Visiting the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill was something which occurred, somewhat, by accident.
There I was roaming around, as one does whilst in Rome, when I came across the stairs to the Capitoline Museums.
You see, I have a tendency to want to see certain areas and attractions when I travel, but I never really plan my way there. Instead, I roam around and see where I end up, trusting that eventually, I’ll end up somewhere worth exploring. It happens every time I travel. Mainly because I’m terrible planners, but somehow I always end up at the exact spots I want to see. Some might say it’s kismet, but honestly? It’s just dumb luck.
I walked towards the edge of the precipice, and there it was.
The heart of the Roman empire in all its glory.
The Roman Forum is magnificent on the grandest of scales, showcasing buildings which lay long forgotten beneath the dirt, until humanity dug down and claimed them back once more.
As I stood at the edge looking down on everyone wandering through the excavated site, I knew I had to go down and explore for myself. I don’t know what it is about ruins that fascinates me so much, perhaps it’s the mystique from imagining what it was like to experience times gone by, but with my intrigue piqued, I wandered off to find the ticket booth.
Stopping to take some pictures along the way of course!
With a collection of historic buildings and ruins, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are iconic. Featuring cobbled streets, iconic pillars and details that could rival the best of them, your eyes never run out of areas to visually explore.
After getting to the ticket booth and hearing those four magical words “entry is free today”, I walked through and braced myself to traverse the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Back in the day, the Roman Forum used to be a bustling marketplace, but nowadays it serves as an insight into an ancient culture. Filled with some of the most important buildings in the ancient city, the Roman Forum is scattered with mass ruins, shrines and temples of all ages. With the most ancient monument dating back to the First Kings of Rome in the sixth century BC.
The Roman Forum is sprawled out across various levels, with buildings that tower both above and beneath you depending upon where you stand. It’s thought that The Roman Forum was abandoned at some point during the Middle Ages, and because of this, the Forum was buried underneath layers of Earth—hiding and preserving the shrines and buildings for generations to come.
But it’s not so abandoned now, and instead attracts hundreds of visitors every day. However, due to the sheer size of the Roman Forum, it never feels overwhelmingly filled with people—making you wonder just how many people would frequent it in the past, in order for it to be considered a bustling market! But regardless of the tangents that my mind wanders off to in places such as this, one thing’s for sure: the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are hella large, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes!
As I walked around the Roman Forum, glimpsing into an area which was a pivotal part of the ancient Roman Empire, it was hard not to wonder about the transformative journey the space has been on. From the time it was erected and used as a centre for social activities such as markets, gladiatorial matches, criminal trials and triumphal processions. To when the area of the Roman Forum was used as a stone and marble quarry during the Renaissance. The forum has changed purposes and aesthetics, multiple times. But in 1898 when the excavations began, it revealed the Roman Forum that we see today.
Thanks to the way the world works, with dirt and earth being moved and displaced, many of the buildings in the forum were buried beneath layers of dirt when they were abandoned—making for some incredible preservations, with the highlights in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill being;
The Temple of Romulus
Possibly one of the best sights in the Roman Forum is the Temple of Romulus. This magnificent building, or a Titulo as it’s known in Roman, is a stunning feat of architecture. Adorned with a Roman-Byzantine mosaic on the apse and two large doors made from bronze which date back to 300AD, the rotunda is sightly.
Arch of Septimius Severus
Built to commemorate the victories of Emperor Septimus Severus (no, not Professor Severus Snape), the 23m high and 25m wide arch was built in 203AD. It’s one of the most well-preserved monuments and you can see for yourself how intact the details are! It’s one of those monuments where you get a great sense of what design and architecture were like in Roman times through the intricate carvings displayed on it. And I have to say, Roman times have me wondering what the average height was back then, because so many of these monuments and buildings will make you feel small!
The House of Augustus (on the Palatine Hill)
This house is pretty hard to miss to be honest! It’s the first site you see as you enter Palatine Hill, and was home to Julius Caesar’s grandnephew and heir; Caesar Augustus, during his reign. It’s filled with a wide collection of frescoes (fancy watercolour wall paintings to you and me!) which were recently restored to provide insight into what it was like.
The rest of the Palatine Hill is pretty dreamy—with manicured gardens and beautiful peepholes
A few locals
And the perfect vantage point to look out at the Roman Forum below.
It was a beautiful day, one of those moments where you realise that people can say whatever they want about visiting the typical tourist spots when travelling, but they’re popular for a reason.
After visiting the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, I made our way outwards to Foro Di Traiano, the last of the Imperial fora which was constructed in ancient Rome.
After hours of wandering around, the arch of my feet began to wreak havoc and I found that I could no longer stand without wanting to cry. So I ventured off (incredibly slowly) to find some plantar fasciitis relief in the form of insoles and the strongest painkillers the pharmacy would allow.
Not wanting the day to have a lull or a low, I ventured on to find the best tiramisu that Rome had to offer…