Temple of Vesta Rome

The Temple of Vesta, together with the House of the Vestal Virgins, formed the Atrium Vestae in the Forum Romanum in Rome. It is here that the sacred flame of Vesta was kept burning.

Temple of Vesta Rome

Practical information

Temple of Vesta, Forum Romanum Rome
Temple of Vesta

The address of the Temple of Vesta is that of the Roman Forum, namely Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6. For opening hours and entrance fees for this and other attractions in the Roman Forum, those of the Colosseum apply.

History Temple of Vesta Rome

The Temple of Vesta is a round sanctuary from the 4th century BC, which in the heyday of the empire was surrounded by a ring of 20 fluted columns. The podium was made of cement, covered with slabs of marble.

Before the temple was built, another sanctuary occupied this spot.

The main task of the Vestal Virgins, the only female priests in Rome, was to keep the sacred flame of Vesta, the Goddess of the hearth, going, a task originally reserved for the king’s daughters. This flame was considered a symbol of the state. If it was extinguished, which could easily happen, the priestess responsible at that time was flogged and sent away by the Pontifex Maximus.

The virgins had to be of noble birth and were selected between the ages of 6 and 10, after which they entered the House of the Vestal Virgins.

The Vestal Virgins served for 30 years. The first 10 years they learned what their duties were and how to perform them. The last 10 years they used to pass on their learned knowledge. In the intervening period they performed their actual duties.

The job was a prestigious one, and the Virgins were well-paid. They had to make sure to remained virgins though. Over time, 10 Vestal former virgins were buried alive. The 10 men responsible for the Vestal deflowering were flogged to death.

After their tenure, they were allowed to do whatever they wanted, including marry, although this was rare.

Inside the stage was a room where only the Virgins were allowed to enter. Here, the sacred objects that determined Rome’s destiny and had been brought from Troy by Enea, were preserved.

One of these objects was the Palladium, an idol depicting Pallas Athena. The Virgins were supposed to guard this statue. At one point they did this by replacing the statue with a replica when they learned that Emperor Heliogabalus wanted to break into the temple to steal it.

When the fire of 64 flattened the temple and the house of the virgins, both were rebuilt. What is left of the monument dates back to this period.

Later, including after another fire in 191 AD, more restorations took place, but these made no major changes to the structure of the monument.

A final restoration took place in 1930, using original fragments combined with pieces of travertine marble.

Temple of Vesta Rome

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