Temple of Portunus
Location: Rome, Italy, Europe
The Temple of Portunus in Rome, Itlay, is one of the most intact examples of an ancient Roman Temple because it was converted to a church in medieval times.
Explore nearby sites
Recommend this page
Temple of Portunus
The Temple of Portunus, dating to the first century B.C., is a rare survivor of Roman Republican architecture. It is a reminder of the magnificence of the Forum Boarium (cattle market) in antiquity, once a major commercial area along the banks of the Tiber. The temple was dedicated to Portunus, a youthful god associated with water crossings and seaports. The rectangular building rests on a high podium with a single flight of steps leading to a pronaos or portico and a single cella or walled chamber. Although this ground plan is typical of Etruscan temple architecture, the columns are in the Greek Ionic order, a combination characteristic of the architecture of the Roman Republican period. The structure was built out of travertine and tuff, originally plastered to imitate Greek marble. The frieze is decorated with garlands, putti or cherubs, candelabra, and the popular ancient bucranium or ox-skull motif. The building was converted to use as a Christian church in the 9th century when the interior of the cella was decorated with a fine cycle of frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Mary. This undoubtedly saved the structure from being pulled apart for building materials. In the 1920s, the temple was freed of additions that had been added over time, and some conservation measures were taken to protect the structure that has survived intact for more than two millennia.
The Temple of Portunus is one of the most important monuments surviving from the period of the Roman Republic. Studied and admired since the Renaissance, it has been used to illustrate many treatises on classical architecture. World Monuments Fund (WMF) helped to restore this temple as well as the Temple of Hercules, which lies immediately to the south. With the completion of this project both ancient temples of the Forum Boarium have been saved. WMF’s project in collaboration with Italian authorities will provide a greater understanding of the importance of the Forum Boarium, its history and evolution. The project also highlights the other structures and areas in Rome that once formed part of this important commercial center in antiquity.
Bocca della Verità, Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18, 00186 Roma
Tel: 0039 (0)6 488991