Our tour explores the area south of the Capitoline Hill. We will start in Michelangelo’s famous Campidoglio square and slowly make our way through the area known as the Velbarum, a low lying valley that leads from the Tiber to the Roman Forum. Here the early town and city of Rome grew up rapidly and, luckily for us, some of the best-preserved monuments in the city can still be found in the Velabrum. This route is less well known amongst modern-day tourists but it was incredibly important to the ancients, not least because it was in the Velabrum where the first markets were established and Rome cemented itself as a mercantile power in the Mediterranean. Away from the Capitoline, the route is a gradual down hill the whole way to our end point at the Tiber and the site of Rome’s oldest bridge.
Avoid the Crowds
Allows you to explore without having to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a large tour group
Written by a Cambridge-based archaeologist, whose postgraduate (MRes) research has been devoted to Early Iron Age architecture
Easy-to-follow GPS directions to get you from one point to the next on your tour
Porticus Octaviae, The Theatre of Marcellus, and Bocca della Verita
Remote Tour Included
As with all our tours, a remote tour is included that can be enjoyed from home
Rome: From Capitoline to Forum Boarium
- The Capitoline Hill - We welcome you to this tour at the top of the Capitoline hill, in Michelangelo’s magnificently laid out square the Piazza del Campidoglio. Now dominated by renaissance palazzos, also by Michelangelo, the Capitoline hill was, as we will discover, once the heart of pagan religion in ancient Rome.
- Porticus Octaviae - The porticus, a monument that roughly translates as ‘porch’, was actually a far grander complex with temples and statues. Only the central porch remains but it is located in what was once one of Rome’s most populous areas and represents the start of our journey back in time to the early days of the Roman republic.
- The Temples of Apollo Sosianus and Bellona - The small lane that connects the Porch of Octavia with the Temple of Apollo is laid out as it was in ancient times, connecting an array of sprawling shrines and temples. Two early temples sprang up here and the Temple of Apollo is perhaps the earliest evidence of that god’s worship in Rome.
- The Theatre of Marcellus - Different to an amphitheatre, this semi-circular theatre was built solely for plays and music. One of the largest in Rome and certainly the city’s best preserved, it was begun by none other than Julius Caesar and finished by his adoptive son, Augustus.
- The Church of San Nicolo in Carcere and the Forum Holitarium - The wide street of the Via della Teatro Marcello was once a bustling market place for vegetable sellers. Replace the cars and pedestrians with stalls and vendors, we know the street is the same width as the ancient market place, thanks to three temples hidden inside the present day Church of San Nicolo.
- Arch of Janus - Renaissance observers found four-faced arch so intriguing, they decided to call it the Arch of Janus, who famously had two faces to look to the past and the future. Modern day historians are less sure of its origins, however. Much more is known about two other ancient survivals, which can be reached beyond the arch.
- Circus Maximus - The great stadium of ancient Rome formed a fundamental part of public life for over five centuries. With its origins clouded in myth, the overwhelming size the stadium reached and the fervor of the chariot races themselves is just as legendary.
- Bocca della Veritá - Now a famous photo spot and popular with tourists, the origins of the so-called mouth of truth are not well known. Nevertheless, find ourselves at the edge of the Forum Boarium and as well as the Bocca, will introduce the god and hero Hercules to our story and how his worship was initiated in Rome.
- Temple of Hercules Victor - Round temples were a relative latecomer for Greek temple builders when compared to how early on they were introduced by Roman patrons. This is one of the best surviving examples to be found anywhere in the Mediterranean.
- Temple of Portunus - Although relatively small, the elegant Temple of Portunus is an example of Roman architecture at its best.
- Pons Aemilius - We end our tour quite appropriately at the Pons Aemilius. Having encountered so much of early Rome and her associated mythological beginnings its only correct that the city’s first stone bridge is included, to conclude our tour through the Velabrum.