Rome Italy Travel: Ancient Roman Forum House of the Vestal Virgins Opens
|House of Vestal Virgins Rome Forum|
Great news for Rome Italy travelers and for those on a cruise around Italy. After twenty years, Rome has reopened the House of the Vestal Virgins, remains of an ancient Roman palace flanking ruins of the imperial seat of government in the Roman Forum.
The House of the Vestal Virgins, (Atrium Vestae), was the residence of the Vestal Virgins, the high priestesses of the cult of Vesta. The cult of Vesta is dates back to its founder Numa Pompilius (753-673 BC; king of Rome, 715-673 BC) who was the legendary second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. The Vestal Virgins had their residence in the same location from the 6th century BCE to the end of the 4th century CE. It is located on the Forum Romanum, just behind the Temple of Vesta, between the Regia and the Palatine Hill.
|Statues of the vestals surround pool in House of Vestal Virgins|
Major renovations to the structure were inaugurated with the opening of a new visitors' route through the ruins called Via Nova, which traverses the northwest slope of the Palatine Hill overlooking the Forum and ends at the Atrium Vestae, or ancient palace.
The configuration of Via Nova is believed to date back to urban planning made in the wake of a blaze that razed much of Rome in 64 AD, but may be older.
More than 4,000 meters were refurbished along the route, of which the Atrium Vestae occupies 1,568 square meters. Work focused on restoring the structural stability and integrity of the ruins.
The high priestess selected six initiates between the ages of six and 10 from Roman patrician families. Physical perfection was an important criteria. The girls took vows of chastity and served the Cult of Vesta for 30 years.
Vestal priestesses were revered, lived in luxury and relative independence, and were free from obligations to marry and rear children. At the end of their 30-year service they could choose whether to marry or remain with the cult.
The renovation and reopening of the House of the Vestal Virgins was conducted as part of a larger program for the rehabilitation of the Roman Forum, funded with 19 million euros from private and public funds, according to Rome councilor Dino Gasperini.
Gasperini called the opening of Via Nova and the House of the Vestal Virgins "a goal that waited too many years."
"It is another place that has been returned to the city and to tourists who come to Rome to admire the archeology," said Culture Undersecretary Francesco Giro.
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