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One morning after our tour of the Jesuit church Il Gesu, we decided to spend the remainder of the day walking around the historic center of Rome and visit a few places, including the Mamertine Prison.  It turned into a walk around some of the areas of the Roman Forum, the Imperial Forums, and the Largo di Torres Argentina.  The archaeological ruins of Rome tend to get a bit fuzzy in a non-archaeological mind.  Over the centuries and millennia, the Romans have unhesitatingly built one building over another and robbed a third for parts.  On our last trip, I took two guide books and some pamphlets with me into the Forum.  I came out more confused than ever.  This time, I just contented myself with taking a few pictures of things I could identify or thought I might stand a chance of identifying.




Right across the small pedestrian path from the Mamertine Prison, I could support my cup of espresso on a stone wall and look down into both sides of the Arch of Septimius Severus.  This triumphal arch was built by that emperor in 203 AD to celebrate his victory over Parthia (currently Turkey and areas east of there).  His sons  Caracalla and Geta shared in the victory and were commemorated on the arch..  After Severus' death, his sons became joint emperors until Caracalla had Geta killed.  Caracalla then proceeded to have all mention of his brother removed from records including his mention on the arch.




From the other side of the arch, you have a view up the Capitoline hill.  The large structure of 8 columns on the left is all that remains of the Temple of Saturn built in 497 BC.  To the right is the remains of the Temple of Vespasian and Titus from 79 AD.





One of the decorated footings of the Arch of Septimius Severus.  The state of preservation can probably be attributed to the fact that the arch was covered halfway up with silt for centuries.




Historical narrative.  one of many carved into the faces and ends of the arch.  A story of the Parthian Wars is in here.




The underside of the arch and some of the relief figures on the outside.




The cap of one of the eight columns built into the arch.




The remains of the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.  The original building measured 33 meters long by 22 meters wide.  It was actually completed by the emperor Domitian to deify his brother Titus and his father Vespasian, which would guarantee his divinity as the next Flavian dynasty emperor.




All that remains of the Temple of Saturn is the front portico.  This temple to the god that supposedly brought wealth to the Roman Kingdom was twice rebuilt due to fires.  Today it's an iconic image for Rome.




Peering down the route of march along the Via Sacra, the traditional path of triumph parades through Rome,  the Arch of Titus, built to celebrate the Roman destruction of Judea in the first century AD can be seen in the distance.




Church of Santi Luca e Martina. This is on the opposite side of that foot path passing the Arch of Septimius Severus. This church built in 625 AD covers some of the foundations of the Roman Forum and has acted to protect some of the artifacts from further deterioration.



A modern statue of Julius Caesar stands overlooking the Forum of Julius Caesar.




Not much is left of the Forum of Julius Caesar.  Archaeological investigations appear to be continuing though.  The dome in the background is the Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary at the Forum of Trajan.




The one piece of any size left of the Forum of Julius Caesar is the remains of the Temple of Venus Genetrix.  The temple contained a giant statue to Venus and statues of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.  Those items are long gone.




The Forum of Trajan with Trajan's Column in the middle.  Behind the Forum is the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto (1575)(left) and Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary in the Forum of Trajan (1737)(right).




The statue atop Trajan's Column was originally one of Trajan, of course.  It was replaced by a statue of a Galilean fisherman named Simon, son of Jonah, who became Peter, the first Bishop of Rome.




The capital block at the top weighs 53.3 tons and had to be set in place 125 feet above the ground.  Gets you to thinking how this was accomplished by manual labor in 113 AD.  Actually there are some historical records indicating the column was assembled by cranes and scaffold platforms.




The column itself is composed of 20 Carrara marble drums 11 feet in diameter, each weighing 32 tons. A frieze depicting the history of the victory of Trajan over the Dacians spirals around the column.  It is read chronologically from bottom to top.  Unwound, the frieze would be 625 feet long.  It winds around the column 23 times.  This is the top section.




This is the middle section.  Inside the column (it's partially hollowed out) is a spiral staircase of 185 stairs leading to the top.





This is the lower section.  In one of the Roman museums there are plaster casts of the frieze laid out lineally for reading purpose. 





This is the pedestal section which gives you a better idea of the size based on the somewhat standard sized doorway into the column.




A modern statue of Augustus Caesar overlooking the Forum of Augustus.  The structures on the right in the background are parts of Trajan's Marketplace.



What's left of Augustus' Temple to Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus.  Augustus (then called Octavian and a member of the 2d Triumvirate) vowed to build this temple to the god of war in return for help in defeating the forces of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philppi in 42 BC.  He finally got around to it in 27 BC after having been declared emperor.



From the forums, we walked down about a kilometer to another interesting archaeological site.  West of the forums is a square called Largo di Torre Argentina where four Republican era temples and parts of the Theater of Pompey have been uncovered.  The name of the square refers to the Tower of Argentina.  Not the one with Rio though.  Argentina was the Latin name for Strasbourg, France.  These ruins are not part of any forum; I just included them in on this page.  One interesting thing happened here though.  This is the location (the curia of Pompey's Theater) where Julius Caesar was assassinated.




The Temple of Juturna built in the 3d century BC after the Roman defeat of the Carthaginians in 241 BC.



The temple of Aedes Fortunae Huiusce Diei was built in 101 BC to celebrate the victory over Cimbri.  That name translates to the "Luck of the Current Day" and was apparently not dedicated to any particular god.



One feature that Largo di Torre Argentina is famous for around the world is that it is one of the urban stray cat sanctuaries of Rome.  Hundreds of cats prowl the area.  Volunteers visit them, feed them, and see to their health.  I looked for a cat when we got there and saw none.  Then when my eyes got used to tracking their travels among the ruins, I saw more than I could count.