The Acquario Romano (“Roman Aquarium“) is located in the center of a small park in the Esquilino district in Rome. It was built towards the end of the 19th century in a style typical of the period, called Umbertino, after the then king of Italy. Originally an aquarium, the building has held several functions during the time of its existence. At the moment it is the seat of the Casa dell’Architettura (“House of Architecture“).
Roman Acquarium and House of Architecture Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza Manfredo Fanti, 47 – Rome. Tel.: +39 06-97604598. Metro: Vittorio Emanuele (line A). Monday to Friday from 10.00 till 19.00. Closed: Saturdays and Sundays. Admission: Free. The garden is open from 09.00 till sunset (Saturdays and Sundays from 09.00 till 13.00).
History and description
The Roman Aquarium was designed by Ettore Bernich, who used ancient Roman architecture as an inspiration, and built between 1885 and 1887. The architect responsible for the actual construction was Pietro Garganico.
The avant-corps is modeled on the triumphal arches, while the shape of the building itself is reminiscent of the Pantheon. The building is decorated with pillars, half columns, statues in niches and various representations of fish and other sea animals.
Although it always kept its original name, it only functioned as an aquarium until the year 1899. The complex doubled as a fish farming school and a fish hatchery. You could also buy expensive live fish there, in case you wanted to eat something you couldn’t get at a normal market.
The two statues flanking the entrance represent Fishing and Navigation. The group of sculptures crowning the facade represents Venus’ carriage, pulled by a Triton and a Nereid. The entrance hall is decorated with frescoes and a number of statues in niches. It leads to a central room, which is oval in shape and characterized by a number of cast iron columns and a skylight.
Home of Architecture
In the course of the 20th century it was variously used as a venue for parties, skating rink, theater and office space. After having been more or less abandoned it was reopened in 1984, first as a museum and nowadays as the Casa dell’Architettura. This institution is meant to promote contemporary Roman architecture and hosts conferences and exhibitions.
Garden of Architecture (Giardino dell’Architettura)
In the garden around the Aquarium some ancient Servian Walls are still visible, together with ruins of a building from the Imperial Age.