Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

View of the Roman Forum

Before becoming the political, administrative and religious centre of Rome, the Forum was an inhospitable marshland.

From the late 7th century CE, after the area was drained and reclaimed, several monuments were progressively built on it: first the buildings for political, religious and commercial activities, then, during the 2nd c. BCE, the civilian basilicas, where judicial activities took place.

By the end of the Republican era, the ancient Roman Forum was already fully built up so that only a few monuments were added during the Empire: the Temple of Vespasian, that of Antoninus and Faustina, the monumental Arch of Septimius Severus, the imposing Basilica of Maxentius. The last monument was the column erected in 608 CE in honour of the Byzantine Emperor Phocas.

The Palatine is the hill where, according to tradition, Romulus founded Rome in 754 BCE: the remains of huts confirm in full the details of the legend. The elevated position and the proximity to the Tiber made the Palatine very suitable for the settlement; during the Republican era it became the residential district of the Roman aristocracy.

The Emperor Augustus turned the Palatine into the official seat of power and started the construction of the Imperial Palaces, subsequently enlarged by the Julio-Claudian Emperors and by Nero. Yet it was Domitian who radically transformed the hill, by building atop the previous dwellings the majestic Flavian Palace, designed by the architect Rabirius.

Currently situated within the Palace of the Caesars is the Palatine Museum, where the most important finds of the excavations are on display.