Discover Rome

20 Sep

Domitian Terrace

In the space between the oriental extremity of the Forum of Trajan and the northern one of the Forum of Augustus there is a tall building on which was added in the second half of the XV century the elegant loggia of the Chevaliers of Malta which occupied the area in the XII century.

The researchers gave to the structure the name of “Domitian Terrace” for its building characteristics and the predominant brick stamps going back to the emperor’s times, found in its walling.

In fact, it contains inside several construction periods starting from the oldest, formed by an arcade building with arches on pillars in square pieces of travertine, of the late Republican age, identified with the home console of 14 AD, Sextus Pompey, and now occupied by the cult chapel of the Chevaliers of Malta, dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

In the second half of the first century BC, the Colossus room and the great northern apse of the north portico of the Forum of Augustus were placed against the building porch.

The next phase consists of a brick retaining wall perforated by several pentagonal nozzles, identifiable with compartments for lead pipes, with two large overlapping arcuate niches of which, from the outside, it is visible only the upper one of a semicircular shape. The lower niche, rectangular in plan, is invisible from the outside because it is hidden by the following structures and is equipped with a monumental staircase that characterizes it unequivocally as a public building.

This construction phase, just at the base of the several brick stamps found in the vestment, can be dated back to the age of Domitian and confirms the name of the entire monument, which was interpreted as a monumental terminal fountain of water of Marcia, that arrived here from the area of Termini and probably continued until the top of the Campidoglio.

The large building was certainly part of a Domitian development project of the entire area which was never completed because against its facade were placed the structures of the head of the eastern porch of the Forum of Trajan, whose chiseled footprints are still visible.

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