mercoledì 30 aprile 2014

A trip to Rome by Gayane Simonyan (third part): My visit to Roman Forum


Author: Gayane Simonyan

Roman Forum (Italian: Foro Romano) lies in the small valley between Capitoline, Palatine and Esquiline hills. Today it’s an expansive ruin of architectural fragments and remittent archaeological excavations attracting around 4.5 million tourists a year.

The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum/ plaza/ square surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome.

It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; the nucleus of commercial affairs and the site of triumphal processions and elections.

The statues and monuments on the Forum commemorated the great men of the city. It has been called to be the swarming heart of ancient Rome - the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history.

Using the same card for Colosseum, you can enter Roman Forum as well. There you can find Roman kingdom’s earliest shrines and temples located on the southeastern edge. These included the ancient former royal residence, the Temple of Vesta (7th century BC), as well as the surrounding complex of the Vestal Virgins, all of which were rebuilt after the rise of imperial Rome.

The most attractive and interesting story was about the house of Vestal Virgins. The structure that can be seen today was built in brick-faced concrete after Nero’s fire in AD 64. It was then reconstructed by Trajan and restored by Septimius Severus. In AD 394 Theodosius I, a Christian emperor, ordered it to be abandoned. Bedrooms, reception rooms with heating systems and marble paving, and service areas such as kitchen and a mill were arranged on several levels around an arcaded courtyard, decorated with statues and fountains of the most famous Vestals of the past.
 
The priestly order of Vestals dates back to Romulus or Numa (8th- 7th centuries BC). Priestesses had to be aristocratic virgins, and were chosen by the Pontifex Maximus when they were between the ages of 6 and 10. Their service as priestess lasted for 30 years and brought them wealth and privilege, but also required chastity and observation of rituals. The Vestals kept alight the public fire that burned in the temple of Vesta, looked after sacred objects and celebrated annual festivals. On these occasions the Vestals prepared the mola salsa, a mixture of flour and salt, which was sprinkled on sacrificial victims.

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