One of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe, Rome’s history continues over 28 centuries though the mythological founding date is not until 753 BCE by Romulus and Remus. Rome, named for Romulus, acted as the capital of the first kingdom established. The Romans established an oligarch republic in 509 after a period of monarchies, leading to internal conflict between those in power, the patricians, and plebeians (urban lower class). Even with inner discord, the state grew and established provinces throughout Europe and into Africa. Perhaps the most famous Roman leader, Julius Cesar became popular because of his conquest of Gaul. His newfound reputation allowed him to establish himself as dictator before his nephew had him murdered on the Ides of March 44BCE. The nephew, Octavian, became Emperor Augustus in 29 BCE and started the Roman Empire. His rule started the era of pax romana after centuries of conflict. The Roman Empire would exist without significant conflict for the next two centuries and art, religion, literature, and architecture flourished.
A period of war and violence followed the peace, 22 emperors came and went, often violently, and external dangers threatened the empire and depleted its resources. During this time, Christianity began to spread in the first century AD. Despite early persecution, Emperor Constantine, who moved the capital from Rome to Constantinople, was the first emperor to convert to Christianity. This laid the ground work for the Edict of Milan that declared religious tolerance for Christianity and eventually Christianity became the official religion. After Emperor Constantine’s death, the empire split into East and West. The Eastern Empire, known as Byzantium, remained for centuries while the Western fell shortly after the divide and split into its provinces.
Ancient Roman Architecture
From running water to paved roads, Roman engineering was ahead of its time and allowed an advanced infrastructure. Aqueducts, developed in 312 BCE, were able to transport water over long distances only using gravitational flow and allowed for a consistent water supply. Without these structures, the city of Rome would have had to limit its size as the nearby water sources were not palatable. An advanced system of roads allowed the Empire to remain connected despite its vast size. The inventions of concrete and cement allowed for a wider variety of strong standing structures to be built.
The Forum was the civic, religious, and commercial center of Rome. Public meetings, courts, gladiator fights, shops and markets all took place in this area. Today many ruins still remain and allow one a glimpse of life in Ancient Rome. The Forum went through many forms throughout its existence, leaving evidence of a variety of architectural forms. Greek architecture was a major influence, but Roman architects made it their own through modifications. Today, the remains show a glimpse into Ancient Roman life and beliefs.