Return to Temple of Mars Ultor
As can be seen in this model, the back of the Temple of Mars Ultor abutted a high wall (nearly 110 feet tall) of rusticated stone that enclosed the precinct, isolating it from the squalor of the Subura, the crowded tenement quarter in which the temple was located, and offering some protection from the ever-present risk of fire. Two covered porticoes flanked the temple, themselves embraced by exedrae.
"This stone has numberless good qualities; neither frost nor fire affects it. It is hard and durable, from its containing but little air and fire, but a moderate quantity of moisture, and much earth. Close in texture, it is not injured by the weather nor by heat."
Vitruvius, On Architecture (II.7.4)
Here, one can see the roof line of the portico and the curved outer wall of the exedra. The massive blocks of stone were shaped from peperino (so named for its black flecks that look like peppercorns). Also called Gabian or Alban stone from where it was quarried outside Rome, it is a type of tufa or volcanic rock thought to be impervious to fire.
The columns, themselves, survive only because they were incorporated into a monastery bell-tower that was demolished when Mussolini came to power and restored the northeastern end of the forum.
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