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Why is the Hadrian Temple so exquisite?

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The construction of the Hadrian Temple was probably commissioned by the emperor Hadrian. Who intended to dedicate it to his wife, Vibia Sabina, who died and was revered in 136. The works were concluded, however, around 145 by his son and successor, Antonino Pio, who dedicated it to the revered Hadrian.

So, the Temple consisted of eight columns on the short sides and thirteen on the long ones. It stood on a high podium accessible from the east side via a staircase. Therefore, the architrave, primarily restored, has a rich decoration with palmettes and lion heads. The interior was made up of semi-columns resting on high plinths decorated with reliefs depicting the personifications of the Roman Provinces. These reliefs are found today in the Capitoline Museums and the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

In 1695, Carlo Fontana incorporated the remains of the Temple into the Palazzo Della Dogana di Terra for the goods that arrived in Rome by land. So, in 1831, the building housed the headquarters of the Rome Stock Exchange. In 1873 the building was purchased by the Chamber of Commerce, which made it its base. Virginio Vespignani carried out the renovations.

Representation of the Hadrian Temple

hadrian temple


Where is the Hadrian Temple located?

The Temple of Hadrian is located in Rome, in Piazza di Pietra and so called due to the presence of the ruins of the building in the sacred region of the Campus Martius. The Temple was most likely started during the principality of Hadrian to house the remains of his wife, Vibia Sabina, who died in 136. Still, the actual construction is due to his successor, Antonino Pio. It was finished around 145. Therefore, the version most shared by scholars is that it was erected in honor of the emperor Hadrian. Who was deified after his death?

The remains were incorporated into the building, built on its ruins in the 17th century by the Swiss-Italian architect Carlo Fontana. The building was originally a Vatican customs house, and from 1831, it was used as the seat of the Rome Stock Exchange. In the square, still visible, eleven of the thirteen original columns on the north side stand out. For many centuries it has been misidentified with the name of the Temple of Neptune.

The Regional Catalogs tell us that the Temple was located in Regio IX. Campo Marzio, about the adjacent Temple of Matidia, is dedicated by the emperor to his mother-in-law, Salonina Matidia. This area was intensely built and embellished by this emperor and was later reserved for imperial funerals. Among the various monuments in the area, we find two strings and two honorary columns dedicated to Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. The latter was strongly inspired by Trajan’s Column, albeit with slightly different techniques. 

How was the Temple of Hadrian designed?

The Temple of Hadrian was designed as an octastyle peripteral (with eight columns on the front). And had 13 Corinthian columns of white marble on the long sides. Today only 11 Corinthian columns remain along the north side. Fifteen meters high and with a diameter of 1.44 meters, raised above a podium of peperino 4 meters high. They were buried in the square due to the rising of the street level. Above the columns is also a section of their original entablature, which continues the modernly redone one on the side wings of the building that incorporated the Temple.

The walls of the cell were at the time covered with marble, ascertained by the fixing holes of the slabs. The cell, still visible inside the modern building, had no apse. Punctuated by semi-columns and covered by a barrel vault with coffers. Hadrian’s policy of pacification inspired the sense of the decorations. And reorganization of the empire at the end of a period of great conquests carried out by his predecessor, the emperor Trajan.

Surrounding the Temple was a sizeable arcaded square (about 100 x 90 meters). The columns of ancient yellow marble opened towards Via Lata (now Via del Corso), adorned with a monumental arch. Of which two reliefs, at the Museo de Conservatori and Palazzo Torlonia in Rome. This arch has been identified with the one defined as “di Antonino.” Also known as “di Claudio” and “die Tosetti.” From the name of the family who lived in Piazza Sciarra. Which has now disappeared following the widening of the Via del Corso, the arch, albeit ruined and in ruins. It was still given the name to via dell’Archetto in the 18th century. It was demolished due to the destruction of the monument.

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Today, only a part of the arcade of the long north side of the building remains, with eleven columns 15 meters high and 1.44 meters in diameter. Inside the Sala delle Grida of the former Stock Exchange, you can witness the spectacular Journey through time. Thanks to Hadrianeum, the 22-minute video was made by the scientific popularizer Paco Lanciano. And live an immersive experience in Ancient Rome.

An original projection system gives you the illusion of flying over the city in different eras and moving inside monuments, palaces, churches, and squares. Thanks to an audio guide in eight languages, a narrator accompanies you in the story on the splendid Piazza di Pietra. The Temple overlooks; every evening, at nightfall, you can experience twelve minutes of intense emotions with Lucius Adriano.

Indeed, the colonnade of the Hadrian Temple suddenly lights up thanks to the play of lights, sounds, and images created by Paco Lanciano, physicist, scientist, and great popularizer of Roman history. Who has already put his signature on other successful multimedia shows in the capital? Such as Journey into the Forums – in collaboration with Piero Angela – and Welcome to Rome. Therefore, the fascinating multi-projection, using six synchronized projectors, reconstructs the Temple’s birth. Destruction, dispossession, and reuse until it becomes the seat of the Chamber of Commerce.