Brescia is one of the most important example of Roman history in Lombardy. To get to know the ancient Roman castrum of Brixia, created as a Latin colony in 89 B.C., and which soon became an important metal working pole, we start from the Via dei Musei. This road still preserves the path of the decumanus maximus, an ancient route connecting the west to the east of the city. Digs in these places have been particularly difficult due to the urban fabric that has overlaid through to modern times. The remains of the Roman forum are still easily visible: forty metres wide and 139 metres long, it was closed to the north by the Capitoline temple. To the side of the imposing temple structure, there is the theatre, with its Roman stairway, still intact, granting access to the upper parts. Some of the remains of the central part of the scene of this thousand-year-old structure are still visible today, showing some decorative elements. Continuing on towards the southern area, the curia can be admired, open to the public through access from a building in Piazzetta Labus. Of this, part of the room of the civil basilica of the Flavian era, 1st century A.D., is still well preserved.
Various myths relate to the founding of Brescia: one assigns it to Hercules while another attributes its foundation as Altilia (“the other Ilium”) by a fugitive from the siege of Troy. According to another myth, the founder was the king of the Ligures, Cidnus, who had invaded the Padan plain in the late Bronze age. Colle Cidneo (Cidnus’s Hill) was named after that version, and it is the site of the medieval castle. This myth seems to have a grain of truth, because recent archaeological excavations have unearthed remains of a settlement dating back to 1,200 BC that scholars presume to have been built and inhabited by Ligures peoples. Others scholars attribute the founding of Brescia to the Etruscans. The Gallic Cenomani, allies of the Insubres, invaded in the 7th century BC, and used the town as their capital. The city became Roman in 225 BC, when the Cenomani submitted to the Romans. During the Carthaginian Wars, ‘Brixia’ (as it was called then) was usually allied with the Romans. In 202 BC, it was part of a Celtic confederation against them but, after a secret agreement, changed sides and attacked and destroyed the Insubres by surprise. Subsequently the city and the tribe entered the Roman world peacefully as faithful allies, maintaining a certain administrative freedom. In 89 BC, Brixia was recognized as civitas (“city”) and in 41 BC, its inhabitants received Roman citizenship. Augustus founded a civil (not military) colony there in 27 BC, and he and Tiberius constructed an aqueduct to supply it. Roman Brixia had at least three temples, an aqueduct, a theatre, a forum with another temple built under Vespasianus, and some baths.
The temple was built by Vespasian in 74 A.D., as the partly restored dedicatory inscription on the pediment shows. The capitolium site had a terrace on three sides with the temple in the middle and two lateral rows of arcades stretching down towards the Forum. The flight of marble steps, which has been restored and made up with bricks, led up to the podium of the raised pronaos, which is characterised by a hexastyle central porch with Corinthian columns about 11 metres high, which were restored during the nineteenth century reconstruction works. The temple has three aulae separated by cavity walls. Large architraved doorways open into the cellae. The votive chapels have podiums in the centre. The marble-slab paving of the floors should not be overlooked; it is well preserved in the centre cella and the one on the left.The walls were probably faced with marble and decorated with engaged columns in Corinthian style, like those of the porch. The temple bordered the north side of the Forum and was connected to the decumanus by a central flight of steps ending between two sections of marble-faced wall with blind arches. Traces of houses, burial places and productive plants of Longobard period can still be seen in the nearby archaeological area, superimposed or included among the remains of Roman worship buildings. For this reason the archaelogical area is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia.
The Forum , the civic and religious heart of Roman Brixia, acquired its final layout in the Flavian period (69 – 96 A.D.); it was rectangular measuring 139 x 40 metres, with its south side bordering on the Curia and its north side on the decumanus massimus. The east, west and south sides were enclosed by arcades with a double order of richly decorated columns, under which there were a great many shops. The Basilica was on the south side of the forum- the remains of the front of this building with tall, grooved, Corinthian pilaster strips with windows and doorways in between can be seen incorporated in the house at no. 3 Piazza Labus, now the seat of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Lombardia. The remains of the Basilica and of the Augustean Age Forum can still be seen in a small archaeological area on the ground floor. A monolithic marble pillar 6.5 metres high with a Corinthian capital to the east of the square at 4.5 metres can be seen below the present street level. It was restored and the missing parts replaced with brick in the 1930s.
How to get:
The archaeological park of Roman Brescia can be reached by exiting at Brescia A4 highway and go along Via dei Musei, 81 / b.
From 9 May to 15 June – From 1 October to 17 January
Tuesday – Friday 9:30 to 17:30
Saturday – Sunday 9:30 to 19:00
From 16 June to 30 September:
Tuesday – Sunday 10:30 to 19:00 hours
January 1, hours 12:00 to 17:30:
closed on Mondays,
24, 25 and 31 December.
The entrance fee includes a visit to the Brixia exhibition at the Santa Giulia Museum and Archaeological Park (Sanctuary Republican Capitolium and the theater). The ticket price includes the audio-multimedia guide for individual visitors. There are also two types of business that integrate with Brixia the Santa Giulia Museum or the Museum of the Castle.
€ 13,00 full BRIXIA
€ 11,00 reduced BRIXIA
€ 10,00 reduced BRIXIA groups
€ 6,00 reduced BRIXIA schools
€ 17,50 full BRIXIA + Santa Giulia
€ 15,50 reduced price for groups BRIXIA + Santa Giulia
€ 13,50 reduced price for groups BRIXIA + Santa Giulia
€ 10,50 reduced price for schools BRIXIA + Santa Giulia
€ 15,00 full BRIXIA + Castel
€ 13,00 reduced BRIXIA + Castel
€ 9,00 reduced price for schools BRIXIA + Castel.
Tourist Information Office:
Museum of Santa Giulia