because of his military victories and charisma, suspended the Roman constitution and assumed dictatorial powers in about 50 B.C. A few years later, he was assassinated by a conspiracy of senators. His adopted son, Augustus, succeeded him, and soon “Caesar” was not just a name but a title.

Emperor Augustus ushered in the Pax Romana, or Roman peace (A.D. 1-200), a time when Rome reached her peak and controlled an empire that stretched even beyond Eurail—from England to Egypt, Turkey to Morocco.

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✵ Walk down Via Sacra into the Forum. Imagine Roman sandals on these original basalt stones—the oldest street you’ll ever walk. Many of the stones under your feet were walked on by Caesar Augustus 2,000 years ago. After about 50 yards, turn right and follow a path uphill to the three huge arches of the...

Image Basilica of Constantine (Basilica Maxentius)

Yes, these are big arches. But they represent only one-third of the original Basilica of Constantine, a mammoth hall of justice. The arches were matched by a similar set along the Via Sacra side (only a few squat brick piers remain). Between them ran the central hall, which was spanned by a roof 130 feet high—about 55 feet higher than the side arches you see. (The stub of brick you see sticking up began an arch that once spanned the central hall.) The hall itself was as long as a football field, lavishly furnished with colorful inlaid marble, a gilded bronze ceiling, and statues, and filled with strolling Romans. At the far (west) end was an enormous marble statue of Emperor Constantine on a throne. (Pieces of this statue, including a hand the size of a man, are on display in Rome’s Capitoline Museums.)

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The basilica was begun by the emperor Maxentius, but after he was trounced in battle (see here), the victor Constantine completed the massive building. No doubt about it, the Romans built monuments on a more epic scale than any previous Europeans, wowing their “barbarian” neighbors.

✵ Now stroll deeper into the Forum, downhill along Via Sacra, through the trees. Pass by the only original bronze door still swinging on its ancient hinges (the green door at the Tempio di Romolo, the round building on the right—if it happens to be open, peek in). Just past that, 10 columns stand in front of a much newer-looking church. The colonnade was part of the...

Image Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina

The Senate built this temple to honor Emperor Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138-161) and his deified wife, Faustina. (The lintel’s inscription calls them “divo” and “divae.”) The 50-foot-tall Corinthian (leafy) columns must have been awe-inspiring to out-of-towners who grew up in thatched huts. Although the temple has been inhabited by a church, you can still see the basic layout—a staircase led to a shaded porch (the columns), which admitted you to the main building (now a church), where the statue of the god sat. Originally, these columns supported a triangular pediment decorated with sculptures.

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Picture these columns, with gilded capitals, supporting brightly painted statues in the pediment, and the whole building capped with a gleaming bronze roof. The stately gray rubble of today’s Forum is a faded black-and-white photograph of a 3-D Technicolor era.

The building is a microcosm of many changes that occurred after Rome fell. In medieval times, the temple was pillaged. Note the diagonal cuts high on the marble columns—a failed attempt by scavengers to cut through the pillars to pull them down for their precious stone. (They used vinegar and rope to cut the marble...but because vinegar also eats through rope, they abandoned the attempt.) In 1550, a church was housed inside the ancient temple. The green door shows the street level at the time of Michelangelo. The long staircase was underground until excavated in the 1800s.

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✵ With your back to the colonnade, walk straight ahead—jogging a bit to the right to stay on the path—and head for the three short columns, all that’s left of the...

Image Temple of Vesta

This is perhaps Rome’s most sacred spot. Rome considered itself one big family, and this temple represented a circular hut, like the kind that Rome’s first families lived in. Inside, a fire burned, just as in a Roman home. And back in the days before lighters and butane, you never wanted your fire to go out. As long as the sacred flame burned, Rome would stand. The flame was tended by priestesses known as Vestal Virgins.

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✵ Just to the left and up the stairs is a big, enclosed field with two rectangular brick pools (just below the hill). This was the courtyard of the...

Image House of the Vestal Virgins

The Vestal Virgins lived in a two-story building surrounding a long central courtyard with two pools at one end. Rows of statues depicting leading Vestal Virgins flanked the courtyard. This place was the model—both architecturally and sexually—for medieval convents and monasteries.

Chosen from noble families before they reached the age of 10, the six Vestal Virgins served a 30-year term. Honored and revered by the Romans, the Vestals even had their own box opposite the emperor in the Colosseum. The statues that line the courtyard honor dutiful Vestals.

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As the name implies, a Vestal took a vow of chastity. If she served her term faithfully—abstaining for 30 years—she was given a huge dowry and allowed to marry. But if they found any Virgin who wasn’t, she was strapped to a funeral car, paraded through the streets of the Forum, taken to a crypt, given a loaf of bread and a lamp...and buried alive. Many women suffered the latter fate.

✵ Looming just beyond this field is Palatine Hill—the corner of which may have been...

Image Caligula’s Palace (Palace of Tiberius)

Emperor Caligula (ruled A.D. 37-41) had a huge palace on Palatine Hill overlooking the Forum. It actually sprawled down the hill into the Forum (some supporting arches remain in the hillside).

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Caligula was not a nice person. He tortured enemies, stole senators’ wives, and parked his chariot in handicap spaces. But Rome’s luxury-loving emperors only added to the glory of the Forum, with each one trying to make his mark on history.

✵ Continue downhill, passing the three short columns of the Temple of Vesta, and head for the three taller columns just beyond it.

Image Temple of Castor and Pollux

These three columns—all that remain of a once-prestigious temple—have become the most photographed sight in the Forum. The temple was one of the city’s oldest, built in the fifth century B.C. It commemorated the Roman victory over the Tarquin, the notorious Etruscan king who once oppressed them. After the battle, the legendary twin brothers Castor and Pollux watered their horses here, at the Sacred Spring of Juturna (which has been recently excavated nearby).

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As a symbol of Rome’s self-governing republic, the temple was often used as a meeting place of senators, and its front steps served as a podium for free speech. The three columns are Corinthian style, featuring leafy capitals and fluting. They date from a later incarnation of the temple (first century).

✵ You’re now standing at the corner of a flat, grassy area.

Image The Forum’s Main Square

The original Forum, or main square, was this flat patch about the size of a football field, stretching to the foot of Capitoline Hill. Surrounding it were temples, law courts, government buildings, and triumphal arches.

Rome was born right here. According to legend, twin brothers Romulus (Rome) and Remus were orphaned in infancy and raised by a she-wolf on top of Palatine Hill. Growing up, they found it hard to get dates. So they and their cohorts attacked the nearby Sabine tribe and kidnapped their women. After they made peace, this marshy valley became the meeting place and then the trading center for the scattered tribes on the surrounding hillsides.

The square was the busiest and most crowded—and often the seediest—section of town. Besides the senators, politicians, and currency exchangers, there were even sleazier types—souvenir hawkers, pickpockets, fortune-tellers, gamblers, slave marketers, drunks, hookers, lawyers, and tour guides.

Ancient Rome’s population exceeded one million, more than any city until London and Paris in the 19th century. All those Roman masses lived in tiny apartments as we would live in tents at a campsite, basically just to sleep. The public space—their Forum, today’s piazza—is where they did their living. Consider how, to this day, the piazza is still a standard part of any Italian town. Since Roman times, the piazza has reflected and accommodated the gregarious and outgoing nature of the Italian people.

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The Forum is now rubble, but imagine it in its prime: blindingly brilliant marble buildings with 40-foot-high columns and shining metal roofs; rows of statues painted in realistic colors; processional chariots rattling down Via Sacra. Mentally replace tourists in T-shirts with tribunes in togas. Imagine the buildings towering and the people buzzing around you while an orator gives a rabble-rousing speech from the Rostrum. If things still look like just a pile of rocks, at least tell yourself, “But Julius Caesar once leaned against these rocks.”

✵ At the near (east) end of the main square (the Colosseum is to the east) are the foundations of a temple now capped with a peaked wood-and-metal roof.

Image Temple of Julius Caesar (Tempio del Divo Giulio, or Ara di Cesare)

On March 15, in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by political conspirators. After his assassination, Caesar’s body was cremated on this spot (under the metal roof). Afterward, this temple was built to honor him. Peek behind the wall into the small apse area, where a mound of dirt usually has fresh flowers—given to remember the man who, more than any other, personified the greatness of Rome.

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Caesar (100-44 B.C.) changed Rome—and the Forum—dramatically. He cleared out many of the wooden market stalls and began to ring the square with even grander buildings. Caesar’s house was located behind the temple, near that clump of trees. He walked right by here on the day he was assassinated (“Beware the Ides of March!” warned a street-corner Etruscan preacher).

Though he was popular with the masses, not everyone liked Caesar’s urban design or his politics. When he assumed dictatorial powers, he was ambushed and stabbed to death by a conspiracy of senators, including his adopted son, Brutus (“Et tu, Brute?”).

The funeral was held here, facing the main square. The citizens gathered, and speeches were made. Mark Antony stood up to say (in Shakespeare’s words), “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” When Caesar’s body was burned, his adoring fans threw anything at hand on the fire, requiring the fire department to come put it out. Later, Emperor Augustus dedicated this temple in his name, making Caesar the first Roman to become a god.

Religion in Ancient Rome

Religion in ancient Rome was all about the pax deorum (peace, or pact, with the gods) that guaranteed the prosperity of the incredibly superstitious Romans. To appease the fickle gods, they performed elaborate rituals at lavish temples and shrines. Romans had a god for every moment of their days and each important event in their lives. While the Romans adopted the Greek pantheon, they also embraced the gods from many of the people they came into contact with, sometimes using elaborate ceremonies to persuade these new gods to “move” to Rome. Scholars estimate Romans had about 30,000 gods to keep happy. In this high-maintenance religion, there was Cunina, the goddess who protected cradles; Statulinus, to help children stand up; and Fabulina, for their first words. Fornax was the oven god, Pomona the fruit-tree goddess, Sterculinus the manure god, and Venus Cloacina the sewer goddess.

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Priests interpreted the will of the gods by studying the internal organs of sacrificed animals, the flight of birds, and prophetic books. A clap of thunder was enough to postpone a battle.

Astrology, magic rites, the cult of deified emperors, house gods, and the near-deification of ancestors permeated Roman life. But all these gods didn’t quite do it for the Romans—they were gradually replaced by the rise of monotheistic religions from the East. In A.D. 313, Emperor Constantine legalized and embraced Christianity. By 390, the Christian God was the only legal god in Rome.

✵ Continue past the Temple of Julius Caesar, to the open area between the columns of the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina (which we passed earlier) and the boxy brick building (the Curia). You can view these ruins of the Basilica Aemilia from a ramp next to the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina, or find the entrance near the Curia (if it’s not closed for archaeological work).

Image Basilica Aemilia

A basilica was a covered public forum, often serving as a Roman hall of justice. In a society that was as legal-minded as America is today, you needed a lot of lawyers—and a big place to put them. Citizens came here to work out matters such as inheritances and building permits or to sue somebody.

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Notice the layout. It was a long, rectangular building. The stubby columns all in a row form one long, central hall flanked by two side aisles. Medieval Christians required a larger meeting hall for their worship services than Roman temples provided, so they used the spacious Roman basilica as the model for their churches. Cathedrals from France to Spain to England, from Romanesque to Gothic to Renaissance, all have the same basic floor plan as a Roman basilica.

✵ Now head for the big, well-preserved brick building (just beyond the basilica ruins) with the triangular roof—the Curia. (Ongoing archaeological work may restrict access to the Curia, as well as the Arch of Septimius Severus—described later—and the exit to Capitoline Hill.)

Image The Curia (Senate House)

The Curia was the most important political building in the Forum. While the present building dates from A.D. 283, this was the site of Rome’s official center of government since the birth of the republic. Three hundred senators, elected by the citizens of Rome, met here to debate and create the laws of the land. Their wooden seats once circled the building in three tiers; the Senate president’s podium sat at the far end. The marble floor is from ancient times. Listen to the echoes in this vast room—the acoustics are great.

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Rome prided itself on being a republic. Early in the city’s history, its people threw out the king and established rule by elected representatives. Each Roman citizen was free to speak his mind and have a say in public policy. Even when emperors became the supreme authority, the Senate was a power to be reckoned with. The Curia building is well preserved, having been used as a church since early Christian times. In the 1930s, it was restored and opened to the public as a historic site. (Note: Although Julius Caesar was assassinated in “the Senate,” it wasn’t here—the Senate was temporarily meeting across town.)

A statue and two reliefs inside the Curia help build our mental image of the Forum. The statue, made of porphyry marble in about A.D. 100 (with its head, arms, and feet now missing), was a tribute to an emperor, probably Hadrian or Trajan. The two relief panels may have decorated the Rostrum. Those on the left show people (with big stone tablets) standing in line to burn their debt records following a government amnesty. The other shows the distribution of grain (Rome’s welfare system), some buildings in the background, and the latest fashion in togas.

✵ Go back down the Senate steps and find the 10-foot-high wall just to the left of the big arch, marked...

Image Rostrum

Nowhere was Roman freedom more apparent than at this “Speaker’s Corner.” The Rostrum was a raised platform, 10 feet high and 80 feet long, decorated with statues, columns, and the prows of ships.

On a stage like this, Rome’s orators, great and small, tried to draw a crowd and sway public opinion. Mark Antony rose to offer Caesar the laurel-leaf crown of kingship, which Caesar publicly (and hypocritically) refused while privately becoming a dictator. Men such as Cicero railed against the corruption and decadence that came with the city’s newfound wealth. In later years, daring citizens even spoke out against the emperors, reminding them that Rome was once free. Picture the backdrop these speakers would have had—a mountain of marble buildings piling up on Capitoline Hill.

In front of the Rostrum are trees bearing fruits that were sacred to the ancient Romans: olives (provided food, light, and preservatives), figs (tasty), and wine grapes (made a popular export product).

✵ The big arch to the right of the Rostrum is the...

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Image Arch of Septimius Severus

In imperial times, the Rostrum’s voices of democracy would have been dwarfed by images of the empire, such as the huge six-story-high Arch of Septimius Severus (A.D. 203). The reliefs commemorate the African-born emperor’s battles in Mesopotamia. Near ground level, see soldiers marching captured barbarians back to Rome for the victory parade. Despite Severus’ efficient rule, Rome’s empire was crumbling under the weight of its own corruption, disease, decaying infrastructure, and the constant attacks by foreign “barbarians.”

Rome Falls

Remember that Rome lasted 1,000 years—500 years of growth, 200 years of peak power, and 300 years of gradual decay. The fall had many causes, among them the barbarians who pecked away at Rome’s borders. Christians blamed the fall on moral decay. Pagans blamed it on Christians. Socialists blamed it on a shallow economy based on the spoils of war. (Republicans blamed it on Democrats.) Whatever the reasons, the far-flung empire could no longer keep its grip on conquered lands, and it pulled back. Barbarian tribes from Germany and Asia attacked the Italian peninsula and even looted Rome itself in A.D. 410, leveling many of the buildings in the Forum. In 476, when the last emperor checked out and switched off the lights, Europe plunged into centuries of ignorance, poverty, and weak government—the Dark Ages.

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But Rome lived on in the Catholic Church. Christianity was the state religion of Rome’s last generations. Emperors became popes (both called themselves “Pontifex Maximus”), senators became bishops, orators became priests, and basilicas became churches. The glory of Rome remains eternal.

✵ Pass underneath the Arch of Septimius Severus and turn left. If the path is blocked, backtrack toward the Temple of Julius Caesar and around the square. On the slope of Capitoline Hill are the eight remaining columns of the...

Image Temple of Saturn

These columns framed the entrance to the Forum’s oldest temple (497 B.C.). Inside was a humble, very old wooden statue of the god Saturn. But the statue’s pedestal held the gold bars, coins, and jewels of Rome’s state treasury, the booty collected by conquering generals.

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Even older than the Temple of Saturn is the Umbilicus Urbis, which stands nearby (next to the Arch of Septimius Severus). A humble brick ruin marks this historic “Navel of the City.” The spot was considered the center of the cosmos, and all distances in the empire were measured from here.

✵ Standing at the Temple of Saturn, one of the Forum’s first buildings, look east at the lone, tall...

Image Column of Phocas

This is the Forum’s last monument (A.D. 608), a gift from the powerful Byzantine Empire to a fallen empire—Rome. Given to commemorate the pagan Pantheon’s becoming a Christian church, it’s like a symbolic last nail in ancient Rome’s coffin. After Rome’s 1,000-year reign, the city was looted by Vandals, the population of a million-plus shrank to about 10,000, and the once-grand city center—the Forum—was abandoned, slowly covered up by centuries of silt and dirt. In the 1700s, an English historian named Edward Gibbon overlooked this spot from Capitoline Hill. Hearing Christian monks singing at these pagan ruins, he looked out at the few columns poking up from the ground, pondered the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and thought, “Hmm, that’s a catchy title...”

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✵ Your tour is over. From the Forum, you have several options:

1. Your closest exit is right by the Arch of Septimius Severus. From here, you can walk out to Via dei Fori Imperiali, near Trajan’s Column and the Imperial Forums (described on here). Or you can climb 50 steps up to Capitoline Hill (described on here).

2. To exit near the Colosseum, return to the Arch of Titus. At the Arch, turn right, then (after walking uphill a few steps), turn left into the tunnel marked uscita/exit. You’ll pop out near the Forum/Palatine Hill entrance that faces the Colosseum.

3. The Forum’s Via dei Fori Imperiali entrance spills you back out onto Via dei Fori Imperiali near Via Cavour.

4. An exit next to the Basilica of Constantine leads to Piazza del Colosseo, near the Colosseo Metro stop.

Or, you could continue sightseeing in the Forum/Palatine Hill zone. From the Arch of Titus, you can climb Palatine Hill to the top and start the Palatine Hill Tour—see the next chapter.

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