When was the House of the Vestals Built?

The House of Vastal was the residence of the Vestal Virgins, the priestesses of the cult of Vesta. The ruins of the perished complex remain within the Roman Forum today. Remaining artefacts, including statues and preserved building sections, have help archaeologists deduct the past lives of these women.

History

The birth of the vestals Virgins was done 700 B.C. The King of Rome was informed that his kingdom would be protected by the Goddess Vesta, the virgin goddess of hearth, home, and family. But only if the magical fire was lit, never to go out, to honour her. The task of this fire was left on a college of virgin women, later known as the Vestal Virgins. The House of Vestal, including the Temple of Vesta, was built, giving these women a dwelling to proceed with the cult’s happenings.

The Vestal Virgins

The Virgins of vestal were viewed as magical women to the Romans. They were said to be the only reason why Rome had not been doomed, due to their ongoing work to keep the magical flame alight. The college of vestals was an exclusive place, only excepting six virgins at a time, who committed to serve for thirty years. The first ten years were to learn the ways of the college, with the next ten years performing the rituals of house and finishing their last ten years training the new recruits. They were the most powerful women in Rome, as they could vote, own property, and were free from their father’s control. Despite these perks, if you fell out of line, there were disastrous repercussions. Breaking your vows of celibacy or simply going out would cause punishments such as whipping or being buried alive in the underground chambers.

Architecture

The complex is found within the Roman Forum, between the Regia and the Palatine Hill. The development of the complex grew throughout the thousand years the Vestals virgins remained. The first house was built at the foot of the Palatine Hill, containing the Temple of Vesta, as well as sleeping quarters, however, it was destroyed in 64 CE due to a fire. The construction of the new complex was completely reorganised, resulting in a much larger complex. The Roman style house was three-stories tall, with 50 rooms inside, much like a palace. The House had elegant elongated foyer as well as a double pool. Beautifully built, the House of Vestal has decorations including a statue of Numa Pompilius, who was the founder of the Vestal cult.

How you can see it

Visit these ruins during your visit to Rome! Wander through the remains and learn about the past lives of these incredible women. We suggest taking a guided tour as there are no signs pointing out what’s what. Listen to the local guides and discover the fascinating secrets and daily lives of the people at the House of Vestal.

Be sure to check our 1 Day Rome Tour with Colosseum & Vatican!

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