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2002 photos
Curia Julia (Senate House)

Roman Forum, Rome, Italy
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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Basilica style.

Originally, the lower part of the front wall was decorated with slabs of marble


Coffered wood ceiling

Note rounded arches and clearstory windows

Clearstory window


Marble steps and floor

Floor detail

Curia Julia was the new senate house begun by Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. just before his assassination and continued by the next triumvirs. It was completed and dedicated in 29 B.C. by Augustus. Like its predecessor, the curia Hostilia, and the curia Pompeia, it was inaugurated as a temple. Augustus also built a portico, called the Chalcidicum, in front of the facade. The lines of holes in the facade are from the roof of the portico.

Domitian restored the curia in 94 A.D. The curia burned down in the fire of Carinus and rebuilt by Diocletian (Emperor from 284 to 305).  and the existing building dates from his time.

The building is of brick, originally clad with marble on the lower half and stucco on the upper half. The original roof was flat; the current is modern. A flight of steps led up to the entrance door. Over the door are three large windows.


The interior of the Curia Julia is fairly austere. There are three broad steps that could have fitted five rows of chairs, or a total of about three hundred senators. The walls are stripped, but originally were veneered in marble two-thirds of the way up.

In the back of the room, between two doors, was the podium of the president of the senate. At one side of this is the base of the statue of Victoria, donated by Augustus and traditionally kept in the Curia. The marble floor is from the time of Diocletian.

The Curia Julia is one of only a handful of Roman structures to survive to the modern day intact.  The building, wonderfully preserved, owes this to the conversion into the Church of Sant'Adriano in the 7th century CE. The remains of Byzantine wall paintings are from this period.

The church was demolished in the 1930s and the building restored to its 4th century appearance.

See also the doors from the Curia Julia, now in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. (Online Dec. 2012)

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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