Umbilicus Urbis Romae Rome

The Umbilicus Urbis Romae is a monument in the Forum Romanum in Rome. It is located between the Rostra and the Arch of Septimius Severus.

Umbilicus Urbis Romae Rome

Practical information

Umbilicus Urbis Rome
Umbulicus Urbis

The address of the Umbilicus Urbis Romae is the address of the Roman Forum. Opening hours and entrance fee are the same as those of the Colosseum.

History of the Umbilicus Urbis Rome

The Umbilicus Urbis Romae is a conical construction. Originally, the brick monument was covered with various types of marble.

As the name indicates (ombelico means “belly-button”), it was the central point of the city, and thus of the world.

Through a door one enters an underground cave. This, according to Plutarch, was the cave Romulus had dug and into which he had thrown the blueprints of all things. His followers had subsequently thrown in a fistful of earth from their respective regions of origin.

Again according to Plutarch, the cave was said to be at the center of a plow pulled by an ox and cow tied to a yoke.

The Romans had a similar ditch dug in every city that they founded. This was supposed to provide a connection to the mundus Cereris, the boundary between the world of the living and the realm of the dead.

This ditch was round and closed off with a stone during almost the whole year. It was only opened on Aug. 24, Oct. 5 and Nov. 8, days when the three worlds (heaven, earth and realm of the dead) could contact each other.

The stone that sealed the realm of the dead from Pluto and Proserpina was called Lapis Manalis. This name came from the so-called Manes, phantoms of the dead who continued to offer protection after death.

During the three days when the entrance was open, it was forbidden to work, wage a war or start one, and conceive children.

Umbilicus Urbis Rome


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