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Parco archeologico del Colosseo - Santa Maria Antiqua (Foro Romano)


Parco archeologico del Colosseo


Santa Maria Antiqua


Located at the foot of the northwest corner of the Palatine Palace towards the Forum, Santa Maria Antiqua is a unique evidence of early medieval, gothic and Byzantine Rome. With the spread of the Christian cult even in the heart of the ancient city, the imperial Palace hosted a chapel, transformed into a church that became the bishop's seat. 

Santa Maria Antiqua represents a key element to understand  the cultural and urban development of the Roman Forum from Antiquity into the first centuries of the Christian period. 

Excavated in 1900, the church contains a unique collection of medieval wall paintings from the 6th to late 8th century. The pictorial cycles are an exceptional document of the development not only of Roman painting but also of the Greek Byzantine world, since Iconoclasm erased most of the sacred images of that era. The church was abandoned in the 9th century, after an earthquake buried the buildings in 847.

The church of Santa Maria Antiqua was so hosted in a monumental building of the Domitian period, dating back to the end of the first century AD. Its decoration presents various phases, witnessed by the wall called ‘palimpsest’, a milestone in the history of medieval painting. The ‘palimpsest’ wall, located in the Presbytery, has seven layers of decoration, different in style and date, from the fourth to the eighth century AD. Dating back to the pagan phase is a painted plaster, while the first phase of the chapel is shown by the image of the Queen of Heaven, the Virgin Mary with a crown enthroned with the Child and an angel. Slightly later is the Annunciation with the so called 'beautiful angel', while the fragments with the heads of two Fathers of the Church date back to the period of Pope John VII (705-707), who was responsible for the extensive repairs and decorations that currently survive, as in the apsidal arch. The cycle with the martyrdom of saints Quirico and Giulitta, very well preserved, decorates the chapel of Theodotus (on the left of the presbytery), dating back to the period of Pope Zacharias (741-752). The chapel, where Theodotus and his family are also depicted, is dominated by the Crucifixion. The chapel to the right of the presbytery is dedicated to the Medici Saints.

The historical stratification of the church is explained through digital technology: video mapping reproduces the missing parts of the decorative elements of the two chapels on the sides of the presbytery, and light mapping locate the different layers of the ‘palimpsest’, while the narration of the history of the building and its paintings is illustrated by multimedia devices.

In the left aisle there is a theory of saints of the Greek and Latin Church, with Christ at the center, surmounted by stories from the Old Testament. The frescoed spaces of the schola cantorum are also well preserved.


Domitian Ramp and Oratorio of Quaranta Martiri 


The entrance hall to the monumental Domitian Ramp, that led from the Forum to the Imperial Palaces on the Palatine, was transformed with the Christianization of the Forum into an Oratory.

The chapel was dedicated to forty Christian soldiers condemned to die in the icy waters of a lake at Sebaste in Armenia, during the imperial persecutions at the beginning of the 4th century AD. The episode is represented in two large frescoes dating back to the 8th century. The room also preserves on the right wall a fresco with Sant'Antonio hermit and a floor made of marble fragments.

The Oratory is set up with panels and video that narrate the evolution and the discovery of this space full of history located in the center of the Forum.


Forum Pass SUPER ticket (from 1 January 2020)

Full rate € 16.00; Reduced rate € 2.00

Ticket valid for 1 day with 1 entrance to Roman Forum / Imperial Forums / Palatine archaeological area and SUPER sites (subject to daily maximum visitor capacity). Admission to temporary exhibition/s included.

Full Experience ticket (from January 1, 2020)

Full rate € 22.00; Reduced rate € 2.00

Admission to Colosseum with Arena or Underground levels, Roman Forum, Palatine, special SUPER Sites and Imperial Forums.

Ticket valid for 2 days with 1 entrance to the Colosseum and 1 entrance to the Forums and Palatine area. Admission to temporary exhibition included.


Visitors are reminded that the sites included as part of the SUPER ticket (the Palatine Museum, the Neronian Cryptoporticus, the houses of Augustus and Livia, the Loggia Mattei, the Domus Transitoria, Santa Maria Antiqua with the Oratory of the Forty Martyrs and Domitian’s Ramp, the Temple of Romulus) will be closed to the public during free entry days (First Sunday of the month from October 2019 to March 2020; May 9, June 5 and 29, September 23, October 4, November 4, 18 December).



piazza di Santa Maria Nova , 53
00186 Roma


Orario invernale (dall'ultima domenica di ottobre - all'ultimo sabato di marzo) 13:00 - 15:30 Orario estivo (dall'ultima domenica di marzo al 30 settembre) 14:30 - 18:15 Orario autunnale (dal 1 Ottobre all'ultimo sabato di Ottobre) 9.00-17.45 Chiuso il

Tel: +39 06 69984418
Chiusura: Venerdì
Intero: 22,00 € (see description)
Ridotto: 2,00 €