Basilica di Massenzio

Via dei Fori Imperiali - 00186 Rome
Campitelli [R.X]
Zona Archeologica [1X]

The colossal Basilica was started by Maxentius, but Constantine was completed, and like all Roman Basilicas, it was intended to manage the administration of justice and the handling of business.

The building, made of bricks, is rectangular, with the interior of 80x60 meters, divided into three naves by four pillars, and 8 large columns, of which the only survivor is located in Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore.

The vaults of the central nave were cross-shaped and those of the lateral barrel vaults, all with coffered with octagonal elements.
The grandiose vaults, which can be seen today, belong to the right nave, with the second apse added by Constantine, for the new entrance he wanted on the Via Sacra, towards the Roman Forum.

Its remains greatly impressed the Renaissance artists, but these are only a small part of the grandeur of the original Basilica.

The Basilica, like many monuments, was stripped of its polychrome marbles, statues and stuccos: the roof, covered with gilded bronze plates, was used, in 626, by Honorius I to cover the first Basilica of San Pietro; the left nave, which collapsed due to an earthquake, was used as a building material at the time of Leo IV.

Along the side of the Basilica, towards Via dei Fori Imperiali, between the rear wall and the retaining wall, a road runs, Via Antica, about six meters wide, which preserves the original flooring and reaches the Church of Santa Francesca Romana.

The remains of the colossal statue of Constantine, which was located in the western apse, are kept in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Capitol. The statue, which originally decorated an apse of the Basilica, had a marble head, arms and legs, and the rest in gilded bronze.

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