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Parte di Campo Vaccino verso il Campidoglio (Book 2) (Map B3) (Day 1) (View C9) (Rione Campitelli)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
Column of Foca
Temples of Saturn and Vespasianus
Arch of Septimius Severus
Ancient Rome

The Plate (No. 31)

Parte di Campo Vaccino verso il Campidglio

This view shows the western part of Campo Vaccino the cattle market of Rome for many centuries (Eastern part of Campo Vaccino in the next Plate). At that time the level of the ground covered most of the Roman ruins and the monuments which were still visible were partly buried. The view is taken from the green dot in the 1748 map here below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Arco di Settimio Severo; 2) Colonne del Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Saturn) 3) Colonne nel clivo (buried in the hill) del Campidoglio (Temple of Vespasianus); 4) Colonna sola (Column of Foca) 5) Mura (walls) del Campidoglio.

Small ViewSmall View


The view today

Campo Vaccino was thoroughly excavated after 1870 and the Roman monuments were brought back to light.
Read William Dean Howells' account of his visit to Campo Vaccino in 1908.

Column of Foca

Colonna di Foca

The column (most likely a column of a temple) was erected in 608 and dedicated to Foca Emperor of the Roman Eastern Empire. It is the last monument built in the Forum.



The view taken from the Orti Farnesiani on the Palatine shows the Tabularium, the Roman building on top of which was built Palazzo Senatorio, which seen from the Palatine has the clear features of a medieval fortress (behind it you can see the back of the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II). The Renaissance tower was completed under Gregorius XIII (1572-85).

Coat of arms

In the XIIIth century Palazzo Senatorio became the site of the Comune di Roma, the political system which at the same time was being adopted by many other Italian towns. The government was entrusted with a small parliament elected on a borough or guild basis. The presence of the pope limited the authority of the communal institutions, however in the XIVth century, when the popes lived in Avignon, Rome was ruled as an independent Comune. In 1398, the fights between the different parties led the Comune to request the protection of the pope. At the same time most of the other Italian Comuni were falling under the power of a family (Medici in Florence, Visconti in Milano, etc..), so what happened in Rome was part of a general process.
Several coats of arms document this process. In the picture above you can see:
a) coat of arms of Bonifatius IX who was asked in 1398 to protect the Comune. He built a high tower to strengthen the palace.
b) coat of arms of Nicholas V (mid XVth century), who built another tower which is clearly visible in the picture of Palazzo Senatorio.
c) coat of arms of Sixtus IV and Innocentius VIII (late XVth century), who regarded themselves as the lords of Rome. The inscription over the (today side) entrance of the palace says: SIXTUS QUARTUS PONT(ifex) MAX(imus) URBIS RESTAURATOR, which clearly shows the secular role the popes attributed to themselves and their humanistic culture.

Temples of Saturn and of Vespasianus

Temple of Concord and Temple of Vespasian

The Temple of Saturn (left) is a late IVth century restoration of a very old Republican temple. The different size of the columns shows that the restoration was a sort of "cannibalization" which made use of materials coming from other ruined temples. The view shows also SS. Luca e Martina (to the left of the arch) and Curia Julia (to the right of the arch). The Temple dedicated to the Emperor Vespasianus (right) was built by his son Domitianus in 86 A.D. and the three remaining columns show great craftmanship.

Arch of Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimius Severus

The Arch was erected by the Senate to honour the tenth anniversary of the Emperor's accession and his victories in the Middle East. The decoration is damaged, but some reliefs have gained by remaining covered under the ground, like the relief of the captives, shown above.

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome

The first attempts to reconstruct from the remaining buildings the whole appearance of Ancient Rome, date back to the XVth century. In 1553 the painter and architect Pirro Ligorio published Libro delle Antichità di Roma (Book on the Roman Antiquities) dedicated to Cardinal Ippolito d'Este for whom he had designed Villa d'Este, which was followed by a double map showing both modern and ancient Rome.
In Reverend Jeremiah Donovan's guide of Rome published in 1844, a description of the monuments of the Forum was accompanied by an etching by Gaetano Cottafavi based on a watercolour by the English architect/archaeologist Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863) (click here to see it), who was for many years the Architect of the Bank of England.
The image shows in yellow the surviving monuments: (left to right) three columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, Portico of the Temple of Saturn, three columns of the Temple of Vespasianus, the Tabularium, the Arch of Septimius Severus, Curia Julia and Temple of Annia Faustina (S. Lorenzo in Miranda).

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Campo Vaccino
Prese un tal nome questo spazioso e celebre luogo dal mercato di bovi, ed altri animali da macello, che in esso ora si sa, a similitudine, dell'antico foro boario. Fu però questo il più magnifico e splendido sito in tempo di Roma trionfante, e si ravvisa ancora dalle copiose, e maravigliose rovine, che vi sono rimaste: onde per osservare tutto, e con piacere, cominceremo dal mentovato palazzo Senatorio dalla parte però, che guarda il campo.
Gli archi chiusi entro le mura del medesimo, si crede, che fossero dell'antico Tabolario, in cui si tenevano le tavole della Legge; le tre colonne quali sepolte nel clivo, con capitelli e cornici lavorate alla corintia furono del tempio di Giove Tonante fatto da Ottaviano Augusto per difesa del Campidoglio, e le otto colonne di granito egizio con capitelli e cornice dorica sono del tempio della Concordia. L'arco, che si vede mezzo sepolto, lavorato tutto di marmo salino con bassirilievi, e colonne striate fu eretto dal Senato e Popolo Romano a Settimio Severo, e la gran colonna isolata, che si vede poco discosto, con capitello corintio, niuno ha saputo trovare di quale edifizio fosse.

Next plate in Book 2: Parte di Campo Vaccino verso l'Arco di Tito
Next step in Day 1 itinerary: S. Pietro in Carcere
Next step in your tour of Rione Campitelli: Tempio di Castore e Polluce


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