Area Sacra dell'Argentina, Rome Inadvertently unearthed during an excavation project ordered by Benito Mussolini, the fascinating Area Sacra dell’Argentina should be on everyone’s to-do list while in Rome. Discovering the Site A project meant to demolish one of Rome’s old quarters resulted in one of the finest archaeological finds of the 20th century. In 1926, during demolition work for construction of a new building, workers began to discover the remains of four distinctly different temples, all located around a public square. The discoveries thrilled the archaeological community. After some unsophisticated excavations in the late 1920s and more complete investigations in later years, what emerged was some of the best examples of Republican Roman architecture. For years, little was known about the site and the newly-located temples were merely named by the letters of the alphabet. Today, a bit more is known about each of the structures. The Temples The four temples of the Area Sacra dell’Argentina date from the 4th to 2nd centuries B.C. The remains we see now are the result of renovations by emperor Domitianus. The temple complex was part of an area at the center of the Campus Martius that also included the more recent Theatre of Pompey, the Hecatostylum - a portal with 100 columns - and the Thermae Agrippae or Baths of Agrippa. Temple A, now referred to as the Temple of Juturna, is believed to have been built in the middle of the 3rd century BC by Gaius Lutatius Catulus after his victory over the Carthaginian. It was hexagonal and peripteral – that is, surrounded on all sides by a single row of columns. Most of the Corinthian columns in travertine have been preserved.turkeyarena.com Temple B was built by Quintus Lutacius Catulus in 101 B.C. after his victory over the Cimbri. The temple is now known as the Aedes Fortunae Huiusce Diei. A flight of steps leads to the altar at the center of this circular temple. Six Corinthian columns, made of tufa stone, remain. Temple C is the oldest of the four, built between the end of the 4th and beginning of the 3rd century BC. It was probably dedicated to the roman deity Feronia. In 1935, archaeologists discovered an altar at the site of Temple C, dated 180 BC, though they believe this was a replacement for an earlier altar. Temple D is the largest and is still partially buried under the Via Florida. Originally built at the beginning of the 2nd century it was reconstructed at the end of the republic era. This might be the temple of Lares Permarini, although there is no consensus among archaeologists yet. Other Sites Directly behind Temples B and C sits the back wall of the Theatre of Pompey. It was in this area that Julius Caesar was killed on March 15, 44 BC. The theatre also housed a lavatory – sometimes called the “monumental latrine” – one of two built during the Imperial Era. Cats and More Cats Shortly after excavation of this area was completed, stray cats began to take up residence there, protected from traffic at this site that sits below street level. Today, there’s an animal sanctuary at the site and it’s now home to an estimated several hundred cats. Visitors, however, will only see a few while roaming the ruins during the daylight hours.