Temple of Augustus and Livia - History and Facts | History Hit

Temple of Augustus and Livia

Vienne, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

The Temple of Augustus and Livia is a very well preserved Roman temple in Vienne.

Peta Stamper

21 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Temple of Augustus and Livia

The Temple of Augustus and Livia (Temple d’Auguste et de Livie) is a well preserved Roman temple in Vienne, France. Whilst first built sometime between 20 BC and 10 BC, several features of the Temple of Augustus and Livia date to the 1st century AD.

The temple’s great state of preservation is largely the result of it being incorporated into a church as early as the 5th century and later restored in the 19th century.

Temple of Augustus and Livia history

Vienne became a Roman colony around 47 BC under Julius Caesar, although after years of conflict with the local Allobroges, the settlement was moved to Lugdunum. However, while occupying the site of Vienne, the Romans constructed a temple dedicated to the imperial cult honouring the Emperor Augustus and his third wife, Livia. These physical structures served an essential political and religious role in integrating local populations.

The Temple of Augustus and Livia had two stages of construction: firstly, the building was made from southern stone, dating back to 20-10 BC. Most of the structure was later rebuilt around 40 AD, the construction swift as temples to the first emperor were treated with particular reverence. Eventually, the great temple stood in the hexastyle Corinthian style, dominating the forum that it shared with other characteristic Roman structures.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, as Gaul was Christianised, the temple served as the parish church of Sainte-Marie-la-Vieille until the French Revolution. From 1792, the church was used as the temple of Reasons and the commercial court of Vienne. Before 1852, the building also housed the city museum and library, after which it was restored to its original Roman incarnation and gained historical monument status.

Temple of Augustus and Livia today

Today, the temple stands as an impressive testament to the Gallo-Roman settlement in Vienne. On the eastern side you might note the frieze engraved with moveable letters in a series of inscriptions, dedicating the temple to ‘Rome and to Augustus Caeser, son of the divine’. The dedication also extended to the then-deified Livia.

You can wander around the foot of the raised temple, nestled within a bustling modern city square and only a few minutes walk to the Gère de Vienne and Rhône. To get a taste of the temple’s former glory, visit the Temple of Augustus and Livia at night as it is lit up from below.

Getting to the Temple of Augustus and Livia

If driving, the temple is located just off the N7 and there is parking nearby at Parking Saint Marcel, a 4 minute walk away. For those using public transport, the nearest bus stops are Temple de Cybèle on route 2 and 4 (4 minutes away) and Jue de Paume on routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (3 minutes away).

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