Temple of Saturn - History and Facts | History Hit

Temple of Saturn

Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Temple of Saturn was the site of the national treasury of Ancient Rome, the ruins of which stand in the Roman Forum.

Antara Bate

07 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Temple of Saturn

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum was a sacred ancient Roman temple dedicated to Saturn, the god of seed-sowing.

Temple of Saturn history

One of the oldest of the Roman Forum structures, the Temple of Saturn was originally built sometime between 501 BC and 497 BC and reconstructed in the fourth century BC. However, this second incarnation burned down and the Temple of Saturn was restored in 42 BC by Roman senator Lucius Munatius Plancus.The columns we see today survive from that time. It was again restored after fires in 283 AD and 400 AD.

Due to the link between Saturn and agriculture, the original source of Rome’s wealth, the temple was the repository for the State treasury, the Aerarium Populi Roman, which was located beneath the stairs under the high podium. It also contained the bronze tablets on which Roman law was inscribed.

In the cella was an ivory statue of Saturn, its feet fettered with woollen bonds, which were symbolically loosened on the Saturnalia. The Temple of Saturn was closely linked with the celebration of Saturnalia in December, during which slaves and masters would dine together. It later came to be associated with New Year’s Day and Christmas.

The ruins of the temple’s façade are a good example of what is termed Spoila, in re-building the temple builders made use of stone from other, older buildings. For example, the shafts of the standing columns were all created from shafts of stone that were once part of other architectural features. Of the eight columns, only three were created using a single, solid piece of stone.

All the others were made by fixing together broken lengths, hence the bracing we see around the shafts today. The only fresh material used in rebuilding the temple’s façade was the white marble out of which the Ionic capitals were made.

Temple of Saturn today

Largely destroyed in the mid-fifteenth century, all that remains of the Temple of Saturn are six of its Ionic granite columns crowned with a frieze thought to date to approximately 30 BC.

Today the Temple of Saturn is part of the Roman Forum, and the entry fee covers both the Forum and the Palatine Hill.

The Temple of Saturn also appears in Assasin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Getting to the Temple of Saturn

The temple is near many other popular sites within Rome and the nearest bus and train station is Colosseo.

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