A Tourist in Rome - Sacred Area of San Omobono

Location:Via del Teatro di Marcello, one block south of the Triumphal Portico di Monte Caprino
Metro:Colosseo or Circo Massimo and Bus #160, or see it on my To the Forum Boarium and Beyond Walking Tour instead
Time:about 10 minutes
Cost:Free
Hours:Viewable at any time from the street

The Sacred Area of San Omobono (1st photo below) is a fairly large area of excavation which is baffling to the uneducated like myself. It's located just a block south of the Triumphal Portico di Monte Caprino along the Via del Teatro di Marcello. In this area were temples from the early Republican era, dedicated to the Mater Matuta (goddess of dawn, new growth and childbirth) and the Temple of Fortuna (goddess of fertility, see this article). The area was going to be redeveloped into government offices in 1937 when large fragments of terracotta statues and decorations belonging to the roof of a temple were found. These are on display (2nd and 3rd photos below) in the Capitoline Museum. It was determined that the two temples in this area, that of Fortuna and Mater Matuta, were first built in the 6th century BC, during the times of the Etruscan Kings of Rome, specifically the sixth king, Servius Tullius (578-534 BC). That makes this one of the very oldest sites in Rome that we can still see today (along with the Romulan Huts on the Palatine Hill and the Regia and Altar of Saturn in the Roman Forum), so deserves our attention despite its rubbly look. There is evidence on this site to a temple which was destroyed after the expulsion of the Tarquines from Rome at the end of the 6th century BC. In fact, the temples were rebuilt 3 times, the last time under Hadrian, making this site difficult for archaeologists (let alone a lowly Tourist in Rome) to untangle.

    
Sacred area of San Omobono, from the south-southwest (mosaic of 4 images)
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Terracotta decorations from the Temple of Mater Matuta in the Sacred Area of San Omobono, now the Area of the Temple of Jupiter in the Capitoline Museum
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Terracotta decorations from the Temple of Mater Matuta in the Sacred Area of San Omobono, now the Area of the Temple of Jupiter in the Capitoline Museum
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The 1st photo below shows another panoramic photo of the site, this time from an angle that shows several features. Just above the center of the photo is an altar, shown in the close-up of the 2nd photo below, and from its front in the center of the 3rd photo below. About half way from the altar to the upper-right corner of the 1st photo below is the Votive base, also shown in close-up in the 4th photo below, and visible above the altar in the 3rd photo below. A well is just to the upper-right of the altar in the 1st photo below, and shown in a blurry close-up in the 5th photo below. A second altar is under the blue roof at the right edge of the 1st photo below and at the top of the 3rd photo below.

    
The Sacred Area of San Omobono, from the south (mosaic of 4 photos). An altar is just above center, with a well to its upper-right. The Votive base is right of the well. A second altar is under the blue roof at the right edge. The cella of the western temple is way back behind the 4 temporary metal fences, delineated by the tufa blocks near the top, just left of center, still in the shadow
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Altar in the Sacred Area of San Omobono, from the south
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The southern part of the Sacred Area of San Omobono, from the west. The altar is at center, Votive base above it, second altar under the blue roof near the top
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Votive Base in the Sacred Area of San Omobono, from the south
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Well in the Sacred Area of San Omobono
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A raised floor, that looks to me similar to hypocaust heating systems I've seen elsewhere, is shown in the 1st photo below, although these might be modern brick columns used to support the pavement after excavation beneath them. The center part of the sacred area, from the west, is shown in the 2nd photo below. This view lies just to the left of the 3rd photo above. Looking back from here toward where I took most of the photos above from, I can easily see a stairway that was chopped off during the excavation of the area (3rd photo below). The second temple in the area was located at the northern end of the excavated site, shown in the 4th photo below. Although it's difficult to make much sense of this area (at least for a simple Tourist in Rome like me), it's obviously quite important historically, and it's right on the route from the Triumphal Portico di Monte Caprino to the Tarpeian Rock, so is worth the free look.

    
Raised floor in the Sacred Area of San Omobono
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The center part of the Sacred Area of San Omobono, from the west
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The southern edge of the Sacred Area of San Omobono, from the northwest
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The northern part of the Sacred Area of San Omobono, from the southwest. The podium of the northern temple is behind the four temporary railings and under the wooden scaffolding. The front wall dividing the sacred area from the ancient street is in the foreground, with the metal gate doorway. The ancient street is to the left of that wall.
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