Return to Roman Forum

Temple of Romulus

Set between two porphyry columns that support a reused marble architrave are the original bronze doors of the Temple of Divus Romulus, deified by his father Maxentius in AD 309 when the boy is presumed to have died. They open into a rotunda fifty Roman feet in diameter covered by a cupola, which is accessible from the rear through the Basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano. Early in the sixth century, the temple was converted into a vestibul for the church, which also occupied the southwest corner of the Temple of Peace, the first buildings in the forums to be Christianized.

Originally, the vestibul connected with the much larger rectangular hall set off obliquely behind and, through it, with the Temple of Peace. It is the back wall of this building, in fact, that held the marble plan of Rome (Forma Urbis Romae).

 

A better perspective of the temple can be gained from the Palatine Hill (but beware of pickpockets!). Here, one can see remnants of the concave façade, with framed niches for statues. One either side were long apsidal halls that opened directly onto the Via Sacra, which is much lower than it was in the fourth century. The doors to these chambers were flanked by columns set on high plinths, and projected forward of the curved front of the rotunda, which must have made the bronze doors that survive seem modest, indeed. Two columns, taken from another building (as was so much of the façade), still are in place. Only the plinths of the others remain.

This detail is from the Forma Urbis Romae by Rodolfo Lanciani.

See also Forma Urbis Romae.

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