The Sacred Area at the Largo di Torre Argentina is a complex of ruins in the center of Rome. It lies several feet below the present street level and is especially known for its cat sanctuary.
Largo di Torre Argentina Rome
Address, Opening Hours and Admission
The Area Sacra di Largo di Torre Argentina lies between the Via Florida, the Via di San Nicola de’ Cesarini, the Via di Torre Argentina and Largo Argentina itself. The site can only be seen from outside.
History and Description
The area was discovered by chance, between 1926 and 1928 when road works were carried out.
Since there is no certainty about the function and exact age of the 4 temples that were brought to light, they are simply identified through the letters A, B, C and D.
Temple C is the oldest of the four and is probably the Temple of Feronia. Feronia was an Italic divinity who was worshipped by the Sabines. The temple is thought to have been constructed by Curius Dentatus after his victory over the Sabines (290 BC).
Temple A is the northernmost temple and dates back to the 3rd century B.C. It was transformed several times before, during the Middle Ages, being incorporated into the church of San Nicola de’ Calcarario. It is thought to be the temple of Juno Curitis or Diuturna and on its northern side the ruins of a large portico are visible. This portico was called the Hecastylon because it consisted of one hundred columns. Behind this temple the ruins of a latrine belonging to the nearby portico of the Theater of Pompey (which has unfortunately been reduced to nothing) can be seen.
Also part of the Theater of Pompey was the quadrangular exedra between temples B and C. This was the Curia of the Theater and it is here that Julius Caesar was killed (44 BC).
Temple D was also built in the beginning of the third century BC. and has been identified as the temple of the Nymphs or the temple of the Lari Per Marini. It is largely covered by the Via Florida.
The most recent of the four temples is Temple B. This temple was most likely dedicated to the Fortuna del Giorno Presente or “Luck of the Current Day” (Fortuna huiusce diei). Near temple B a partly marble and partly bronze statue was found, supposedly a depiction of the god worshipped in it.
Behind the A and B temples are some chambers that belonged to the Administration of the Water Supply Office of Rome (Statio acquarum).
In the middle ages the philosopher Severinus Boethius is thought to have started a monastery on the grounds, of which there is but little trace left, whereas between the 8th and the 9th century important families built their residences there. A church, San Nicola de’ Calcarario, was built inside Temple A, the 12th century altar and the frescoes in the apse, are still visible. The church got its name thanks to the ovens for the production of lime (calce, in Italian) in its immediate surroundings. The church was destroyed in the twenties and the only medieval monument still standing is the Torre del Papito, in front of temple D.
Underneath the modern staircase leading into the area is the Porticus Minucia Frumentaria, a portico where wheat was given to the poor Romans. The pavement is made of Travertine marble and dates back to the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-86 A.D.).