Why visit the Roman Forum

Roman Forum Self Guided Tour, Map and Attractions Guide

Roman Forum Tickets, Buildings, Hours, Directions and Historical Past

Why visit the Roman Forum

It is also known as Forum Romanum, its Latin name, or Foro Romano its Italian name. It is a rectangular shaped area that was the seat of the Roman Empire for centuries. If you have watched movies like Ben Hur, Gladiator, or Spartacus, each of those had major scenes that centered around the city of Rome, specifically the Roman Forum (Forum Romanum), Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill. Depicted in those movies were political, economic, religious and interpersonal relationships interspersed with triumphal marches that emulated life in the Forum. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and the history of the modern world started here, on this little patch of land that is 250mx170m and was originally a burial ground

Roman Form Buildings

Then Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) buildings have changed in both form and function over its 1,200 year history from 700BC to 500AD. The changes in the empire resulted in changes in the Roman Forum Buildings. I have laid out the changes in the empire below so that when you visit the roman forum, you are better able to understand the roman forum buildings; their history, their transition and their present day format.  The self guided tour can be accessed HERE

Roman Forum Buildings

Best Time to Visit the Roman Forum

Italy is the fifth most visited city with about 10 million visitors a year, approximately 4 million of those visit the colosseum (and presumable the roman forum since the tickets are combined).  The peak tourist season in Rome is from April to May and from August to October.  You want to plan your visit so that you are not waiting in queues for hours jostling with others to get a look at the attractions when you finally make it into the site

The forum is generally busy between 9;30 – 3 pm. The tour groups start at the colosseum around 10am and arrive at the roman forum around noon. You will find it the most crowded during those times. I would suggest you visit early when the Roman Forum opens or after 3pm.  Weekdays are less busy than weekends, try to avoid the Saturday and Sunday crowd. The Saturday and Sunday crowd peak from 9-5pm (as opposed to 9:30-3pm on weekdays). The afternoon sun is really hot, so if you decide to visit at that time, ensure you have a hat and sunscreen as there is no shade and it gets very hot and humid

Roman Forum Tickets

Tickets to the forum can be purchased onsite or online. It includes entrance to the colosseum, roman forum and palatine hill. Online tickets    cost a little more, even if purchased directly from the colosseum website, however you avoid the massive lineups. The online tickets have a time slot, so you should arrive about 30 min before your timeslot. The colosseum has a security lineup which cannot be avoided no matter what type of ticket you have. Everybody entering the colosseum has to go through the security check

Discounts are sometimes available for European Union Citizens under the age of 18 or students between 18 and 25 years old. Discounts are available for onsite ticket purchases only. They are not available for online purchases

Additional Ticket Information

  • Some attractions within these sites require additional entrance fees:
    • Palatine hill – Additional fees to enter 7 attractions including the House of Livia. To access these attractions you will need to purchase the SUPER ticket. It can be purchased online or onsite, it is in addition to the regular ticket
    • Colosseum – Additional fees for underground access, only available for guided tour. You cannot access the underground tunnels on individual ticket. You will need to book a time slot for the colosseum and arrive within 15 minutes of the time slot otherwise you will lose your entry rights
    • Roman Forum – Additional fees to enter the Mamertine Prison

Ticket purchase onsite (includes Colosseum and Palatine hill entrance). Purchase tickets at:

At the Colosseum – lineups are the longest at this ticket office; first you line to buy the ticket then you line up for entrance into the colosseum, maximum capicity is 3,000 visitors at a time
At the Roman Forum – lineups are a little shorter than the colosseum office. It is located at Via dei Fori Imperiali, and is the main entrance to the forum
At the Palatine Hill office – lineups there are the shortest of the three ticket offices. It is located on Via di San Gregorio, a couple of minutes down the road from the Colosseum

A new SUPER ticket has been introduced that gives you an additional 1 day access to the Palatine Hill and 7 attractions including: the cryptoporticus, Palatine museum, House of Livia tour (30 min), Domus Transitoria (30 min tour), Loggie Mattei, Santa Maria Antiqua and Temple of Romulus. You will need to book time slots of the tours to House of Livia and Domus Transitoria

There is an entrance to the roman forum at the Arch of Titus. It is the one closest to the colosseum and used by those entering the Forum after visiting the Colosseum. You cannot purchase your ticket here but you will have to show a ticket to enter

Roman Forum Ticket office

  • contact information
    • Book your visit (ticket desk)    +39 06 399 67 700
      Forum and Palatine   +39 06 699841

Skip the line tickets – Colosseum and Roman Forum

  • Entrance to the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill queues are normally not very long. For visiting the Colosseum,book your time slot online and arrive 30 min before you time.  Otherwise the Colosseum lineups can be long as you will need to first purchase a ticket, then come back at your designated time slot. There is a maximum number of tickets sold per day, if yu arrive late to purchase a ticket you may not get one for that day
  • Purchase the Archaeologia card – it gives you entrance to the areas plus many other sites. You can join the “skip the line” queues at all the entrances of attractions that are included with this card
  • Purchase the Roma card – It gives you free access to any of 1 or 2 museums or archaeological sites and reduced rates at others. Even with a Roma card, yu will still need to go online to get a timeslot to enter the colloseum, this process will cost you a little extra. You cannot enter the colosseum without a designated time slot. The Roma card allows you to skip the lines at all the eligible attractions
  • Book a tour, tours skip the lines (not security line)
  • During low tourist season, arrive at the colosseum ticket office about 15 min before opening, the lineup is minimum

Roman Forum Hours

The Roman Forum is opens daily at 8:30 am and closed 1 hour before sunset. It is closed on major holidays such as Christmas day. The roman forum does not have any places where you can purchase food, so bring a snack and bottled water

How to get to the Roman Forum

Italian Name: Foro Romano (entrance and ticket office)
Address:  Via della Salara Vecchia 5/6 Roma
Palatino Ticket office (entrance and ticket office)
Address:  Via di San Gregorio 30  Roma

To get to the Roman Forum

  • By metro/train/subway: Metro Line B, disembark at stop ‘Colosseo’
  • By bus: the following buses stop at there: Bus #’s:  75, 81, 673, 175, 204
  • By tram: tram #30

Why Visit the Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) – Historical Background

Video of brief history of the most powerful city in the world

The Beginning

Many of the documents of Rome were destroyed in the “Sack of Rome” in 410 AD, and so much of the story of the founding of Rome is based mainly on myth and legend. The city of Rome is said to have been founded in 753 BC by the twin sons of the God of War, Mars, who were Romulus and Remus. The twin sons were left in a basket in the Tiber River by the King of Alba Longa, and legend has it that they were rescued and raised by a she-wolf, until they were discovered by the shepherd Faustulus who then raised them. Later they exacted their revenge by killing the King who had left them to die

The First King of Rome, Romulus

Romulus and Remus are credited to have found the city of Rome on the Tiber river bank. In an argument over who would rule the city, Romulus killed Remus and named the city Rome after himself and becoming the first King of Rome. Romulus is said to be buried in the Roman Forum and his tomb is in front of the Curia; the site is referred to as Lapis Niger

From archaeological digs, it is believed that the first inhabitants of Rome settled on the seven hills around the Tiber River which later became the city of Rome. The settlers came from various parts of the region. They had no ties to the Northern Etruscans or the Southern Sabine civilization. At first they functioned as separate villages and the marsh valley below was used as a burial ground

Cloaca Maxima

Over time the settlements started to interact and trade with each other. Around the end of the 7th Century BC, the settlements built the first sewer system called the Cloaca Maxima (located in the Roman Forum at the Shrine of Venus Cloacina) which drained the marsh valley. The Cloaca Maxima is the first known sewer system and the first of many engineering feats the romans became known for. The cloaca maxima can be found in the roman forum and is continues to function today. It is an integral part of the roman sewage system

With the drainage of the valley, the valley’s function changed from a burial ground for the settlements to a meeting place for trade and commerce. Eventually the settlements along with the valley functioned as one city, the City of Rome. So the marsh on which the Roman Forum was built became the centerpiece of the Roman Empire. Of the original seven hill settlements, today five of the seven hills are sites of monuments. The remaining two hills are the Capitoline which is the site of Rome’s city hall and the Palatine hill which is an archaeological site

The Kingdom of Rome (from 753 BC to 509 BC)

Rome was ruled by 7 kings until 509 BC when the last King Lucius Superbus was expelled when his son Sextus was accused of raping a noblewoman Lucretia, daughter of the Prefect of Rome and wife of the Governor of Rome. She committed suicide and died in her father’s arms by self-inflicted knife wounds after letting him know what had happened. The event was witnessed and the Governor upon seeing his wife dead drew the dagger and proclaimed”

“By this blood—most pure before the outrage wrought by the king’s son—I swear, and you, O gods, I call to witness that I will drive hence Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, together with his cursed wife and his whole blood, with fire and sword and every means in my power, and I will not suffer them or anyone else to reign in Rome”

Those words heralded the end of the Roman Monarchy and the establishment of the Roman Republic. Historians view the rape, suicide and expulsion of the King as a historical legend and not a myth. It has also become a popular moral theme in european and art literature as the preceding event that dethroned a tyrannical king

The Roman Republic (509 BC to 27 BC)

In the Roman republic power lay in the hands of the elected senate, a representative democracy who met in the Curia in the Roman Forum, whose power over time grew from an advisory council to a major political force. Originally there were 100 Senators that eventually increased to 600. The senators had political and judicial powers including the right to bestow the title of Emperor. Eventually various elected legislative, judicial and other governing bodies were formed to “check” the power of the often bickering senate. The Roman Republic ruled with this legislative structure for several centuries and many democratic countries today use that structure of governance.

As Rome expanded its territories, infighting among the senators grew as they jostled to gain power. The ensuing civil war brought Julius Caesar to power in 46BC with the title of Dictator. He reduce the number of senators from 600 to 300. The senate plotted to assassinate Caesar among worries that the republic would return to the time of the Kingdom. They feared that their democracy would be compromised under the dictator Julius Caesar as he was consolidating power for all matters under his sole authority.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar

The assassination took place on the ides of march (Mid March) and the last knife that entered Caesar’s body was that of his trusted friend and advisor Marcus Brutus. Upon seeing Brutus plunge the knife, Caesar whispers “et tu Brute”. The last dying words of Caesar “et tu brute” are famous as they refer to human betrayal in today’s society. During Julius funeral ceremony, Mark Anthony made a speech at the Rostra in the Roman Forum turning the general public against the roman senator conspirators, this was the start of Imperial Rome

Imperial Rome, The Roman Empire (start 27 BC)

Enter Augustus (birth name Gaius Octavian), Julius Caesar’s nephew, who together with Caesar’s loyal general, Mark Anthony, defeated the senate conspirators. Mark Anthony married Octavia, Octavian’s sister and also became the first priest of Julius Caesar cult. The cult worshiped at the Temple of Julius Caesar in the Roman Forum. Mark Anthony later fell in love with Cleopatra in Egypt. When he sought a divorce from Octavia this caused personal and political upheaval. The result was a conflict between Augustus on one side and Mark Anthony and Cleopatra on the other. Augustus army defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra’s forces causing them to commit suicide. Octavian then established himself as Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor in 27BC and eventually settled on Palatine Hill in the Roman Forum (House of Augustus, Domus Augustus). This was the start of the Roman Empire which moved power from the senate (Republic Rome) to the Emperor (Imperial Rome / Roman Empire)

Under the Imperial Roman Emperors, Rome expanded its territories considerably. The empire stretched from Western Europe and the Atlantic Ocean to the Middle East and North Africa, bringing with it power, wealth and prestige. The Roman Forum is a visual representation of the roman republic and the Imperial Roman Empire

The Beginning of the end of the Roman Empire (Western half 476 AD, Eastern half 1453 AD)

Over time the empire expanded to the point that it could not protect all its territories. The resources, included troops, required to maintain such as vast empire proved too much for the Romans

In 395 AD, under Emperor Constantine three major events took place

  1. The first was that Constantine embraced Christianity,
  2. The second was that the vast empire was carved out into two halves,
    The capital was moved from Rome to the eastern half and renamed Constantinople (after Emperor Constantine). Today this city is called Istanbul. Rome was still considered the “eternal city”.

The two halves were the Latin speaking western half and the Greek speaking eastern half to allow for allocation of Roman resources such as troops to better manage the colossal empire. The two halves also had some autonomy in the management of their respective economies. The two halves were often at odds where the eastern half prospered and the western half struggled economically.

The growth of internal conflicts within the empire and the various cultures it ruled, caused incursions of foreign tribes. The depletion of Rome’s wealth led to its eventual collapse. The invasion on August 24, 410 AD by the Visigoth King Alaric during the time of Emperor Honorius, led to the “Sack of Rome”. During this three day rampage, most of Rome’s records were destroyed and the Visigoths left the city to burn to the ground, taking with them all of Rome’s treasures including the Emperor’s Sister, who eventually married Alaric’s successor, Ataulf

The end of the Roman Empire

Historical records show that the western half fell when the last emperor Augustulus was dethroned in 476AD and a Germanic soldier named Flavius Odoacer rose to the top of the army. He took control of Rome and became the first King of Italy (476BC -493BC). His reign is seen as the start of the end of the Western Roman Empire. Over time the powerful seat of the Roman Empire that centered around the roman forum fell into disrepair. It was piled with debris and flooded by the Tiber River. It was stripped of its marble and ornate columns to build palaces, monuments and churches elsewhere. The roman forum became a cow pasture and was eventually buried. It was rediscovered by archaeologist Carlo Fea in 1803. Excavations lasted over 100 years until it was mostly excavated in the 20th century

The eastern half of the Roman Empire fared a little better, identified as the Byzantine Empire with the capital of Constantinople, surviving until 1453AD when it too eventually fell to the Ottoman Turks

Visiting the Roman Forum

Throughout its history, the Roman Form was the center of roman culture, THE SELF-GUIDED TOUR  will take you on a historical journey of the forum.

Video Tour of the Forum Romanum

Rome’s Legacy


Many governments are built on a balance of power modeled after the Roman republic with its elected senators and different levels of legislative, judicial and executive bodies


Romans practices including contracts, civil rights, trial by jury, legal wills and personal properties are still practiced today


The Latin language of the romans gave rise to languages that evolved from Latin such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Romanian commonly referred to as the Romance Languages


You can see the influence of roman architecture on many public and government buildings in the modern world

Engineering and Construction

The romans united much of their empire with a network of road systems that are still in use today. They were the designers of massive aqueducts bringing water into the city for personal and public use. They also designed massive buildings and perfected the art of concrete


Rome was the home of the Catholic Church and Christianity which gave rise to one of the largest religious orders in the world

Other sites in Italy

  • Visit the Roman Colosseum. Click on the Roman Colosseum attractions map HERE and accompanying Colosseum attractions guide HERE
  • Take the Rome attractions map and self guided tour: It includes the Vatican City attractions map HERE and the Vatican attractions guide HERE
  • Self Guided Walking tour to explore the neighborhood of Trastevere with map of attractions HERE and guide of attractions HERE
  • Visit St Peters Basilica. Explore all the attractions in St Peter’s Basilica with the attractions guide HERE
  • One of my favorite places is the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The map of attractions is HERE and the self guided walking tour is HERE
  • Self Guided Walking Tours – Day Trips from Rome
    • Visit Pompeii with a complete self guided tour map HERE and the attractions guide to the 49 points of interest HERE
    • Spend the day in Florence, this was by far one of my best day trips. The self guided walking tour map is HERE and the attractions guide is HERE