Roman Temples: The Ultimate Guide

What are the best Roman Temples in the world?

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In terms of sheer splendour, it’s hard to find more impressive historic buildings than surviving Roman Temples. Across what was once the Empire, there are many of these incredible ancient places of worship to visit and among the very best are Baalbek, the world famous Pantheon and La Maison Carrée. Other popular sites tend to include the Garni Temple, Sbeitla and Dougga.

Standing in some cases for as much as two thousand years, the best preserved Roman temples remain much as they would have been at the height of Ancient Rome – so unlike many other Roman sites, little imagination is required and you can truly feel as though you are walking in the footsteps of the Romans.

We’ve put together an experts guide to surviving temples from ancient rome, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of ancient temples which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

1. Baalbek

Home to the largest Roman temple ever built, Baalbek contains not just the remains of the Temple of Jupiter but also the far better preserved and simply magnificent Temple of Bacchus. Probably the most impressive entry on our list of Roman temples. Today, visitors can see the impressive ruins of these incredible structures including standing in the shadow of six of the original 54 columns of the Temple of Jupiter. Baalbek is also the place to see the stairs of the Temple of Mercury and a ceremonial entryway known as the propylaea.

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2. Pantheon

The most famous Roman temple in the world and one of the very best preserved, the Pantheon in Rome was built during the reign of Hadrian in 125AD. Its vast concrete dome is a monumental engineering feat and remained the largest dome in the world until the 15th century. In 609AD the Pantheon was converted to a Church and this helped preserve the building from the destruction of later times. In the middle ages the Pantheon was also used as a burial chamber for notable figures and even Italian kings. Today, the Pantheon stands as a magnificent site in central Rome, and one of the most popular destinations for tourists. The Pantheon is free to visit and is a must-see for both the general tourist and the history enthusiast.

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3. La Maison Carrée

One of the best preserved ancient temples in the world, the Maison Carree in Nimes largely survived due to its conversion to a church in the fourth century. Simply stunning, it is as close as you’d ever get to the temples which the Romans would have used. The site was lucky to survive the fall of the Empire and this is mostly due to the fact that the building became a church in the fourth century. Through the ages La Maison Carrée has been used as a consul's house, stables and the town’s archive. It has been partly renovated and restored over the years, but remains true to its Roman 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 which brings Roman Nîmes back to life.

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4. Garni Temple

Though in fact a reconstruction built from the original remains, the Garni Temple in Armenia is a beautiful site in a picturesque mountain setting and is definitely worth the effort to visit. Likely dedicated to the ancient deity Mithras, today the Garni Temple lies about 30km to the East of Yerevan and the complex hosts a number of buildings including a royal palace, Roman baths, and a 9th Century church.

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5. Sbeitla

Visually among the most impressive temples from the Roman Empire, the forum temples at Sbeitla in Tunisia are reasonably well preserved and sit lined-up one alongside the next, making for a picture perfect ancient site. This startling site thrived as a Roman settlement from the 1st century AD before becoming a Christian centre, a Byzantine city and - after a brief period under Prefect Gregory - being taken by the Muslims. Today, Sbeitla’s ruins hint at the great city that once stood here. The highlights include its Temples of Jupiter and Minerva, both located in the beautiful forum. There is also a museum at the site which examines the history of the area and includes an array of finds from Sbeitla.

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6. Dougga

Dougga boasts a series of impressive Roman ruins including the impressive Temple of Jupiter and the temples of Juno Caelestis and Saturn.The city had a variety of cultural influences, having been a thriving Numidian capital and later being incorporated into the Roman Empire. The incredible state of preservation combined with its mix of cultural influences led UNESCO to list it as a World Heritage site in 1997. Grand and full of fascinating sites, Dougga is one of Tunisia’s most interesting archaeological sites.

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7. Temple of Augustus and Livia

One of the best surviving examples of a Roman temple anywhere in the world, the Temple of Augustus and Livia in Vienne, France, is an extremely well-preserved ancient site and definitely one to see. Whilst probably built sometime between 20BC and 10BC, several aspects of the temple date to the first century AD. Yet, the main reason for the great state of preservation is that it was incorporated into a church perhaps as early as the fifth century and restored in the nineteenth century.

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8. Temples of the Forum Boarium

The Temples of the Forum Boarium in Rome date back to the second century BC and are considered to be the best-preserved temples of the Republican era. Comprised of two temples, the Temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus, they are fascinating to explore. The Forum Boarium was itself originally part of the Roman cattle market before becoming a commercial centre.

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9. Djemila

An extremely good example of a Roman temple can be found in Djemila, Algeria, with the Temple of Venus Genetrix. This unrestored ruin still has its original walls and columns intact and offers a rare glimpse into the original Roman architecture. Constructed amidst mountainous terrain, Djemila was built to fit in with its surroundings and, as it expanded in the second century, amassed an impressive set of buildings. Like Timgad, Djemila was probably the home of a military base. Today, the site houses a wealth of ancient ruins such as those of the Arch of Caracalla, a well-preserved bath complex and the theatre built by Emperor Antoninus Pius.

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10. Temple of Ercole Vincitore

The Temple of Ercole Vincitore is a circular structure with twenty Corinthian columns atop a podium of marble steps. Dating from the late second century BC, it is the oldest preserved marble monument in Rome. It can be found in the Forum Boarium. It is believed that the temple was restored in around 15 AD. The fresco of the Madonna with Child inside is a remnant of its time as a church.

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Full list of Temples from Ancient Rome

Beyond the most famous surviving temples from ancient rome, there’s many similar places to visit, including Temple of Augustus and Livia, Temples of the Forum Boarium and Djemila to name but a few. 

Unlike most religious places today, the Romans didn’t actually worship in their temples, but used them as the centre for outdoor gatherings and grand processions. However, this didn’t mean the buildings were diminished in value, quite the contrary, for the Romans spent fortunes building these magnificent structures and lavished them with ornate decorations and gifts. From wealthy private citizens to victorious generals and the Emperors themselves, building a temple to the gods was seen as a righteous duty and a symbol of status, wealth and power.

We’re constantly expanding this list of Roman temples and you can view the current selection below.

Aizanoi

Aizanoi houses ancient Roman ruins including a stadium, gymnasium, theatre and an impressive Temple of Zeus.

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Area Sacra di Largo Argentina

Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is the site of four Ancient Roman temples.

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Atrium Vestae

The Atrium Vestae in the Roman Forum was home to Ancient Rome’s only holy priestesses.

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Basilica of Sant Angelo

The Basilica of Sant Angelo is an eleventh century church partially made up of the remains of a Roman temple.

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Carthage

Carthage was once one of the most powerful cities of the ancient world. Today, the ruins of ancient Carthage can be found on the outskirts of modern day Tunis.

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Cumae Archaeological Park

Cumae Archaeological Park in Pozzuoli houses a series of ancient ruins and artefacts and is thought to have been inhabited as far back as the Iron Age.

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Diocletian’s Palace

Diocletian’s Palace was the place where this great Roman Emperor retired and is now an entire modern town.

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Ephesus

Ephesus in Turkey represents some of the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins in the Mediterranean.

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Jerash

Jerash in Jordan was once a thriving Roman city and is one of the world’s best preserved and most impressive set of Roman ruins.

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London Mithraeum

Perhaps London’s most famous 20th century Roman discovery, the Temple of Mithras is a Roman mithraeum – a temple built by worshippers of the mysterious cult-like god Mithras – built in the late second century and discovered in 1954 during building work in Walbrook, a street in the City of London.

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Ostia Antica

The site of Ostia Antica contains the ruins of the port of ancient Rome and visitors can view some amazingly well preserved remains of the settlement.

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Palmyra

Palmyra was an ancient city which became part of the Roman Empire. Its impressive ruins are located in Syria.

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Pergamum

Pergamum was a thriving ancient Greek then Roman city, home to famous sites such as its Asclepion, theatre and library.

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Pompeii

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city whose incredibly well-preserved ruins now form a popular UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was the very centre of ancient Rome. Throughout the lifespan of Roman civilisation the Forum served as the focus of political, civic and religious life.

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Roman Ruins of Troia

The ruins of the ancient Troia in Portugal contain the remains of an important Roman trading centre known for its production of the popular Roman fish-based sauce Garum.

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Roman Temple of Evora

The Roman Temple of Evora was an impressive Roman monument and is now a pretty ruin.

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Temple de Mercure

The ruins of a temple built atop a mountain called Puy de Dome outside the Gallic city of Augustonemetum (now Clermont-Ferrand).

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Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is one of the best preserved of the structures in the Roman Forum.

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Temple of Augustus - Barcelona

The Temple of Augustus is a first century Ancient Roman ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets.

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Temple of Caesar

The Temple of Caesar was built in honour of Julius Caesar. Its altar remains in the Roman Forum.

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Temple of Castor and Pollux

The Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum was built following a military victory.

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Temple of Concord

The Temple of Concord was an Ancient Roman temple in Rome’s Forum.

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Temple of Diana - Merida

The Temple of Diana is a very well-preserved UNESCO-listed ancient Roman temple in Merida.

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Temple of Diana - Nimes

The Temple of Diana is a Roman site in Nimes whose ultimate purpose remains a mystery.

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Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the most impressive ancient temples in Greece.

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Temple of Saturn

The Temple of Saturn was the site of the national treasury of Ancient Rome, the ruins of which stand in the Roman Forum.

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Temple of Venus and Rome

The Temple of Venus and Rome was created under Hadrian and is located in the Roman Forum.

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The Iseum

The Iseum is a 2nd century AD Roman temple site dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis.

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The Temple of Vesta

The Temple of Vesta was an Ancient Roman shrine now found on the Roman Forum.

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Volubilis

Volubilis near Meknes in Morocco was an ancient Roman city developed in the first century BC.

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Our database of temples from the Roman Republic and Empire is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other surviving temples from ancient Rome, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.