Ancient Rome: around the Palatine, Romulus is said to have founded the city of Rome almost 2,800 years ago. The founding day of Rome is celebrated on the 21st of April. For more than a millennium, the heart of Rome struck here in the territory of the Roman Forum and the Imperial Forums.
In the area of the Archeopark of the Colosseum, traces of the Roman Empire can be found from its origins to its decline. In this area, abandoned after the demise of the Roman Empire, where sheep were grazed and artichokes were cultivated, you can find the traces of antiquity and look back over a period of up to 2,800 years.
Walk along the sacred street, “Via Sacra”, in the Archeopark, and visit the remains of churches and palaces in the area. Visit Nero’s palace, the golden house, the “Domus Aurea”. After Nero’s death it was buried and on its territory, the Coliseum was built. Let yourself be impressed by the sports facilities in the Baths of Caracalla and visit the ancient Roman houses on the Caelius Hill.
Already at the time of Augustus, about 2,000 years ago, Rome was a city of millions. The entire urban area of Rome contains archaeological relics from this period. The Campus Martius, which today houses the city center, was then the area for sports, culture and leisure.
Ancient Rome · Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome, and the oldest, since the 10th century BC populated part of Rome. Legend has it that Romulus founded his city here. The Roman Forum joins in the North. After the end of the 7th century BC the wetland was dried, it became the center of Roman public life for more than 1,000 years.
To the south of the Palatine you can see the Circus Maximus from the ruins of the Imperial Palace – Domus Augustana. On the left you can see the building of the UN organization FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization – and behind it the baths of Caracalla.
There were temples and public building in the Roman Forum. Among other things, the Venus Temple, the Temple of Vesta and the House of the Vestal Virgins are located here.
There are two entrances to the area, one on the middle of the Via dei Fori Imperiali between the Capitoline Hill and the Colosseum, the other on Via di San Gregorio, which leads from the Colosseum to the Circus Maximus – and further to the pyramid. There, you can see the remains of the aqueduct of Claudius, which distributed 2 cubic meters of water per second in the metropolitan area of Rome coming from the Aniene valley, 42 miles away. You can also walk straight from the Imperial Forums to the Roman Forum.
Due to the current distance rules, only the entrance on Via dei Fori Imperiali, Via della Salara Vecchia, is open.
The Imperial forums
The Imperial Forums belong to the museums of the municipality of Rome. The imperial forums consist of marketplaces and administrative buildings, built by the Roman emperors between 46 BC and 113 AD. You can visit the Forum of Trajan and the Forum of Caesar with the Colosseum Ticket. The entrance is at the Column of Trajan in Piazza della Madonna di Loreto.
In the 1930s, Mussolini built Via dei Fori Imperiali cross through the Imperial forums, between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia, and opened it in 1932. On this road he celebrated its parades, he gave his speeches from the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia. A passage under the street connects the Trajan Forum with Caesar’s Forum.
The road is now traffic-calmed and is pedestrian zone on Sunday.
The oldest forum from 46 BC is Caesar’s forum. It is an extension of the Roman Forum and, coming from Piazza Venezia, lies on the right under the Capitol Hill. On the left are the Trajan forums, the Nerva forum and the Augustus forum. The Forum of Augustus from year 2 BC Chr is located before the intersection of Via dei Fori Imperiali and Via Cavour. Further in direction of the Colosseum are Emperor Domitian’s Nerva Forum from 98 and the Temple of Peace, which was built under Emperor Vespasian in 75. In the years 112 and 113, Emperor Trajan built his Forum and the markets.
At the end of the Trajan Forum is the Trajan Column, on which the history of the Dacian Wars is depicted.
The Dacians lived in the Carpathians in what is now Romania and the wars ended with the victory of Rome and the annexation of the territories.
To the left of the forum, take Via Magnanapoli and a staircase to the Municipal Museum of the Trajan Markets. At the end of the stairs on the left is the Gelateria Il Cannolo, one of the best ice cream parlors in Rome.
After crossing of Via Cavour, the entrance to the archaeological park of the Colosseum is on the right.
The Capitol borders in the north-west the archaeological area of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine. The Hill was settled only since the 6th century BC.
In ancient times, the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was on the Capitol Hill for almost 1,000 years. It was dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva and was the center of the Roman cult.
A beautiful story is the legend that the chatter of geese in the year 387 BC attracted the Romans and saved them from a night attack of the Gaul.
In the Museo della Civiltà Romana in the EUR district there is a model of Rome from the time of the imperial period. It was created by archaeologist Italo Gismondi in more than 35 years of work. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed for renovations. The museum is documented on Google Arts & Culture: Museo della Civiltà Romana
This simulation gives you an idea of what the forums might have looked like.
Above everything, the Temple of Jupiter is resplendent on the Capitol Hill.
On the hill, the Senatorial Palace of the municipality and the Capitoline museums are located. The square was designed by Michelangelo.
From the Capitol, on the south side you find nice views to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, on the west side at Piazzale Caffarelli or the Caffè above, you can enjoy a beautiful view to the Renaissance Rome.
The Domus Aurea
The Domus Aurea is situated above the archaeological area of the Colosseum, Fora and Palatine in the underground of the Oppius hill.
Emperor Nero has built his Golden Palace after the fire of Rome in the year 64 on an area of approximately 80 hectares. The remnants were rediscovered in the 18th century in the underground of the Colle Oppio. They are currently being restored.
The Romans built villas only in the countryside, where land cost little. They felt a waste that Nero had his villa built right in the center of Rome and they resented it. After the death of the much-hated Emperor Nero the Palace was filled up and thermal baths were erected. The rest of the area was assigned to other purposes. So, for example in the area of the Colosseum, before were an artificial lake, which belonged to the Palace of Nero. The restoration work of the Domus Aurea can be visited on weekends. The guided tours must be reserved in advanced.
You can see a detailed report on the Domus Aurea at CBS.
In 2015, a space on the Colle Oppio was devoted, to the delight of the Lutheran parishes in Rome, the reformer Martin Luther.
Going on from the Colle Oppio in a northerly direction you will reach the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and farther to the main train station Termini.
Via di San Giovanni in Laterano
From the Coliseum, via di San Giovanni in Laterano goes off. Passing excavations of a Gladiator school and the Dominican Basilica San Clemente this small cosy street with cosy bars, restaurants and shops leads to the Basilica of San Giovanni and the Holy stairs and onto the via Appia Nuova.
From the Colosseum, starting from the Arch of Constantine, via di San Gregorio leads you to the Circus Maximus. On this street is the entrance to the archaeological area of the Palatine. If you continue on the road, you will pass the ruins of the Claudius aqueduct, which supplied the area with water. On the left you see the Caelius, one of the seven hills of Rome.
The Circus Maximus was once the largest Racecourse in Rome. Located in the Valley between the Aventine and Palatine Hill there were the first events in the 6th century BC and in the 4th century BC the first permanent facilities were built. Julius Cäsar, 46 BC, built the first brick plants.
In 64 AD the great fire of Rome started in the stalls around the circus.
Today, the circus is used for festivals, events and open air concerts.
The Caelius hill
The Caelius hill has a special charm. Although it is in close proximity to the Colosseum, it is outside the tourist flow. At the top of the hill is the somewhat dilapidated Villa Celimontana and right next to it is the highly interesting circular church Santo Stefano Rotondo.
The pompous wedding church of Saints John and Paul is on the descent towards Circus Maximus. Their apartments are under the church. You can visit these “Case Romane del Celio”. You can find more details in our article Caelius and Oppius in half a day.
The baths of Caracalla
From the Circus Maximus, you can go to the South in the direction of via Appia Antica and you’ll have the baths of Caracalla on the right side. Built in less than thirty years in the 3rd century AD they’re one of the largest swimming and sports facilities of ancient Rome. The operation of the spas with their enormous need for water and fuel was a logistical feat.
In this simulation you can see what the thermal baths of the Caracalla once looked like.
The Romans undoubtedly knew how to enjoy life.