The Forum Romanum, the heart of Ancient Rome and once a proud complex of basilicas and temples crowded around a market square, now resembles a quarry. The sprawl of priceless chunks of rubble and tottering columns can be hard to decipher on one visit. Brush up on your knowledge with our account of the top attractions (a bit of imagination can go a long way).
Temple of Saturn
The Temple of Saturn is the most noticeable feature of the Forum. Today a gigantic facade of eight marble columns is all that remains of one of the most important historic temples. The temple was first built in the 5th century BC and dedicated to the god Saturn (remembered in our word Saturday). Saturn mythologically ruled over the Golden Age and was characterised by generosity and bounty; for this reason his temple housed the treasury of the Roman Republic, all the gold and silver reserves of the state.
Arch of Titus
This 1st century arch is also a notable sight in the Forum. Built straddling the Via Sacra, the arch was intended to honour the dead Emperor Titus by his brother Diocletian. The Via Sacra was the main ceremonial road through the city, where ancient Rome would celebrate the might of its empire by welcoming victorious generals.
The Rostra may look little more than a 3m-high wall now but it once was the beating heart of the Forum. Here, over centuries, politicians, magistrates and orators addressed the people (‘plebians’). It was the main site of interaction between the ruling classes and the ordinary people.
This sheer cliff in the side of the Capitoline Hill overlooks the Forum. From this cliff the most hated criminals and traitors were flung to their deaths in the Roman Republic. This execution was considered the most shameful of the many in Ancient Rome and is named after a Vestal Virgin from 8th century BC who betrayed Rome to its enemies the Sabines.