Ancient Rome's biggest temple re-opens
Sunday 14 November 2010
The biggest temple of ancient Rome re-opened to the public on Thursday after more than 20 years amid heavy criticism of Italy's management of its artistic heritage after the collapse of a house in Pompeii.
A ceremony marked the re-opening of the Temple of Venus and Rome in the Roman Forum near the Colosseum.
Designed by the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century, the shrine had dozens of columns flanking an enormous nave and a coffered vaulted ceiling.
It temple site was covered over by a road until the 1980s and has been undergoing intermittent restoration work since then.
Erected on the remnants of Emperor Nero's villa, the temple had two main chambers arranged back to back, each containing a giant statue - one of Venus, the goddess of love, and the other of Roma, the goddess of Rome.
Roma faced west to look out over the Roman Forum while Venus looked out over the Colosseum, with majestic staircases leading down to the ancient arena.
While most of the columns surrounding the temple have disappeared over time, it is still possible to see the detailed carving on the remaining temple wall as well as some of the restored patterned tiles.
The restoration work has included repairs to the temple floor and cleaning up a nearby sewer. Construction of the temple began in AD 121, and it was officially inaugurated by Hadrian in 135.
Though closed to the public until now, the temple has been used since John Paul II's papacy as a platform for Good Friday ceremonies when the pope leads pilgrims in meditations on the Stations of the Cross.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
Australia Day 2015: Best alternative places to visit
The 10 Best hiking boots
Hogwarts Express joins Warner Bros studio tour: The Harry Potter locations you can visit
Solo travel: From learning to surf to crewing a yacht
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...