Minerva Medica Temple Rome

The so-called Temple of Minerva Medica is a 4th century Roman ruin located in the Via Giolitti in the rione Esquilino in Rome. It is a rather magnificent-looking building in a fairly dilapidated area, between the Via Giolitti itself and the railway tracks of Termini station.

Minerva Medica Temple Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Giovanni Giolitti, 100 – Rome. The temple is closed to the public, but can easily be viewed from outside.

History and description

Minerva Medica Temple Rome
Minerva Medica Temple

In reality it was not a temple at all, but a monumental hall, probably a nymphaeum, inside a complex known as the Horti Liciniani. There probably used to be a real temple dedicated to Minerva Medica in the area, which caused the confusion.

In the 5th century, when the Esquilino area was abandoned, the building was also left to decay. Until the middle of the 14th century it was known as the Basilica Gai et Luci.

In the Renaissance period architects like Brunelleschi used the building, and especially its cupola, as an example for the construction of other churches.

In 1828 the top part of the cupola broke down (result of the continuous plunder of its building material). Thanks to drawings made by artists like Giuliano da Sangallo, Baldassare Peruzzi and Palladio it is still possible to have an idea of what it used to look like.

Between 1878 and 1879 several statues were found in the temple. These can now be seen in the Centrale Montemartini seat of the Capitoline Museums.

The Temple of Minerva Medica is a huge decagonally shaped hall with a cupola of a 25 m diameter. The cupola’s hemisphere is slightly lower in the centre. There are 9 semi-circular niches and the entrance is towards the north (the present Via Giolitti) side.

The cupola can best be seen from the windows on the right side of the slow train from Rome to Civitavecchia or Pisa.

Via Giovanni Giolitti, 100 – Rome

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