All of Rome lived in the Caelian Hill’s old houses

Case romane del Celio, sotto la Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Roma

The layers of Rome’s history intertwine and overlap in the “Case Romane del Celio” (Roman houses of the Caelian Hill) – twenty spaces from between the 2nd and late 4th century, found under the Basilica of Saints John and Paul.

You can find the upper-class Rome that lived in a “domus”, a type of aristocratic abode that became popular around the city at one point (with some 2,000 built by the 4th century). These homes were so luxurious that historian Olympiodorus of Thebes had reason to write, “Each one of Rome’s large houses had as many things inside it as a small town might have: a horse racing track, plazas, small temples and various baths. […] One house could be a city, and one city could include a thousand cities.”

You can find the lower-class Rome that lived in “insulae”, large buildings with many families living on different floors. There were approximately 45,000 of them by the 4th century, often right next to stores, workshops, warehouses and “tabernae”.

You can find the pagan Rome that worshipped ancient divinities like Proserpina, Bacchus and Ceres, portrayed (according to some experts) in the Nymphaeum of Proserpina, one of the most evocative spaces here.

Finally, you can find Christian Rome in the Oratory of the Savior – with 9th-century frescoes of episodes from Jesus’s life – and in the Basilica of Saints John and Paul, built at the end of the 4th century on the burial place of the two martyrs, killed by order of Emperor Julian the Apostate.

Descend into this amazing underground world to find all this and more.

Photos via: ©Claudio Frizzoni, ©dave tonkin, ©Stefano Costantini, ©Nathalie Boisard-Beudin

January 26, 2017

All of Rome lived in the Caelian Hill’s old houses

Clivo di Scauro next to piazza Santi Giovanni e Paolo
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