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Rome: what hides Porta Maggiore?
14 April 2015

Rome: what hides Porta Maggiore?

by Annalisa G+

Porta Maggiore is one of the gates in the Aurelian Walls of Rome: a mysterious archaeological site on the outskirts of the Esquiline neighborhood that hides secret treasures, like an underground Basilica.

The Name

In the heart of the Esquiline neighborhood, Porta Maggiore was built in 477 BC at this point there was a temple dedicated to "Old Hope", the Latin origin of the name, "Ad Spem veterem" was the first real name given to this portion of the capital.
The current name, is linked to its location, this port has always been the main access to go to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the four papal basilicas located within walking distance of this mammoth building operations.

What is

Porta Maggiore is a major, especially in ancient times, for its strategic location, it is here, in fact, that flowed into the eleven aqueducts that brought water throughout the city.
Porta Maggiore is one of the doors set into the Aurelian walls destroyed, mostly during the Second World War. The visible part shows little evidence of ancient Roman times by small funerary monuments, natural cavities, special niches rich carvings that tell the Latin of the Roman Republic, and hides in its basement archaeological sites ever seen.

The hidden Basilica

The underground Basilica that Porta Maggiore keeps secret was brought to light on April 23, 1917 during the construction of the railway viaduct that now dominates. The Basilica has three naves and an apse and many stucco recount scenes of mythology related to theme of fate and pathways of the soul, while the main protagonists are Zeus, Medea, Jason and Sappho.
The various polychrome, fine mosaics and stucco two-tone shades of black and white are its main architectural characteristics that are likely to be lost over time due to the lack of a ventilation system able to keep them in time.
The mystery, magic and esotericism are the feelings that predominate in the Basilica this has given rise to many legends that have elected the favorite home of ghosts and the ideal setting for ceremonies of black magic.

Unfortunately you can not visit the underground part of the main door, some remains of the most important tombs were transferred Statilia Street and Celimontana Street.

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