Roman Buildings

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

History, Facts and Information about Roman Buildings
As in modern day society and culture the type of buildings that people lived in were dictated by how rich a person was however, opulent public buildings were available to all Romans.

Different Types of Roman Buildings
The following list of Roman Buildings quickly conveys the living styles available to the Ancient Romans and some of the building refer to those specifically found in Ancient Rome.

A description of Ancient Roman Cities provides an insight into the layout and organisation which was utilised in the construction of Roman Buildings. The different types of Public Roman Buildings included Forums, Markets and Shops, Temples, Basilicas, Colosseum and arenas or amphitheatres, Circus Maximus, Theatres, Baths and Bath houses, Forts, Gymnasium, Stadia and Xysti, Campus Martius, Triumphal arches and triumphal columns, Ancient Roman Aqueducts and Factories. Private Buildings and Houses included the Palaces of the Emperors, Town Houses for wealthy Romans, Country Villas and small, dark and crowded houses and tenement buildings for the poor.

Public Roman Buildings
Many of the public Roman Buildings are detailed in separate articles as indicated by relevant links. A fast overview and brief description of the public buildings are as follows:

  • Forums

    • Ancient Roman Forumswere the public spaces found in the middle of Roman cities. Typical Ancient Roman forums might be surrounded by temples, shops and basilicas 

  • Markets

    • Markets were an essential part of Roman life. The buildings which the Emperor Trajan had constructed included Trajan's forum, market and his column which were all constructed to commemorate his victories over the Dacians. Whilst some markets consisted of the type of stalls we still find in markets today Trajan's market was different.  The market was a semi-circular building, three storeys high above which was a large vaulted hall, resembling a basilica. The Trajan's market consisted of shops, all of which faced on to a corridor allowing passers by to see the goods on sale such as luxury items such as silks together with everyday items and fresh food. There were also restaurants and bars. Sounds like a modern day shopping mall but Trajan's market was built almost 2000 years ago!

  • Temples

    • Roman Temples were built to provide places of worship for their Gods and Goddesses and were located in important positions such as at one side of the forum or alongside one of the major roads. Roman Temples generally had gabled roofs, a deep porch called a portico with high columns and a frontal staircase giving access to a high platform which was called a podium.

  • Basilicas

    • A basilica was originally a Roman public building for transacting business and disposing of legal matters Aand was usually located in the forum of a Roman town. After the Roman Empire became officially Christian, the word basilica was used to describe refer to a large and important church.

  • Colosseum and arenas or amphitheatres

    • The Colosseum and arenas or amphitheatres were magnificent public buildings which were constructed to entertain the Romans which gladiatorial fights and to portray the power and might of Rome

  • Circus Maximus

    • The Circus Maximus was a massive arena accommodating 250,000 spectators and providing various games, horse and chariot races

  • Roman Theatres

    • Roman Theatres buildings were designed in the shape of a half circle and built on level ground with raised stadium-style seating. The Roman Theatre buildings could hold up to 15,000 people who were entertained by mime, orations, dance, choral events and different types of plays including farce, tragedy and comedy.

  • Baths and Bath houses

    • The Roman Public Baths were designed to include the caldarium or hot bath, a tepidarium or warm bath a frigidarium or cold bath and an open-air bathing pool.

  • The Gymnasium, Stadia and Xysti

    • Never as popular as the arenas the gymnasium was constructed for Romans to exercise. The stadia were in the form of the circus for the running of men and horses and the xysti were places constructed like porticos in which the wrestlers exercised.

  • The Campus Martius

    • The Campus Martius was a magnificent complex built in Rome Sports where physical exercises were practised and performances featuring chariot races and horse races were shown. This location also housed the villa publica or palace, for the reception and entertainment of ambassadors from foreign states, who were not allowed to enter the city of Rome.

  • Triumphal arches and triumphal columns

    • These were built to commemorate great victories by Roman generals and emperors. The columns were so tall that they also doubled as landmarks helping people to navigate around the city of Rome

  • Forts

    • Roman Forts were important buildings enabling the Romans to dominate the people and lands which they conquered

Private Roman Buildings
Private Roman Buildings and Houses included the Palaces of the Emperors, Town Houses and Country Villas and small, dark and crowded houses and tenement buildings for the poor.

  • Roman Palaces

    • Ancient Roman palaces built for the Roman emperors were simply fabulous. Vast buildings featuring beautiful marble columns and floors. Fine frescoes which decorated the walls and elaborate mosaic flooring. Heating, baths and fountains were all found in the opulent palaces of the Roman emperors. The palace of Nero, called the Domus Aurea (Latin for "Golden House") was demolished and the Roman Colosseum was built on this site. This palace contained 300 rooms and featured stuccoed ceilings set with semi-precious stones and layers of ivory and gold leaf. There was even a rotating ceiling.

  •  Roman Town Houses

    • The Roman Town Houses were strictly for the wealthy Patricians of Ancient Rome. These were massive buildings and it was not until after the great fire of Rome that these town houses were limited to seventy feet! Each town house had a portico which was a porch that led to the entrance of a building with a roof structure supported by columns or enclosed by walls. The windows of some of the ton houses were glazed with a thick kind of glass. Detached town houses, those homes not joined with the neighboring houses were called Insulae.

  • Roman Villas

    • Roman Villas were the country houses or residences of the wealthy Romans. The principal rooms of private houses, villas and ancient Roman homes included the vestibulum, or court facing towards the street with a portico extending along the entire front, an atrium or hall, which was in the form of an oblong square, surrounded by galleries supported on pillars, reception rooms, bedrooms, an inner apartment to the main bedroom called the penetralia, the second floor housed the dining-room and apartments of the women and the  dormitories of slaves and menials were called the cellae. Villas and Town Houses were decorated with mosaics and frescoes and some had private baths. They also had beautiful courtyards, gardens and fountains.

  • Tenement Apartments

    • The poor lived in small, dark, filthy, crowded Tenement Apartments four to six stories high. They were very often badly built of wood and therefore prone to collapse and fire.  There were no toilets so the poor Romans used public latrines or chamber pots. There was no water or heating. Water was obtained from neighborhood fountains. Windows did not have expensive glass but were covered by curtains or by wooden shutters.

Roman Colosseum
Roman Architecture

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