In Rome, a temple re-opens

A special gift for tourists this Christmas

Visitors spending Christmas in Rome will receive a special gift this year. Making big news this month in Rome is the reopening of the Temple of Venus and Roma, a massive temple in the Roman Forum. The reopening comes just weeks after the embarrassing incident in Pompeii where a house once used by gladiators preparing for battle collapsed into a pile of rubble, fueling a furious debate over how the neglect of Italy's ancient sites could lead to more treasures being lost.

Almost 350ft long and over 150ft wide, the temple was dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love, and Roma, the patron goddess of the city of Rome. It contained giant statues of both deities and at one point had dozens of 50ft high marble columns flanking an enormous nave and a coffered vaulted ceiling, but only 16 are still standing. A couple centuries short of 2000 years old, the temple was the brainchild of the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD.

Perhaps you're wondering what this temple was up to between the 2nd century AD and now? Among many other things, it served as a parking lot until the 1980s. With this temple's restoration they are paying attention to "every single stone of the temple that remains" and, says Claudia Del Monte, the architect in charge of repairs, "restoring to Rome one of the most important symbols of the power and greatness of the Roman Empire."

Entrance to the temple is included in the entry ticket to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum.

Published on October 7th, 2009
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