Saturday, November 05, 2011

Article: The Roman Forum – A Guided Tour Through the Present and the Past

The Roman Forum – A Guided Tour Through the Present and the Past

The Roman Forum – A Guided Tour Through the Present and the Past

Welcome to the Roman Forum and Via Sacre—your road to Imperial Rome. ALL PHOTOGRAPHY property of EuroTravelogue™ unless specifically noted. Please do not use photos without permission. Standing testament for more than 2,000 years to a time when Rome held the world within its mighty grasp—the Roman Forum offers us a glimpse back in time, back to the glory days of the eternal city, back to when all roads led to Rome, back to when this small patch of earth was THE center of all civilization. From the Roman Colosseum to Capitoline Hill, we'll walk along Via Sacre or the Sacred Way just as the ancient Romans did and discover relics and ruins dating back to Caesar, Nero and Constantine. We'll explore monuments and sculptures and fascinating remains of colossal basilicas as well. Grab your guidebooks…what you don't have one? Well, I strongly recommend you have some sort of guide so you are armed with the knowledge of what you're actually looking at. So, you can print out this article, purchase a guide book from a local vendor or bring along a Rick Steves guide [the best and most detailed] like I did. Although this article may be a little long, I feel it is important to not only identify some the main sites but explain their significance in history. Now we embark on our journey—back 2,000 years on your guided tour through the Roman Forum.
Across the square from the Colosseum are the gates leading into the Roman Forum but before you enter, make sure you stop to admire the 1,700-year-old Arch of Constantine with incredibly detailed reliefs depicting the scenes from the famous battle between Constantine and Maxentius. Of course we know Constantine triumphs and goes on to rule Rome. This arch, completed in A.D. 313, commemorates his victory and marks the first of three that we'll encounter on this tour.

Arch of Constantine—Roman Colosseum to the left and the Roman Forum to the right.  Once you pass through the Roman Forum's admission gates, the first ruin you encounter along Sacred Way is the second of three arches, the Arch of Titus—another monument dedicated to the life of an emperor celebrating his conquest of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Sadly, 50,000 Jewish slaves who were captured in that battle were forced to build the arch.

The Arch of Titus constructed in A.D. 70.  Continuing along Via Sacre, make the next right up the hill and you'll find the remains of the Basilica di Massenzio—a titanic structure and the largest in all the Roman Forum in its day. Construction was ordered by Maxentius in 308 however it was completed by Constantine in 312 after his successful triumph in their battle. Sadly today, only one third of this imposing edifice remains but you can get a true sense of the magnitude of this place when you stand in the open field with the ruins on your right. Over 1,700 years ago, this very spot marked the central of nave of this colossal basilica. Many guidebooks show before and after pictures my means of plastic overlays in which you can build upon the present day landscape with overlapping images until the completed basilica is laid out before your eyes. Did you know, that the term "basilica" did not have religious connotation at that time, it was merely a place to house public gatherings, meetings, etc., however, the architectural elements of this basilica inspired the great Renaissance architects in their designs for Christian basilicas including Bramante's St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.