The remains of the Temple of Venus and Rome, the largest sacred structure ever built in the Eternal City, have survived to this day. reopened to the public after an extensive restoration project funded by the fashion house Maison Fendi.
The Temple of Venus and Rome was personally designed by the emperor Hadrian and built by his order between 121 and 137 AD on a high platform on the hill of Velia overlooking the Colosseum. The colossus that gave its name to the Flavian amphitheater today stood on this site, originally placed there by Nero. Hadrian moved it to a new location next to the Colosseum to make room for his huge new temple. It took 24 elephants to move the statue.
Hadrian’s innovative idea in honor of the goddesses Venus Felix and Roma Eterna was to build two cellae (sacred rooms where statues of the goddesses sat, where only the clergy were allowed) back to back instead of the traditional side by side. configuration. Trajan’s famous architect Apollodorus of Damascus was not a fan, so naturally Hadrian killed him.
Maxentius abandoned Hadrian’s cella design when rebuilding the temple after it was destroyed by fire in 307 AD. He reconstructed it with two apses covered with stone coffered vaults instead of the original wooden ceilings. He also added porphyry columns to the proconnesian marble columns in the porticos and the gray granite columns in the peristyle.
The temple was converted into an oratory dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul in the 8th century, but most of the huge structure was destroyed by an earthquake in the 9th century. The Church of Santa Maria Nova and later Santa Francesca Romana rose from the ruins.
Today, the remains left on the platform belong to the reconstruction of Maxentius. Porphyry columns and marble inlaid floors and walls were reassembled from fragments in the 1930s. There is also a monastery and the offices of the Colosseum Archaeological Park.
Colosseum Park made a great video that explains the story (narration is in Italian, but subtitles are bilingual in English and Italian) and virtually reconstructs the huge temple, placing it in the context of a modern city.