A Spectacular Sight – The Roman Forum at Night

The Roman Forum lit up at night. Photo by Chiara Piga, April 19, 2016

The Roman Forum lit up at night. Photo by Chiara Piga, April 19, 2016

Dear Blog Readers –

Here is a quick visual blog post on a story I did the other night on a new system of LED lights in the Forum. AP Television got invited on an advance tour on Tuesday night by the Ministry of Culture to see the new lighting. It was spectacular. I brought my daughter Chiara along and together with cameraman Gigi Navarra and news assistant Sarah Chiarello we tramped our way up to the top of the Palatine Hill – once the home of Roman Emperors– past the rose garden to the lookout point over the Roman Forum. Then at 7:28pm they turned on the 450 new lights.

It was magical. The lights run from the Arch of Titus at one end down the Via Sacra to the Arch of Septimius Severus at the other end.

For those of you not familiar with the Roman Forum, it was the center of the Roman Empire. The Via Sacra runs down the center and on one side was the Roman Senate and on the other the home of the Vestal Virgins who kept a flame constantly burning in their temple

When the lights came on we could see the statues of the Vestal Virgins lining their courtyard.

 

Statue of a vestal virgin lit up at night in the Roman Forum. Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television Cameraman Gigi Navarra. April 19, 2016

Statue of a vestal virgin lit up at night in the Roman Forum. Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television Cameraman Gigi Navarra. April 19, 2016

There are 450 lights in total of different shapes and sizes. Long, skinny stick-like lights, small round lights on the ground, and rows of softball-size lights. They range in color from a white-gold light effect to a soft white light on the monuments.

After getting the top-shot of the lights going on, we made our way back down the Palatine Hill, stopping to film the lit-up Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine. The construction of this temple began under the Emperor Maxentius who was defeated by Constantine in the dramatic Battle of the Milvian Bridge (not far from where I live) and was completed by Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor.

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine lit up in the Roman Forum at night. Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television Cameraman Gigi Navarra. April 19, 2016

Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine lit up in the Roman Forum at night. Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television Cameraman Gigi Navarra. April 19, 2016

At one end of the Forum the lights shine on the Arch of Titus celebrating his military victories in the Middle East. The frieze inside the Arch shows the Romans in the sack of Jerusalem carrying off the Menorah from the Temple.

 

Arch of Titus lit up at night in the Roman Forum. Photo by Chiara Piga, April 19, 2016

Arch of Titus lit up at night in the Roman Forum. Photo by Chiara Piga, April 19, 2016

One of the most beautifully lit monuments in the Forum is the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. The Roman Temple has 10 Corinthian columns on the outside but within the ancient temple there is a baroque church called San Lorenzo in Miranda.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina lit up in the Roman Forum. Photo by Chiara Piga, April 19, 2016

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina lit up in the Roman Forum. Photo by Chiara Piga, April 19, 2016

Behind the Basiclia Aemilia on can see a frieze depicting the ancient saga of the rape of the Sabine women by the Roman men.

A frieze showing the rape of the Sabine women at the back of the Basilica Aemilia lit up at night in the Roman Forum. Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television Cameraman Gigi Navarra. April 19, 2016

A frieze showing the rape of the Sabine women at the back of the Basilica Aemilia lit up at night in the Roman Forum. Freeze frame of video shot by AP Television Cameraman Gigi Navarra. April 19, 2016

A team of architects, lighting experts and technicians worked a total of 3800 hours to install 6,000 meters of cables.  Using Led, energy saving technology, they placed lights from 7-80 watts throughout the Forum.

Officials told us that they have tried many times to find a way to light up the Roman Forum at night but the cost was prohibitive and earlier attempts all failed.  They are now hoping the low-consuming Led lights will allow this attempt to succeed.

Starting on April 22nd visitors can take tours through the Roman Forum at night from 8pm until midnight.   A maximum of 75 people can participate in a tour group and tours will be in Italian and English.

 

11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Gwen Thomas
    2016/04/22

    LED lights! And just in time for Earth Day too! Way to go!

    I want your job!

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2016/04/22

      Gotta love these LED lights!!! I love my job too (most days).

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Sue Poulron
        2016/04/22

        Chiara did a great job, a budding photographer!

        Reply
        • Trisha Thomas
          Trisha Thomas
          2016/04/24

          Indeed she is. She is doing a summer program in photography in NYC. It is her new passion.

          Reply
  2. Avatar
    Joan Schmelzle
    2016/04/22

    Beautiful indeed! I hope that success will mean that the lighting will still be there when (if?) I can return to my favorite city. Have to save the money and keep my body moving. First read about this in “Italian Notebook,” a daily brief post about Rome and just about any place else in Italy.
    Thanks for sending this and the great pictures.
    A presto
    Joan

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2016/04/24

      I do hope you get back to see it. It is gorgeous — really breath-taking. Standing on the top of the Palatine Hill looking down at the Forum when those lights went on I felt that I am extremely privileged to have the job I have.

      Reply
  3. Avatar
    Kay
    2016/04/23

    Good grief if this isn’t the most beautiful city in the world. Thank you for confirming Rome’s eternal magnificence. This beauty brought tears to my eyes.

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2016/04/24

      Rome is truly beautiful — but it is easy to forget, when you are stuck in traffic, dodging pot-holes or watching parts of this city go to pieces and no one doing anything about it.

      Reply
  4. Avatar
    Wendy White
    2016/04/24

    Trisha, my dear, I am quite certain you meant to write not the Temple but the Basilica of Maxentius/Constantine, no?

    LED lights finally allow nighttime illumination of the Forum, excellent.
    Always appreciate your posts.

    Wendy

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    DRTVrMoi
    2017/02/18

    I saved your article and now that I am ready to travel to Roma, I can’t find any reference to these evening tours. Are they still having them in 2017?

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2017/02/19

      The tours of the Roman Forum at night ran from April through the end of October last year. I think you can still do tours of the Colosseum at night though. You can get tickets on http://www.museumsrome.com
      Have fun!

      Reply

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