What are the most interesting sites linked to Roman Emperor Augustus?
The House of Augustus on Rome's Palatine Hill was the modest home of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus. Whilst considered to be relatively small, especially when compared to the Imperial Palace built at a later date, the House of Augustus does contain a vivid collection of frescos. The site has been carefully restored and offers a fascinating insight into the life of one of ancient Rome’s most prominent figures.
The Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome is the tomb of Rome’s first emperor. Constructed in approximately 28 BC, when it was created it was intended to be the final resting place of both Augustus and his family. Those buried at the mausoleum included his wife Livia, Germanicus, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Britannicus, Nero Claudius Drusus, Agrippina the Elder and Tiberius. Today, the site is just a shadow of its former grandeur and is no longer open to the public. However, some of its relics, notably two obelisks which once decorated it, now stand in Piazza del Quirinale and Piazza dell Esquillino.
The Ara Pacis Museum displays the Emperor Augustus’s Altar of Peace, an important symbol of his military successes which resulted in peace in the Mediterranean. The altar itself is surrounded by marble walls adorned with elaborate friezes of various figures, including senate members and members of Augustus’s family. These carved figures take part in a procession celebrating the peace brought about by Augustus.
Philippi Battlefield in Greece is the location of one of the most important battles in Rome's history, where Mark Antony and Octavian - later to be known as Augustus - defeated the forces of those who had assassinated Julius Caesar. Today the battlefield is believed to be located outside the modern town of Krinides in north-west Greece. The important archaeological site of Philippoi is located here and contains the ruins of the ancient city which thrived here before and after the battle.
The Forum of Augustus was built by the Roman emperor to celebrate avenging Julius Caesar’s assassination following the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. In this battle, Augustus, together with Mark Anthony, emerged victorious over Cassius and Brutus, the assassins of Caesar. The forum had a grand temple in honour of the deity Mars and the columns and steps of the Temple of Mars can still be seen today. A regal statue of Augustus also remains.
The ruins of the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome are among the oldest remains of an ancient Roman theatre to have survived. The site itself was one of the most important theatres in ancient Rome, built by Julius Caesar and Augustus. Built in a grand style, with three distinct columned levels, it is believed the theatre could hold as many as 11,000 people. Throughout the Roman period the theatre survived in its original form, with occasional renovation, such as that provided by the Emperor Vespasian. After the fall of the Empire the theatre fell into decline and was slowly buried and robbed for its masonry. In the 1920s the lower sections were bought by Rome’s city council and restored. Today, while the interior is not open to the public, the lower levels and striking architecture can be observed from the street.
Baia was once the summer retreat of Rome’s elite and is now an archaeological park. It was Augustus who furnished Baia with its grand thermal baths. Development began in Baia in the second century BC, during the republican era and continued into the imperial age, when the Emperor Augustus connected all the lavish villas in the area with a road. Augustus’s successors continued to expand and develop Baia, transforming it into a expansive mass of villas and leisure facilities. Several pretty ruins remain at Baia, lying sprawled over the hills and near the coast.
The Arch of Augustus is a Roman monument constructed in 27 BC for Rome’s first emperor. Thought to have been the gateway to Ancient Rimini which would have formed part of the city walls, the arch is a fairly ornate structure depicting various deities such as Neptune, Apollo and Jupiter.
La Maison Carrée is an extremely well preserved Roman temple in Nîmes built by close friend of Augustus, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, it was dedicated to the Augustus’ grandchildren. It managed to survive the turbulent times that followed the fall of the Empire as it was converted to a church and today is one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world. It has been renovated and restored over the years but remains true to its origins and is certainly not a recreation. Visitors can view this stunning structure in all its glory as well as watching a multimedia presentation inside the building.
Merida Amphitheatre was part of Augusta Emerita, an important colony established by Rome's first Emperor. Constructed in approximately 15 BC and able to accommodate almost 6,000 people, the theatre would have been one of many public buildings erected in the area. Now partially reconstructed, the site is extremely well preserved, particularly its lower levels.