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James Joyce wrote that Rome reminded him of a "man who lives by exhibiting to travelers his grandmother's corpse."  Joyce obviously had no great love for Rome but he did get this correct.  Frankly though, I find grannie's old corpse to be pretty interesting.

In the small valley between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, there is a hodge-podge of ruins left over from a wide range of the city's history.  Roman builders seemed to have no reluctance to build a new building right over an older one.  The result is this fascinating bone yard of history.



The northernmost limit of the Via Sacra - The Sacred Road.  Originally, the road started at the top of the Capitoline Hill in the background.  The construction of Piazza Campidoglio later covered that portion up though.  The Via Sacra was the main street of ancient Rome and marked the route of all victory parades.



The Roman Forum is bounded on the east by one of Rome's larger traffic arteries, the Via dei Fori Imperiali.  This street separates the Roman Forum from the newer Imperial Forums.  The columns showing here are the remains of the Temple of Venus Genetrix built at the orders of Julius Caesar in 46 BC.




Those ubiquitous slapstick Roman soldiers are around here too.  For a price, you can have your picture made with him.  The ruins behind him are part of the Forum of Caesar from 46 BC.




Most of the remainder of the remains of the Forum of Caesar  are bits and parts lying about.




The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina from 141 AD on the left.  The emperor Antoninus had his wife Faustina deified on her death and had the temple built in her honor.  His name was added after he died and was presumed to have become a god.  In the 7th century AD, the interior was converted to a Christian church and named San Lorenzo in Miranda.




The Arch of Septimius Severus from 203 AD.  On the route of the Via Sacra.  The columns on the left are the remains of the Temple of Vespasian from 87 AD.




The Temple of Saturn (rt)(497 BC) and the Column of Phocas (lt)(608 BC).




Ever wonder whatever happened to Julius Caesar?  He was last seen as a pile of ashes here on the altar of the Temple of the Divine Julius.  Not much left of the structure.  A modern reconstruction of the enclosure protects the altar from the elements.




What's left of the Temple of Castor and Pollux from 495 BC.  A very important landmark in Rome in ancient times.




The remains of the Temple of Vesta.  The original building was from around 700 BC but was frequently improved upon.




The statues to the left and some low wall remains are all that's left of the House of the Vestal Virgins.  The large structure on the right is a part of the Tabularium, the record-keeping office of the Roman Republic and Empire.  Much of that structure abuts or is actually dug into the Palatine Hill, the western limit of the Forum.




The Temple of Romulus from the 4th century AD.  It was built by the Emperor Maxentius as a memorial to his deceased son Valerius Romulus who had been declared a god.  In 527, the temple was Christianized as the basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano and remains a Christian house of worship.




At the south end of the forum straddling the Via Sacra is the Arch of Titus from 82 AD.  Bas-reliefs on the interior of the arch celebrate the destruction of Jerusalem and the Diaspora of the Jews.




The feet of the Arch of Titus with the Flavian Amphitheater, the Coliseum, showing in the background.




The Basilica of Maxentius as seen from the Palatine Hill.  The structure was started by the emperor Maxentius in 308 AD.  He was defeated in battle by Constantine who ascended to the Imperial Throne as the first Christian Emperor.  Constantine completed and dedicated the basilica as a Christian one in 312 AD.




On down the Via Sacra south of the Arch of Titus.  Il Vittoriano sticks up in the background.




Further down the Via Sacra.  The columns on the left are part of the remains of the Temple of Venus and Roma, the largest pagan temple ever built in Rome.  It was built in 141 AD by the emperor Hadrian.  Ahead is the Coliseum.




The Arch of Constantine celebrating his victory over the previous emperor Maxentius in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.  The night before the battle, Constantine reported seeing a glowing cross in the sky and hearing the instructions "In hoc signo vinces (under this sign you will conquer)."  Constantine had his soldiers paint crosses on their shields and he committed himself to Christianity and became the first Christian Roman Emperor.




The Flavian Amphitheater or Coliseum is close by.  




The Coliseum was used for public games, gladiatorial combat, and public executions.  It was originally a very elegant structure.  Over the years, much of it was stripped for building material.  This was finally stopped in 1749 when the Church declared the Coliseum to be a sacred place where  Christians were martyred.



A view up the Palatine Hill from the Piazza del Colosseo.  There are many noteworthy things to see on the Palatine.  We had to cut it short because of time constraints.  If there's ever a next time, it's on the list.