A Visit to the Forum in Rome

History of the Roman Forum and How to See It

roman forum photo
••• View of the Roman Forum. Guy Vanderelst/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

The Roman Forum (also known as the Foro Romano in Italian, or just the Forum) is one of the Top Ancient Sites in Rome as well as one of the Top Rome Attractions for visitors. Occupying a sprawling space between the Colosseum, the Capitoline Hill, and the storied Palatine Hill, the Forum was the center of political, religious, and commercial life of ancient Rome and provides insight into the splendor that once was the Roman Empire.

The Via dei Fori Imperiali, a wide boulevard built during the reign of Mussolini in the early 20th century, forms the eastern edge of the Forum.

Roman Forum Visitor Information

Hours: Daily 8:30 am to one hour before sunset; closed January 1, May 1, and December 25.

Location: Via della Salaria Vecchia, 5/6. Metro Colosseo stop (Linea B)

Admission: Current ticket price is €12 and includes admission to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill. Avoid the ticket line by buying Colosseum and Roman Forum tickets online in US dollars through Select Italy.

Information: Check current hours and prices online or buy tickets online in euro with booking fee.
Tel. (0039) 06-699-841

You can also visit the Roman Forum using the Roma Pass, a cumulative ticket that provides free or reduced rates for more than 40 attractions and includes free transportation on Rome's buses, subway, and trams.

The Forum contains many ancient buildings, monuments, and ruins.

You can pick up a plan of the Forum at the entrance or from any number of kiosks throughout Rome. See our article, What to See at the Roman Forum for an in-depth look at visiting the site.

Roman Forum History

Building in the Forum dates back to as early as the 7th century B.C. On the northern end of the Forum near the Capitoline Hill are some of the oldest ruins of the Forum including marble remnants from the Basilica Aemilia (note that a basilica in Roman times was a site of business and money lending); the Curia, where Roman senators assembled; and the Rostra, a platform on which early orators gave speeches, were built in the 5th century B.C.

By the 1st century B.C., when Rome began its reign over the Mediterranean and large swaths of Europe, numerous constructions went up in the Forum. The Temple of Saturn and the Tabularium, the state archives (today accessible via the Capitoline Museums), were both built around 78 B.C. Julius Caesar began building the Basilica Julia, meant to be a law court, in 54 B.C.

A pattern of construction and destruction went on in the Forum for hundreds of years, starting in 27 B.C. with Rome's first emperor, Augustus, and lasting through the 4th century A.D., when the Western Roman Empire was conquered by the Ostrogoths. After this time, the Forum fell into disrepair and almost total obscurity. For the hundreds of years following the Sack of Rome, the Forum was used largely as a quarry for other constructions around Rome, including the walls of the Vatican and many of Rome's churches. It was not until the late 18th century that the world rediscovered the Roman Forum and began to excavate its buildings and monuments in a scientific manner. Even today, archeologists in Rome continue excavations in the Forum hoping to uncover another priceless fragment from antiquity.