coat of arms of Pigna district NAME
Pigna ("pine-cone") refers to a famous bronze sculpture of Roman origin, in the shape of a huge pine-cone. It likely acted as a fountain in the Baths of Agrippa, the first establishment of this kind opened in Rome (late 1st century BC), at the back of the Pantheon's site. Around 750, the pine-cone was moved to the old St.Peter's basilica, and placed in the courtyard before the church, where it was used once again as a fountain up to the early 1500s. Now it is held by the Vatican Museums, located in the large Cortile della Pigna (pine-cone courtyard), named after the same sculpture.
Also the medieval name of the district, Pinee et Sancti Marci, refers to the pine-cone and to the ancient church of St.Mark, described further in the page.
Cortile della Pigna - Vatican Museums
(Vatican State)
the original pine-cone
A pine-cone.

Piazza della Rotonda; via del Seminario; via del Caravita; via del Corso; piazza Venezia; piazza di San Marco; via di San Marco; via delle Botteghe Oscure; via Florida; via di Torre Argentina; via della Rotonda.

(the black numbers in brackets refer to the map above)

Almost square in shape, this district corresponds to the southernmost part of emperor Octavian Augustus's Regio VII, Via Lata.
Here stood a large temple dedicated to Egyptian gods Isis and Serapis, known as the Iseum Campense (i.e. "of the Campus Martius", to distinguish it from others in different parts of the city), no trace of which, unfortunately, is now standing; however, several relics connected to the temple, such as broken statues and small obelisks (see the Obelisks monograph), are still extant, scattered around the district.

l'aspetto attuale del Pantheon

Despite its size is rather small, Pigna boasts a high density of sites of historical and artistic importance.

In the north-western corner, next to the boundary with Colonna and Sant'Eustachio districts, stands the Pantheon [1], probably the most famous and glorious among ancient Roman buildings, and the one whose structure appears to be almost wholly preserved. In year 31 BC, general and consul Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a childhood friend of emperor Octavian Augustus, then one of his fellow soldiers, and finally his son-in-law, in the battle of Atius defeated the fleet of queen Cleopatra, led by Mark Antony. The victory put an end to the millenary kingdom of Egypt, which became in fact one of the provinces of the Roman Empire. On his coming back, general Agrippa wanted to build a large temple in memory of his feat, dedicating it to Mars, god of war, Venus, a goddess particularly worshipped by the gens Iulia (the family which Octavian Augustus came from), and god Iulius (i.e. Julius Caesar, deified after his death).
the Pantheon and its surroundings (replica in the Museum of Roman Civilization)
A - Pantheon and Arch of Pity
D - Baths of Agrippa
B - Temple of Matidia
E - Stagnum Agrippae
C - Saepta Iulia
F - Baths of Nero

Only after some time the dedication was extended to all gods, as expressed by the Greek name Pantheon (pan = "all" and theon = "god"), being Greek the language used in those days by the cultural elite.
The original building, though, did not last very long, because it was destroyed in a great fire in AD 80 and, once it had been reconstructed, it was burnt down again thirty years later, in 110, stricken by lightning. Therefore, the present Pantheon is its third version, which emperor Hadrian had built between 120 and 124.
According to Pliny the Elder, who described it shortly before the fire in year 80, the building had caryatids, bronze capitals, so it was at least partly different from the present one, whose only original part is the inscription on the architrave.

the Pantheon in 1860: the 'donkey years', added by Bernini
in the 1600s, were removed soon after this picture was taken
Once the Western Roman Empire had fallen, in 608 the eastern emperor Phocas, who was officially the owner of the city's monuments, came to Rome on a visit, and gave the Pantheon to pope Boniface IV as a token of friendship; so the pagan temple was turned into a church, entitled to St.Mary by the Martyrs: the remains of an enormous number of Christian martyrs were actually moved away from the catacombs and buried into the Pantheon (no less than 28 carts full of them, according to the chronicles of those days!), to protect them from pillage. About sixty years later, another eastern emperor, Constant II, took away from the Pantheon the friezes from the front and the bronze tiles; only the rim of the ceiling's opening was left covered in metal. The amount of bronze left below the porch was removed about one thousand years later by Gianlorenzo Bernini, by the will of pope Urban VIII, to build the famous canopy above the altar in St.Peter's (1633).
On the same occasion, Bernini added above the Pantheon two small belltowers, disliked by the people of Rome; actually, they were nicknamed the donkey ears. They remained in place until 1883, when they were taken down.

The shape of the Pantheon is rather simple: it is a huge cylinder, on whose top rests a hemispheric dome of the same height. The latter represents the most amazing feature of the building, measuring 43.30 metres (47 yds) in diameter; it still holds the record of being the largest dome in the world built out of unarmed concrete.
Only the top part of the dome is external; the rest is hidden within the uppermost of three sections into which the cylindrical part of the bulding is divided, marked on the outside by three cornices.
Looking at the Pantheon from the square, the dome is almost invisible, conceiled by the front of the porch. Entering the building, instead, the visitor abruptly discovers the enormous hemisphere, a scenographic effect cleverly conceived by Hadrian's architect.
In order to hold the enormous weight, the thickness of the dome gradually decreases towards the top (as shown below), but at the base it measures about 6 metres (20 ft), and a circular corridor runs through it.
The concrete used for its making contains progressively lighter aggregates towards the upper part, which ends with a large circular opening (almost 9 m or 30 ft wide).
The inside is lit by only two sources of light, the round opening and the grill above the doorway. In ancient times, a large number of torches and candles were needed; in the case of bad weather, the air, heated by the flames, ascended towards the dome, coming out of the opening, partly vaporising the drops of rain. This also gives reason for the rather frequent fires that broke out inside the Pantheon. Moreover, the floor, which is slightly concave towards the centre, has small holes for draining the rainwater (this still happens today).

a cross-section of the Pantheon: the distance from the top of the dome to the floor matches the
diameter of the cylindrical part, which partly encases it; note the different thickness of its wall

During the Middle Ages, legends developed about the dome's large hole, such as the one according to which it had been opened by demons, who tried to escape by the time the pagan temple was turned into a church, or the belief that the large bronze pine-cone that had been found by the Baths of Agrippa (see the NAME paragraph) once closed the round opening, acting as a cover. A 13th century chronicle that mentions the Pantheon can be found in the page The Ancestors Of Rome's Dialect - I).

the Pantheon's dome seen from inside (above ↑)
and from the outside (right →); the last trace
of the bronze layer is found around the hole's rim

The Pantheon is one of the only three ancient Roman buildings whose original bronze doors are still extant; however, in this case their shape was partly altered in 1563, when Pius IV had them extensively restored, and some extra decoration was added.
The only real alteration carried out on the Pantheon was a small central belltower that was added in 1270; its making is remembered by a plaque hanging to the right of the doorway. Around 1625, it was replaced by the aforesaid 'donkey ears', by Bernini. Therefore, with the exception of the bronze parts and of two large statues that occupied the tall niches below the porch (likely, those of Agrippa and of Octavian Augustus), the shape of the building remained virtually unchanged.

the Pantheon by the mid 1500s: the porch had been →
walled up and the building was surrounded by shops; note the central belltower

In front of the Pantheon, on the spot now occupied by the fountain, stood a monument of the early 2nd century AD, which over the Middle Ages was called the Arch of Pity (see Sant'Eustachio district).

detail of the Pantheon's bronze door:
an original stud, and a Renaissance one
During the age of Renaissance, when this part of Rome grew once again populated, the square became a busy marketplace (picture on the right). Besides stalls, small shops and taverns began to appear all around the ancient building; the porch ended up being walled off and almost turned into a indoor market. Only by the early 19th century, pope Pius VII put an end to all this, as described also in the page about Sant'Eustachio district.

At the back of the Pantheon stood the small Basilica of Neptune. It separated the temple from Rome's earliest public baths, whose making in 19 BC the same Agrippa had built; they drew water from an aqueduct built for this purpose, named Aqua Virgo (see the Aqueducts monograph), still working today.

↑ above, via dell'Arco della Ciambella;
on the right, remains of the Saepta Iulia,
along the left side of the Pantheon →
In the late 1800s the famous archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani claimed that the earliest Pantheon, before being burnt down, faced the Baths of Agrippa, i.e. with the main entrance orientated opposite the present one.
Nothing is left of the baths, except the remains of a large niche [2], now completely conceiled behind buildings, most of which dating to the 1800s. The street was named via dell'Arco della Ciambella (Doughnut Street) after the semicircular ruin. On the left side of the Pantheon stood the Saepta Iulia, a multifunctional building consisting of a very large rectangular courtyard enclosed by an arcade; only scanty remains of the latter are left, at a considerable depth below the present street level.
The Saepta had been built under Julius Caesar, for holding elections; during the Imperial Age the space was occupied by an open air market where works of art were sold. The arcades that ran along the long sides of the courtyard were named after the Argonauts (the one adjoining the Pantheon) and after Meleager, personages belonging to the Greek mythology.

In a nearby square, the medieval church of St.Mary above Minerva [3] was built over the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess of wisdom. The making of the present building started by the late 1200s, and ended by the mid 1300s; it is a rare specimen of Gothic architecture still standing in Rome, despite the plain brick fašade (refurbished in the early 18th century), and the 17th century inside furnishing, in Baroque style. During the 1400s, it was chosen as the church of the local community of people from Florence. For this reason it holds works by Tuscan artists such as Michelangelo, Filippino Lippi, Benozzo Gozzoli and Mino da Fiesole; but the list of names of those who contributed to its making is much longer: Giovanni di Cosma, Melozzo da Forlý, Antoniazzo Romano, Raffaello di Montelupo, Nanni di Baccio Bigio, Gianlorenzo Bernini and others; therefore, the church is almost a small museum spanning over four centuries of history of art.
In St.Mary above Minerva five popes and two important artists of the 1400s, painter Beato Angelico (friar Giovanni da Fiesole) and architect and sculptor Andrea Bregno. In addition, below the main altar lie the remains of Catherine of Siena, the Dominican tertiary who in 1376 convinced the pope Gregory XI in Avignon (France) to bring the papal seat back to Rome, and was therefore proclaimed a saint, patron of Italy and a Doctor of the Church.

On the left side of the building once stood a Dominican convent, where in 1633 Galileo Galilei was forced to reject his own scientific theories, accused of being heretical. The convent stood on the spot where once was the largest Iseum and Serapeum in Rome (see the Obelisks monograph), where several small obelisks and other ancient fragments come from.

St.Mary above Minerva, with Minerva's chick in the foreground

In the centre of the square, facing the church, stands a famous statue of a small elephant supporting one of the aforesaid obelisks. It was drawn by Bernini and it is popularly referred to by Romans as Minerva's chick (its story is told in Curious and Unusual). Since this is one of Rome's lowest spots, when during the past centuries the Tiber overflowed, the square and its surroundings were one of the earliest parts of the city to be submerged; several plaques on the right side of the church's fašade remember the shocking level reached by the floods on such occasions (see again Curious and Unusual).

Opposite the church, in a small recess of the square where via di Santa Chiara starts from, there is a tailor's shop called Gammarelli that manufactures and sells ecclesiastical clothing. There are many similar shops in the nearby streets, but this one has the privilege of being the official purveyor to the popes for their vestments, since 1798.
During the 'vacant see' period between popes, garments, headgear, shoes and other accessories worn by the future pontiff at the investiture are made in three different sizes, namely small, medium and large, so to fit whoever is elected, whatever build he may have.
Before the election, the garments are kept on display for a few days in the shop window, stirring the curiosity of reporters, tourists, and Roman people alike.

the vestments for the pope yet to be elected (April 2005) →
the gentleman on the left is Filippo Gammarelli, the tailor

Along the northern side of the district, a short distance away, stands the Baroque church dedicated to St.Ignatius of Loyola [4], the founder of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuit order.

The Glory of St.Ignatius, the stunning perspective
fresco of the ceiling, painted by Andrea Pozzo
The church was built according to the will of cardinal Ludovisi, a nephew of pope Gregory XV, but with few funds. Its making actually spanned most of the 17th century, and in the end it was left lacking some elements, such as the statues of the fašade, and even the dome; the latter was in fact painted in perspective, with extraordinary liveliness, by the Jesuit priest and painter Andrea Pozzo, who later painted also the ceiling of the nave with a stunning fresco, The Glory of St.Ignatius (c.1685). It depicts a view of the Kingdom of God, populated by several holy and allegorical personages, giving the onlooker the impression that the building has no ceiling. Its careful perspective, when viewed from the correct standpoint, in the centre of the nave, is one of the most perfect specimens of Baroque trompe l'oeil.

In a chapel of the same church stands the memorial monument of Gregory XV (d.1623), who proclaimed Ignatius of Loyola a saint, a work of the late 1600s in a glamorous late Baroque style.

St.Ignatius' was built over the grounds that in ancient times were occupied by the aforesaid temple dedicated to Isis and Serapis. During the late Middle Ages, another obelisk was found and set by the small church opposite St.Ignatius', called San Macuto [5] (it lies beyond the district boundary and therefore belongs to Colonna). The people used to call this monument 'mammautte spire', a corruption of Macuto; the upper part of the church's front is actually decorated with small spires shaped as obelisks.
In 1711 the obelisk from San Macuto was moved by Clement XI on top of the fountain in the nearby piazza della Rotonda, in front of the Pantheon (see Sant'Eustachio district).

The imposing building at the back of St.Ignatius is the Roman College [6]. This institution was founded by Ignatius of Loyola around 1540, for the purpose of instructing and preparing the Jesuits to their duty of spreading the gospel; but the early seats of the College, for which makeshift houses were used, soon grew insufficient..

the front of San Macuto with its spires

l'ala destra del Collegio Romano,
con la torretta astronomica
Soon after Ignatius' death (1556), a noblewoman gave the Order some houses, which around 1580 Gregory XIII had enlarged and turned into the present building; the heraldic dragon featured above the main doorway refers to the coat of arms of the Boncompagni family, the pope's own. The Roman College owned a very rich collection of volumes, up to the point that it formed the first nucleus of the National Library in Rome, that was in fact housed in this building from 1876 to 1975. Above the building's right wing stands a small astronomical tower, mentioned in Curious and Unusual.
From the same square, opposite the building, springs via della Gatta; it was named after a tiny cat carved in stone [7], now standing on the cornice of the large Palazzo Grazioli, about midway along the street. Also this is a fragment coming from the no longer standing Iseum Campense, among whose statues were also some depicting the felines sacred to the Egyptians.
the small Egyptian cat in via della Gatta

From the Iseum comes also an enormous foot wearing a sandal, after which a street of the district was called via PiŔ di Marmo (Marble Foot Street); the remain stands by the corner with via di Santo Stefano del Cacco [8]. The latter bears this name after the church of St.Stephen of Pinea (i.e. of the Pine-Cone), which was popularly called St.Stephen of the Cacco, a corruption of the Italian word for "macaque"; what gives reason for the nickname was a nearby fragment of a statue likely featuring god Anubis, coming from the Iseum, as well. The people believed that the fragment depicted a monkey, whence the bizarre title of the church. Later in time, the cacco statue was moved to the Egyptian section of the Vatican Museums, where it is now on display.
left, the huge foot in via PiŔ di Marmo; right, the so-called cacco (Vatican Museums)

The whole eastern side of the district boundary follows the southernmost part of via del Corso, which in the Middle Ages was called via Lata (i.e. "large street" in Latin); at an even earlier stage, over the Imperial Age, this was the first stretch of the Flaminian Way, the road that led towards the north, up to Ariminum (Rimini). Since the age of Renaissance, it became the main place where Rome's Carnival celebrations were held (see Curious and Unusual). As of the late 1500s, several families of the aristocracy had their mansions built here, although in time the buildings were often handed down to new owners.
Among them is the imposing Palazzo De Carolis [9], one of the latest mansions, as it dates back to the early 1700s. The De Carolis family sold it no more than twenty years later; after having changed owner several times, in 1908 it became the head office of the Bank of Rome, to whom it still belongs (despite the bank is now part of the Unicredit group); actually, it is more commonly referred to as Bank of Rome Palace.

On the corner of the building along the present via Lata, below one of the windows, hangs the Facchino ("Porter"), one of the popular 'talking statues', described in detail in Curious and Unusual.

← the small Facchino fountain

In front of the small fountain stands the church of St.Mary in Via Lata [10], one of the sites where the historical stratification of Rome's buildings is most clearly seen. It stands over the remains of a large establishment dating to the early Imperia Age, that had three aisles supported by pillars, and stretched for no less than 100 m (110 yds), at right angles with the main axis of the present church. In those days, the street level was about 5 metres (or yards) below the modern one. The real purpose of the first building remains obscure; but around the 3rd century it was turned into a deposit, by separating the aisles in different individual halls, by means of walls between the pillars. Towards the end of the 6th century or the early 7th, the site became a diakonia, apparently managed by monks who came from the east; the halls were once again joined and the walls were decorated with different series of paintings, featuring religious themes. In 1049, a first church was built above the diakonia, while the underground halls were used as a crypt. In the late 1400s, pope Innocent VIII had the church completely refurbished. In 1580 the belltower was built by Martino Longhi the Elder. Finally, between 1658 and 1663, Pietro da Cortona rebuilt the whole church for the second time, under commission by Alexander VII, giving it its present shape in Baroque style. He added a new fašade and a fine entrance hall, connected to the crypt by means of a double flight of steps. On this occasion, an altar was set in one of the underground halls, with an altarpiece in relief by Cosimo Fancelli (one of Bernini's followers).
The strong humidity of the underground halls (one of them also contains a well) contributed to the rather bad condition of the fresco paintings; in 1960, what was left of them was detached, finding earlier ones beneath the first layer. They are now held by the National Roman Museum (Crypta Balbi branch).
According to a very popular legend during the Middle Ages, the halls of the crypt were believed to be the house of St.Luke, where St.Peter stayed as a guest, and where St.Paul was held in home detention for two years; a chain was actually found in the well, which the apostle was allegedly bound with. In the same hall, an ancient column is inscribed with a symbolic sentence by Paul: verbum Dei non est alligatum, i.e. "the word of God is not bound".

the martyrdom of St.Herasmus, fresco of the 8th century, detached from the
crypt of St.Mary in Via Lata (National Roman Museum, Crypta Balbi branch)

the main courtyard of Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
The mansion adjoining the church is Palazzo Doria Pamphilj [11], another aristocratic residence that occupies the whole rest of the block. It had been built for the Aldobrandini family; when Camillo Pamphilj, a nephew of pope Innocent X, married Olimpia Aldobrandini (the widow of a member of the Borghese), the couple moved into the mansion, and started to enlarge it, until it reached its present size. The front that faces via del Corso was finished in c.1735. When the Pamphilj family extinguished, in 1760, since one of Camillo and Olimpia's daughters had married a member of the Doria, the property was bequeathed to the latter family, whose descendants are still the owners. The building houses an important art gallery, with paintings by masters of the late Renaissance and Baroque Ages.

The last building along via del Corso, with a front towards piazza Venezia, is Palazzo Bonaparte, a work by architect De Rossi finished in 1677. This mansion too had two owners, before being purchased in 1818 by Maria Letizia Ramolino, the mother of emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who spent there the last eighteen years of her life. On the corner with via del Corso, the first floor features a typical hanging balcony, entirely closed, from where the owner and her guests could enjoy the view over via del Corso and piazza Venezia, sheltered from prying eyes. A turret at the back bears the name of the family in its upper part.

Palazzo Venezia; the arched front of St.Mark's is partly visible on the left Palazzo Venezia [12] stands on the very corner of the district pointing towards the south-west. This huge building that the Venetian pope Paul II had built for his own family around 1465 shows the transition from a late medieval style (massive in size, still aiming at a defensive purpose, with crenellation at the top, and a stout tower in the corner, called 'the grass-snake tower') to a Renaissance one (with windows neatly arranged along three storeys, marked by elegant frames in white marble, and repeated around the building's entrances, which bear the coat of arms of the pope's family, and other architecture details in the fashion of those of ancient monuments). During the second half of the 15th century, the structure of Palazzo Venezia inspired other aristocratic mansions in Rome, such as Palazzo dei Penitenzieri (in Borgo district) and Palazzo Capranica (in Colonna district).
It was built in this part of the city, which in those days was almost desertic, because here already stood the basilica of St.Mark, the patron of Venice, which was actually encased by the huge mansion (picture above). Later in time, it became the seat of the embassy of the Republic of Venice, until it existed (1797); then it was turned into the embassy of Austria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It became again an Italian property only in 1916. Today it hosts an important museum of antiquities and works of art.

The church of St.Mark, inserted in the southern wing of the building, is one of Rome's most ancient churches, having been founded in the 4th century; its apse has a mosaic dated 833, the year in which the early building was entirely refurbished because it had fallen into bad condition.

bust of Paul II, Pietro Barbo
(by Paolo Romano, c.1470)

the tombstone of Vannozza Cattanei
On the right wall below the porch of the church hangs a large and rather damaged tombstone: it belonged to Vannozza Cattanei (d.1518), the mistress of cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (the future pope Alexander VI), who gave her four children, among whom the famous Lucrezia. The lady had been originally buried in a chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo's (Campo Marzio district), together with her elder son Juan (Giovanni); during the sack of Rome (1527), the two tombs were vandalized by the lansquenets, up to the point that the only part left was Vannozza's tombstone, later moved to St.Mark's.

In a corner of the square faced by St.Mark there is another "talking statue", known as Madama Lucrezia, a large female bust, one of the many remains from the Iseum Campense previously mentioned; the figure is believed to represent goddess Isis herself, or one of the priestesses of her cult.

piazza Venezia in a photograph by Ettore Roesler Franz, c.1885: Palazzo Venezia
(right), Palazzetto Venezia (centre), Palazzo Bolognetti-Torlonia (left, taken down)
and, in the background, the shadow of the tower of Paul III (taken down, as well)
The building with crenellation left to the statue is Palazzetto Venezia [13], which up to the late 1800s stood in the centre of the present piazza Venezia.
Its position was at right angles with the larger Palazzo Venezia, to which it was connected. When the making of the Vittoriano memorial (see Campitelli district) began, in order to enlarge the square, the building was taken down and rebuilt on its present location, about 50 m (or yds) off the original spot.
the district fountain of the Pine-cone

In front of Palazzetto Venezia is the small Fountain of the Pine-cone (1927, above), that features the symbol of the district.

Another site in Pigna district bound to Ignatius of Loyola is the church of Jesus [14] (officially entitled The Most Holy Name of Jesus by Argentina, the name of a nearby tower, see Sant'Eustachio district), which stands in piazza del Ges¨. It is the main church of the Jesuits, whose founder Ignatius had built next to the first seat of the order, commissioning the project around 1550. However, the funds for the making of the church were raised only a few years after his death, and the building was finished in 1584. The inside furnishing, instead, dates back to the mid 1600s.
The ceiling of the only wide nave was painted with another scenographic trompe l'oeil fresco, in Baroque style: a large work by Baciccio (Giovan Battista Gaulli) with a perspective effect, similar in concept to the one in St.Ignatius' church, but with figures in painted cardboard hanging from the corners, which enhance the tridimensional perception of the composition. Here the saint was buried, as well, at the base of an enormous altar, built in precious marbles and gilded bronze, drawn by Andrea Pozzo (1700 circa); its most peculiar feature, rather than its lavishness, consists in the fact that every day, at 5:30 pm sharp, amidst music and lights, thanks to a device, the altarpiece shifts downwards, until it disappears, revealing at the back a statue of the saint cast in silver: a perfect late Baroque machine, still working today.
the altar where St.Ignatius is buried, and the silver statue conceiled by altarpiece

By the south-western corner of the district, an important relic of Republican Rome is found in largo di Torre Argentina, the so-called Sacred Area [15]. It is a large archaeologic complex that dates back to the 3rd century BC, filling the whole central part of the square; up to 1927 it lay mostly buried below the street level, with many houses standing over the remains.
It includes what has been left standing of four temples, built very closely one to the other, and identified, from north to south, by means of letters: A, B, C and D; the latter temple is still almost entirely buried below the street level.

← Sacred Area, temples B (in the foreground) and A

Before the excavation campaign, above temple A stood the medieval church of St.Nicholas of the Cesarini; it was named after the nearby Palazzo Cesarini, taken down as well, belonging to the powerful Cesarini family, whose properties stretched beyond the square (see Sant'Eustachio district).
It was previously called St.Nicholas of the Lime-makers, because during the early Middle Ages a furnace had been established nearby, where ancient marbles were burned to make lime, for building purposes. Two small apses of the church are still standing, with traces of paintings.
Immediately behind these ruins are the remains of two public toilets, dating to the Imperial Age; this proves that 300-400 years after their making, the temples were still being attended.
At the back of temple C, on the boundary between this district and Parione, in ancient Roman times stood a large hall, Pompey's Curia, used as a temporary meeting place for senators; in 44 BC, the official seat of the Senate, in the Roman Forum, was not useable, because works were in progress to make room for the Forum of Caesar. Therefore, this is the site where on the Ides of March (i.e. March 15) of the same year, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by Brutus and his conspirators.

The Sacred Area is not accessible to the public; it hosts the largest stray cat sanctuary in Rome, where animals are looked after and followed by a team of voluntaries and veterinaries; the office is located by the side of the archaeologic ground, where it is possible to enquire for adopting one of the colony's guests, or purchase fancy cat-themed gadgets; for further details, visit the sanctuary's website.

one of the guests of the cat colony