The Ghetto – formerly the ancient Jewish quarter of Rome – lacks any coherent architectural unity and is a colourful conglomeration of narrow streets.
The Ghetto and San Teodoro Walk
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli is located on the highest summit of the Campidoglio at the top of 124 steep steps. The foundation of the church was laid on the site of a Byzantine Abbey in 574.
This charming piazza in the heart of the old Jewish quarter is the site of one of Rome’s loveliest fountains, designed by Giacomo della Porta 1581. The fountain was restored in 1658 and the sculptures of the youths bearing tortoises, for which the fountain named have been attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Teatro di Marcello
This ancient theatre was planned by Julius Caesar, who was murdered before work to build it begun. It was formally inaugurated by Augustus in 12 BC. The theatre was 111 m in diameter; it could originally hold 11,000 spectators. Later in the 16th century the noble Orsini family built a palace on the top of the ruins of the theatre. In the summer months classical music concerts are held in this evocative setting.
Once considered the heart of the Jewish Ghetto. Rome Jewish population is one of the oldest in Europe. These ruins were originally the entrance to an enormous square colonnade enclosing temples, libraries and shops which was first erected in 146 BC and rebuilt by Augustus in 12 BC. From the middle ages until the end of the 19th century the portico became Rome’s main fish market.
Pons Fabricius on the Tiber Island
This bridge over the Tiber island, also called Ponte Quattro Capi – Four Heads, is the oldest bridge in Rome. It was built in 62 BC and it is still in use.
Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola
The island has been associated with the health and healing since ancient times, once site of the Temple to Esculapio, the God of Medicine. Since 1583 the Hospital of the Fatebenefratelli serves the Roman population and is a favourite hospital for giving birth to this date.
The Basilica of San Bartolomeo was built in 1000 over the ruins of the Temple of Esculapio and is said to contain the relics of the apostle St. Bartolomeo.
The remains the Pons Aemilius built in the 2nd century BC. It is the oldest stone bridge in Rome. Damaged and repaired in several occasions, the bridge was destroyed in 1598, when its eastern half was carried away thus the name “Ponte Rotto” – broken bridge.
Temples of Hercules Victor & Portunus
The Temple of Hercules Victor dates from about 120 BC. It’s circular design has caused it to be mistaken for a temple of Vesta. By 1132 the temple had been converted into a church known as St. Steven of the carriages.
The Temple of Portunus is a rectangular building built between 100 and 80 BC. During the middle ages the temple was converted into the church of Santa Maria Secundicerii.
Basilica di San Nicola in Carcere
Built on the ruins of the Forum Hilitorium the original church dates to the 6th century while the current one dates to at least 1128. The church gets it’s name from the Roman prison, Carcere Tulliano, however this is an erroneous attribution as the prison actually dates back to Byzantine times.
Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Built in the 6th century over the ruins of the Templum Herculis Pompeiani, it is one of the finest medieval churches in Rome. The church was built with three naves and a portico. Because of its beauty, the adjective cosmedin was added to its name (from Greek kosmidion, beautiful).
The famous ‘Bocca della Verità’ is in the portico of the church. Bocca della Verità (the mouth of truth) is a great stone mask with a gaping mouth. Legend has it that anyone who lies while their hand is in its mouth will have it bitten off.
Arch of Janus
The Arch of Janus is the only quadrifrons triumphal arch preserved in Rome. It was built in the early 4th century, possibly in honour of Constantine I. The name is derived from the Latin Janus which means cover passageway or door and not to the two faced Roman god Giano.
San Giorgio al Velabro
This Romanic church dates back to the VI century. Legend has it that the church was built on the site where Romulus and Remus were found by the she wolf.
San Teodoro al Palatino
This 6th century basilica was built on the ruins of the granaries of Agrippa. The unusual round shape suggests that it make have been built in the shell of a pre-existing temple.
The church is dedicated to the Byzantine Saint Theodore of Amasea and has been renovated many times throughout the centuries.
At the back of the atrium outside the church is an ossuary, where you can see stacked skulls and bones through a grill. The Capitoline she wolf statue was kept in this church until the 16th century.
Santa Anastasia was built in the late 3rd century. The name possibly refers to Anastasia sister of the Emperor Constantin I. This is a very special church as it never closes, for those that should have an urge to pray in the heart of the night. Sometimes at night processions by candlelight leave from this church and retrace the stations of the cross in the nearby Circo Massimo.
Campidoglio Park & View of Ghetto Rooftops
Enjoy a view over the rooftops of the Ghetto from the shaded Campidoglio park.
The Campidoglio, or Capitoline, was the most important of Rome’s seven hills. The piazza at the top of the hill was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti in the 1530s and took over a hundred years to complete. The grand stairs leading up to the piazza were also designed by Michelangelo. The building opposite the stairs is Rome’s city hall. At the centre of the piazza is a copy of the magnificent second century equestrian statue of the emperor Marcus Aurelio.
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