Curia Julia (Julian Senate House), Rome

Curia Julia (Julian Senate House), Rome

The Julian Senate House is an ancient senate house and was built in 44 BC during the reign of Julius Caesar. The construction of the Julian Senate House was part of Caesar's redesign of the Roman Forum, aimed at altering the spaces and reducing the prominence of the Senate.

Caesar's ambitious project was interrupted by his assassination at the Senate House of Pompey, where the Senate had been temporarily meeting. It was eventually completed by his successor, Augustus Caesar, in 29 BC. The Julian Senate House is among the few Roman structures that have survived relatively intact, although it underwent conversion into the basilica of Saint Hadrian at the Forum in the 7th century and subsequent restorations.

The exterior of the Julian Senate House features brick-faced concrete with large buttresses at each corner. The lower part of the front wall was adorned with marble slabs, while the upper part was covered in stucco imitating white marble blocks. The entrance is accessed via a single flight of steps leading to modern replicas of bronze doors, as the original doors were moved to the Basilica of St. John Lateran in 1660. Archaeologists discovered a coin within the doors, allowing them to date the repairs and addition of the doors to the reign of Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96). An Emperor Augustus denarius from 28 BC provides insight into the original appearance of the building, showing a veranda supported by columns on the front wall.

Inside the Julian Senate House, the hall is relatively austere, measuring 25.20 meters long and 17.61 meters wide. The walls were originally veneered in marble up to two-thirds of their height but have since been stripped. The interior houses two notable features: the Altar of Victory and the striking floor.

At the far end of the hall once stood the "Altar of Victory." This altar, commissioned by Augustus, featured a statue of Victoria, the personification of victory, standing on a globe and extending a wreath. It was placed in the Senate House to commemorate Rome's military successes, particularly Augustus's victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. However, the altar was removed in 384 AD as part of a broader rejection of pagan traditions following the rise of Christianity.

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Curia Julia (Julian Senate House) on Map

Sight Name: Curia Julia (Julian Senate House)
Sight Location: Rome, Italy (See walking tours in Rome)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

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