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In this page:
Arco di Costantino
Tempio di Venere e Romolo and Meta Sudante
Domus Aurea and Terme di Tito e di Traiano
In the previous page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view

Arco di Costantino

Arco di Costantino

The Arch of Constantine was most likely built for a previous emperor of the IIIrd century. It was renovated and dedicated to Constantine to celebrate his visit to Rome in 315. Its decoration is mainly a reassembling of reliefs celebrating events related to Trajan, Adrian and Marcus Aurelius. The war scene shown above is associated with the emperor Trajan. The image below shows: (left to right) statue of a Dacian prisoner (Trajan's time); a relief showing a scene of military life (Marcus Aurelius' time); a relief showing a hunting scene (Adrian's time). A major restoration was conducted under Clemens XII in 1733, which included the re-integration of statues and columns. In a few cases the statues of the emperors, which all had been turned into statues of Constantine at the time of the dedication of the arch by changing their heads, got back the head of the original owner.


Tempio di Venere e Romolo and Meta Sudante

Tempio di Venere e Romolo e Meta Sudante

The plate shows to the right of the Arch of Constantine what was left of Meta Sudans, a Roman fountain. In 1936 the ruin was still there, but it was pulled down to allow the army parade to go through the Arch of Constantine. The plate shows also to the far right the ruins of the Temple of Venus and Romulus. The statue of the god was in the niche, the decoration of which inspired many artists (see Francesco Salvi's niche in Fontana di Trevi).  The photos above show also the Arch of Titus and the bell tower of S. Francesca Romana.

Terme di Tito e di Traiano

Walls of Domus Aurea

After one of the most damaging fires (64 A.D.) ever occurred in Rome, the Emperor Nero rebuilt on the Palatine the Imperial Palace. The Emperor was suspected of having set fire to Rome to enlarge the Imperial Palace, which actually was expanded by him also on the first slopes of the Esquiline, the area to the north of the Colosseum, (at the time the area of the Colosseum was the site of a small lake which provided the Emperor with a nice view). Nero built a large pavilion overlooking the lake; the building was known as Domus Aurea (Golden House) and it survived its landlord, because after the death of Nero it was used as a warehouse. In 111 A.D. Apollodorus of Damascus, the architect of the Forum of Trajan, filled Domus Aurea with the material resulting from the excavation of Velia a hill between the Quirinal and the Capitol which was levelled to the ground to make room for the Forum. Apollodorus reinforced the walls of Domus Aurea and used them as foundations for the baths he built for Trajan. Domus Aurea was discovered and "excavated" in Renaissance times and here was found the group of Laocoon and his two sons. The site was visited by many artists, mainly painters, who found inspiration in the decoration of the rooms (grottesque after Italian grotta, as the entrance to these rooms looked like the entrance of a cave=grotta). Excavations are still going on and new rooms and paintings were recently found.
The area retains some impressive walls of the baths of Trajan and also of the smaller baths built by Titus.

Terme di Tito e di Traiano

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Arco di Costantino e Meta sudante
Su questa piazza eravi anticamente un sasso che dicevasi scelerato; perchè presso di esso si bandivano, e si flaggellavano i Cristiani. Ora vi si vede un muro rovinoso, e rotondo, fatto di semplici mattoni, quale è miserabile avanzo della celebratissima Meta sudante, ed appresso si ammira il magnifico Arco eretto a Costantino Magno dal Senato, e Popolo Romano, in memoria dell'insigne vittoria riportata in virtù della ss. Croce contro Massenzio Tiranno, come diremo, appresso ponte Molle. E' questo costrutto tutto di marmi con colonne, e bassirilievi molto preziosi, fuor che quelli da basso, perciò dicono, che quelli fossero levati dall'Arco di Trajano, e queste fatte in tempo di Costantino, quando le belle arti erano in gran decadenza.

Next plate in Book 2: Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano
Next step in Day 1 itinerary: Chiesa di S. Clemente
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Villa Altieri
Next step in your tour of Rione Campitelli: Casino Fini


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