We are in the Campus Martius area, in the very heart of Rome. This is where emperors in ancient Rome built monumental public buildings to buy the favor of the population.
This is where a lot of temples, baths, squares were located.. but the fun part is that here you are able to play archaeologist for a few hours and stroll around to find hidden traces of those buildings.
Today we are going after one of the biggest and most glorious temples of the Campus Martius: the temple of Isis!
The temple of Isis was not a traditional Roman temple, Isis was in fact an Egyptian goddess.
You need to know that especially when Caesar brought Cleopatra to Rome in the 1st century BC, Romans were so fascinated by the Egyptian style that a sort of Egyptomania started to influence fashion, art and culture.
Now we are going to search all the fragments of that temple that are visible around this area: ready?
1) Obelisk in Piazza della Rotonda
Let’s start our exploration from the Pantheon, here we have the fountain, and the obelisk placed on top of it in the 1700s, comes from the temple of Isis.
2) Obelisk in Piazza della Minerva
This obelisk has been sitting on this elephant since the 1600s, when Bernini included it in his monument
3) Foot at via del Pie’ di Marmo
This foot gives the name to the street, Pie’ di marmo means foot of marble. It is not known exactly which statue this foot belonged to, it could have been Isis or to another divinity associated to her in the temple
4) Cat in via della Gatta
Probably the most unnoticed piece left of the temple of Isis, this she-cat seems to be watching us and enjoying the fact no one ever looks at her. You can find her in via della Gatta (street of the she-cat), on the cornice at the corner with Piazza Grazioli.
5) Madama Lucrezia
This is a fragment of a bigger statue of Isis and we recognize her from the knot on her dress, which is the typical Isis knot.
6) Lions at the bottom of the “Cordonata”
At the bottom of the monumental staircase of the Capitoline hill, designed by Michelangelo, we find two basalt lions belonging to the temple of Isis.
These were all the known fragments of the temple of Isis, and together they make a really original and fun tour to do with your friends and family!
For sure we learnt one thing, you better look properly around when in Rome, because history is literally behind every corner! 🙂
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