About The Regia
The Regia, the remains of which are located in the Roman Forum in Rome, was initially the royal residence of the first kings of ancient Rome. The term ‘regia’ in Latin can be translated as ‘royal residence’. Later, the Regia became the seat of Rome’s most high ranking priest, known as the Pontifex Maximus.
Among many notable names to hold this position, Julius Caesar would have conducted his official business from this spot during his time as Pontifex Maximus. Today, little remains of this structure besides its ground works next to the much better preserved Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.
The Regia history
According to ancient tradition, the Regia was built as a royal palace between the 8th or 7th centuries BC by Numa Pompilius, Rome’s second king. Pompilius also built the Temple of Vesta and the Atrium Vestae, as well as the Domus Publica – making up the beating heart of the Roman Forum and ancient Roman religious and political life.
The Regia was the house of the pontifices archive, documenting the formulas of all the prayers, vows and sacrifices that built up Roman spiritual life. These documents also included laws for marriage and death as well as the state calendar of scared days – the Annales – recording the events of each year for public reference.
The Regia was likely transformed during the 7th or 8th centuries into a private residence comprised of an enclosed courtyard with 3 rooms. The West Room was a shrine to Mars, storing inside his shields and lances. According to legend, if the lances trembled then disaster was imminent. The East Room contained the sanctuary of Ops Consiva where only the Pontifex Maximus and Virgins could enter.
The Regia was where the College of Pontiffs met, which burned and was restored in 148 BC and again in 36 BC by Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus. The site was first cleared between 1872 and 1875 before being identified as the Regia in 1886. Identification was shortly followed by excavations in the 1890s.
The Regia today
While little remains of the Regia today, it is a must see during any visit to the Roman Forum. It is hard to imagine how grand a building the Regia would have been during its ancient lifetime as you walk past a few stone mounds. However, considering its central location within the Roman Forum, itself the centre of Roman civilisation, you can appreciate from the small ruins the significance of the Regia within Roman life.
Getting to The Regia
To reach the Regia within modern Rome’s busy heart, catch the 85 or 87 buses to Fori Imperiali and walk 5 minutes through the Roman Forum. You could also get the Metro services MEB or MEB1 to Colosseo, or the buses 51, 75 or 117, and walk through the forum.