In terms of sheer splendour, it’s hard to find more impressive historic buildings than surviving Roman Temples.
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.
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.
Check out our list of Roman Temples below and discover some amazing places to visit on your travels.
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.
Baalbek is a hugely impressive Roman site in Lebanon which is home to the largest Roman temple ever built, as well as a range of other magnificent ancient structures.
Initially a Phoenician settlement dedicated to the worship of the deity of the sun, Baal, the city was known as Heliopolis (City of the Sun) by the Greeks in the 4th century BC.
However, it was during Roman times that Baalbek reached its peak, becoming a Roman colony in 47BC under Julius Caesar. Over the next two centuries, the Romans would imbue Baalbek with the empire’s largest holy temples. By 150AD, it would be home to the vast temples of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus.
Today, visitors to Baalbek 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 - the largest temple ever built by the Empire. Baalbek is also the place to see the extremely well-preserved Temple of Bacchus, the stairs of the Temple of Mercury and a ceremonial entryway known as the propylaea.
There is also evidence of Baalbek’s time beyond the Romans. For example, the ruins of the Roman Temple of Venus show how it was incorporated into a Byzantine church. This and other sites tell of the time of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius, who destroyed many of the Roman holy sites in favour of churches and basilicas. Visitors can also see the remnants of a large 8th century mosque from the Arab conquest.
Baalbek is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of the best preserved Roman 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.
La Maison Carrée, or Square House, in Nîmes is a staggeringly well preserved Roman temple, and one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman building anywhere in the world – for fans of Ancient Rome, La Maison Carrée is simply a must-see site.
Originally built in 16BC by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa – the close friend and confidant of Emperor Augustus – the building was dedicated to Agrippa’s sons Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar. During this period, as Augustus consolidated his hold on power and confirmed his status as the first true Roman Emperor, he undertook many building programmes across the Empire and La Maison Carrée is a great example of this. During this period Agrippa was also responsible for the construction of the original Pantheon in Rome.
La Maison Carrée was lucky to survive the fall of the Empire. 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. Nowadays La Maison Carrée is one of several well-preserved Roman sites in Nîmes, which also boasts a Roman Amphitheatre and a grand tower built by Augustus, the Magne Tower.
Visitors to La Maison Carrée 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.
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. A must-visit site for those seeking Roman history.
The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most famous and well-preserved ancient buildings in the world.
Originally built by Marcus Agrippa in 25BC, the Pantheon served as a temple to the many gods of Rome. The original Pantheon was destroyed by the great fire of 80AD and the structure which stands today was completed around 125AD during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
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’s vast structure is topped by the spectacular original domed roof which contains a circular opening (oculus) at the peak. Made of cast concrete, it is a monumental engineering feat that is a testament to the technical expertise of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the roof of the Pantheon remained the largest dome in the world until the 15th century.
The Pantheon is free to visit and is a must-see for both the general tourist and the history enthusiast.
Though dedicated to the eastern deity of Bel, the temple at Palmyra is very much Roman in its architecture and style. This amazing site is one of the very best surviving Roman temples.
Along with many other historical sites in the region, the ancient site of Palmyra is reported to have been heavily damaged in the current conflicts. This page remains as it was originally created in 2011 and will stand as a live-archived article until it is again possible to assess the state of the Palmyra ruins.
Palmyra was a thriving city of the ancient world whose impressive, UNESCO-listed ruins are located in Syria. Originally known by the Semitic name of Tadmor – which is now the name of the neighbouring modern town – Palmyra was once a commercial hub along a busy trade route.
References to Palmyra appear in the Bible as well as in other historical writings, some dating as far back as the second millennium BC. However, it was from the first century BC that affluent caravan owners stopped there along the old Silk Road, contributing to its wealth.
In addition to helping the city flourish, Palmyra’s central location also made it a target for invaders including the Assyrians, the Persians and then the Seleucids. It was under Rome however that Palmyra experienced its peak. As the Roman Empire expanded in the first and second centuries BC, Palmyra became one of its provinces. The relationship between the city and Rome developed over time, with Palmyra managing to retain a high level of independence.
The city’s most infamous figure was Queen Zenobia. Following the assassination of her husband, King Odainat, Zenobia claimed control of the region on behalf of the couple’s young son, Vabalathus. After a mighty attempt to claim independence from Rome, in 272 AD, Zenobia’s rule ended when she was taken to Rome. Not long after this, Palmyra’s fortunes began to decline, especially after its people were massacred for rising up against Rome, resulting in the destruction of much of the city.
Successive emperors, such as Diocletian and Justinian, fortified its remains, turning Palmyra into a military outpost and Palmyra was later taken over by Muslim forces, but it never regained its original glory.
Ruins of Palmyra
Most of the extensive ruins of Palmyra today date back to its time under Roman rule, particularly the second and third centuries.
One of the most imposing and important ruins of Palmyra is the Temple of Bel, a stunningly well-preserved temple to a revered Babylonian deity. Other important sites at Palmyra include the Colonnade of the Decumanus, the Baths of Diocletian, the Tetrapylon, the theatre, the arched gates, the agora, the Senate House and its many funereal monuments and burial sites, some pre-Roman.
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.
The Temple of Augustus and Livia (Temple d'Auguste et de Livie) is a very well preserved Roman temple in Vienne.
Whilst probably first built sometime between 20BC and 10BC, several aspects of the Temple of Augustus and Livia date to the first century AD. Yet, the main reason for the great state of preservation of the Temple of Augustus and Livia is that it was incorporated into a church perhaps as early as the fifth century and restored in the nineteenth century.
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.
The Garni Temple is an impressive looking Greco-Roman temple complex probably built in the 1st century AD by King Tiridates I of Armenia with the support of the Roman Emperor Nero.
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.
Destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, the Garni Temple was partially reconstructed in the 1970s and is now made up of both original and replacement masonry.
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 Temples of the Forum Boarium are two of the best preserved Roman temples to have survived from the Republican era.
Comprised of two temples, the Temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus, the Temples of the Forum Boarium date back to approximately the second century BC.
The Temple of Hercules Victor (or Ercole Vincitore) is a round structure with twenty columns dedicated to Hercules, while the larger of the two, the Temple of Portunus, is a square building dedicated to the Roman deity of rivers, ports and harbours.
The Forum Boarium was itself originally part of the Roman cattle market before becoming a commercial centre.
In medieval times, both of the Temples of the Forum Boarium were incorporated into churches, probably accounting for their excellent state of preservation.
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.
Djemila in Algeria is an archaeological site housing the ruins of a UNESCO-inscribed Ancient Roman settlement. Founded under the name Cuicil, it is thought that Djemila was first established between 96 and 98 AD under the Emperor Nerva and occupied until the fifth or sixth century.
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, Djemila houses a wealth of Ancient Roman ruins such as those of the Arch of Caracalla, a well-preserved bath complex, temples such as the Temple of Venus Genitrix and the theatre built by Emperor Antoninus Pius. Djemila has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982.
Visually among the most impressive Roman temples in the world, 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.
Sbeitla in Tunisia was once a flourishing ancient city, the spectacular remains of which are among the best Roman ruins in the world.
This startling site, also at times known as Sufetula, 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. Most of the sites date back to the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD. The highlights include its Temples of Jupiter and Minerva, both located in the beautiful forum. There are arches dedicated to Diocletian and Antionius Pius, a bath vessel complete with colourful mosaics and evidence of street planning including dwellings and roads.
There is also a museum at the site which examines the history of the area and includes an array of finds from Sbeitla. This incredible site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions of Tunisia.
A lesser known entry on our Roman temples list, the great Temple of Zeus at Aizanoi is a very good example of Roman temple architecture and much remains of the original second century AD structure.
Aizanoi is a Turkish archaeological site housing mostly Roman remains from this ancient city’s peak in the second and third centuries AD.
Amongst its ruins, Aizanoi has five ancient and still used bridges, two Turkish-style baths, column-lined promenades, a stadium, a gymnasium, a theatre and its great Temple of Zeus.
The Area Sacra di Largo Argentina in Rome contains the ruins of four Republican-era ancient Roman temples.
Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is a small, but fascinating archaeological site in Rome. In the course of building works carried out in the 1920’s, four Roman Republican-era temples were found in the square of Largo di Torre Argentina.
The remains of the four temples of Area Sacra di Largo Argentina, now called Temples A, B, C and D, include various columns, platforms and walls.
The oldest of the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina temples is temple C, which was built in the early half of the third century BC. It can be recognised as the rectangular structure perched on a platform with an altar in front of it. It is also next to the largest of the temples, Temple D, which sits at one end and has a prominent set of columns. It is thought to date back to the second century BC.
Temple B of Area Sacra di Largo Argentina, built in the second century BC, is the round temple, while temple A, next to it on the end has been dated back to the third century BC.
Also located at the Area Sacra, on the side of the Via di Torre Argentina, is a collection of stones which have now been attributed as having formed part of the Curia of Pompey. This once rectangular building formed part of the complex which included the Theatre of Pompey and it was in the Curia of Pompey – a senate meeting place - that Julius Caesar was assassinated on 15 March 44BC.
The current occupants of the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina are not Romans, but cats – stray cats to be precise. Today, the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina is home to a charming cat shelter (on the corner of Via di Torre Argentina).
The Atrium Vestae in the Roman Forum, also known as the 'House of the Vestal Virgins', was a Roman palace which originally formed part of the Temple of Vesta and served as the home of the priestesses. Today, as with much of the Forum, little remains except for a few statues displayed in the courtyard.
The Atrium Vestae or 'House of the Vestal Virgins' in the Roman Forum was a fifty-room palace in Ancient Rome. Originally part of the Temple of Vesta, the Atrium Vestae served as the home of the priestesses of the g-dess of the hearth, Vesta. These holy women were known as the Vestal Virgins.
Little remains of Atrium Vestae, except for a series of statues displayed in a well-tended courtyard together with the walls of some of its rooms.
A lesser known example for our list of Roman temples, the Basilica of Sant Angelo is an 11th century church partially made up of the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Diana Tifatina.
The Basilica of Sant Angelo in Formis is an eleventh century Benedictine church constructed on the former site of a Roman temple dedicated to Diana Tifatina. In fact, the remains of this Roman temple are incorporated into the Basilica of Sant Angelo in Formis, including its Doric columns and floor, both of which were once part of the temple.
The current form of Sant Angelo in Formis dates back to 1053 when it was built by the Abbot of Montecassino Desiderius, who was later Pope Victor III. Visitors to Sant Angelo in Formis can view its colourfully frescoed interior.
Cumae Archaeological Park in Pozzuoli houses a series of ancient ruins among which can be found the temples of Jupiter and Apollo
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.
Cumae itself was a settlement established by Greek colonists in the eighth century BC. Sacked by the Oscans in the fifth century BC and incorporated into the Roman Empire in the fourth century BC, Cumae’s sites are mostly Roman, but there are several Greek ones as well.
The most celebrated site at Cumae Archaeological Park is Sybil’s Cave or ‘Antro della Sibilla’. This atmospheric cave was built in two phases, the first in the fourth century BC, the second in the late first century BC or early AD.
Named after the Cumaean priestess who, according to Virgil's Aeneid, is said to have prophesized to the Trojan Aeneas prior to his entry into the underworld, the exact purpose of Sybil’s Cave is yet to be decided upon, but it was most likely a defensive structure. It also served as a Christian burial site. Whatever its original use, this atmospheric trapezoidal tunnel is fascinating.
Other sites at Cumae Archaeological Park include the fifth century acropolis walls, a second century BC amphitheatre, a forum, several temples, such as the Temples of Jupiter and Apollo, and a second century AD public baths complex.
The remains of Diocletian’s Palace are intricately interwoven with the modern city of Split, which grew up around it. Among the best of the original Roman remains is the amazing Temple of Jupiter, which still retains much of its original grandeur.
Diocletian’s Palace in Croatia is remarkable in that this Ancient Roman emperor’s home evolved over the years to become an entire town, known as Split.
Diocletian was a Dalmatian-born soldier who reigned as emperor from November 248 AD to May 305 AD. He is considered a great reformer, having restructured the empire’s provinces and reorganised its administrative system. Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Diocletian’s reign was that he was able to retire by choice.
When he retired, the emperor did so at what is now known as Diocletian’s Palace and lived there until his death. He had built Diocletian’s Palace between 293 and 303 AD, not far from the town of his birth, Salona, modern day Solin.
When it was completed, Diocletian’s Palace was an impressive fortified structure with residential and garrisoned wings separated by a road. Diocletian’s Palace was lavish, with several apartments, three temples and the Peristil, which was a ceremonial court. It also housed Diocletian’s mausoleum, an octagonal structure where the emperor was later buried.
After Diocletian’s demise, Diocletian’s Palace continued to be in use until the sixth century, when it and Salona were attacked by the Eurasian Avars. The people of Salona sheltered within the palace walls, which managed to withstand the attack, and continued to live there.
From this point began the slow development of Diocletian’s Palace into a medieval town known as Spalato – now Split. Shops and homes were incorporated into its walls and a city grew in what can be described as a process of organic urbanisation. Unfortunately, Diocletian’s mausoleum no longer exists, it having become St Duje Cathedral in the seventh century. The location of Diocletian’s remains is unknown.
Walking around Split today, it is difficult to know where Diocletian’s Palace ends and the city begins. The two are intricately combined. Some of the more obvious and impressive original ruins include the fortification gates, particularly the Silver Gate, the Temple of Jupiter, the underground passageways and the Peristil. It caters well for the tourist trade with several walking tours of the historical sites.
Diocletian’s Palace and Split have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 and the city is a popular tourist destination.
Dougga boasts a series of impressive Roman ruins including the impressive Temple of Jupiter and the temples of Juno Caelestis and Saturn.
Dougga (Thugga) in Tunisia is the location of the extremely well-preserved ruins of an ancient site inhabited by a series of cultures, notably the Numidians, the Punics, the ancient Greeks and the Romans.
Dougga boasts a series of impressive ruins amidst its seventy hectares, including a 3,500-seater theatre, an amphitheatre, temples such as those of Juno Caelestis and Saturn, public baths, a forum, a trifolium villa, two triumphal arches and the remains of a market.
Dougga has a variety of cultural influences, having been a thriving Numidian capital first established in the fifth century BC and later being incorporated into the Roman Empire in 46 BC, as part of Julius Caesar’s annexation of eastern Numidia.
Therefore, whilst most of its existing remains date back to the second and third centuries AD, there are several sites that predate this period. In fact, even the layout of Dougga can be traced as having remained the same as it had been under the Numidian civilisation.
However, one of the oldest ruins at Dougga are those of a six-tiered Punic-Libyan Mausoleum thought to date back to the second or even third century BC.
The incredible state of preservation of Dougga 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 and features as one of our Top Tunisian Tourist Attractions.
Once known for the famous Greek Temple of Artemis, it is in fact the second century AD Roman Temple of Hadrian which has survived the centuries better.
Ephesus or "Efes" was a vibrant classical city, now bordering modern day Selçuk in Turkey and representing some of the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins in the Mediterranean.
Thought to have been founded in the 10th century BC by an Athenian prince named Androklos, Ephesus grew into a thriving city until 650BC when it was attacked and damaged by the Cimmerians. However, the settlement was reconstituted and soon the city began to thrive once more, eventually being conquered by the vast Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great.
The city was involved in the Greco-Persian wars but then fell back under Persian rule until its liberation by Alexander the Great. Fought over continuously by Alexander’s successors and their descendents, Ephesus, like so much of the region, was eventually absorbed into the Roman Republic, in the late second century BC.
Sights at Ephesus
Today, Ephesus is a treasure trove for enthusiasts of Ancient Roman and Greek history, allowing them to walk through its streets and view its magnificent houses, community buildings, temples and stadiums.
Ephesus was once famous for its Temple of Artemis, built in around 650 BC. Sadly, this was destroyed and is now represented by just a solitary column.
Some of the most impressive sites at Ephesus include the Library of Celsus, the ruins of which stand two storeys high, the Temple of Hadrian which was built in 118 AD, the classical theatre where it is believed Saint Paul preached to the Pagans and the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, so called because legend has it that the Romans locked seven Christian boys there in 250 AD, who only awoke in the 5th century.
The cross shaped Basilica of Saint John is also nearby, as is the fourteenth century Isabey Mosque, which is an impressive structure built from the remains of Ephesus.
A trip to Ephesus usually takes at least half a day - some tours include other local sites such as Priene and Miletus - but history enthusiasts will probably want to enjoy this site for a whole day. There is also a great Ephesus Museum displaying artifacts found in the old city. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.
Though not the best example of a Roman temple to have survived, the Temple of Artemis at Jerash still contains much of its existing structure, including several standing columns.
Jerash or Jarash, is one of the world’s best preserved ancient Roman sites. Once known as Gerasa, Jerash is believed to have been inhabited since the Neolithic Era. However, it is the impressive Roman city built in Jerash which has left its greatest mark on the area, becoming Jordan’s second most popular tourist site after Petra.
Jerash formed part of the Roman province of Syria following General Pompey’s conquest of the region in 64 BC. It later became one of the ten cities of the Decapolis league, flourishing and growing wealthier over two centuries of Roman rule. During this time, Jerash underwent several rounds of reconstruction, much of it occurring in the first century AD. One such occasion was in 129 AD, following a visit by the Emperor Hadrian. It was after this visit that Hadrian's Arch or the ‘Triumphal Arch’ was built, the ruins of which can still be seen in the southern part of Jerash outside the archeological park itself.
By the third century AD, Jerash had reached its peak as a thriving centre of trade with a population of up to 20,000 people. In fact, Jerash was even awarded the status of being a colony. However, this success was soon followed by Jerash’s slow downfall.
Several events over the next centuries, including the destruction of Palmyra in 273 AD, pillaging of its temples to build Christian churches under the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century and the Muslim conquest of the region in the seventh century all contributed to the decline of Jerash. This was further exacerbated by an earthquake in 747 AD. In fact, notwithstanding a brief twelfth century occupation by Crusaders, Jerash had fallen and lay deserted by the thirteenth century.
Today, tourists flock to see Jerash’s extensive and impressive ruins, including the Temple of Artemis and the Forum with its large ionic columns. Jerash’s original main street, the Cardo, runs through the centre of the site and, with its visible chariot marks and underground drainage system, is fascinating in its own right.
Other must-see aspects of Jerash include its still-functioning 3,000 seat South Theatre built between 90-92AD during the reign of Emperor Domitian, its second century AD North Theatre and its Nymphaeum fountain. Visitors can also see many of the artifacts found during the excavation of this site at the Jerash Archeological Museum.
Rome’s ancient port city contains a wealth of remains, among which is the second century AD Capitolium - dedicated to Minerva, Jupiter and Juno - as well as the Round Temple.
Ostia Antica is an extraordinary Roman site that contains the ruins of the ancient port town that served as the gateway to Rome.
Just half an hour from central Rome by train, Ostia Antica has all the inspiration of Pompeii without the throngs of tourists. In fact, if you want to examine well preserved Roman ruins in peace and quiet with time to contemplate the ancient world, you’ll be hard pressed to find better.
Tracing its roots back to at least the 4th century BC, Ostia Antica served as Rome’s principle port for hundreds of years, a witness and monument to the rise of the ancient superpower, its dominance and eventual decline.
Ostia Antica's place in history is most notable for an attack by pirates in 68BC which led to unprecedented powers being handed to Pompey the Great, setting yet another precedent which damaged the foundations of the Republican system.
As the landscape changed over the centuries, Ostia Antica was slowly abandoned, and the site is now a couple of miles from the sea.
Today, visitors can view a great many ruins from the ancient town, including a well preserved Roman theatre, the Baths of Neptune, remains of the military camp, temples to ancient deities, the forum and even Ostia Synagogue, which is the oldest known synagogue site in Europe.
Yet Ostia Antica is so much more than these notable elements, for it contains a huge range of well-preserved more typical Roman dwellings, shops, flats and warehouses and even has a Roman public toilet. This combines to give visitors a great picture of an ancient Roman town and allows you to get a real feel for day-to-day life in ancient Rome.
There is a small museum on site which has a number of artefacts and further information on the history of Ostia Antica. At certain times during the year Ostia Antica is also the venue for concerts and other events. This impressive site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
Standing on the acropolis of this Greek and Roman city, the Roman Temple of Trajan at Pergamum, which was built around the second century AD. Quite a bit of this structure remains including several standing columns.
Pergamum, which is also spelt Pergamon, is a famous archaeological site in Turkey which developed under the Attalid dynasty following the death of Alexander the Great.
When Alexander died, one of his generals, Lysimachus, took control of the region. When Lysimachus died in 281BC, Pergamum and the surrounding area fell into the hands of the man he had charged with protecting it, Philetarus.
Through a series of successions, Pergamum fell under the rule of Attalus I and then his son Eumenes II. Both of these kings were part of the Hellenistic Attalid dynasty and it was during this time that the majority of Pergamum’s most celebrated buildings and monuments were constructed, especially under Eumenes II (197-159 BC). Pergamum thrived, becoming the centre of the Pergamese kingdom.
In 129 BC, Pergamum became part of the Roman Empire, accounting for the presence of Roman artwork and temples, and later became part of the Byzantine Empire. It remained an important city (later a metropolis) throughout both of these periods. Indeed, Julius Caesar himself once visited the city and it was here that Caesar imprisoned and executed the very pirates who had kidnapped him in 75 BC, after he had hunted them down following his release.
The historic ruins of Pergamum are split into three main areas. In the Acropolis, one can find sites such as its library, gymnasium, very steep theatre and arsenal as well as the Roman Temple of Trajan. This was also once the site of the incredible Altar of Pergamum, now controversially located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Now only its base remains at Pergamum.
The other two areas of Pergamum are its lower city and its stunning health centre or Asclepion, where a variety of treatments were offered, such as mud baths.
Pergamum has a small archaeological museum, with some of the finds excavated from the site.
Another example of an extremely well preserved Roman temple is that of Antoninus and Faustina. Constructed in 141 AD it was dedicated to the deified emperor and his wife. Later incorporated into a church, it is one of the best preserved structures in the Roman Forum.
Initially constructed in 141 AD, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was built by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in honour of his wife, Faustina. It is one of the best preserved structures in the Roman Forum.
Faustina was deified following her death and the temple – then just the Temple of Faustina – was the place of worship of the cult of Faustina.
When the emperor died in 161 AD, he too was deified and Faustina’s temple became the joint Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.
The primary reason that the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina has survived in such a good state of preservation is that it was incorporated in the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda sometime between 600 AD and 800 AD.
A flight of stairs leads up to the ten standing columns of the original temple, which is now part of the church.
The Temple of Augustus is a 1st century AD ancient Roman temple ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets. Little remains of this once-important site apart from four main columns, hidden away within a medieval courtyard.
The Temple of Augustus is a poorly preserved first century AD Roman ruin hidden in Barcelona’s back streets.
Built in honour of the Emperor Augustus in the first century AD, all that remains of this temple are four main columns, hidden away within the medieval quarter in the courtyard of the Centro Excursionista de Cataluña.
When it was built, the Temple of Augustus would have been far more prominent and would have formed part of the Forum of Barcelona.
The Temple of Caesar was an ancient temple built in honour of Julius Caesar. Once among the most famous Roman temples, today little remains except for its altar, which can be seen within the Roman Forum.
The Temple of Caesar (Tempio del Divo Giuli), the remains of which can be seen in the Roman Forum, was dedicated to the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar (100BC - 44BC).
Caesar, who was murdered by the senators Cassius, Brutus and their supporters on 15 March 44BC, was cremated. Following his death, he was deified and the Temple of Caesar was constructed on the site of his cremation to house his cult. It was completed in 29BC.
All that remains of the Temple of Caesar today is its altar.
One of the oldest temples in Rome, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was first constructed in the fifth century BC and was said to celebrate the Roman victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus. A few remains of the second incarnation of this temple, rebuilt by Emperor Tiberius, can still be seen in the Forum.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Templum Castoris) was an ancient Roman temple in Rome’s Forum. First constructed in the fifth century BC, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was then rebuilt in the early first century AD.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux was dedicated to Helen of Troy’s twin brothers. Legend had it that Castor and Pollux helped the Romans in their victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (499 BC) and had appeared to them nearby.
It is the remains of this second incarnation of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, rebuilt under the Roman Emperor Tiberius, that visitors to the Roman Forum can see today. These comprise of an ornate podium with several standing columns.
A Roman temple located in Rome’s Forum, the Temple of Concord was dedicated to Concordia, the goddess of harmony, and at times was used to hold meetings of the senate. Today little of this temple remains.
The Temple of Concord (Tempio della Concordia) was an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Concordia, the godess of harmony.
It is unclear when the Temple of Concord was first constructed. Roman statesman Marcus Furius Camillus vowed to build it in 367 BC, although there is little evidence as to whether he fulfilled this promise. However, the Temple of Concord was almost certainly in existence in 121 BC (this may have been when it was either built or rebuilt).
Used in part as a place for the senate to hold meetings, the Temple of Concord would have been a grand structure. Today, only meagre ruins of this temple survive and can be found in the northwest of the Roman Forum, next to the Tabularium.
An extremely good example of Roman temple architecture, the Temple of Diana in the Spanish city of Merida is very well preserved and a great ancient site to visit.
The Temple of Diana (Templo de Diana) in Merida was a sacred site constructed by the Romans in the early first century AD, after the conquest of the area by the Emperor Augustus.
Roman Merida, known as Emerita Augusta, became an important centre of Roman power in the region. Originally formed of veterans of the Roman conquest, the city quickly grew to become a thriving metropolis. Within this ancient city, the Temple of Diana would have formed a central part of the Roman Forum, where the principle civic buildings of the city originally stood.
Incredibly well-preserved, probably due to its incorporation into a sixteenth century palace, the Temple of Diana’s Corinthian columns still stand in their original rectangular formation. It is part of UNESCO’s Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
The Temple of Diana in Nimes is a Roman site whose ultimate purpose remains a mystery. Yet, whatever its original function, this stunning site boasts well-preserved vaulted ceilings, grand archways and enticing passageways.
The Temple of Diana (Temple de Diane) is a Roman site in Nimes whose ultimate purpose remains a mystery, as does the origin of its name.
Believed by some to have been originally built sometime during the reign of Augustus - others say in the 2nd century - it has been suggested that the Temple of Diana may have been a library.
Whatever its original function, this stunning site boasts well-preserved vaulted ceilings, grand archways and enticing passageways. Apparently, the reason for its excellent state is that the Temple of Diana was used as a medieval church, only to be damaged in the French Wars of Religion.
Though originally a Greek temple, the construction of the Temple of Olympian Zeus took so long it was in fact the Roman Emperor Hadrian who completed it. Little remains apart from a handful of – albeit impressive - surviving columns.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympeion is one of the biggest - if not actually the biggest - ancient temples in Greece.
Vast and impressive, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was begun by Peisistratus the Young in the sixth century BC but various events and circumstances meant it took hundreds of years to construct. It was the Roman emperor Hadrian who finally completed it in around 132AD.
The archaeological site of the Temple of Olympian Zeus contains not just the ancient temple but also other ruins. Amongst these are some other ancient temples, the remains of a defensive wall, some Roman baths and even homes.
The Temple of Saturn in the Roman forum was once one of the most important temples of Ancient Rome and contained the Empire’s treasury. Largely destroyed in the fifteenth century, all that remains are a handful of its Ionic columns.
The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum was a sacred ancient Roman temple dedicated to Saturn, the god of seed-sowing.
One of the oldest of the Roman Forum structures, the Temple of Saturn was originally built sometime between 501 BC and 497 BC and reconstructed in the fourth century BC. However, this second incarnation burned down and the Temple of Saturn was restored in 42 BC by Roman senator Lucius Munatius Plancus.
Used as the treasury and the seat of the financial overseers of the Roman Republic, the quaestors, the Temple of Saturn was also closely linked with the celebration of Saturnalia, during which slaves and masters would dine together.
Largely destroyed in the mid-fifteenth century, all that remains of the Temple of Saturn are six of its Ionic granite columns crowned with a frieze thought to date to approximately 30 BC.
The Temple of Venus and Rome, part of the Roman Forum, was built by the Emperors Hadrian and Maxentius. Though recently restored and a few original walls still stand, it’s hard to get an idea of the true majesty of this ancient sanctuary, thought to have been the largest in Rome.
The Temple of Venus and Rome, known in Latin as Templum Veneris et Romae, in the Roman Forum was built in approximately 135 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
Hadrian himself is thought to have heavily influenced the design of this temple, although it was later renovated by the emperor Maxentius after it was damaged in a fire.
Dedicated to the godesses of love and of Rome, the Temple of Venus and Rome would have comprised two main chambers and would have been an impressive structure. Its remains are found at the far east end of the Forum, near the Colosseum.
The Iseum is a second century AD Roman temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis.
The Iseum, also known as the Isis Szentély Romkertje, in Szombathely is a restored 2nd century AD Roman temple site dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Excavated since the 1950’s, the ruins of the two temples of the Iseum can be seen today and part of the site has been reconstructed. The remains of the original site, some of which have undergone significant modern restoration, are now contained within a wider museum complex.
Dedicated to the goddess of the hearth, the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum was an Ancient Roman shrine. However, little has survived of the original structure.
The Temple of Vesta was an ancient Roman shrine dedicated to the goddess of the hearth, the remains of which are found in the southeast of the Roman Forum.
Serving as the temple of the Vestal Virgins, the priestesses dedicated to Vesta, the Temple of Vesta housed an eternal flame which represented the everlasting nature of the state. If the flame were extinguished, this would indicate doom for Rome.
As with other temples of this kind, the Temple of Vesta would have been a circular structure facing east. It burned down several times, including in the Great Fire of Rome.
Today, the remains of the Temple of Vesta hint at its former grandeur, made up of three main standing columns and part of a fourth with steps leading up to it.
This once-thriving Roman town in Morocco contains some interesting sites and includes the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter. However, aside from a few standing columns, little remains intact.
Volubilis in Morocco is a UNESCO-listed ancient Roman site housing extensive ruins dating back to the first century BC.
Already a thriving town, the Romans developed Volubilis from approximately 25 BC, during the reign of Juba II, a Berber prince appointed as the ruler of the region by the Emperor Augustus. Juba II was married to the daughter of Anthony and Cleopatra.
The residents of Volubilis were a diverse people and included Africans, Syrians, Spaniards and Jews, amongst others and would have numbered up to 20,000 at its peak.
Development continued to 40 AD, when Volubilis became a minicipium (a self-governing Roman city) of the Roman African region of Mauretania Tingitana. The fortifications of Volubilis were erected in approximately 168 AD, during the rule of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, known as Caracalla.
Amongst the ruins of Volubilis, visitors can see an array of public buildings, olive mills, houses, temples and defensive walls with many mosaics dotted throughout.
One of the most famous structures at Volubilis is the Triumphal Arch of Caracalla, built for the Roman Emperor upon his death in 217 AD. The Triumphal Arch of Caracalla is very well preserved, and although its top section is now gone, it is still an incredibly impressive structure and a treat for any history enthusiast.