Temple of Hercules
Location: Rome, Italy, Europe
The round Temple of Hercules in Rome, Italy, is a remnant of a Greek sanctuary that dates back to the second century B.C.
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Temple of Hercules
The Temple of Hercules, situated in the Forum Boarium (cattle market) on the eastern bank of the Tiber, is one of the oldest buildings in Rome. It is purported to be the work of the Greek architect Hermodoros of Salamina, who engineered a circular layout of 20 Corinthian columns orbiting around a central cylindrical stone block. This structure was created to be the circular temple where Hercules rested after his tenth labor of rescuing the cattle of the monster, Geryon. The temple’s famed columns are slender and exhibit no swelling for aesthetic purposes, instead extending directly upwards giving the structure a lofty appearance. These fluted column shafts are surmounted by beautifully rendered Corinthian capitals. Their highly articulated acanthus leaves, deeply carved stalks or cauliculi, and curling volutes create a contrast between light and shadow in the carving. The temple eventually took on a Christian identity in 1140 when the Papal Bull of Innocent III decreed that the temple be used as a church dedicated to San Stefano.
With a history of continuous occupation stretching back over 2,000 years, the Temple of Hercules represents a palimpsest, or base, of architectural layers and uses. The temple is the only surviving ancient sacred structure in Rome that is made of Greek marble. It is composed of Pentelic marble, a stone originating in the quarries of Mount Pentelikon in the plain of Attica. The building also houses a major work of the Roman 15th century, a scarcely documented era in comparison to baroque architectural and decorative arts. The temple remained an important icon of the Roman urban landscape into the 18th century and was significant enough for the renowned draftsman Giovanni Battista Piranesi to record in his seminal work Vedute di Roma. Through the World Monuments Fund (WMF) conservation initiative, the different phases of the temple’s Late Republican, Imperial, Medieval and Early Modern history were preserved.
Bocca della Verità, Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18, 00186 Roma
Tel: 0039 (0)6 488991