Basilica Aemelia - History and Facts | History Hit

Basilica Aemelia

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Basilica Aemelia was a commercial building of Ancient Rome located in the Forum.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020

About Basilica Aemelia

Basilica Aemelia was a commercial building in the Roman Forum where the financial professionals of Ancient Rome would convene.

Considered to be one of the most impressive of the Forum’s structures, it is thought that Basilica Aemelia was built and rebuilt several times. Its first incarnation may have been erected in 179 BC and it was finally burnt to the ground in the fifth century AD.

Parts of the Basilica Aemelia have since been rebuilt, although today only remnants of columns and its pavement remain.

Basilica Aemelia history

The Basilica Aemilia was first built in 179 BC by the censors Marco Fulvio Nobiliore and Marco Emilio Lepido. This is the reason why the basilica was originally known as “Basilica Fulvia et Aemilia”. Over time the building became a sort of monument to celebrate and commemorate the Aemilia family, and the name of Fulvio was lost.

As a public building, the Basilica Aemilia was mainly a place for business and meetings. The portico hosted the so called Tabernae Novae, the series of shops and market stalls and the building was also used for money lending. Politicians and tax collectors gathered here for their business.

The Basilica Aemilia was regarded by Pliny as one of the most beautiful buildings in Ancient Rome. Destroyed and rebuilt several times until 34 B.C., this luxurious public hall had an imposing architecture, decorated with precious marbles and columns. In 54 BC Marcus Emilio Lepido renovated the Basilica and the works were actually funded by Caesar. At that same time works also began to built the Basilica Julia, which stands just on the opposite side.

At the time of the Imperial Rome, the Basilica Aemilia was divided into three parts: the portico, the tabernae and the main hall.

From the area of the Forum there are stairs leading to the portico. The facade of the portico, which resembles that of the Basilica Julia, featured two floors supported by pillars and white-marble columns. The main hall comprised of fourteen arches finely decorated with statues.

In 410 AD the Basilica Aemilia was destroyed by the Visigoths during the sack of Rome.

Basilica Aemelia today

Today, only the foundations and some rebuilt elements can be seen of this impressive public building that is still one of the few examples of this kind of buildings from the Republican Age.

Getting to the Basilica Aemelia

The Basilica Aemilia is located at the intersection of Via dei Fori Imperiali and Largo Romolo e Remo in the archaeological area of the Roman Forum at one of the Forum entrances. It lies between the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Curia Julia. The nearest metro stop is Colosseo.