Curia Julia Rome (Roman Forum)

The Curia Julia is one of the best preserved monuments in the Roman Forum in Rome. It is here that the Roman Senate used to meet.

Curia Julia Rome

Address and opening hours

Curia Julia Rome
Curia Julia

The address of the Curia Julia in the Roman Forum is Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6. The opening hours and entrance fee are those of the Colosseum.

History Curia Julia Rome

Curia Julia
Curia Julia

The very first Curia was built in the 7th century BC, during the reign of the third king of Rome, Tullius Hostilius. This Curia Hostilius was located slightly north of the current Curia Julia, at the site of the current Santi Luca e Martina Church.

The Curia was destroyed by fire several times in the course of the centuries, but was always rebuilt. Lucius Cornelius Silla was the first to reconstruct it, but when the building burned down again in 57 B.C., Julius Caesar had it recbuilt on its current site. The inauguration (by Emperor Augustus) of this Curia Julia took place in 29 BC.

The current Curia is a reconstruction from the year 303, when Diocletian was Emperor. The reason the building is so well preserved is that it was converted into a church (the Chiesa di Sant’Adriano) in 630.

In the 1930s, a restoration undid all the changes that had taken place after Diocletian‘s time. Diocletian had had to rebuild the entire area between Caesar’s Forum and the Basilica Julia after a fire in the year 283.

The Curia looks extraordinarily plain for such an important building. However, the lower part of the brick walls used to be covered with marble tiles. White plaster that looked like marble was used for the upper part.

The facade is further characterized by traces of several niches that were used as tombs in the Middle Ages.

There was room for about 300 senators in the Curia Julia. They sat facing each other on seats that were placeda wide stairway. The president was seated on a wide podium built against the back wall, on which also stood a large statue of the Goddess Victoria, brought to Rome from Taranto by Octavian.

The Curia Julia was connected to the portico of Caesar’s Forum. The sides are supported by 4 wide pillars.

The building’s bronze doors are not the originals, as they were reused by Francesco Borromini for the atrium of St. John of Lateran by order of Pope Alexander VII Chigi.

The interior (18 meters wide, 27 meters deep and 21 meters high) looks more or less the way did in Roman times. On the floor, there are patterns of multi-colored marble. The walls were also lined with marble, as can still be seen behind the Rostra (the elevation where the speaker used to stand). In the niches in these walls were statues. The ceiling was completely gilded.

The Plutei Traiani

Along the walls are the so-called Plutei Traiani, reliefs made of travertine marble showing Emperor Trajan being of service to the citizens of his empire. On the left, unfinished relief, he is depicted burning the records of unpaid taxes, while the relief on the other side symbolizes the introduction of low-interest loans to farmers. The backgrounds of the Plutei are of historical interest as they show the Roman Forum in the 2nd century. These reliefs originally decorated the sides of the Rostra or the balustrade of a tribune in the middle of the Forum.

Curia Julia, Forum Romanum, Rome

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