Sarcophagus Fragment, Roman, ca. 240-250 CE, The Art Institute of Chicago

Friday, September 19, 2008

Temple of the Deified Hadrian Restored

Rome is a city of architectural layers. Since antiquity, pieces of the city have been reused and incorporated into newer structures. Some early examples of this process would be the building of the Aurelian Wall, which incorporated existing buildings along its stretch, or the Arch of Constantine, which reused sculptural elements from previous reigns. Many later examples of this process are evident today, the Temple of the Deified Hadrian being among them. Built in 145 CE by Antoninus Pius to honor the deification of the Emperor Hadrian, the temple was eventually incorporated into Carlo Fontana's 17th century palace. Today the palace hold the stock exchange, with the still extant columns of the temple facing the Piazza di Pietra. Like most ancient marble structures, the remains of the temple have been ravaged by time and the elements, and in the last century, by smog and acid rain. I'm thrilled that Italy, with it's long history of looking the other way when it comes to monument repair, has spent 1 million Euros on the temple's restoration. The Temple of the Deified Hadrian, like all of Rome's monuments, is an important piece of history. It is our job to protect these remnants of the past so future generations can enjoy them and learn from them. I hope that this latest effort is a sign of Italy's renewed interest in historical preservation.