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Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, rising up from the Via Sacra, near the entrance to the Forum, is unmistakable. It’s one of the most surprising monuments in the whole place. The Senate dedicated it to the emperor Antoninus Pius and his wife, Faustina, deified after their death, as the inscription way up high tells us.

The temple is one of the few well-preserved buildings here because, during the Middle Ages, it was transformed into a church and thus escaped the rabid quest for building material—but only just! If you look closely, on the upper part of the columns, you’ll see traces of the ropes used during one of the attempts to pull them down for re-use.

And there’s another curious fact: the door of the church opens as though suspended in mid-air at the center of the facade as well as being unreachably high. This is evidence that, when the door was created, the level of the terrain that had deposited over the ruins of the Forum had reached that height!