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Temple of Hercules Victor

The unique Temple of Hercules Victor is the oldest marble building in Rome, and one of its best preserved ancient temples.

TravelCurious Tip

Don't miss the famous Bocca della Verità in the old church right across the road!

Enduring marble

The Temple of Hercules Victor is a circular Roman Temple dating from around the 2nd Century BC, and is the oldest surviving marble building in the city. Built of white marble in the Greek style, its steps lead up to twenty Corinthian columns set in a concentric ring and covered with a roof. Within the temple, which stands over 10 metres tall, there is also the inner chamber or cella. The cella, as well as the outer columns of the portico, belong to the original ancient building: the original roof was lost centuries ago, but the temple was restored with a new roof in modern times.

In ancient Rome the Temple would have been located in the Forum Boarium, a bustling centre and Rome’s primary cattle market situated on the banks of the Tiber. It was an important monument, featuring on a number of ancient coins; folklore has it that flies and dogs from the busy market would not enter the temple due to its holiness.

Whose temple?

The temple was dedicated to 'Hercules the Winner,' celebrating the triumphs of the Son of Zeus. During the Middle Ages this knowledge was lost, and its circular form led people to assume that it was the Temple of Vesta. The mix-up was corrected by Napoleon’s Prefect of Rome, Camille de Tournon, early in the 19th century.

From the beginning of the 12th century the temple operated as a Christian church, which remained its function through various rededications to different Christian saints over the centuries. The temple received official status as an ancient monument in 1935. Today you can visit the Temple of Hercules Victor in the Piazza Bocca della Verità, just opposite the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church: nearby is also the similarly ancient Temple of Portunus.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Jewish Ghetto
For over 300 years all the Jews in Rome were restricted to this small area; today it is a vibrant and fascinating district.
Bocca della Verità
Don’t get your hand bitten off by the Mouth of Truth!
Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin
This Basilica dates from the Byzantine era, and is home to the Bocca della Veritá and the remains of St. Valentine.
Theatre of Marcellus
The Theatre of Marcellus was an ancient Roman arena built by the Emperor Augustus.
Temple of Portunus
One of the oldest and best preserved ancient Roman temples, dedicated to the god of portals and cattle.
The Garden of Oranges
A beautiful space named for its plentiful citrus trees, with fantastic views and important Dominican history.

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