The Roman Forum in Rome, one of the oldest and most important parts of the ancient city, was the heart of ancient Rome.
It housed temples, courts, shops, and much much more, and peoples from all levels of society, from slaves to the emperor himself would conduct their business in this area.
In my opinion, The Roman Forum is a MUST-visit on any trip to Rome (particularly a first visit) but when you’re here, what should you see and how do you go about it?
This page answers that, plus:
The Roman Forum is located right in the middle of Rome – it was the ancient center of the city and has retained this position throughout the centuries.
Today, the Via dei Fori Imperiali runs parallel to the Roman Forum, which connects the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano monument.
The Roman Forum is open from 9 AM - 5:30 PM from September to March, and from 9 AM - 7:13 PM from April to August - for exact dates, refer to the Parco Colosseo website here.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend visiting the Roman Forum in bad weather (even though you can if you really want to) - there is very little shelter from the rain, and when the original ancient Roman paving gets wet, it gets very slippy!
If you are visiting the Roman Forum in Rome in the summer, be sure to wear a sun hat and bring plenty of sunscreen - its position in a valley between two hills, with ancient stonework reflecting the sun makes it a real heat trap!
I’d also recommend bringing plenty of water with you.
There are clean drinking water fountains dotted around the site as well as a small number of vending machines. As of March 2022, there is also a brand new cafe by the exit onto the Via Fori dei Imperiali.
The Roman Forum is magnificent regardless of the time of day, but my personal favorite time to be there is during the late afternoon in the spring or autumn as the sun sets - the colors on the ancient monuments is truly spectacular, and makes for memorable photos!
The Roman Forum in Rome has two entrances, the first and most direct is at the Arch of Titus on the Via Sacra, accessed from the Colosseum Piazza (perfect if you are planning to visit the Colosseum before or after the Roman Forum).
The second is on Via di San Gregorio, which is also an entrance to the Palatine Hill.
You can exit the Roman Forum at Via di San Gregorio and the Arch of Titus, but also on to the Via dei Fori Imperiali - you cannot currently enter here.
Getting to the Roman Forum in Rome is incredibly easy:
Throughout the Roman Forum you'll find walkways and ramps that make navigating the ancient ruins more accessible.
Some areas of the Roman Forum in Rome are not accessible except by foot, but generally it is possible for those with mobility challenges to visit the main areas and see the majority of the key monuments.
Kind of, yes!
If you're visiting Rome on a budget, or are limited for time, you can see a lot of the Roman Forum by walking along the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
As you walk along, you'll find information boards detailing the sites and monuments, as well as dedicated viewing platforms.
Technically you are paying for these entrances in the cost of the pass, but if you use it on the more expensive sites, you can save a good amount of money.
Another option is to buy a ticket for the sightseeing bus, which is allowed to drive along the Via dei Fori Imperali, and if you grab a seat on the upper level, you'll get a great view of the Roman Forum!
There are no end of options when it comes to tickets and tours of the Roman Forum in Rome, so which one is right for you?
No matter which option you choose, you must purchase your ticket online prior to your visit - it is not possible to purchase at the site entrances.
You can buy a standard ticket to the Parco Colosseo Archaeological Area that covers access to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum for 24 hours (from the point you activate your ticket by entering one of the sites) for just €18 (including the 2€ online booking fee).
Book online here via the official website and don't forget discounts and concessions are available under specific circumstances - be sure to check this before booking!
Another option for standard visits is to buy the Roma Pass, the official tourist ticket and visit pack from the City of Rome. These can be purchased in tobacco shops and other stores/kiosks throughout Rome but I’d recommend purchasing online here as often vendors don’t have them in stock.
You can also purchase a 'full experience' ticket online here, which grants access to additional monuments including the S.U.P.E.R sites and Curia Iulia for 22€ per person + the 2€ booking fee.
Note that the opening days and times of these sites changes regularly so be sure to check the information here before your visit.
By buying your tickets direct, you can explore the Roman Forum in Rome at your own pace, but visiting such a huge site can sometimes be overwhelming and it's easy to lose track of time.
I highly recommend considering booking a guided tour of the Roman Forum - with an expert tour guide you’ll get a lot more information than is available on site, and as an added bonus, lots of tours also include a guided visit to the Colosseum and/or the Palatine Hill.
There's a huge range of tours out there, get started with these experiences from our partners at Get Your Guide.
There is so much history packed into this relatively small area that you could easily spend an entire day here and not see everything.
If you are exploring the Roman Forum at your own pace, there are some absolute must-sees that, in my opinion, you cannot miss.
I’ve listed the following recommendations in location order, so you can visit them in sequence if you are starting your visit from the Via Sacra entrance:
This arch was built by emperor Domitian in 81 CE in honor of his (recently deceased) brother, emperor Titus, and to celebrate Rome’s campaign to quash some serious rebellions in Judaea.
The spoils of these successful campaigns also went towards the costs of constructing the Colosseum.
The Arch of Titus' position at one of the main entrances to the Roman Forum in Rome was done to underline the power of the emperor and Rome to everyone passing through it.
The arch was restored to what we see now in 1821 under the direction of Pope Pius VII.
This was Ancient Rome’s largest temple, jointly dedicated to Venus and the goddess Roma - the deified version of the city of Rome.
The Temple of Venus and Roma had a commanding presence overlooking the Colosseum - and still does!
I think standing at this temple and looking towards the Colosseum offers one of the best views of everybody’s favorite ancient arena!
This imposing building was constructed during the period when Rome’s prominence was declining, and was no longer the capital of the Roman Empire, but that doesn’t take away from its sheer impressive presence - in fact, it is the largest building in the Roman Forum.
Originally a law court and official meeting place, the architectural format of this and other ancient Roman basilicas was adopted in the construction of Christian churches and cathedrals, and is where we get the modern meaning of the word ‘basilica’ from.
The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is one of the most iconic in the Roman Forum.
It has stood the test of time better than a lot of its neighbors, because a church was constructed inside the ruins - the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda.
When looking up at the ancient Roman facade, note the diagonal grooves in the columns - these date from hundreds of years later, when ropes soaked in vinegar were lassoed around the columns and pulled back and forth in an attempt to cut through the stone.
The theory is that people wanted to pull down the temple columns and reuse the ancient materials for new construction, so we're lucky they were unsuccessful!
This structure was the home of the Vestal Virgins - the priestesses of the goddess Vesta, who practiced in the adjoining Temple of Vesta.
The women who lived here were charged with maintaining the sacred fire of Ancient Rome and was one of the most, if not the most, revered cults in the ancient city.
More a palace than a house, you can visit the remnants of the ground floor, including the central pool, now surrounded with beautiful statues of the Vestals.
Located right in the middle of the Forum, this tiny little shack and the ruins behind are all that remains of the temple built on the site of Julius Caesar’s cremation following his assassination.
Take a look inside the shack and you’ll still likely see coins and flowers placed by visitors and locals alike on the remnants of the temple altar.
These are left here out of respect for Caesar more than 2000 years after his death - something that I personally do on any visit to the Roman Forum in Rome.
This building was at the epicenter of the ancient Roman political scene - like a modern day senate, congress or parliament, it was here that all lawmakers and representatives of the people gathered to debate and decide policy.
Having been recently restored, you can sometimes visit inside the Curia building (if you have the Full Experience ticket), but the outside is also very impressive.
This structure is probably the most recognized in the whole Roman Forum in Rome - if you search ‘Roman Forum’ online, there’s a strong chance you’ll see the Temple of Saturn.
It's particularly notable for anyone passionate about history, as it features one of the most iconic surviving examples of the famous 'Senatus Populusque Romanus' (abbreviated to SPQR), meaning the 'The Senate and People of Rome', which is now the official tagline for the city of Rome.
This arch, like its counterpart the Arch of Titus at the opposite end of the Roman Forum, was built by an emperor to demonstrate their power to the people of Rome following successful military campaigns (this time against the Parthians).
Dedicated in 203 CE by Septimius Severus, the arch has been recently restored and is a worthwhile last stop in the Roman Forum before venturing on to my final recommendation...
While technically not in the Roman Forum, I would recommend making the trip up the hill to the Palatine terrace, found near the Farnese Gardens (Orti Farnesiani) for the view of the Forum below, and Rome beyond.
For me this might be one of the best views in Rome - you can see so much history from this single spot, and take in everything below that you have visited!
Being located in the historic center of Rome, there's no shortage of great places to eat and drink near the Roman Forum.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to cafes, bars and restaurants - here are some of my top recommendations:
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