Rome, the capital city of Italy, is well known for its century-old history of civilisation. A glimpse of the bygone era dating back to the 8th century BC can be witnessed in the city’s ruins and ancient structures such as various temples, Colosseum, the Roman Forum and others. Listed amongst these are ruins of two visit-worthy ancient temples – The Temple of Apollo Palatinus and the Temple of Cybele, both of which had held a major significance in ancient times as a place of worship.
Exploring the Temple of Apollo Palatinus
If you are visiting the Palatine Hills, which is often referred to as the birthplace of the Roman Empire, you can go on an exploration of the Temple of Apollo Palatinus, located on the hill. The temple was the second temple in Rome after the Temple of Apollo Sosianus which was dedicated to the god Apollo of Roman mythology.
The original temple was built in the 3rd century BC in Etruscan style and was listed amongst the most important cultural and religious places in ancient Rome. Initially, it had a square floor plan and a front porch which was supported by four columns. In later years, the temple was renovated in Roman style and the floor plan was changed from square to rectangular. Even the front porch gave its way to a portico which surrounded the temple and was supported by eight giant columns.
While visiting the ruins of the temple, you will get an insight into the religious beliefs of the Romans and how the temple was used by them for their important ceremonies. It is recommended that you take the help of a guide who can narrate the history as well as the significance of the temple, making your exploration more enjoyable. If you prefer to explore on your own instead, you can go on an audio tour as well and go around the place, listening to an audio guide instead. To relish this ancient place completely, take time to explore the entire ruins and appreciate its architecture and artwork. Art lovers and painters will feel elated to see the ruins and would want to capture its beauty in their drawings.
As you stroll across the ruins, you will feel transported to the bygone eras while you will witness the magnificent Roman architecture and get a glimpse of the temple’s grandeur. Within the ruins, you will find the remains of the surrounding portico, whose columns were once made of yellow giallo antico marble and had fifty black marble statues of Danaids in their column shafts. You will also be able to witness the ruins of several statues and structures of eminent figures of ancient times.
Although in ruins, the interior of the Temple of Apollo Palatinus will still manage to captivate you with its decorated frescos and its roof, which was earlier covered in bronze tiles.
Once your exploration of the temple is complete, next it is time to visit another temple ruin nearby, the Temple of Cybele.
Visiting the Temple Of Cybele
Located in a nearby site, the Temple of Cybele was dedicated to the Magna Mater or The Great Mother, who was known in Rome as Cybele. It was built in 191 BCE on the high western slope of the Palatine and overlooked the Circus Maximus Valley. Facing the temple was the Temple of Ceres, located on the slopes of the Aventine.
The Temple of Cybele was Rome’s most important and first temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele. It is said that it had been built to house a form or image of the goddess incorporated on a meteoric stone which was placed on a pediment. The stone is said to have been brought from Greek Asia Minor to Rome in 204 BC. Placed beside the goddess Cybele were two other maternal figures, Demeter and Rhea, reclining on tympanons. Alongside were two lions eating from bowls.
The Temple of Cybele was in use till the late 4th century and was later destroyed by fire. The new temple dedicated to the goddess was opened for worship on 11 April 191 BC and became one of the main places of worship for the goddess. The first festival of the goddess, the first Megalesia festival, was held in the proscenium of the temple and was celebrated with games and plays.
Embark on a guided tour of the ruins of this temple to learn more about its significance to ancient Rome worshippers and also its history. Know how it was once built in the prostyle hexastyle belonging to the Corinthian order and was supported by a huge walled stucco-faced podium. Take a look at its ruins where stood the 33.18 metres deep temple with a 17.10 meter wide access. You will only be able to witness the remains of the base of the cella wall now, located under the shade of a cluster of Holm oaks. Observe the famous meteoric stone for which the temple was built. Explore the place on your own, by going on an audio tour and appreciate the grandeur of the place.
Those who will opt to take the tour of Palatine Hill will be able to discover both the Temple of Apollo Palatinus and the Temple of Cybele together, along with several other attractions of ancient Rome as well. Both the temple ruins will showcase to you the magnificence of Roman architecture and will give you a glimpse into the culture and religion of the ancient times.