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Pyramid of Caius Cestius

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Via Raffaele Persichetti, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

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Ambra
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit the Pyramid of Caius Cestius around sunset; the marble glows warmly in the golden light, offering a perfect, less-crowded photo opportunity. Also, check out the non-Catholic Cemetery behind the pyramid, a less known spot where you can find the graves of famous poets like Keats and Shelley."

What is Pyramid of Caius Cestius?

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius is an ancient pyramid in Rome, Italy, that dates back to around 12 BCE. This intriguing monument, nestled close to the non-Catholic Cemetery and the major junction of Porta San Paolo, instantly captivates with its uncharacteristically Egyptian design amidst a city renowned for its Roman and Medieval structures. It's a true testament to the eclectic nature of Roman tastes and the adoption of various cultural influences during the Empire’s height.

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Standing at about 36 meters (118 feet) tall, this remarkable structure was constructed as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a wealthy Roman magistrate and member of one of the ancient religious corporations in Rome. Remarkably well-preserved, the Pyramid of Caius Cestius is made of white Carrara marble and is an unmistakable landmark for those exploring the Aventine and Testaccio neighbourhoods of Rome.

History of Pyramid of Caius Cestius

The history of the Pyramid of Caius Cestius is quite remarkable, considering its age and preserved state. Built in a mere 330 days, according to the inscriptions on its sides, it serves as the tomb of the Roman Praetor Gaius Cestius. It's often linked to the Roman fascination with Egyptology, which was sparked by the conquest of Egypt and the influence of Hellenistic culture throughout the Mediterranean.

The pyramid once stood outside the city limits, positioned near the Porta Ostiensis, a gate in the Aurelian Walls which encircle the central piazzas and ancient sites of Rome. These walls were eventually built to incorporate the pyramid, signifying its historical and architectural importance. It's intriguing to think about how this site has witnessed the transformation of Rome from its ancient grandeur through to its present-day demeanor.

Over the centuries, the Pyramid of Caius Cestius went through periods of neglect, being buried up to its midpoint in debris. However, it was restored and excavated on several occasions, which included clearing the surrounding area and restoring the frescoes within the burial chamber. These efforts have significantly helped preserve the pyramid's structure and interior artwork.

Why is Pyramid of Caius Cestius Important?

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius is important for several reasons. Firstly, as one of the best-preserved ancient buildings in Rome, it provides a unique glimpse into a period when the Roman Empire was open to different cultural influences — here, the influence was Egyptian. Secondly, it illustrates the wealth and social status that could be accrued in ancient Rome, enough for an individual to commission a monument such as this for their final resting place.

Moreover, this pyramid isn't just a funerary monument; it has become an emblem of Rome's architectural and historical layering. Visitors often marvel at how this out-of-place monument has seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the city. In addition, the Pyramid of Caius Cestius has sparked widespread scholarly interest, providing insights into funerary practices and the diffusion of foreign art and architecture in Rome.

Being incorporated into the Aurelian Walls also demonstrates the monument's changing role and importance over time. It went from being a personal tomb to a part of the city's defensive structures, showing how functional and symbolic significances can evolve in a living city's landscape.

Things to Do & See at Pyramid of Caius Cestius

While visiting the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, you can embark on a journey through the epochs simply by observing this structure. I always suggest starting by taking a leisurely walk around its exterior, ideally joining the walkway above the ancient city walls for a unique perspective. From this vantage, the contrast between the ancient pyramid and the modern city makes for some compelling contemplation — and excellent photographs!

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Although access inside the pyramid is limited, special openings are sometimes organized by the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma, allowing visitors the rare opportunity to view the frescoes inside the burial chamber. In the case of such special tours, it's vital to book in advance given the limited space.

Nearby, there's also much to see. The non-Catholic Cemetery, where the likes of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats are buried, offers a serene and historically rich experience. And let's not forget the nearby Testaccio neighborhood, a hub of contemporary Roman life known for its food scene. Together, the areas surrounding the pyramid provide a full day's worth of diverse experiences, from ancient Rome to today's lively city culture.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Pyramid of Caius Cestius?

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius is an ancient pyramid in Rome, Italy, built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo, a Roman magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations in Rome. It dates back to around 12 B.C. and is an example of the incorporation of Egyptian style in Roman funerary monuments.

Where is the Pyramid of Caius Cestius located?

The Pyramid of Caius Cestius is located near the Porta San Paolo and the Protestant Cemetery in the Testaccio district of Rome, Italy. It stands close to the remains of the ancient city walls.

Can visitors enter the Pyramid of Caius Cestius?

Yes, visitors can enter the Pyramid of Caius Cestius during specific opening times and usually by booking a guided tour. As the interior is small and can accommodate a limited number of people, entrance is often restricted to small groups.

What are the opening hours for the Pyramid of Caius Cestius?

The opening hours for the Pyramid of Caius Cestius may vary. Visitors are recommended to check the latest information on the official website or contact the local tourist information center for the most current schedule before planning a visit.

Are there any special events or exhibitions at the Pyramid of Caius Cestius?

Occasionally, special events or exhibitions related to Roman history and archaeology may be held at the Pyramid of Caius Cestius. The best way to find out about current and upcoming events is to visit the official website or local tourist information centers.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Via Raffaele Persichetti, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps