You are along the route: CHURCHES IN TEMPLES. THE NEW FACE OF THE SACRED
You can choose any day except Monday, when Crypta Balbi Museum is closed, and Wednesday, when the underground vaults of the Basilica of San Nicola in Carcere are closed to the public, to visit all the places on the itinerary.
The Temple of Portunus is closed to the public and tours inside the Temple of Hercules must be booked in advance, but both monuments can still be admired from the outside.
With the Edict of Milan in 313, the Emperor Constantine granted freedom of worship throughout the Empire, putting an end to centuries of persecution against Christians. But Rome was still a prevalently Pagan city and the places of prayer and worship for the new religion were initially built on the outskirts of the city- However, this changed rapidly and the Edict of Thessaloniki of 380 proclaimed Christianity as the religion of the State, beginning the domination of the new religion in a climate of revenge over the ancient Pagan gods.
The new churches were inspired by the basilicas of Ancient Rome – large public buildings with judicial and trade functions, but not for worship – from which they took their names and architectural form. Temples could not be used as models, as they were part of a banned faith, which superstition had now caused to be considered to be the Devil’s faith. This began a new phase of great hostility, in which the destruction of the places of worship and adulation of Pagan ‘demons’ was viewed favourably, in terms of symbolising the triumph of the new religion.
Only later, in the 5th and 6th centuries, when Christianity definitively gained its supremacy, did this aversion to the ancient buildings, by now abandoned or in ruins, the remnants of an era in the distant past, begin to decrease and the practice of purifying the Pagan temples to transform them into Christian churches begin.
Many places in Rome still preserve traces of this period of transition and many suggestive buildings tell stories in their very fabric of these architectural transformations which, like a mirror, accurately reflected the end of an era and the beginning of a new world.