7 Most Famous Ancient Roman Temples

By Vandana Sinha co-founder and editor of Historyly.com
Published on 08 July 2019

The richness of Roman culture can be appreciated through well-known Roman architecture works. Many of them still visible today have become great heritage sites. Among the many Roman architectural splendors, ancient Roman temples need special mention. The maintenance and construction of these temples was a vital part of ancient Roman religion. Ancient Roman temples are not only found in Rome and different parts of Italy, but also in the Middle East, North Africa and northern Europe. Mentioned below are seven popular ancient Roman temples, which are are among some of the ancient Roman buildings still standing:

1. Pantheon

Image credit: Flickr

Among the best preserved ancient Roman architectural structures and ancient Roman temples, the Pantheon tops the list. The Pantheon was built in Rome in 126 AD and was dedicated to all Roman Gods and Goddesses. The temple was also later used by the Roman Catholic Church. The Pantheon consists of a large circular portico with colossal Corinthian columns made of granite. The porch opens into a rotunda, which is again topped with a concrete dome and the Oculus, a central opening. The Pantheon should be visited when it is raining in Rome as the rain pours into the building through the Oculus!

2. Maison Carrée

maison carree
Maison Carrée
Image credit: Wikimedia

Located in Nimes, France, this architectural splendor was constructed by Roman General Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 16 BC. The temple was dedicated to his two sons. Unfortunately, both of them died at a very young age. When it comes to the best preserved ancient Roman temples in the world, this one ranks high on the list. In the 4th century, it was transformed into a Christian church, saving it from destruction. The temple has been used as a hall, stable, storehouse and finally as a museum.

3. Baalbek

Image credit: Wikimedia

Baalbek, also known as Heliopolis, is one of the most beautiful Roman temples located in northeastern Lebanon. Romans constructed three temples there from the 1st century BC to over two more centuries. The temples are known as Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus. The temple of Jupiter was created to be the largest in the entire Roman Empire and was lined by 54 large granite columns, each of them being 70 feet tall. Presently only 6 of these magnificent pillars exist, but they are still very impressive. The Temple of Bacchus is the best preserved temple at this site. It was built in 150 AD. This temple is dedicated to Bacchus, who is also known as Dionysus, who is the Roman God of wine.

4. Palmyra

Image credit: Flickr

Palmyra in Syria is located in an oasis 130 miles north of Damascus. History says that for a long period, in fact for centuries, Palmyra was a wealthy and prominent city which was located along the caravan routes. These routes linked Persia with the Mediterranean ports of Roman Syria. The main sightseeing attraction at the destination includes the colossal temple of Bel, the colonnade which comprised 1,500 Corinthian columns and the monumental arch.

5. Temple of Augustus and Livia

temple of augustus and livia
The Temple of Augustus and Livia
Image credit: Wikimedia

Built during the end of the 1st century BC, the Temple of Augustus and Livia is one of the main attractions for travelers and tourists visiting France. The best thing about this architectural splendor (located in Vienne, France) is that it is almost intact. It has a pretty close resemblance to the famous Roman temple Maison Carrée in Nimes. This temple was initially dedicated to Augustus. However, some changes took place in the later years and in 41 AD, it was assigned for the second time to Livia, Augustus’s wife, by Claudius, her grandson. Claudius was a Roman emperor who was born closeby in Lyon.

6. Sbeitla Forum Temples

sbeitla forum temples
Sbeitla Forum Temples
Image credit: Pixabay

Many people do not know that Sbeitla, also known as Sufetula, is a well-preserved Roman city, which is located in the midwest of Tunisia. The planning of the city was quite extraordinary with a vast, almost square forum. Surrounded by a wall, the forum is paved with stone slabs. There is a gateway on one side of the forum and three Roman temples on the opposite side. Three most prominent Roman Gods are worshipped there – Jupiter, Juno and Minerva and there is a separate temple for each of these gods. Though there was the option of building a single temple, the inhabitants constructed different temples. The same kind of arrangement can be seen at Baelo Claudia in Spain.

7. Temple of Zeus at Aizanoi

temple of zeus at aizanoi
Temple of Zeus at Aizanoi
Image credit: Wikimedia

Aizanoi has been inhabited since 3,000 BC. The city became rich and wealthy during the Roman Empire with the production of grain, wool, and wine. One of the most impressive structures in Aizanoi is the Temple of Zeus. This temple is well preserved in almost the whole of Anatolia and the time of construction was around 2nd century AD. The money, which was needed for the creation of the temple, was obtained by renting out land all around the temple. There were no clear boundaries of the renting area and hence people did not pay proper taxes. It was Emperor Hadrian, who settled this dispute. The copies of the letters which were issued were inscribed later on the walls of the temple.


Author Bio

Vandana is the Co-founder and Editor of Historyly, a teacher by profession. She has a passion for reading and writing about different historical periods. Historyly was started with the view to make ancient history meaningful and interesting to the everyday reader.


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