It is a beastly hot day, in spite of a light breeze, as I go off to the Forum. I am determined to explore it in detail, which I wasn’t able to do in December. This, the Foro Romano, was the political, religious, and economic center of the Roman Empire. On the way, I stop at the "Watch Rome Grow" plaques that are on the outside east wall.
I enter near the Colosseum along the Via Sacra. There’s a gate, but no entry fee. As a history major with 4 years of high-school Latin under my belt, I am in awe of being in this place where so many historical events occurred. You can see the photos I shot in my photo album. The heat does not stop me from visiting as many important sites as I can. Up until the 19th century, the Forum was used as a quarry and a pasture, to say nothing of fire, invasions, and general decay, all of which have detracted from its former glory.
First, I see the Arch of Titus erected by the Emperor Domitian in 81 A.D. in honor of his brother Titus’ victory in the war against the Jews. It is very well preserved. Next, I visit the Basilica of Constantine, or Maxentius. Maxentius started it and Constantine finished it and installed a statue of himself in the central nave. I, next, go to Caesar’s temple which is the spot where he was stabbed, and, later, his body burned after Marc Antony’s famous speech. It faces the Main Square, where legend has it Romulus and Remus came down from Palatine Hill and set up the market celebrated as the founding of Rome.
I pay a small fee to climb up Palatine Hill. It’s cooler and shady up here, but not very interesting. I return to the Main Square, and, with my imagination firing on all cylinders, stop in front of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins. This circular temple with its conical roof housed the sacred fire, which was kept active by the Vestals. As long as the fire burned, Rome would stand.
Next, I head for the Curia, the political center of Rome where the Senate met. I can almost hear Cicero delivering his speeches. I also walk by the Rostra, where anyone could speak to any of the citizens of Rome who would listen. The arch of Septimus Severus and the Temple of Saturn grab my attention before I climb the hill to the Campidoglio and walk back to the hotel exhausted and sweaty, but also exhilarated by what I had seen.
You can take a virtual tour at this website.