Roman Forum, the Centre of Ancient Roman Public Life

Roman Forum, the Centre of Ancient Roman Public Life

The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.

It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city’s great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archeological excavations attracting numerous sightseers.

Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. The Roman kingdom’s earliest shrines and temples were located on the southeastern edge.

Julius Caesar built the Basilica Julia, along with the new Curia Julia, refocusing both the judicial offices and the Senate itself. This new Forum, in what proved to be its final form, then served as a revitalized city square where the people of Rome could gather for commercial, political, judicial and religious pursuits in ever greater numbers.

The Forum is much less crowded than the Colosseum and, from a historical perspective, much more interesting. To stand in the political, legal and religious centre of the whole Roman Empire brings shivers down one’s spine. It is the best way of imagining the splendour and glory of ancient Rome.

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