February 6, 2011. After spending years on making repairs, the Roman Forum has finally opened over 7 acres of land for public use. This land includes the House of the Vestal Virgins and its temple, a group of ruins known in Latin as the 'Atrium Vestae' that includes the Temple of Vesta.
Anna Maria Moretti
Archeologist of Rome
“The house of this priestly school was exclusively for women, it has a very long history and represents a symbol of Roman life from ancient Rome. We have restored the images from that era, as well as the statues of these priestess to present to the public."
The information signs for visitors explain who these vestal virgins were, priestesses consecrated to the domestic goddess Vesta and the special reverence and importance she held in ancient Rome.
The bedrooms, reception rooms and service areas were all constructed around a landscaped courtyard, which now includes designs by architect Giacomo Boni.
Garden of the Vestal Virgins
“The roses suggest the female figure, these priestesses, married to the city of Rome, were devoted to the full custody of the sacred fire as part of the ritual of city government, assisting the Pontifex Maximus.”
After many changes over time, what you can see today of this house and temple are the reconstructions made after the fire of Nero in 64 AD.
High Council of Cultural Property
“It's the most sacred and important part of the city center, and is above all the main evidence of the birth of Rome. When this shrine was first built in the middle of the eighth century, one can say that Rome began to exist as a city.”
The origin of this order of sacred virgins is attributed to Romulus and it's dissolution to the Christian Emperor Theodosius the Great in 394 AD.