Temple of Vesta (Roman Forum)

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The Temple of Vesta ( Latin: aedes Vestae ) was the central sanctuary of Rome in the Roman Forum . He was behind the Caesar cipher and Dioskurentempel . The sacred fire of Vesta burned in it and was guarded by the six Vestal Virgins. The temple is assigned to the Tholos type.

Remnants of the temple
Round temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum, Roman denarius , 55 BC Chr., Albert 1354

According to tradition, the temple went back to the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius , and had the shape of a round hut, which should be reminiscent of the first Roman dwellings. In the middle of its roof there was an opening for the smoke outlet of the fire. Inside the temple were the penates of the state, various items that Aeneas allegedly saved from Troy , including the palladion , an ancient statue of the goddess Pallas Athene ( Minerva ). The sacred interior of the temple was only allowed to be entered by a few people such as the Vestals or the Pontifex Maximus . Because of its inviolability, it was also a popular repository for wills and contracts . Otherwise, the temple was open to the public, men were only forbidden to enter the temple at night, presumably to ensure the chastity of the vestals.

In the immediate vicinity of the temple was the house of the Vestals , in which the priestesses who were bound to be virgins lived.

On March 1st of each year, the old beginning of the year, the fire was re-lit, which had to be done with a concave mirror or by drilling into the wood of a fruit-bearing tree. If the fire went out by itself, it was considered a great misfortune for the city. For this, the responsible Vestal Virgin was severely punished by the Pontifex Maximus.

Food offerings were made daily, for which the simplest foods in clay jugs were used. The daily cleanings could only be carried out with running water, which the Vestal Virgins brought from the source of the Egeria in jugs on their heads.

Stone with the emblem of Theodoric in the temple

In the course of history, this temple, which was particularly vulnerable to fire as the place where the holy hearth was kept, was destroyed by fires six times, but was rebuilt again and again. Its current form is a reconstruction of Julia Domna, the wife of Septimius Severus , from 191. However, it is based on the form of the reconstruction of 64, when the temple was also destroyed during the great fire of Rome under Nero . The temple was a marble rotunda on a podium 15 m in diameter with an east-facing staircase and entrance. Around the circular interior ( cella ) ran a pillar (pronaos) made of 20 Corinthian columns, which were opposite half-columns on the outer wall of the interior.

In its current form, the temple was reconstructed from the existing rubble in 1930. Three columns with the associated sector of the inner wall and the entablature as well as the badly damaged podium have been preserved.


A similar temple is in Tivoli .

A structurally similar temple, which was not consecrated to Vesta, is located in Rome below the Aventine Hill on the Forum Boarium , the Temple of Hercules Victor .

Web links

Commons : Temple of Vesta  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 41 ° 53 ′ 30.2 "  N , 12 ° 29 ′ 10.23"  E