Roman Houses Celian Hill Rome

The so-called Roman Houses underneath the Celian Hill can be found underneath the church of the Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio Church in Rome and is the site where the two saints became martyrs.

Roman Houses Celian Hill Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Clivo di Scauro – Rome (tel. +39 06 70454544 (Monday to Friday 10.00-13.00, for reservations). Opening hours: 10.00-13.00 and 15.00- 18.00. Closed: Tuesdays and wednesdays. Admission: 8 Euros (concessions 6 Euros, children younger than 12 free).

History

Roman Houses Celio Hill Rome - Fresco
Fresco

The archaeological complex of the “Roman Houses under the Celio Hill” was discovered in 1887 by Father Germano di S. Stanislao of the Basilica of Saints John and Paul (Santi Giovanni e Paolo). It was not until 1951 that the architect Adriano Prandi found the entire complex, however.

Tradition identifies these places with the house where Saints John and Paul lived and were buried, after having suffered martyrdom there at the time of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363 AD).

The rooms that can be visited stem from a period between the 2nd and 4th centuries, when the church was built.

The oldest rooms are part of a two floor luxury residential building from the early 2nd century. The building had a spa on its ground floor.

The beginning of the 3rd century saw the construction of an insula in front of the original complex. The insula had shops on the ground floor and cheap rental apartments on the top floors. Each shop had a wooden loft and a back room.

Towards the end of the 3rd century, the entire area became property of one single owner, who wanted to construct a grand palace there. He did this by connecting the back walls of the shops to the back rooms of the domus.

In the second half of the following century this house became a meeting place for the Christian community of the neighbourhood. After the martyrdom and death of Giovanni and Paolo the building became a “house church”. A small room was created with a window onto the martyrs’ tombs. The walls of this room were subsequently decorated with a number of paintings (probably from the end of the 4th century).

When the church was built the upper floors of the house were demolished and the lower part was buried. As a result this part of the house stayed in perfect condition until the 19th century, when it was discovered during excavations on the Celian Hill.

Clivo di Scauro – Rome

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