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Old December 10th, 2009, 01:18 AM   #1
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Intact Roman Interior Spaces

Curia Julia

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Curia Julia, (Latin: Curia Iulia) is the third named curia, or senate house in the ancient city of Rome, located near the western coastline of the Italian peninsula. It was built in 44 BC when Julius Caesar replaced Faustus Cornelius Sulla's reconstructed Curia Cornelia, which, itself had replaced the Curia Hostilia. Caesar did this in order to redesign both spaces within the Comitium and Forum Romanum. The alterations within the Comitium reduced the prominence of the senate and cleared the original space. The work, however, was interrupted by his assassination at the Theatre of Pompey where the senate had been meeting temporarily while the work was completed. The project was eventually finished by Caesar's successor Augustus in 29 BC.

The Curia Julia is one of only a handful of Roman structures to survive to the modern day intact, due to its conversion into the Church of S. Adriano in the seventh century AD.

Santa Sabina

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The Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine (Latin: Basilica Sanctae Sabinae, Italian: Basilica di Santa Sabina all'Aventino) is a titular minor basilica and mother church of the Roman Catholic Dominican order in Rome, Italy. Santa Sabina lies high on the Aventine Hill, riverside, close to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta.

Santa Sabina is an early basilica (5th century), with a classical rectangular plan and columns. The decorations have been restored to their original modesty, mostly white. Together with the light pouring in from the windows, this makes the Santa Sabina an airy and roomy place. Other basilicas, such as Santa Maria Maggiore, are often heavily and gaudily decorated. Because of its simplicity, the Santa Sabina represents the crossover from a roofed Roman forum to the churches of Christendom. Its Cardinal Priest is Jozef Cardinal Tomko. It is the station church for Ash Wednesday.

Aula Palatina

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The Basilica of Constantine or Aula Palatina at Trier is a Roman palace basilica, that was built by emperor Constantine in the beginning of the 4th century AD.

The Aula Palatina was built around 310 AD as a part of the palace complex. Originally it was not a free standing building but had other smaller buildings attached to it, such as a forehall, an entrance vestibule and some service buildings. The Aula Palatina had a floor and wall heating system (hypocaust).


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The Pantheon (pronounced /pæn'?i?.?n/ or /'pæn?i.?n/, Latin: Pantheon, from Greek: π???ε??, meaning "Every god") is a building in Rome, built by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD. A near-contemporary writer, Cassius Dio, speculates that the name comes from the statues of many gods placed around the building, or from the resemblance of the dome to the heavens. Since the French Revolution, when the church of Sainte-Geneviève, Paris, was deconsecrated and turned into a secular monument, the Panthéon, the generic term pantheon may be applied to any building in which illustrious dead are honoured or buried.

The building is circular with a portico of three ranks of huge granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment opening into the rotunda, under a coffered, concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft). A rectangular structure links the portico with the rotunda. It is one of the best preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as "Santa Maria Rotonda."

Santa Costanza

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Santa Costanza is a church in Rome, built under Emperor Constantine I and place of burial (mausoleum) of his daughters Constantina and Helena. Later, Constantina was venerated as saint, with the Italian name of Costanza, and the church was dedicated to her.

The church was built under Constantine, probably by Constantinia, next to the cemetery of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, where Saint Agnes, who allegedly had healed Constantina, was buried. After their deaths, Constantine's daughters Constantina and Helena were buried here.

Since Consantina was venerated as saint, the mausoleum was consecrated as a church in 1254 by Pope Alexander IV.

After the church was restored in 1620 by Cardinal Fabrizio Veralli, Constantina's magnificent porphyry sarcophagus was moved to the Vatican Museums.

The Church was originally a mausoleum.

Santo Stefano Rotondo

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The Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round on the Celian Hill (Italian: Basilica di Santo Stefano al Monte Celio, Latin: Basilica S. Stephani in Coelio Monte) is an ancient basilica in Rome, Italy. Commonly named Santo Stefano Rotondo, the church is the National church in Rome of Hungary dedicated to Saint Stephen and Saint Stephen of Hungary. The minor basilica is also the rectory church of the Pontifical Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum.

The edifice was consecrated by Pope Simplicius between 468 and 483. It was dedicated to protomartyr Saint Stephen, whose body had been discovered a few decades before in the Holy Land, and brought into Rome. The church was the first in Rome to have a circular plan, inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Santo Stefano was probably financed by the wealthy Valerius family, whose estates covered large parts of the Caelian Hill. Their villa stood nearby, on the site of the present-day Hospital of San Giovanni - Addolorata. St Melanie, a member of the family, was a frequent pilgrim to Jerusalem and died there, so the family had connections to the Holy Land.

Originally the church had three concentrical ambulatories flanked by 22 Ionic columns, which surround the central circular space surmounted by a tambour (22 m high and 22 m wide). There were 22 windows in the tambour but most of them were walled up in the 15th century restoration. The outermost corridor was later demolished.

Rotunda of Galerius

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The Rotunda of Galerius is 125m northeast of the Arch of Galerius at 40°37'59.77"N, 22°57'9.77"E. It is now the Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Georgios, better known as the Church of the Rotunda (or simply The Rotunda). The cylindrical structure was built in 306 on the orders of the tetrarch Galerius, who was thought to have intended it to be his mausoleum. It was more likely intended as a temple; it is not known to what god it would have been dedicated.

The Rotunda has a diameter of 24.5 m. Its walls are more than 6 m thick, which is one reason why it has withstood Thessaloniki's earthquakes. The walls are interrupted by eight rectangular bays, with the south bay forming the entrance. A flat brick dome, 30 m high at the peak, crowns the cylindrical structure. In its original design, the dome of the Rotunda had an oculus like the Pantheon in Rome.

San Giovanni in Fonte

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The domed octagonal Lateran Baptistery stands somewhat apart from the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome, to which it has become joined by later construction. This baptistery was founded by Pope Sixtus III in 440, perhaps on an earlier structure, for a legend grew up that Constantine the Great had been baptized there and enriched the structure. (According to historians however, he was baptised in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, by a possibly Arian bishop.[citation needed]) This baptistry was for many generations the only baptistery in Rome, and its octagonal structure, centered upon the large octagonal basin for full immersions provided a model for others throughout Italy, and even an iconic motif of illuminated manuscripts, "The fountain of Life".

Around the central area, where is the basin of the font, an octagon is formed by eight porphyry columns, with marble Corinthian capitals and entablature of classical form. On the ceiling of the Baptistry is the story of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312). An ambulatory surrounds the font and outer walls form a larger octagon. Attached to one side, towards the Lateran basilica, is a fine porch with two porphyry columns and richly carved capitals, bases and entablatures.

Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri

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The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs (Latin: Beatissimae Virgini et omnium Angelorum et Martyrum, Italian: Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri) is a titular basilica church in Rome, built inside the frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian. The Cardinal priest of the Titulus S. Mariae Angelorum in Thermis is William Henry Cardinal Keeler.

The basilica is dedicated to the Christian martyrs, known and unknown. It was also a personal monument of Pope Pius IV, whose tomb is in the apsidal tribune that culminates the series of spaces.

The thermae of Diocletian dominated the Quirinal Hill with their ruined mass and had successfully resisted Christianization. Michelangelo Buonarroti worked from 1563 to 1566 to adapt a section of the remaining structure of the baths to enclose a church. Some later construction directed by Luigi Vanvitelli in 1749 only superficially distracts from the grand and harmonious Michelangelesque volumes. At Santa Maria degli Angeli, Michelangelo achieved an unexampled sequence of shaped architectural spaces with few precedents or followers. There is no true facade (illustration); the simple entrance is set within one of the coved apses of a main space of the thermae. The plan is developed from a Greek cross, with a transept so dominant, with its cubical chapels at each end, that the effect is of a transverse nave.

The church of San Bernardo alle Terme recycled one of only two circular towers in the rectangular boundary of the baths, flanking its southwestern wall. Between these two towers one large exedra used to exist as part of the same wall, today only its outline may be appreciated in the layout of Piazza della Repubblica in the city of Rome.

The Baths of Diocletian (Thermae Diocletiani) in Rome were the grandest of the public baths, or thermae built by successive emperors. Diocletian's Baths, dedicated in 306, were the largest and most sumptuous of the imperial baths and remained in use until the aqueducts that fed them were cut by the Goths in 537. Similar in size and plan to those of Caracalla and oriented to the southwest so that solar energy heated the caldarium without affecting the frigidarium, they are well preserved because various parts later were converted to ecclesiastical or other use, including:

* Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (in the tepidarium), whose three soaring transept vaults provide one of the few glimpses of the original splendor of Roman building
* the church of San Bernardo alle Terme (in one of the two circular rooms)
* in the main hall, part of the Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum)
* the 'octagonal aula', also now part of the National Roman Museum.

Other remains of the baths are visible several streets away.


Last edited by OakRidge; December 10th, 2009 at 08:52 AM.
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Old December 10th, 2009, 01:57 AM   #2
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Not as intact but still spectacular.

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

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The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine (sometimes known as the Basilica Nova 'new basilica' or Basilica Maxentius) was the largest building in the Roman Forum.

Construction began on the northern side of the forum under the emperor Maxentius in 308, and was completed in 312 by Constantine I after his defeat of Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

The building consisted of a central nave covered by three groin vaults suspended 39 meters above the floor on four large piers, ending in an apse at the western end containing a colossal statue of Constantine (remnants of which are now in a courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini). The lateral forces of the groin vaults were held by flanking aisles measuring 23 by 17 metres (75 x 56 feet). The aisles were spanned by three semi-circular barrel vaults perpendicular to the nave, and narrow arcades ran parallel to the nave beneath the barrel vaults. The nave itself measured 25 metres by 80 metres (83 x 265 feet) creating a 4000 square meter floor. Like the great imperial baths, the basilica made use of vast interior space with its emotional effect.

Running the length of the eastern face of the building was a projecting arcade. On the south face was a projecting (prostyle) porch with four columns (tetrastyle).

All that remains of the basilica is the north aisle with its three concrete barrel vaults. The ceilings of the barrel vaults show advanced weight-saving structural skill with octagonal ceiling coffers.

In modern usage, a basilica has come to be defined as a place of worship; during ancient Rome, it was a combination of a court-house, council chamber and meeting hall. There were, however, numerous statues of the gods displayed in niches set into the walls.

The color of the building before it was destroyed was white.

The Basilica Maxentius is a marvel of Roman engineering work. At the time of construction, it was the largest structure to be built and thus is a unique building taking both aspects from Roman baths as well as typical Roman basilicas. At that time, it used the most advanced engineering techniques known including innovations taken from the Markets of Trajan and the Baths of Diocletian.

Similar to many basilicas at the time such as the Basilica Ulpia, the Basilica Maxentius featured a huge open space in the central nave, but unlike other basilicas instead of having columns support the ceiling the entire building was built using arches, a much more common appearance in Roman baths than basilicas. Another difference from traditional basilicas is the roof of the structure. While traditional basilicas were built with a flat roof, the Basilica Maxentius was built with a folded roof, decreasing the overall weight of the structure and decreasing the horizontal forces exerted on the outer arches.

This topic also highlights my love of Roman masonry. The brick and concrete work is just beautiful in its execution.
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Old December 13th, 2009, 09:04 PM   #3
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Old December 17th, 2009, 07:36 AM   #4
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Excellent thread! Very interesting subject and great posts. Many thanks! Other potential somewhat intact interiors might include the temples of Portunus and Hercules Victor near forum boarium. If only someone would have some pictures inside them.


Last edited by laurentius; December 17th, 2009 at 07:44 AM.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 06:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by laurentius View Post
Excellent thread! Very interesting subject and great posts. Many thanks! Other potential somewhat intact interiors might include the temples of Portunus and Hercules Victor near forum boarium. If only someone would have some pictures inside them.

You have inspired me to add more to this thread. I seemed to have forgotten the smaller Roman temples that have survived.

Temple of Portunus

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The Temple of Portunus (Italian: Tempio di Portuno) is an ancient building in Rome, Italy, the main temple dedicated to the god Portunus in the city. It is in the Ionic order and is still more familiar by its erroneous designation, the Temple of Fortuna Virilis ("manly fortune") given it by antiquaries. Located in the ancient Forum Boarium by the Tiber, during Antiquity the site overlooked the Port Tiberinus at a sharp bend in the river; from here, Portunus watched over cattle-barges as they entered the city from Ostia.
Rear view.

The temple was built c. 75 BCE and restored in the first century BC. The rectangular building consists of a tetrastyle portico and cella, raised on high podium reached by a flight of steps, which it retains. Like the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, it has a pronaos portico of four Ionic columns across and two columns deep. The columns of the portico are free-standing, while the five columns on the long sides and the four columns at the rear are engaged along the walls of the cella. This form is sometimes called pseudoperipteral, as distinct from a true peripteral temple like the Parthenon entirely surrounded by free-standing columns. It is built of tuff and travertine with a stucco surface.

The temple owes its state of preservation from its being converted to use as a church in 872 and rededicated to Santa Maria Egyziaca (Saint Mary of Egypt). Its Ionic order has been much admired, drawn and engraved and copied since the 16th century (see illustration, right). The original coating of stucco over its tuff and travertine construction has been lost.

Maison Carrée

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The Maison Carrée is an ancient building in Nîmes, southern France; it is one of the best preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire.

It was built c. 16 BC, and reconstructed in the following years, by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who was also the original patron of the Pantheon in Rome, and was dedicated or rededicated c. 2-4/5 AD to his two sons, Gaius Julius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, adopted heirs of Augustus who both died young. The inscription dedicating the temple to Gaius and Lucius was removed in medieval times. However, a local scholar, Jean-François Séguier, was able to reconstruct the inscription in 1758 from the order and number of the holes in the portico's facade, to which the bronze letters had been affixed by projecting tines. According to Séguier's reconstruction, the text of the dedication read (in translation): "To Gaius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul; to Lucius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul designate; to the princes of youth."

The temple owes its preservation to the fact that it was rededicated as a Christian church in the fourth century, saving it from the widespread destruction of temples that followed the adoption of Christianity as Rome's official state religion. It subsequently became a meeting hall for the city's consuls, a canon's house, a stable for government-owned horses during the French Revolution and a storehouse for the city archives. It became a museum after 1823. Its French name derives from the archaic term carré long, literally meaning a "long square", or rectangle - a reference to the building's shape.

Temple of Augustus (Pula)

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The Temple of Augustus (Croatian: Augustov hram) is a well-preserved Roman temple in the city of Pula, Croatia (known in Roman times as Pola). Dedicated to the first Roman emperor, Augustus, it was probably built during the emperor's lifetime at some point between 2 BC and his death in AD 14. It was built on a podium with a tetrastyle prostyle porch of Corinthian columns and measures about 8 m (26 ft) by 17.3 m (57 ft). The richly decorated frieze is similar to that of a somewhat larger and older temple, the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France.

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Old February 27th, 2011, 04:47 AM   #6
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Christian Pyramid tomb

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Bara (Arabic: بارة‎) also called Al-Bara is one of the former "Dead Cities" in northwestern Syria. It is located in the Jebel Riha, approx. 65 km north from Hama and approx. 80 km southwest from Aleppo.

The settlement was established in the fourth century at an important trade route between Antioch and Apamea. Due to good location and excellent conditions to produce wine and olive oil it flourished in the 5th and 6th centuries. When Muslims conquered the region and trading routes were disrupted and other Dead Cities were abandoned, Bara remained inhabited, most inhabitants remained Christians and the town even became a seat of a bishopric subordinate of Antioch.

In 1098 it was conquered by crusaders (from here they later set off to the infamous cannibalistic massacre of Ma`arat al-Numan) led by Raymond de Saint-Gilles. In 1123 the town was reconquered by Muslims who built a small fortress. Later in the 12th century, after a severe earthquake, the town was abandoned.

Later, in the beginning of the 20th century, a modern village of the same name arose near the site of the ancient town and till today it has grown to a size of a small town.

Ruins are the most extensive of all Dead Cities and are scattered among fields, olive groves and orchards. Among many others one can distinguish remains of at least 5 churches, 3 monasteries, several villas, two pyramidal tombs and one underground tomb.

Basilica of San Simpliciano

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The Basilica of San Simpliciano is a church in the centre of Milan, northern Italy.


The site of the present church was occupied in the 3rd century AD by a Pagan cemetery. Here St. Ambrose began the construction of the Basilica Virginum ("Basilica of the Virgins"), which was finished by his successor Simplicianus Soresini, who was buried here. A brick with the mark of the Lombard King Agilulf shows that repairs were made between the years 590-615 AD.

In the ninth century the Cluniac Benedictines took possession of the church. In 1176 the church became famous when, according to the legend, the bodies of the martyrs housed here flew as doves to the field of Legnano, landing on the City's Carroccio, (a ceremonial war waggon) as a sign of the imminent victory against Frederick Barbarossa's army.

The building was modified between the 11th and the 13th centuries, giving it the present Romanesque appearance. In 1517 it was acquired by the Benedictines of Montecassino, who remained here until 1798, when the convent was secularized and for a time turned into barracks. In the 16th century the Spanish governor Ferrante Gonzaga had the bell tower lowered by 25 meters. The dome and the side wings were also modified in 1582. Other interventions were carried out in the 19th century, with poor results, while the façade was reworked in 1870. In 1927 glass-windows portraying episodes of the battle of Legnano were added.

Original 4th century appearance of which much remains:

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Qalb Loze

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The church of Qalb Loze (or Qalbe Loze, Qalb Lozeh) is located roughly 50 km due west of Aleppo, in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border.

Residing in a small Druze village, the church dates back to the mid 5th Century AD and is one of the best-preserved churches of this period in the region. Strikingly similar in architectural style and craftsmanship to other Syrian churches such as Turmanin, El Anderin, Ruweha, and Kerratin, they may have been built by the same workshops or guilds. Gertrude Bell, the intrepid Middle Eastern diplomat, explorer and archaeologist, described this church in her book about her travels in Syria as "...the beginning of a new chapter in the architecture of the world. The fine and simple beauty of Romanesque was born in North Syria."

There are several intact examples of Roman porte(gates) that I find quite intriguing. Many of these remain largely unchanged from their original construction due to their excellent design.

Porta Asinaria

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The Porta Asinaria is a gate in the Aurelian Walls of Rome. Dominated by two protruding tower blocks and associated guard rooms, it was built between 270 and 273, at the same time as the Wall itself. It is through this gate that East Roman troops under General Belisarius entered the city in 536, reclaiming the city for the Byzantine Empire from the Ostrogoths.

Porta San Sebastiano

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Porta San Sebastiano is the modern name for the ancient Porta Appia, a gate in the Aurelian Wall of Rome, through which the Via Appia, now the Via di Porta San Sebastiano at that location, left the city in a southeasterly direction. It was refortified at the end of the 4th Century A.D. and was again renovated in the sixth century by Belisarius and Narses. The gate, a brick structure with turrets, still stands and has been restored to good condition. Modern traffic flows under it. Inside and upstairs is a museum dedicated to the construction of the walls and their recent restoration.

The gate is next to the Arch of Drusus.

Porta San Paolo

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The Porta San Paolo is one of the southern gates in the 3rd-century Aurelian Walls of Rome, central Italy. The Ostiense Museum is housed within in the gatehouse. Just to the west is the Pyramid of Cestius, an Egyptian-style pyramid, and beyond that is the Protestant Cemetery.


The original name of the gate was Porta Ostiensis because it was located of the beginning of via Ostiense, the road that connected Rome and Ostia where functioned as its main gate. Via Ostiense was an important arterial road as evidenced by the fact that upon entering the gate of the same name, the road split, with one direction leading to the famous Roman Emporium, the great market of Rome.

The gatehouse is flanked by two cylindrical towers, and has two entrances, which had been covered by a second, single-opening gate, built in front of the first by Belisarius (530s–540s).

The structure is due to Maxentius, in the 4th century, but the two towers were heightened by Honorius. Its original - Latin - name was Porta Ostiensis, since it opened on the way to Ostia. Later, it was renamed to the Italian Porta San Paolo, because it was the exit of Rome that led to the St. Paul basilica outside the walls.

In 549, the Rome was under siege; the Ostrogoths of Totila entered through this gate, because of the treason of the Isaurian garrison. On 10 September 1943, two days after the armistice between the Allies and Italy had been agreed, Italian military and civil forces tried to block German seizure of the city, with 570 casualties.

Porta Nigra

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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is a large Roman city gate in Trier, Germany. It is today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and has been designated a World Heritage Site.

The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened color of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.


The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle River. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

As you can see this temple was reconstructed in modern times after an earthquake knocked it over centuries ago. However, most of the material remained onsite and the temple was put back together with what remained and some new pieces.

Garni Temple

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Garni (Armenian: Գառնի) is a temple complex located in the Kotayk Province of Armenia, situated approximately 32 km southeast from Yerevan.

The peristyle temple is situated at the edge of the existing cliff. It was excavated in 1909-1910 but the full publication of its architecture appeared only in 1933. It has been surmised that it was constructed in the 1st century AD by the King Tiridates I of Armenia, probably funded with money the king received from emperor Nero during his visit to Rome. The actual building is a peripteros temple resting on an elevated podium and was most likely dedicated to the god Mithras. The entablature is supported by 24 Ionic columns resting on Attic bases. Unlike other Greco-Roman temples, it is made of basalt. According to a different interpretation of the extant literary testimonia and the evidence provided by coinage, the erection of the temple started at AD 115. The pretext for its construction would be the declaration of Armenia as a Roman province and the temple would have housed the imperial effigy of Trajan. In recent years another theory has been put forward. It has been suggested that the building must actually be identified as the tomb of an Armeno-Roman ruler, probably Sohaemus. If that is the case, its construction would be dated in AD 175. The temple was eventually sacked in 1386 by Timur Lenk. In 1679 it was destroyed by an earthquake. Most of the original architectural members and building blocks remained at the site until the 20th century, allowing the building to be reconstructed between 1969 and 1975.

Harbaqa Dam

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The Harbaqa Dam was a Roman gravity dam in the Syrian desert between Damascus and Palmyra, dating to the 2nd century AD. The dam was built of a concrete core faced on both air and water face with ashlar. The reservoir served for irrigation of nearby fields which supplied Palmyra.

Roman Dam/Bridge

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Correspondence between another NAG member, Mike Hodgson, and the local Bourgemestre (mayor) has now established that the Belgian dam near the town of Montignie-Saint-Christophe on the River Hantes still exists.Amazingly, despite the passage of 2,000 years and two world wars waging round it, it appears to be perfectly intact.NAG members believe the Belgian dam could be a major clue in piecing together a picture of what the Sunderland dam looked like. Now they are looking for some means of investigating the Belgian connection further, for it could provide vital clues to Sunderlands ancient past.

The Roman dam at Hantes in Belgium. The thirteen small arches each have recesses for lifting cataractae (vertical lifting water doors).


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Serjilla (also spelled Sarjella) gets Lonely Planet's vote as the "most eerie and evocative" of all the Dead Cities of northern Syria. It also has the greatest number of semi-complete buildings.

Serjilla has been deserted for almost 1500 years, but its stone buildings remain sharp-edged and the surrounding area is carpeted in short grass. In many ways it looks as if the villagers have only just left.

The center of the town has a two-storey tavern and a large bathhouse. The bathhouse is austere and stripped of its original mosaics, but the very existence of a Christian-era (built 473 AD) bathhouse is unique and interesting.

Next door is an andron (men's meeting place) and further east is a small ruined church. Spreading outward from the center are remains of private houses and villas, connected by narrow grassy lanes.

Serjilla is located in the Jebel Riha, 65 km north of Hama and 80 km southwest of Aleppo, close to the ruins of Al-Bara.

Kharab Al-Shams basilica

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Kharab Shams (also spelled Harab Shams or Kharab al-Shams) is one the many "Dead Cities" in northern Syria.

Located on the eastern slopes of the Jebel Sima'an not far from the Aleppo-Azaz road, Kharab Shams is notable for its particularly well preserved Byzantine basilica dating from the 5th century AD.

Roman theater at Bosra

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Bosra (also called Bozrah or Bostra; Arabic: Busra ash-Sham) is an ancient city 67 miles (108 km) south of Damascus. Once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, Bosra was an important stopover on the ancient caravan route to Mecca.

Bosra's most impressive feature is its superbly well-preserved Roman theater, complete with tall stage buildings. And there are also early Christian ruins and several old mosques to be found within its great walls.

The monumental remains of temples, theatres, triumphal arches, aqueducts, reservoirs, churches, mosques, and a 13th-century citadel stretch over the modern site.

The famous-for-a-reason Roman theater of Bosra was built in the 2nd century AD and could seat up to 15,000 people. The acoustics were carefully designed so that even those in the cheap seats could hear the actors. The stage was 45 meters wide and 8 meters deep.

In its heyday, the theater was faced with marble and draped in silk hangings, and during performances a fine mist of perfumed water was sprayed over the patrons to keep them comfortable in the desert heart. A large area in front of the stage may have been used for circuses or gladiatorial shows.

A fortress was built around the theater during the Omayyad and Abbasid periods, which accounts for its excellent state of preservation. Unlike many other Roman theaters, which were built into a hillside, Bosra's theater is freestanding.

Roman theater at Sabratha

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Sabratha's port was established, perhaps about 500 BC, as a Phoenician trading-post that served as a coastal outlet for the products of the African hinterland. Sabratha became part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanized and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The Emperor Septimus Severus was born nearby in Leptis Magna, and Sabratha reached its monumental peak during the rule of the Severans. The city was badly damaged by earthquakes during the 4th century, particularly the quake of AD 365. It was rebuilt on a more modest scale by Byzantine governors. Within a hundred years of the Arab conquest of the maghreb, trade had shifted to other ports and Sabratha dwindled to a village.

Besides its magnificent late 3rd century theatre that retains its three-storey architectural backdrop, Sabratha has temples dedicated to Liber Pater, Serapis, Isis, and Ian Flom. There is a Christian basilica of the time of Justinian and also remnants of some of the mosaic floors that enriched elite dwellings of Roman North Africa (for example, at the Villa Sileen, near Al-Khoms). However, these are most clearly preserved in the coloured patterns of the seaward (or Forum) baths, directly overlooking the shore, and in the black and white floors of the Theatre baths.

Roman theater at Orange

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The Théâtre antique d'Orange ("Ancient Theatre of Orange") is an ancient Roman theatre, in Orange, southern France, built early in the first century AD. It is owned by the municipality of Orange and is the home of the summer opera festival, the Chorégies d'Orange.

It is one of the best preserved of all the Roman theatres in the Roman colony of Arausio (or, more specifically, Colonia Julia Firma Secundanorum Arausio: "the Julian colony of Arausio established by the soldiers of the second legion") which was founded in 40 BC. Playing a major role in the life of the citizens, who spent a large part of their free time there, the theatre was seen by the Roman authorities not only as a means of spreading Roman culture to the colonies, but also as a way of distracting them from all political activities. Mime, pantomime, poetry readings and the "attelana" (a kind of farce rather like the commedia dell'arte) was the dominant form of entertainment, much of which lasted all day. For the common people, who were fond of spectacular effects, magnificent stage sets became very important, as was the use of stage machinery. The entertainment offered was open to all and free of charge.

As the Western Roman Empire declined during the fourth century, by which time Christianity had become the official religion, the theatre was closed by official edict in AD 391 since the Church opposed what it regarded as uncivilized spectacles. After that, the theatre was abandoned completely. It was sacked and pillaged by the "barbarians" and was used as a defensive post in the Middle Ages. During the sixteenth-century religious wars, it became a refuge for the townspeople.


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In ancient times, Metz, then known as Divodurum (Latin: Holy Village or Holy Fortress), was the capital of the Celtic Mediomatrici, and the name of this tribe, abbreviated latter to Mettis, formed the origin of the present name. At the beginning of the Christian Era, the site was already occupied by the Romans. Metz became one of the principal towns of Gallia, more populous than Lutetia (ancestor of present-day Paris), rich thanks to its wine exports and having one of the largest amphitheater of the country. An aqueduct of 23 km (14.29 mi) and 118 arches, extending from Gorze to Metz, was constructed in the 2nd century AD to supply the city with water, serving notably for public bathing. As a well-fortified town at the junction of several military roads, it soon grew to great importance. One of the last Roman strongholds to surrender to the Germanic tribes, it was captured by the Huns of Attila in 451, and finally passed, about the end of the fifth century, through peaceful negotiations into the hands of the Franks.

The Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains basilica is a former Roman gymnasium from the 4th century. The church is one of the cradles of the Gregorian chant.

Temple at Ruweiha

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Idlib (Arabic: ادلب‎) is a city in northwestern Syria, capital of the Idlib Governorate. The city of Aleppo, which is roughly 60 km. away, has an important economic presence in Idlib. The area around Idlib is very fertile, producing cotton, cereals, olives, figs, grapes, tomatoes, sesame seeds, wheat and almonds. It has an elevation of nearly 600 m. (2000 ft.) above sea level.

The Idlib area is very historically significant, containing many "dead cities" and man-made hills called tells. Idlib contains the ancient city of Ebla.


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Sbeitla (Arabic: سبيطلة‎) is a small town in north-central Tunisia. Nearby are the Roman ruins of Sufetula, containing the best preserved Forum temples in Tunisia. The ancient town, then held by the Byzantine Prefect Gregory was captured by Rashidun Caliphate's Governor of Egypt, Abdullah ibn Saad and his General Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr in 647AD and briefly served as capital of Ifriqiya.

The oldest traces of civilization in the zone are Punic megaliths and funereal stela.

The region was inhabited by nomadic tribes until the Legio III Augusta established a camp at Ammaedara. Through the surrender of the Berber leader Tacfarinas the region was pacified and populated under the Emperor Vespasian and his sons between 67 and 69.

Some inscriptions found in the city suggest that the settlement had success along the lines of others in North Africa during the 2nd century, reaching great prosperity through the olive industry, whose cultivation benefited from excellent climatic conditions in the region. The olive presses found in the ruins of the city further bolster this conclusion. The resulting prosperity made possible the construction of a splendid forum and other important buildings.

The city began to decline during the Late Empire, during which the city was surrounded and occupied by Vandals, a fact that is demonstrated by the appearance of temples dedicated to the barbarian gods.

The arrival of the Byzantines inaugurated a new period of splendor. The Prefect Gregory moved his capital there from Carthage in the seventh century, and declared independence from Byzantium. However, only a year later the city was sacked by the first Arab invaders, and Gregory was killed.

The Arabs abandoned the city and the region returned to a nomadic lifestyle.

"I had my back to the light and my face was turned towards
the things which it illumined, so that my eyes, by which I
saw the things which stood in the light, were themselves
in darkness." - Confessions (Book IV), Augustine of Hippo

"Laws are made for these reasons: that human wickedness
may be restrained through fear of their execution; that the
lives of innocent men may be safe among criminals; and
that the temptation to commit wrong may be restrained by
the fear of punishment." - The Visigothic Code (Book I, Title II, Part V)

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Old February 27th, 2011, 04:49 AM   #7
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Wonderful proclamation that should apply today.
"I had my back to the light and my face was turned towards
the things which it illumined, so that my eyes, by which I
saw the things which stood in the light, were themselves
in darkness." - Confessions (Book IV), Augustine of Hippo

"Laws are made for these reasons: that human wickedness
may be restrained through fear of their execution; that the
lives of innocent men may be safe among criminals; and
that the temptation to commit wrong may be restrained by
the fear of punishment." - The Visigothic Code (Book I, Title II, Part V)
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Old March 1st, 2011, 04:59 PM   #8
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Erede del capostipite CFI

Excommunicamus et anathematizamus ex parte Dei Omnipotentis [...] et singulos alios haereticos...

Quod omnes principes soli pape pedes deosculentur
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Old March 1st, 2011, 05:17 PM   #9
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Late Roman - early Byzantine

The Hagia Sophia Church (Bulgarian: църква „Света София“, tsarkva „Sveta Sofia“) is the second oldest church in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, dating to the 6th century CE. In the 14th century, the church gave its name to the city, previously known as Sredets (Средец).

The church was built on the site of several earlier churches and places of worship dating back to the days when it was the necropolis of the Roman town of Serdica. In the 2nd century CE, it was the location of a Roman theatre. Over the next few centuries, several other churches were constructed, only to be destroyed by invading forces such as the Goths and the Huns. The basic cross design of the present basilica, with its two east towers and one tower-cupola, is believed to be the fifth structure to be constructed on the site and was built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the middle of the 6th century (527-565 CE). It is thus a contemporary of the better-known Hagia Sophia church in Constantinople.
in 1915


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Old March 1st, 2011, 05:30 PM   #10
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The Church of St George (Bulgarian: Ротонда „Свети Георги“ Rotonda "Sveti Georgi") is an Early Christian red brick rotunda that is considered the oldest building in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It is situated behind the Sheraton Hotel, amid remains of the ancient town of Serdica.
Built by the Romans in the 4th century CE, it is mainly famous for the 12th-14th century frescoes inside the central dome. Three layers of frescoes have been discovered, the earliest dating back to the 10th century. Magnificent frescoes of 22 prophets over 2 metres tall crown the dome. Painted over during the Ottoman period, when the building was used as a mosque, these frescoes were only uncovered in the 20th century.
after WWII bombings



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Old May 24th, 2011, 07:57 PM   #11
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Hard to imagine which of our modern buildings (say post 1900) would be still standing come 2000 years later.
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Old July 26th, 2011, 01:08 AM   #12
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Old July 28th, 2011, 09:45 PM   #13
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 11:37 PM   #14
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Great thread!
quando si dorme si beve male (René Daumal)
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Old August 5th, 2011, 11:22 PM   #15
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How much of this interior is original versus how much has been added since the Renaissance? My understanding is that the Pantheon interior is mostly original and this seems very similar to that to me.

[QUOTE=OakRidge;48218263]Curia Julia

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Read my science fiction adventure Lightship Chronicles.com
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Old August 6th, 2011, 12:03 AM   #16
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Amazing thread!!!
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Old August 6th, 2011, 11:38 AM   #17
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Amazing thread.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 12:55 PM   #18
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Bath, England

Intact Roman baths/Spa in 'Bath' England.


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Old August 6th, 2011, 03:59 PM   #19
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Which parts are the original Roman parts?
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Old August 7th, 2011, 10:38 PM   #20
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Brilliant thread!
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