Doesn’t it seem as if Rome has been sharing all her secrets this year? From Nero’s revolving room atop the Palatine hill to the passages under the Colosseum, Rome is revealing almost all her mystique especially with the opening of the Temple of Venus and Roma, the city’s biggest bang of the year.
Up until last Friday, visitors could best sneak a peak of Ancient Rome’s largest temple from the second tier of the Colosseum, and during a Good Friday/Easter Week broadcast, when Pope John Paul II made the temple an international platform for mass. A magnificent two-chamber temple inaugurated in 141 AD under Emperor Hadrian and double-dedicated to goddesses Venus Felix (Venus, Bringer of Good Fortune) and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome), the temple had two massive cult statues of the goddesses in back-to-back apses.
Ornately decorated in colorful marbles and colonnades of enormous Corinthian columns, the temple was devastated by an earthquake in the 9th century, and its ruins were used integrated into the architecture of Church of Santa Maria Nuovo in the mid 9th and 17th centuries. Its present remains are still jaw-dropping with its enormous walls, decorative flooring, exposed coffering in the apses and hued columns, and are an added bonus to the 12 euro Roman Forum-Palatine Hill-Colosseum ticket.
Tip for ancient history buffs, Latinists, word game fans and fashionistas, Venus represented amor (love), or Roma backwards– no wonder stylist Valentino was given carte blanche in 2007 to decorate the platform with illuminated columns, showing off his love for ancient haute couture.