Enduring marbleThe 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.
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