Aventine, Rome Attractions
The Aventine district contains many notable churches and other attractions.
One of Rome's finest medieval churches, Santa Maria in Cosmedin was built between the 8th and 12th C. The church contains the intriguing stone mask known as the Mouth of Truth.
Santa Sabina was founded in the 5th C but embellished throughout the ages and eventually given to the Dominicans by Pope Honorius II.
Piazza Bocca della Verità
The Piazza Bocca della Verità occupies the site of the ancient Forum Boarium or cattle market, situated conveniently close to the Tiber, which provided a ready means for the disposal of refuse. From this square there is a view, scarcely to be equaled anywhere else in Rome, which takes in both ancient and Christian buildings: the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, a Romanesque building with a modestly proportioned porch and a graceful campanile; the Arch of Janus and beyond it the handsome church of San Giorgio in Velabro and the Arco degli Argentari, the arch of the merchants and bankers; the church of San Giovanni Decollato ; the Casa dei Crescenzi, the residence of the most powerful family in Rome during the early medieval period; and two ancient temples, the Tempio della Fortuna Virile and the Tempio di Vesta, with the Baroque Fountain of the Two Tritons.
Arch of Janus Quadrifrons
This marble structure in the Via del Velabro, in front of the church of San Giorgio in Velabro, was long thought to be part of the temple of Janus. In fact this was a covered passage (Janus) with openings on four sides (quadrifrons) of a busy street intersection in the commercial quarter of Rome. The arch was built in the Constantinian period, incorporating material from earlier buildings. During the Middle Ages it became a strong point of the Frangipane family.
Church of the Beheading of St John
There was in Papal Rome a "Fraternity of Mercy" (Confraternità della Misericordia), established in 1488 (of which Michelangelo was a member), which had undertaken responsibility for accompanying condemned prisoners to execution and had the right, once a year, to secure the pardon of a prisoner. This body erected the church of San Giovanni in honor of the beheading (decollation) of St John the Baptist; begun in 1535, the church was completed in 1555. The paintings in the church and in the oratory adjoining the cloisters depict scenes from the life of the saint as it is described in the Bible, with particular emphasis on his beheading.
Porta San Sebastiano (formerly Porta Appia)
This gate in the Aurelian Walls was refortified at the end of the A.D. fourth century in view of the increasing threat to Rome from the Germanic tribes, and was again renovated in the sixth century by Belisarius and Narses. The Porta Appia, later renamed after the church of San Sebastiano outside the city on the Via Appia, was the principal entrance to the ancient city. The so-called Arch of Drusus (Arco di Druso) inside the Porta San Sebastiano probably dates from the time of Trajan; in the reign of Caracalla it was used to support an aqueduct.The museum of The Walls of Rome traces the development and history of the walls.
San Giovanni a Porta Latina
The early Romanesque church of San Giovanni a Porta Latina lies hidden behind the ancient city walls of Rome in Via di Porta Latina.The basilica of "St John at the Latin Gate", was founded in the fifth century, rebuilt about 720 and restored in 1191 during the reign of Pope Celestine III. It is in the familiar form of the Roman basilica, with a portico supported by columns and a tall campanile of classical type. The church contains an important cycle of early 13th century frescoes depicting 46 Old and New Testament scenes which are among the finest medieval frescoes in Rome.
Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas
A columbarium was a communal burial chamber with niches in the walls for cinerary urns. The name comes from the resemblance of this type of structure to a dovecote (columba = pigeon). A particularly well-preserved example is the columbarium built for Pomponius Hylas and his wife Vitalinis, which is situated near the Sepolcro degli Scipioni, between the Via Appia Antica and the Via Latina. Pomponius Hylas was a freed slave who seems to have risen to prosperity in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius.
San Giorgio in Velabro
The name Velabro refers to the marshy area on the banks of the Tiber where according to Roman legend Faustulus found the twins Romulus and Remus. The first church on the site was built by Leo II (682-683), the second by Gregory IV (827-844); the campanile and porch were added in the 12th century. The present church, a handsome Romanesque building incorporating ancient elements (columns and capitals), stands near the Arch of Janus (see Arco di Giano). It is a popular wedding church. In 1993 the church was partly destroyed in a bomb attack by the "Falange Armata".
Address: Via del Velabro 19, I-00186 Rome, Italy
Transit: Bus: 15, 23, 57, 90, 90b, 94, 95, 716, 774.
Arch of the Moneychangers
Adjoining the church is the Arco degli Argentari (Arch of the Moneychangers), erected in honor of Septimus Severus, his wife Julia Domna and their sons Caracalla and Geta, by merchants and bankers of the Forum Boarium and later incorporated in the church of San Giorgio. It has reliefs, some of them remarkably well preserved, depicting the Imperial family attending a sacrifice and barbarian prisoners. Some of the names in the original dedication were later erased.
Between the Tiber and Porta San Paolo is a small hill, 35m/115ft high and 850m/930yd in circumference, which was formed during the republican period by the deposit of rubbish, mainly broken pottery from the nearby warehouses, on the banks of the Tiber where the merchant vessels discharged their cargoes. The site was occupied in ancient times by large trading establishments and the Portus Aemilius (second century B.C.), a street of shops 487m/530yd long.
Oratorio di San Giovanni in Oleo
The Oratory of St John "in the Oil" is a small octagonal chapel built by Bramante at the beginning of the 16th century on the remains of an earlier building, and later embellished by Borromini. Here, according to legend, St John was thrown into boiling oil but emerged unharmed, thereafter being banished to Patmos. If the Oratory is closed apply to the missionary college at No. 17.
San Saba was built in the eighth century and rebuilt in 1205. The elegant 15th century loggia was supported by a pillared portico. The interior is divided into three naves that was divided by 14 ancient columns with wonderful cosmatesque pavement.
The Protestant Cemetery lies within the Aurelian Walls near the Pyramid of Cestius. Among the famous foreigners buried here are Keats, who died in Rome on February 24th 1821, and Shelley, drowned in the Gulf of La Spezia in 1822.