Temple of Portunus

One of the oldest and best preserved ancient Roman temples, dedicated to the god of portals and cattle.

TravelCurious Tip

Walk up along the Via Luigi Petroselli and you will find yourself in ancient Rome - gladiators included (though they might sport beer bellies and plastic armour today).

Caring for cattle

The Temple of Portunus is one of the most ancient in Rome, dating from the era of the Republic in the first century BC, and is situated in the old Forum Boarium by the Tiber.

This was the main temple dedicated to Portunus, who was the Roman god of keys, doorways and cattle: it is fitting that the main temple was in the Forum Boarium, as it was the main cattle market in Rome. Portunus also guarded the warehouses of grain in the Forum, and was related to the two-headed god Janus. 17 August was his feast day, the Portunalia, when Romans would throw keys on the fire for luck. The Temple is sometimes called the Temple of Fortuna Virilis ('manly fortune').

Important port

In its heyday the temple overlooked the port of Tiberinus, so Portunus could watch over the cattle barges that would enter Rome from Ostia to be traded at the market. The temple, which has long been admired for its design, is a rectangular structure built in the Greek Ionic style, featuring a portico with four free-standing Ionic columns facing outward and two backward which reach the cella (chapel or inner chamber). The rest of the columns which frame the edifice are supported by the cella walls.

Like its neighbour, the Temple of Hercules Victor, it is extremely well preserved due to its conversion into a Christian church in the Middle Ages. It was dedicated to St. Mary of Egypt in 872. Today you can visit the Temple on Via della Bocca della Verità, and the eponymous Mouth of Truth is right across the road.

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.
Capitoline Hill
The ceremonial centre of ancient Rome, rejuvenated by Michelangelo in the Renaissance and offering amazing views over the Forum.
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 Hercules Victor
The unique Temple of Hercules Victor is the oldest marble building in Rome, and one of its best preserved ancient temples.

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