Basilica Julia Rome

The Basilica Julia (Iulia, in Italian) was a huge structure in the Roman Forum in Rome. In Roman times, it was the seat of the magistrates who handled civil trials.

Basilica Julia Rome

Practical information

Zuil, Basilica Julia, Forum Romanum, Rome
Zuil van de Basilica Julia

The entrance to the Roman Forum is at Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6. Metro: Colosseo (line B). Opening hours and entrance fee are those of the Colosseum.

History Basilica Julia Rome

The basilica stood between the Temple of Saturn and the Temple of Castor and Pollux on the site where the Basilica Sempronia used to be.

Although Julius Caesar had begun construction in 54 B.C. (simultaneously with the construction of Caesar’s Forum), the basilica would later be completed by Augustus.

Shortly after the basilica was finished, it was already partially destroyed by fire (9 BC). After the restoration, it was dedicated to the emperor’s adoptive grandsons, Gaius and Lucius, although it did retain the name Basilica Julia.

Basilica Julia Rome
Basilica Julia

Much of the basilica’s building materials and decorations were looted and pillaged over the years. Therefore, except for the stairs, the floor and pieces of some of the columns, there is not much left to see.

The central hall of the basilica measured 80 by 18 meters. Around it was a double portico. The outer portico had two floors, the hall itself had one more. The exterior including the portico measured 101 by 49 meters.

Its boundaries are indicated by the two main streets that ran from the Tiber to the Roman Forum, the Vicus Iugarius on the west side and the Vicus Tuscus on the east.

The building served as the seat of the centumviri, 180 magistrates who handled civil cases. These were divided into 4 groups of 45 men, separated only by a kind of curtain, which must have led to fairly chaotic scenes, since the lawyers paid groups of spectators to clap or make disapproving noises at the right moments.

Here and there on the steps one can still see game boards scratched into the stone where the paid spectators entertained themselves while waiting for another opportunity to shout “booooeeee” very loudly.

Basilica Julia, Forum Romanum, Rome