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Ancient Rome Neighborhoods: 14 Fascinating Sites

Welcome to our exploration of Ancient Rome Neighborhoods! As we uncover the rich history of Rome’s districts, you may have questions about their ancient character, their impact on Roman life, and their lasting influence today.

In this article, we’ll cross Ancient Rome’s 14 regions, exploring the architecture, culture, and social dynamics of each neighborhood, from the significant structures of Regio IV Templum Pacis to the lively streets of Regio IX Circus Flaminius.

Historical Context

History of Ancient Rome Photo by World History Encyclopedia

The historical context of Ancient Rome Neighborhoods is marked by Augustus’ administrative reform in 7 BC. He divided the city into 14 regions, replacing the traditional four quarters. These regions were further divided into official neighborhoods, named after landmarks or features within them.

Interestingly, Constantinople later adopted a similar division, reflecting Rome’s enduring influence. This administrative structure shaped the city’s governance, public services, and social organization, leaving a lasting legacy that persisted through the Middle Ages and beyond.

Regio I Porta Capena

The Arch of Drusus Photo by Wikipedia

Regio I Porta Capena, the initial district of imperial Rome under Augustus’s administrative overhaul, derived its name from the Porta Capena, a gate of the Servian Walls. Stretching from at least the boundary of the future Aurelian Walls, it encompassed areas crossed by the Via Appia and the Via Latina.

The area featured landmarks like the Arch of Drusus, possibly part of the Arch of Trajan, along with temples such as the Temple of Mars in Clivo and the Temple of Minerva. It also had the Baths of Commodus, the Septizodium, and the Mutatorium Caesaris. By the 5th century, it contained various shrines, patrician houses, warehouses, bathhouses, and fountains.

Regio II Caelimontium

Baths of Caracalla, Ancient Rome
Baths of Caracalla, facing Caldarium Photo by Ethan Doyle White

Regio II Caelimontium, the second district of imperial Rome under Augustus’s administrative reform, centered on the Caelian Hill. During Tullus Hostilius‘ reign, Alba Longa’s population was forcibly resettled there. In the Republican era, it was a fashionable residential area, home to wealthy residences.

Lavish villas with murals and mosaics were unearthed beneath the Baths of Caracalla, including Villa Celimontana. Notable structures included the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the ancient Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo.

The region largely followed the hill’s contours, bordered by the Via Tusculana to the west and enclosed by the Aurelian Walls to the south. Key features included the Temple of Claudius, the Macellum Magnum, the Castra Peregrina, and the Caput Africae. Additionally, the region housed the Antrum Cyclopis grotto and the Ludus Matutinus, a gladiator school.

Regio III Isis et Serapis

The Baths of Trajan Photo by Wikipedia

Regio III Isis et Serapis was the third district of imperial Rome under Augustus’s administrative reform. Centered on the Oppian Hill, it took its name from the double sanctuary of Isis and Serapis, located in the area of the Via Praenestina.

The most notable structure within this district was the Flavian Amphitheatre, known today as the Colosseum, where significant events like the Secular Games were held. Other important structures included the Baths of Titus, the Baths of Trajan, and the double temples of Isis and Serapis. The region also housed gladiatorial training schools and a military camp.

Regio IV Templum Pacis

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, Rome
Antoninus and Faustina Temple Photo by Wikipedia

Regio IV Templum Pacis was the fourth district of the imperial city under Augustus’s administrative reform. It derived its name from the Temple of Peace constructed by Emperor Vespasian. Situated between the Esquiline and Viminal hills, it encompassed the Suburra and the Velian Hill.

Once known as the Via Sacra, the district gained fame for its grand imperial structures following the construction of Vespasian’s temple. It featured landmarks like the Meta Sudans, the Colossus of Nero relocated by Emperor Hadrian, and the monumental Temple of Venus and Roma.

Additionally, it housed the Basilica of Maxentius, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Temple of Tellus, and the Sororium Tigillum, along with the Velian Hill.

Regio V Esquiliae

Nymphaeum of Alexander Photo by Wikipedia

Regio V Esquiliae, the fifth district of imperial Rome, took its name from the Esquiline Hill. It encompassed parts of the Oppian and Cispian Hills and the plain outside the Servian Wall. Dominated by the Esquiline Hill, it was enclosed by the Aurelian Walls to the west and south.

The neighborhood, mainly for the city’s poorest, featured the Lake of Orpheus, Nymphaeum of Alexander, and Amphitheatrum Castrense. It also housed the Macellum Liviae, Gardens of Pallas, and various temples, including those for Hercules, Minerva Medica, and Isis, along with two plains beyond the Servian Walls, Campus Viminalis and Campus Esquilinus.

Regio VI Alta Semita

Nomentana Gate
Porta Nomentana Photo by Wikipedia

Regio VI Alta Semita, named after the elevated Alta Semita street on the Quirinal Hill, extended to the Viminal Hill and the Pincian slopes. It was bounded by the Aurelian Wall to the east and north, with principal gates like Porta Nomentana, Porta Salaria, and Porta Pinciana.

Landmarks included ancient temples such as the Temple of Salus and the Temple of Quirinus, along with the last two public baths: the Baths of Constantine and the Baths of Diocletian. The northern section housed the Gardens of Sallust and Emperor Domitian‘s birthplace. It also contained the Castra Praetoria, barracks of the Praetorian Guard, and the Vigiles’ third cohort station.

See Also Campitelli Neighborhood Rome

Regio VII Via Lata

Via Flaminia
Via Flaminia Road

Regio VII, Via Lata, acquired its name from the broad Via Lata, a bustling street known as the Via Flaminia. It encompassed part of the Campus Martius and landmarks like the Hill of the Hortuli and the Pincian Hill.

Bordered by the Aurelian Wall to the north, the Imperial Fora to the south, and the Via Salaria Vetus to the east, it featured the prominent Temple of the Sun built by Emperor Aurelian. Other notable structures included the Forum Suarium, the Mausoleum of the Domitii Ahenobarbi, and the Arcus Novus triumphal arch. It also housed the station of the first cohort of the Vigiles.

Regio VIII Forum Romanum

The Arch of Titus Photo by Wikipedia

Regio VIII, Forum Romanum Magnum, is named after the historic Roman Forum, the core of Rome’s ancient political life. Bordered by the Servian Wall to the northeast, the Palatine Hill to the southeast, and the Quirinal Hill to the west, it includes the Capitoline Hill and the valley between the Palatine and the Capitoline, along with the area around the Arch of Titus along the Via Sacra.

Centered on the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, known as the Golden Capitol, the district features key landmarks such as the Temples of Concord, Saturn, Vespasian, and Titus, along with the Tabularium and the Curia Julia.

Notable structures include the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Basilica Julia, and the Imperial Fora—Caesar, Augustus, Nerva, and Trajan. Additionally, it houses the Porticus Margaritaria and the sixth cohort of the Vigiles.

Regio IX Circus Flaminius

Ponte Sant’Angelo Photo by Wikipedia

The Regio IX Circus Flaminius in imperial Rome, named after the Circus Flaminius racecourse, spanned most of Campus Martius, bordered by the Servian Wall, Ponte Sant’Angelo, Tiber River, Aurelian Walls, and Via Lata. Despite fires in 64 and 80 AD, subsequent emperors rebuilt it.

The district featured the Circus Flaminius, four chariot race stables, and entertainment venues like the Amphitheater of Statilius Taurus. Monuments included the Altar of Mars, the Mausoleum of Augustus, and temples like the Temple of Minerva Chalcidica and the Temple of Isis and Serapis. Notable tombs, such as the Mausoleum of Augustus, were located beyond the Servian Wall.

Regio X Palatium

Arco di Costantino
Arch of Constantine at Night Photo by Livioandronico2013

Regio X Palatium, named after the Palatine Hill and the imperial residences atop it, was pivotal in ancient Rome. Bordered by landmarks like the Velabrum, Circus Maximus, Via Sacra, and Via di San Gregorio, its perimeter spanned approximately 3.4 km. The Palatine Hill hosted the grand Palace of Domitian, featuring the Domus Augustana, Domus Flavia, and Hippodrome.

Augustus and Tiberius built palaces, and Septimius Severus added the Domus Severiana and Septizodium. Temples, including the Temple of Apollo Palatinus and the Temple of Jupiter Victor, adorned the hill, along with mythical sites like Casa Romuli and the Lupercal. Notable structures included the Arch of Titus, the Baths of Elagabalus, and the Arch of Constantine.

Regio XI Circus Maximus

Temple of Portunus
Tempio di Portuno Photo by Wikipedia

Regio XI Circus Maximus, named after the famed Circus Maximus, was a hub of entertainment in ancient Rome. Bordered by the Capitoline, Palatine, and Aventine hills, and the Tiber River, it was home to Rome’s largest venue for public games and religious festivals.

Notable landmarks included temples dedicated to various gods, the Clivus Publicus street leading to the Aventine, and the Forum Boarium, featuring significant religious structures.

Regio XII Piscina Publica

Santa Balbina Basilica
Santa Balbina Photo by Wikipedia

Regio XII Piscina Publica, the twelfth district of imperial Rome, derived its name from the vanished Piscina Publica, a swimming pool that existed until the middle imperial period. The region, bordered by various streets and the Aurelian Walls, encompassed the site of the former pool, now occupied by the monumental Baths of Caracalla.

Additionally, it housed the Temple of Bona Dea and the residence of Roman consul Lucius Fabius Cilo, later transformed into the church of Santa Balbina. In the 180s, a Christian bank and exchange operated in this area.

Regio XIII Aventinus

Testaccio Village: Rome's Cultural Enclave
Photo by Bardia Azizi

Regio XIII Aventinus, named after the dominant Aventine Hill, extended to the plain before it. Bordered by the Tiber River, Circus Maximus, Vicus Piscinae Publicae, Via Ostiensis, and Aurelian Walls, it was accessed through the Porta Ostiensis. Temples like Diana’s, reportedly built by King Servius Tullius, Minerva’s, and Juno Regina’s were prominent.

It also housed baths like the Licinius Sura and Decius. Noteworthy were the Emporium, Rome’s first port, the Horrea Galbae warehouses near Servius Sulpicius Galba’s tomb, and the Forum Pistorium. Unique features included Monte Testaccio and the Pyramid of Cestius.

See Also Regio XIV Transtiberim

Nymphaeum of Alexander Photo by Wikipedia

Regio XIV Transtiberim, located across the Tiber River, comprised Vatican Hill, Janiculum Hill, and Tiber Island. It lacked walls until the ninth century, except for the Janiculum area encased by the Aurelian Walls. Key roads included the Via Cornelia, Via Aurelia (Porta Aurelia), and Via Portuensis (Porta Portuensis), with the Porta Settimiana marking the final gate.

Regio XIV Transtiberim, known for its gardens and imperial villas, hosted attractions like the Circus of Gaius and the Naumachia Traiani. The Circus of Nero became the Basilica of Saint Peter, with the Mausoleum of Hadrian nearby. Notable sites included the Naumachia of Augustus, the Gardens of Geta, and various religious shrines.

Ancient Rome Neighborhoods: A Recap

In the fabric of Ancient Rome, the 14 regions form the intricate threads that weave together the city’s rich history and varied culture. Each area, from Transtiberim to Circus Flaminius, tells a unique story of the city’s grandeur and resilience.

With iconic landmarks like the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in Circus Flaminius and the Circus Maximus in Transtiberim, these districts offer a compelling view of the past of the eternal city.

Roaming the vibrant streets of Regio IX or admiring the splendor of Regio I, venturing through the 14 regions of Augustan Rome offers a rich exploration into the essence of the ancient empire.