Roman Forum Rome Italy - a short history

The Roman Forum was the section of ancient Rome that served as the centre of government. It was the administrative, legislative, and legal centre of the Republic and of the Roman Empire. Many important buildings and monuments stood there, including the Curia (Senate House) and the Tabularium (Hall of Records).

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A short history of The Roman Forum in Rome Italy

A forum is the place where public meetings were held, so every city in the Roman Empire had one. Rome itself had more than one forum, but only the first forum was called Forum Romanum (Roman Forum). Romans went to the Forum to hear famous orators speak and to see the valuables seized after distant battles. It was not surprising that emperors would recognize their social symbolic importance and build new ones in their own honour.

A picture of the Forum showing a nice perspective

They were open marketplaces. Its importance meant that many building and monuments were built in its shadow so as to increase their value. Ruins include the triumphal Arch of Septimius Severus built in A.D. 203, the Temple of Saturn, and the Basilica Julia, an assembly hall. The temples of Concord and Saturn, the temple of Vesta and the Basilica Aemilia can also be found here. Most streets of ancient Rome were narrow and crooked, but a few were wide and beautiful, with high arches and white marble buildings. The chief street, the Via Sacra (Sacred Way), crossed the Roman Forum. Victorious emperors and generals returning from war paraded over its lava pavement.

The city of Rome was founded in B.C. 753. Historically, the Forum area was a swamp used as a cemetery by the people of surrounding villages. During the 6th century B.C., the first kings of Rome, the Etruscans, unified all these villages into the city of Rome and drained the marshes. Shops and temples soon followed and were built around the edges of the Forum area. But, it was only during the 2nd century B.C. that the Forum became the civic and legal centre of Rome forcing the merchants to move their shops to other parts of the city.

A look at the great meeting place from above

The Barbarian invasions of the 5th century A.D., which resulted in the conquest of Rome, did not destroy the Forum, but ignored it instead. So, its buildings gradually crumbled and its desolation gave it the name of 'Cow Plain.'

Some of the rulers and emperors who built their own forums and whose ruins can be found today are Julius Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva, and Trajan. The finest is Trajan's. Most of its buildings, including the Basilica Ulpia and the Temple of Trajan, are in ruins. But, Trajan's Column erected in A.D. 113. and standing over 100 feet (30 meters) tall, is almost whole. It has carvings of scenes from Trajan's victories in the Dacian wars. Nearby stand the Markets of Trajan, a large semicircle of three-storied shops. One of the shops has been rebuilt to show how it looked in ancient times.

The Roman Forum has witnessed some of the greatest Roman and possibly world events, such as Cicero's stirring speeches on the floor of the Curia in the 60's B.C. to save the Republic from Catiline's rebellion and the giving of imperial powers to Augustus in 27 B.C. making him the first emperor.

The forum has suffered fire, barbarians, and pillaging builders during the Italian Renaissance, but 19th century excavations have since uncovered many of the ancient columns and arches. You can see it from the Piazza del Campidoglio.

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