|The forum taken from the Tabularium|
|foundation of Romulus'Hut|
The Forum is a rectangular plaza which began its existence as a marketplace. For centuries it was the center of Roman public life, the site of elections, triumphal parades, gladiatorial matches (before the coliseum was built), public trials, venue for speeches and rallies, in short “the teeming heart of ancient Rome”.
In front of the Regia, one sees what remains of the Temple of Caesar, built by Augustus to honor the deified Julius Caesar. The temple was built on top of the spot where his remains were cremated after his assassination, which occurred not at the Curia in the Forum, as is commonly thought, but at the Curia in the Theatre of Pompey. Today only the foundations are visible, and these are covered by a small wooden structure topped by GI sheets. Inside, some people still leave flowers and other tributes on the mound, and tour guides recite in sonorous voices Shakespeare’s, “I’ve come to bury Caesar, not to praise him!”
Near the Basilica Aemilia is the Curia Julia (the rectangular building) which goes back to 300 AD. This is the final form taken by the Curia which had been built and burned four times in its history. Caesar began building this and it was completed by Augustus. This was where the senators met. Two hundred senators at a time could be accommodated in the curia, seating on rows of seats along the long side of the Curia (today busts and statues are exhibited along this wall). The building still stands, but its huge bronze door now serves as the front door of the Cathedral St. John Lateran.
Beside the Temple of Concordia are the ruins of the Temple of Vespacian (seen here from the Tabularium). This was built by Domitian to honor his father and his brother Titus.
Behind the Temple of Concordia is the Tabullarium, which contained the Roman public records office. On top of this was the aerarium or treasure house of the Temple of Saturn. Today this is part of the Capitoline Museum, opened to the public and one can take a picture of the entire ancient site from its windows.
It is tiring to walk the ruins of the Forum especially in the heat of the summer. However, even for someone with very high expectations of the place like myself, and despite the initial dissapointment, doing it is rewarding. As I walked away from the Forum (the third time) in the direction of the Palatine Hill, I realized I had fallen victim to the magic of the place. The hours had passed unnoticed and I needed sometime to reorient myself to the present.