Friday, October 27, 2017

Let me take you on a tour of the Roman Forum

I have just completed an  Audio Tour of the Roman Forum in conjunction with Voicemap, a company that offers audio tours of cities and famous places. The concept is interesting. You play the tour on your phone and the app uses GPS to know when to start and stop the narrative based on your location. Each stop has a story to tell and you start to hear that story as you approach.

You can have the phone in your pocket and listen to the tour with earbuds. As you move about, there is a map on your phone screen which can serve as an aid in case you lose your way.

This tour includes 32 different locations and you learn the history of the structures you see at each stop. We've made sure to cover all the most interesting structures: the Senate House, Temple of Castor and Pollux, House of the Vestal Virgins, and the Arch of Septimius Severus, to name a few.

The Forum was originally laid out in 625 BC, when the swamp that occupied the space between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, was drained. The sewer built to drain it, called the Cochlea Maxima is still in operation today. Later, the Capitoline Hill became the site of Rome's sacred temples and the Palatine became the home of the Caesars.

Golden Age
The Forum most likely reached its Zenith during the second century AD, sometimes called the Golden Age. There were four emperors during this period; Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. Although the personalities of these men were very different, together they succeeded in keeping the Empire stable. The Sacra Via (central roadway in the Forum) would have seen the triumphs of these men and the speeches they gave at the rostra. By that time, the Senate House had lost its standing because political power had been removed from the Senate. Still, it remained standing (as it does today), symbolizing the accomplishments of the Republic.

Fall of the Empire
The Forum met an inglorious end when the Western Empire fell. Its monuments were neglected and the marble and bronze hauled off to be used in the construction of Christian monuments. The church retained no respect for structures erected by a pagan empire, so fourteen centuries saw the Forum waste away as a Campo Vaccino (cow pasture). It wasn’t until 1898 that excavations of the Forum began in earnest. By then, a united Italy was an independent nation looking to its own history and accomplishments with pride and wanted to share them with the world. I’ve been to the Forum twice (twenty-five years apart) and the excavations that took place between those trips brought to light many new structures.

Here are the instructions for downloading the app.

1) Install VoiceMap from the iTunes App Store or Google Play, 
or by going to  
2) Sign up with Facebook or email
3) Select Rome from the list of cities and regions
4) Select “Rome The-roman-forum”
5) Buy the tour (The Forum tour is free right now). The download will start immediately.

VoiceMap works offline and uses GPS to play audio automatically


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