Temple of Divus Romulus
The temple is located where the Via Sacra rises towards the Velia hill, between the Roman Forum square and Arch of Titus; was commissioned by the emperor Maxentius and dedicated to his son who died at a young age at the beginning of the 4th century. When in 309 AD the young Valerius Romolus died, his father Maxentius proclaimed him Divus (Divine) and wanted to dedicate a temple to his cult and had it built round according to the heroon style of the Greek heroes.
Maxentius was the last emperor to reside permanently in Rome and tried to restore Urbs to its ancient splendor both by building and by restoring many public buildings such as when for the cult of the dead son he transformed the vestibule of the Temple of Peace (75 AD), then abandoned for some time, into heroon.
The building was finished by Constantine who, after his victory over Massenzio at Ponte Milvio, erased the traces of his rival's work in Rome and, not wishing to destroy what he had already done, he replaced his name with a different use so, what was the Temple of the deified Romulus became a classroom where some urban magistrates carried out their assignments.
After the end of the western Roman empire, Amalasunta daughter of Theodoric, the king of the Ostrogoths, donated to Pope Felix IV (527) a hall of the Temple of Peace which became the church of the Saints. Cosmas and Damian and the small Temple of Romulus was transformed into its atrium.
During the Middle Ages the memory of its function was lost and was believed both the Temple of the Penates and that of Jupiter Stator, monuments of which there weren't indications of the exact point where they were and whose archaeological remains have been identified only recently.
Access to the temple is at the altitude it originally had and opens onto the Via Sacra showing the same facade it had then; today it appears elevated because during the excavations of the nineteenth century the research reached the heights of the archaic period by removing a pavement of the late empire mistaken for medieval.
Inside, now the vestibule of the Basilica of SS. Cosmas and Damian, you can see the original structure of the temple and some frescoes in two halls that put communication with the central part of the temple, now apse of the church, which is located at a lower level.
The Temple was built of brick and was completely covered with marble slabs that were removed in the Middle Ages; the central body has a cylindrical shape with a domed roof that has been partially remodeled and then crowned by a small lantern built in modern times.
The facade instead has a recessed hemicycle shape and has four niches currently walled up, where statues must have been found. The best preserved part is the portal, flanked by two columns of red porphyry, the marble of the emperors, with Corinthian capitals in white marble that support a richly decorated trabeation of re-use, as well as the frame, also finished with fine details. The splendid bronze door, between the porphyry columns, is the original one and not only it is one of the few remaining Roman doors and also still functioning.
The bronze main door is from the imperial age and with the bronze doors of the Curia Julia, now mounted in the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, they are the only Roman originals ones that have survived to this day.
The bronze portal of Divus Romolus Temple was richly decorated, inserted between two concave-shaped walls and other decorative elements that have now been lost, but what still arouses admiration is its still perfectly functioning lock ...
by M.L. ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (Ed 1.0 - 30/06/2019)