Rome celebrated her 2,766th birthday Sunday, April 21, 2013. Imagine that: 2,766 years! Wow! She’s looking wonderful for such an old broad.
To celebrate this august occasion, today we’ll visit one of Rome’s most ancient places: the Roman Forum. Founded by Romulus in 753 BC, the Roman Forum was the center of Roman life from then until about 600 AD. Although I will use the term “Forum” for the Roman Forum in this post, four additional fori were built in Rome to accommodate growing crowds: the Forum of Caesar (46 BC), the Forum of Augustus (2 BC), the Forum of Nerva (97 AD), and the Forum of Trajan (112 AD). The fori were interconnected until the early 20th century, when Mussolini built Via dei Fori Imperiale right through the center.
Wiki says the Forum “was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city’s great [leaders]. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, [the Forum] has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archeological excavations.”
The Forum is quite small—820 feet by 558 feet (250 meters by 558 meters)—and is bounded by Capitoline Hill to the west, Palatine Hill to the south, the Colosseum to the east, and Via dei Fori Imperiale to the north. The main street of Ancient Rome, Via Sacra, winds through the Forum from the Arch of Titus at the east end to the Arch of Septimus Severus at the west end.
The best time to see the Forum is in the late fall, winter, or early spring before busloads of tourists arrive. If you can’t visit Rome then, order your tickets online so you don’t have to wait in huge, winding lines to buy them on site (a single ticket covers the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Forum). The Forum offers no shade, so load up on bottled water and sunscreen, and be patient!
Buon Natale, Roma! I hope you have 2,766 more good years.
P.S., This post is for Rome and also for my nephew Cade, whose one regret about his trip to Italy in summer 2012 was that we didn’t have time to visit the Forum. Here you are, Uno King!