Temple of Hadrian (Rome)

Temple of Hadrian (Rome)


Description of the Temple of Hadrian

La Borsa, Piazza di Pietra
Bus: 117, 119, 492


The Temple of Hadrian is an ancient Roman building, built on the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. This temple honors Emperor Hadrian as a god and was dedicated to his son and successor Antoninus Pius in 145 AD. The remains of the temple are visible on the south side of Piazza di Pietra, built into the building of the 17th century. It was originally papal customs, completed by Carlo Fontana and his son in the 1690s. Today the building houses the Roman Stock Exchange (La Borsa). Eleven 49-foot-tall marble Corinthian columns based on Peperinsky stone, a volcanic rock mined from the Alban hills south of Rome. Columns of the temple of Adrian decorated the northern flank of the temple, surrounding its inner shrine, cella.

A number of reliefs of the Temple of Hadrian, representing the conquered Roman provinces, are now in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatory. They reflect mainly the peaceful foreign policy of the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Theatrical situation, and the playful forms of its windows, balconies and balusters mark the area as one of the very interesting groups of buildings. Along with the Palazzo Doria Pamphilus (1731), the facade of La Maddalena (1735) and the aristocratic Spanish Staircase (1723), it refers to the moment when the luxurious Roman Rococo defeated conservative classicism.



The temple was erected in honor of the emperor Hadrian, deified after his death. It is likely that the construction site of the building had already been started under Hadrian himself to dedicate it to his wife Vibia Sabina, who died and was deified in 136. With works that have perhaps just begun, the actual construction of the temple is due to his successor, Antonino Pio, and was finished around 145.

In 1695, under the pontificate of Innocent XII, the remains of the temple were incorporated by Carlo Fontana into the Palazzo della Dogana di Terra. In 1831 the building was used as the seat of the Rome Stock Exchange, before passing to the Rome Chamber of Commerce. Eleven of the thirteen original columns on the north side still remain visible, currently incorporated in the building that houses the main headquarters of the Rome Chamber of Commerce.

The building was in the past erroneously known as the temple of Neptune.

According to the regional catalogs, the temple was located in the Regio IX Circus Flaminius, and was placed in relation to the nearby Temple of Matidia, dedicated by Hadrian himself to his mother-in-law, Salonina Matidia. This area began to be strongly monumentalized by this emperor (see Pantheon) and later used for the imperial funeral. Here, in fact, two ustrini and two honorary columns were raised, dedicated respectively to Antonino Pio and Marcus Aurelius, the second of which was inspired by the Trajan's Column. To these monuments was also added the construction of a new temple, dedicated to Marcus Aurelius, located near the column named after him.

The temple had an arched access, from which some panels may have been taken, later inserted into the arch of Portugal and now preserved in the Capitoline Museums.

The temple was an octastyle peripteral (with 8 columns on the front) and had 13 Corinthian columns of white Proconnesian marble on the long sides. Today only 11 Corinthian columns remain along the north side, 15 meters high and 1.44 meters in diameter, raised above a podium of peperino 4 meters high (originally covered with marble), today buried with respect to the square due to the elevation. of the street level. Above the columns there is also a section of their entablature, which continues, rebuilt in a modern way, also on the side wings of the building that incorporated the temple.

The cell wall was originally covered with marble, as shown by the fixing holes in the slabs. The remains of the cell are visible inside the building of the Stock Exchange: this was without an apse, punctuated by semi-columns and covered by a barrel vault with coffers. These semi-columns rested on pedestals, where the Roman provinces were represented, while in the intermediate spaces representations of trophies were inserted. The significance of these representations concerns Hadrian's policy of pacification and reorganization of the imperial territories, at the end of a period of great conquests by his predecessor, Trajan.

The temple was surrounded by a large arcaded square (100 x 90 meters approximately), with columns of ancient yellow marble, which opened towards via Lata (now via del Corso) with a monumental arch, of which two reliefs are preserved, at the Museo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Torlonia in Rome. This arch has been identified with the one defined as "di Antonino", also known as "di Claudio" and "dei Tosetti", from the name of the family who lived in Piazza Sciarra, now disappeared following the widening of the Via del Corso. The arch, albeit ruined and in ruins, still gave the name to via dell'Archetto in the 18th century. It was demolished precisely because of the poor conditions in which it found itself.

According to recent investigations, the square had to have, at least on the northern side, a large exedra on the model of those of the Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Trajan. It is very likely that an identical environment should have found a place on the southern side of the enclosure. Together, these two environments were to host activities related to jurisdiction.


Reliefs of the pedestals of the columns

Over the centuries, a series of Proconnesian marble reliefs have been found in the area, which perhaps decorated the portico, attic or podium of the temple. According to this latest reconstruction, the pedestals of the columns were decorated with vertical plinths with personifications of the provinces of the empire, while in correspondence of the intercolumns there were reliefs with military trophies of weapons and armor. The reliefs wanted to reflect the more peaceful politics of Hadrian compared to his predecessor Trajan: they showed a review of the peoples and regions that made up the Roman Empire, with the aim of enhancing the power of Rome and the achievement of a new period of substantial peace that did not exist since the time of Augustus. We have received six trophies and sixteen provincial allegories, preserved in various museums and collections: the identification of the figures is still the subject of debate by scholars.