The Basilica Julia on the Forum Romanum at Rome

The basilica Julia is situated opposite the basilica Aemilia on the south side of the Forum Romanum, between the temple of Saturnus and the temple of Castor, on the place of the former Basilica Sempronia of 170 B.C. The Julia was built by Julius Caesar in 54 B.C. and financed by the spoils of the campaign in Gaul. This building formed a monumental counter balance to the Basilica Aemilia. It was dedicated, unfinished, in 46 B.C. and later completed by Augustus. After a fire it was rebuilt and enlarged by Augustus in 12 A.D.

Where the Aemilia was still rather conservative in its layout with its central nave surrounded by two storeyed aisles, the Julia marks the transition towards the more monumental type of the imperial age. Although it was built during Vitruvius' lifetime, it has nothing to do with the Vitruvian rules.

The building has an outer length of 101 m and a width of 49 m, the inner nave measures 82 x 16 m and is surrounded on all four sides by a dubble storeyed colonnade which formed aisles of 7,5 m wide. The back wall, at the south side, is formed by a row of shops which replaced the tabernae veteres that had been demolished to construct the Julia. Stairs show that there must have been another storey of such tabernae above.

The basilica is open to the forum, the Vicus Tuscus and the Vicus Iugarius and has the aspect of an open colonnaded hall. In this aspect it announces the later great imperial structures.

Unlike other basilicas where we found circular columns, the columns of the Basilica Julia are cruciform bearing arcades instead of the normal architraves.


A.BoŽthius-J.B.Ward Perkins, Etruscan and Roman Architecture, Harmondsworth, 1970
F.Coarelli, Guida Archeologica di Roma, Verona, 1974
F.Coarelli, Il Foro Romano, Roma, 1983-1985
L.Richardson jr., A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, Baltimore-London, 1992

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