Caesar’s Forum is one of the Imperial Fora and is situated at the foot of the Capitol Hill, near the Roman Forum. In order to build here he had to have other buildings like the Curia Hostilia and the Comtium relocated. Other, private dwellings were purchased and subsequently demolished. About two thirds of Caesar’s Forum has so far been excavated, the remainder lies underneath the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
Forum of Caesar Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via dei Fori Imperiali – Rome. The monument can be viewed from outside.
History and description
It was rectangular in shape and stretched from the Curia in the east to the Via San Pietro in Carcere (west), with the long sides of the rectangle running parallel with the Clivus Argentarius, the street that used to connect the Campidoglio and the Roman Forum.
Domitian had to restore Caesar’s Forum after a fire in the year 80 and Trajan completed this restoration.
The forum’s piazza was long and rectangular in shape, with porticoes with columns on either side and two naves. The entrance, however, only had a one nave portico. Under the ceilings of the porticoes there was a number of shops (tabernae), which were wedged into the Campidoglio, facing the Clivus Argentarius. At the end of the piazza was the temple of Venus Genetrix.
A series of columns facing south-east opened on the largest public lavatory of the ancient world. This was built under Emperor Trajan, who was also responsible for adding a structure of pillars with double naves running along the Campidoglio. Though only toilets, the walls of the structure were nevertheless covered in marble. There was space for 50 people.
The Forum of Caesar, which initially took over the role of the Roman Forum as a meeting place for dealings in public affairs, came later to be used as the Basilica Argentaria, which was a specialized market of silverware and bronze. Later it came to be used as a school. The temple likely functioned as a museum since several works by celebrated artists of the time (a statue of Venus by Arkesilaos, paintings by Timomaco of Bisanzio, a gold statue of Cleopatra) have been found there.
Caesar was not the most humble of emperors and had himself escorted by a procession of elephants. He also placed a statue of himself riding Bucefalo, Alexander the Great‘s horse and a symbol of absolute power, at his Forum. He is thought to have chosen the site because it was close to the Curia, seat of the Senate, and thus center of political power.
Temple of Venus Genetrix
The Temple of Venus Genetrix (Tempio di Venere Genitrice) stood on the back of the square. It was reconstructed by Trajan in 113 AD and was the focal point of the square.
The temple was entered by means of two stairs on the sides, that were incorporated in the podium. The podium used to be covered with marble, which has since disappeared.
There were eight columns on the front and nine each on the sides of the monument. The back side was closed by a blind wall. Only three Corinthian columns with part of the entablature are still standing.
The cella was decorated with columns that were placed against the side walls, Fragments of the architrave above these columns can be seen in the Capitoline Museums.
In the apse stood a statue of Venus Genetrix, which had been made by the Greek sculptor Agesilao. Venus was the mother of Aeneas, a hero who had escaped to Latium after the Trojan wars and was seen as the progenitor of the Roman people.