5 Minutes Away - Roman Forum
This was the commercial, religious and political heart of Rome, and lay in the valley between the Palatine and Capitoline hills. The Roman historian Livy wrote that shortly after the founding of Rome, in 753 BC, a violent battle was fought between the Romans and the Sabines in the area where the future forum would stand. During the battle, Romulus, seeing his soldiers retreat, invoked Jupiter, promising to build a temple dedicated to him if the Romans were victorious. The attack recommenced. At that very moment, the Sabine women, who had been kidnapped by the Romans, threw themselves between the two armies begging for peace.
The finishing touches to the Roman Forum were made in the imperial era, begun by Caesar and completed by Augustus, with the construction of new temples and magnificent squares. Later, in the 4th century, the monumental Basilica of Maxentius was built under Emperor Maxentius, and was designed as place where legal matters could be transacted.
At the fall of the Roman Empire and during the Middle Ages, the Forum gradually became buried and was used as a pasture, from which it took the name “Campo Vaccino” or “Cow Pasture”. The fatal blow, however, was inflicted by Pope Julius II, who sat from 1503 to 1513, and who decided to use the area as a quarry for reusable materials, often turning them into lime. The protests of Michelangelo and Raphael fell on deaf ears.