Temple of Minerva, Assisi, Italy


Assisi – Tempio di Minerva
Published: L. Vignati, c.1910

The Temple of Minerva is an ancient Roman building in Assisi, Umbria, central Italy. It currently houses a church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, built in 1539 and renovated in Baroque style in the 17th century. The temple was built in the 1st century BC[1] by will of Gnaeus Caesius and Titus Caesius Priscus, who were two of the city’s quattuorviri and also financed the construction. The attribution to the goddess Minerva derives from the finding of a female statue, although a dedication stone to Hercules has been found, and the temple was likely dedicated to this male demi-god. In the Middle Ages the temple housed a tribunal with an annexed jail, as testified by one of Giotto’s frescoes in the St. Francis Basilica, which portrays the church windows with bars.

Of the ancient temple, the façade has been preserved, with six Corinthian columns supporting the architrave and a small pediment. The columns were originally covered by a very strong plaster, which was perhaps colored. The cella was completely demolished during the church’s construction, in the 16th century, while a small section of the temple was found in the 20th century near the altar.
Wikipedia.

The Temple of Minerva was built in the 1st century BC by the quatorvirates Gneus Cesius and Titus Cesius Priscus at their own expense. In Roman times, the piazza in front of the temple was the main city center, and some early Christian martyrs were likely executed here. By the late 4th and 5th centuries, paganism was basically outlawed and the Temple of Minerva was abandoned. Fortunately, however, it was not destroyed. Sometime in the late sixth century, Benedictine monks restored the temple and made use of it. The divided the interior into two floors, creating living rooms in the upper part and the church of San Donato in the lower part.

In the 13th century, the monks leased the temple to the newly-formed Comune of Assisi, which made the temple its headquarters from 1215 to 1270. The Temple of Minerva/San Donato was used as the municipal jail until the 15th century. In 1456, the temple returned to sacred use and the church of San Donato was reopened. In the meantime, the Italian Renaissance inspired a newfound appreciation for classical art and architecture. In the years 1527-1530, the magistrates of Assisi ordered restoration projects to be undertaken. Then, in 1539, Pope Paolo III, making a visit to Assisi, ordered the Temple of Minerva to be completely restored and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, queen of true wisdom. The temple then took the name of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (St. Mary over Minerva).
Sacred Destinations.

From the year 295 BC, Assisi became part of the comune of Rome, the latter having been victorious over the Italian confederacy. In the year 88 BC, the city became a “Municipium romanum” (Roman municipality), with all the rights and regulations afforded to Rome. During the reign of the emperor Augustus, the city of Assisi was transformed into a well organized residential and turistic centre (during the years 28-25 BC). The grand Forum (a rectangle measuring 44 x 88 meters inside) was constructed; various temples were built, the city walls were completed, the baths and the (healing) springs of mineral waters were opened, and the theatre was constructed alongside the amphitheatre. Among the many monuments constructed was the Temple of Minerva, which at that time dominated the Forum complex and even today, still dominates the “Piazza del Comune”, the heart of Assisi and a wonderful example of medieval architecture.
Franciscanum.it

Pantheon, Rome


ROMA – Pantheon

No date or publisher information, c.1910

Street view

Unofficial website
Webcam (Piazza della Rotonda)
Media Centre for Art History: panoramas & photos of details

The Pantheon, from Greek Πάνθειον Pantheion, “[temple] of all the gods”) is a former Roman temple, now a church, in Rome, Italy, on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). It was completed by the emperor Hadrian and probably dedicated about 126 AD. Its date of construction is uncertain, because Hadrian chose not to inscribe the new temple but rather to retain the inscription of Agrippa’s older temple, which had burned down. The building is cylindrical with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43 metres (142 ft). It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history and, since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been in use as a church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” but informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda”
Wikipedia.

The purpose of the building is not known for certain but the name, porch and pediment decoration suggest a temple of some sort. However, no cult is known to all of the gods and so the Pantheon may have been designed as a place where the emperor could make public appearances in a setting which reminded onlookers of his divine status, equal with the other gods of the Roman pantheon and his deified emperor predecessors. We are told, for example, by Pliny, the 1st century CE Roman author, that there were once statues of Venus (wearing a pearl once owned by Cleopatra), Mars, and Julius Caesar inside the Pantheon.
Ancient History

Baalbek, Lebanon


BAALBEK (Syrie). Le Temple de Venus – La façade
Temple of Venus – the facade

On back:
Require PALMYRA HOTEL, the only first class hotel facing the ruins of Baalbek

Published: M. Harris, Baalbek.

Street View

The temple of Venus was built in the third century. It has a highly original design: built on a horseshoe-shaped platform, it consists of a circular shrine with a square entrance that is almost as big. The outer façade of the shrine is graced by five niches, which means that there is not a single square wall. In the niches are representations of doves and shells, which has been taken as evidence that the shrine was dedicated to Venus.
The square entrance probably was not one of those classical triangle-shaped pediments supported by columns. In fact, the straight horizontal line was broken by an elegant arch. This is certainly not without parallel, but the baroque ensemble suggests that the architect wanted to show off that he was the best and the brightest. He succeeded.

Livius.org

UNESCO Word Heritage listing
Rome in the Footsteps of an XVIIIth Century Traveller
The Baalbek Ruins in Lebanon (photos and write up from a tour of site)


Model of Baalbek (Photo by Franck Devedjian. from Wikipedia Commons

Plan of Temple Complex


BAALBEK (Syrie).BAALBEK (Syrie). La Grande Mosque arabe du VIIe siecle construite avec les colonnes de granit des Temples romains
The Grand Mosque of the 7th century built with the granite columns of Roman temples
On back:
Require PALMYRA HOTEL, the only first class hotel facing the ruins of Baalbek

Published: M. Harris, Baalbek.

Google Maps.

The Great Umayyad Mosque
Built in the first century after the Hegira, during the Umayyad reign, on the remains of a Byzantine church, it is the largest mosque of all Baalbek. It is 60 meters long and 50 meters wide. It contains in the middle 30 columns carried from roman temples neighboring the castle. Some of them are decorated with Corinthian capitals either of granite or of massive stones. The walls of the mosques rise for 8 meters. Its architecture is similar to the Umayyad mosque in Damascus. It includes a courtyard surrounded by porticoes and a square minaret that stands in the courtyard like a war tower. The mosque’s walls hold many inscriptions that are decrees belonging to the Mamluk age. It was left ruined for a long time during the Ottoman and the modern ages. Lately, it has been restored and rehabilitated to perform regular prayers in there.
Destination Lebanon

Interior photo

Umayayd Route, Baalbek: photos at bottom of page two (pdf)