Largo Argentina, or silver square in English, is located in the centre of Rome and contains the open ruins of four ancient Roman temples.
Its name may derive from one of the location's early residents, a papal representative who was from Strasbourg in Germany, whose original Latin name was Argentoratum or silver town. He may have named this part of Rome after his home town.
Originally this part of Rome was part of the massive Campus Martius or Field of Mars; a field where the Roman armies would assemble (Mars was the God of War) prior to going on campaign.
This specific area was sacred or holy as it contained many temples for prayer and sacrifice. Four of these temples were unearthed in the 1920s during Mussolini's reign when houses here were demolished to make way for apartment blocks. These temples were labeled A, B, C, and D by the archaeologists and their purpose has since been identified by excavated or written evidence. The back of the temples on the west side touched the portico of Theatre of Pompey, where Julius Caesar was murdered.
Built in the 3rd century BC, Temple A is believed to be the Temple of Juturna built by Gaius Lutatius Catulus after his victory against the Carthaginians, or North Africans in 241 BC. Like many Roman pagan temples, it was later rebuilt into a church, whose apse and altar is still present.
Temple B is the circular temple with six columns. It was built by Quintus Lutatius Catulus in 101 BC to celebrate his victory over Cimbri, a Germanic tribe. Believed to be the Aedes Fortunae Huiusce Diei, or the luck of the current day, a colossal statue found during excavations of the goddess fortune is now kept in the Capitoline Museums.
Temple C is the most ancient of the three, dating back to 4th or 3rd century BC, and was probably devoted to Feronia the ancient Italic goddess of fertility. The floor contains a white and black mosaic which has been dated to the restoration of these buildings after the fire of 80 AD.
Temple D is the largest of the four, dates back to 179 BC and was devoted to Lares Permarini, gods who looked after sailors. Lucius Aemilius Regillus vowed it after he won a naval battle against Antiochus the Great. It was dedicated or officially opened by his relation Marcus Aemilius Lepidus who also updated the Basilica Aemilia in the Roman Forum. Most of this temple is covered by the road and the cat sanctuary.Roman Cats
Largo Argentina Cat Sanctuary
Just underneath the Road and in part of Temple D is the cat sanctuary of Largo Argentina.
This is a not for profit no kill shelter where the stray cats of Rome are looked after for free by volunteers. You can check out their website here.
Largo Argentina is a small square in the Eternal City but it affords the visitor a chance to see ancient Roman ruins away from the Roman Forum. If you would like to see Largo Argentina on a tour of the squares of Rome, you can send me an email via the link in the menu.
Updated by Dara McCarthy on .