The Forum

 

The funeral pyre of Julius Caesar

 

** Tip: Buy a ticket to cover the Colosseum, the Forum and Capital Hill for around $30.00.  The catch is that you have only two days to visit each site.  So make good use of your time, and money. **

The Forum is a city square, much like a plaza, where ancient Romans would walk the cobblestone streets peddling for money, selling: clothing or food, or simply exchanging philosophical ideas (along with some shady things).  It was in these streets that Julius Caesar himself walked on with his adopted son, Octavian and Marc Antony.  I kept thinking to myself ‘I’m literally walking the same streets that Caesar’s feet also touched.  I’m touching history.’  It is also here at the Forum that Caesar’s body lies still visible to the tourists of modern-day era.  When Caesar was murdered (hopefully you know the story from high school history class), Caesar’s body was put on a funeral pyre to burn.  Villagers, so outraged by his death, that they threw into the pyre anything made of wood, clothes and furniture on top of the flames to keep it going until the next morning.  It became so big that the fire damaged part of the Forum.

Today you can stand just feet away from that funeral pyre.  Even today the former dictators grave is adorned with coins and flowers.  Well, Dictator to some, Reformer to others.

Walk along the square and you’ll also encounter where the Vestal Virgins lived.  Vestal Virgins were selected between the ages of 6 and 10 years old to take a life of keeping the sacred fire of the Vesta burning to appease their goddess.  To let the first go out would mean a severe beating.  Believe it or not, they had more power than what people gave them credit for.  They intervened and pardoned Caesar.  They were invited by Augustus in all major dedications and ceremonies.  And the people believed that they held magical powers.  Upon their 30th birthday, the Vestal Virgins were allowed to marry and have children by a suitable Roman man.

Home of the Vestal Virgins

Take the stairs up Palatine Hill to get a complete lookout of the Forum. From this vantage point you can see Basilica of Maxentius and the Colosseum. If you climb further up the stairs of the hill you will enter into the Farnese Gardens. Take your time to stroll around the garden, take in the sites and the beauty of the landscape.