Ancient Rome was a period of time that was known for violence both in battle and during peacetime.
Many ancient Roman architectures were created during these hundreds of years that depicted battle scenes and were dedicated to heroic battle figures and emperors.
At the same time, the structures would house gladiator fighting where they would fight each other to the death. Gladiator contests would sometimes include fighting animals.
Buildings were needed to conduct these events, and they would need to house many thousands of Roman citizens who would want to view these violent and gory events.
These buildings also were constructed for various other reasons like shopping, meetings, and games.
Despite their purposes, many of these buildings were erected with materials that have withstood thousands of years by enduring volcanoes, earthquakes, and weather.
Here is the list of the top ten ancient Roman architectures even created.
With tens of thousands of observers and fans sitting in an amphitheater, these Romans watched eagerly as gladiators fought each other to the death.
This is a common event at the Colosseum in ancient Rome. The Colosseum was built and used for several purposes.
However, most of them seemed to be a blood-thirsty battle among animals, humans or both. Besides gladiator matches, the Colosseum would also host fights among different types of animals.
Built in about 72 AD and given to Emperor Vespasian, the Colosseum could house over 50,000 people in the 620-foot-long structure. It was constructed using both stone and concrete materials, and it had various Greek architectural columns.
For over four hundred years, the Colosseum was used frequently by the Roman people for entertainment purposes. Unfortunately, neglect and environmental catastrophes would wreak havoc on the Colosseum.
One of those unfortunate events included the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii.
After this took place in 79 AD, the Colosseum would be rebuilt and the emperor would reopen the structure for several months of games at the Colosseum.
Over the next several centuries, the Colosseum would continue to fall into ruin due to weather-related events.
If a structure was built hundreds of years ago, it is understood that the structure will most likely not be able to stand the test of time due to weather and neglect.
However, the Pantheon is considered to be the most maintained building from this time period. It was built in 125 CE.
Two other structures were built previously where the Pantheon sits, but they burned down before the current Pantheon was built in the 2nd century.
Even though it is unknown why the Pantheon was built, possibilities include a temple or a place to gather to accept the emperor. Like many buildings, they were dedicated to a battle hero, emperor, or other leaders.
In this case, the Pantheon was devoted to the contributions of Marcus Agrippa.
The Pantheon was built on a base that measured over a meter tall and included many building materials that have endured natural disasters, erosion, and many years of wear.
Marble is a primary element seen in different parts of the Pantheon. Both the steps and parts inside the structure contain marble features.
With a concrete dome, the Pantheon is very similar to what it looked like during the 2nd century.
3. The Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus is an ancient Roman structure that actually tells a story. Carved into the sides and in the arch of the building are scenes from battles and victorious events.
The Arch of Titus was built as a dedication to Titus after he died. After his death, his relative built the Arch of Titus and bestowed it as a symbol to Titus and Vespasian.
Intricately detailed, one scene depicts Titus winning a chariot race and another scene shows treasures being taken from a Jerusalem temple.
The showstopper scene on the Arch of Titus runs the length of the whole arch as a commemorative march traveling. All of these scenes were carefully crafted as an allegiance to the strength and bravery exhibited by Titus and Vespasian.
These scenes were all carved skillfully into marble.
4. Catacombs of Rome
Being buried underground is not an unusual ritual for burials; however, being buried underneath the city in a tomblike tunnel is rather uncommon.
During the Ancient Roman times, different religions built catacombs under their cities to entomb the bodies of the deceased.
At first, it was believed that the Catacombs of Rome were used for different purposes, but research has shown that these tunnels were simply used for burial purposes. These tombs still exist today.
Touring the Catacombs of Rome are allowed in some places. However, in order to tour other catacombs, one must get permission from the Catholic Church.
Initially, the Jewish faith used catacombs in Rome as their burial rituals during the earliest centuries. Years later, Christians began doing the same.
The Catacombs of Rome contain the bodies of those who belonged to the Christian faith, especially Catholicism. Only the Vatican can give permission for visitors to tour the Catacombs of Rome.
5. Baths of Diocletian
Imagine bathing in a communal area. In ancient Rome, the Romans would bathe in a structure located in the center of the city.
There were several different parts to the building, not just a bath. As a structure that has steams for bathing, this seems to be a complicated construction to have been built hundreds of years ago.
The Baths of Diocletian were not only impressive due to their more modern features, but also the size of the structure. Built in the late third century, the building was over 32 acres in size which is comparable to about 43,000 square feet.
This building would be enormous even according to today’s standards. As a matter of fact, several thousand people could be in the bath at the same time.
However, the building contained other rooms as well. These included a gym, libraries and a pool. In the bathing area, there were three separate types of bathing rooms with those being for a cold, warm and hot bath.
6. Circus Maximus
As a structure that had multiple purposes, the Circus Maximus was a popular place for the ancient Romans. One of the most interesting purposes of this facility included carrying out public death sentences.
Other events would take place here as well including gladiator fights, animal competitions, and games. Many other structures hosted these types of events, but the Circus Maximus hosted prominent events that have been told through generations.
First, an important series of games called the Roman Games were held at the Circus Maximus. Another gladiator fight was held here, but it involved the gladiators fighting as a team against almost two dozen elephants.
This contest, called the Pompey contest, was held to determine who would win with the man versus beast.
Built in the 6th century BCE, Circus Maximus was built and somewhat used as a chariot racetrack and became the largest structure in Rome at the time.
It was also the oldest too. Over two hundred thousand people could comfortably sit to watch the events.
A marketplace was set up out front for local merchants to sell their wares at the beginning of the events.
Today, the Circus Maximus still holds functions, but the structure has been restored.
7. Trajan’s Forum
To describe Trajan’s Forum as huge would still be an understatement when describing its size. The Trajan’s Forum stood 12 stories high.
Creating a structure during ancient times so that it could have multiple stories was impressive. The main focus of the structure included in the Trajan’s Forum was the basilica.
The main function was for political meetings and discussions in Rome. In addition to the elaborate basilica, there were a Greek and a Latin library surrounded by markets and temples.
Built in 106 AD, the Trajan’s Forum was a very busy center in Rome during this time. The structures were adorned with statues and decorative pieces.
When the Romans became victorious at Trajan, they built and named the structure after this triumph. With extremely large structures, the Trajan’s Forum could hold thousands of people simultaneously.
Needless to say, the Trajan’s Forum was the largest forum built during ancient Roman times.
8. Amphitheater at Pompeii
Pompeii is known for being covered in ash for many years after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. However, Pompeii also had remarkable structures.
Pompeii’s amphitheater wasn’t discovered until the 1700s underneath a sheet of dirt and dust. The aftermath of the volcanic eruption actually preserved Pompeii’s structures.
The amphitheater is one of the oldest since it was built in 80 BC. Despite its age, the amphitheater also has a major difference when compared to other amphitheaters during the ancient Rome era.
Many other amphitheaters contained a concealed section that was housed under the main level.
However, Pompeii’s amphitheater did not have an underground part. Instead, it had a covering that could encase the top of the structure during bad weather.
9. House of Augustus
As the first Roman emperor, Augustus was an important man whose house was just as prominent as he was. Known simply as the House of Augustus, the structure was built by Hortensio and given to Augustus.
This two-story structure was already impressive, but Augustus enlarged the house in order to provide more space as well as to appear as a tribute to Apollo.
The neighboring temple that was dedicated to Apollo was used as Augustus’s inspiration when he decided to make changes to his house.
Since Augustus was an emperor, his house included many decorations and paintings that adorned the house.
Situated on Palatine Hill, Augustus could see his Roman citizens below from his house. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the House of Augustus was unearthed by historians.
10. Theatre of Marcellus
In order to build the Theatre of Marcellus, other historic structures were demolished so that there was enough room for the Theatre of Marcellus.
When the idea to build the Theatre of Marcellus was considered in the late first century, the Flaminian Circus building was torn down.
The construction of the building began during Julius Caesar’s and Augustus’s reign.
As a dedication to Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the theatre was believed to be the most significant structure of its type in Rome.
The theatre was used for many common reasons for the fine arts including music, drama and poetry.
Being one of the largest theatres, the Theatre of Marcellus could hold about 20,000 people.
How to Cite this Article
1. To cite this article in an academic-style article or paper, use:
James Varon, “Top 10 Ancient Roman Architectures”, History Hippo, July 16, 2022, https://historyhippo.com/ancient-roman-architectures/. Accessed February 7, 2023
2. To link to this article in the text of an online publication, please use this URL: https://historyhippo.com/ancient-roman-architectures/
3. If your web page requires an HTML link, please insert this code:
<a href=”https://historyhippo.com/ancient-roman-architectures/”>Top 10 Ancient Roman Architectures</a>